For the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with different veggie burger recipes. This is my conclusion: making a pretty good veggie burger is easy; making a great one is a lot harder. By “great one” I mean a veggie burger that isn’t too dry, doesn’t fall apart, isn’t too mushy in the middle, has a crispy outer shell, and retains a chewy texture. A pretty extensive list, I know.
I can’t tell you how many veggie burgers I’ve tried. When Tanner started complaining about the lack of variety at the dinner table, I started serving them for breakfast. It wasn’t until I made THIS recipe that I was finally satisfied with the results. This veggie burger not only tastes great, but it’s also loaded with nutrient-rich foods like raw walnuts, black beans, and quinoa.
Tips to Making The Best Veggie Burger
Use Dried Legumes as the Base
The texture of beans is perfect for making tender yet hearty patties. The trick is to cook the beans from scratch. I’ve said it before and will say it again – the flavor and texture of dried legumes is so much better than that of the canned kind. Of course, you can use canned beans. However, they can (and often do) have a mushy texture. To reduce their moisture content, a chef James Kenji López-Alt recommends roasting the beans in the oven first. Also, mushing the beans with a fork instead of using a food processor will help retain some of their texture better.
If you’re cooking with dried beans, cook them to the point that they’re just done – still firm and not falling apart.
Pre-Cook the Veggies
You can make veggie burger out of almost any vegetable. The one trick with veggies is to saute them first to eliminate their water content and condense their flavor. Same as legumes, veggies are high in moisture and can cause your burgers to turn out soggy and mushy on the inside. This is the number one reason veggie burgers don’t hold well on a grill.
Another benefit of using cooked vegetables is that you can season them and make them even more flavorful. My favorite veggie combo is onions, garlic, and mushrooms, which add a savory umami character.
Add Some Crunch
This step is optional, but I highly recommend that you use some chopped nuts, seeds, or quinoa to your veggie burgers. All of these do a great job of simulating a meat-like texture in a non-meat burger. Nuts and seeds also raise the amount of protein and healthy fats, making your veggie burgers even healthier.
Don’t Forget the Binder
Without a binder, your burger would completely crumble. The majority of veggie burgers use eggs and breadcrumbs. Since I wanted to create both vegan and gluten-free veggie burger, neither of these was an option. (Yes, I could have used gluten-free breadcrumbs, but I don’t consider them a pantry staple so I ruled them out).
Instead, I used ground flax seeds and quick oats. Oats are not only a great binder, but they also provide the chewy texture I was after. The burgers remained soft but with enough texture that I felt like I was actually biting into something.
Every burger needs some seasonings. The sky is the limit when it comes to spices and herbs. Actually, that’s not true. With veggie burgers, I would recommend not using any liquid-based seasonings, such as soy sauce, mustard, Worcester sauce, Sriracha sauce … Opt for dry seasonings to avoid too much moisture.
Bake, Fry, or Grill
While all baking, frying, and grilling work, my favorite cooking method is baking. In my opinion, baking creates the most firm, crisp, and golden-brown veggie burger.
This recipe has a long list of ingredients and several steps to complete. But the ingredients are easy to find and the steps are simple. You’ll not regret taking the time to make these. To make all the work worth your time, double the recipe, and freeze the cooked patties for a quick meal down the road.
If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!