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. 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 also holds really well on a grill. You can make these burgers either on a grill or on a skillet. The grill does provide a bit more blackening, but with the skillet you get a more evenly browned surface. So pick whichever method you prefer.
Tips for Making The Best Veggie Burger
Beans – 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. This way, the beans add a creamy texture without turning mushy.
Veggies – using aromatic vegetables, such as onions and garlic, is so important. These vegetables have the ability to bring out the savory qualities of the other ingredients they are cooked with. You can use shallots, red onions, white onions, leeks … pretty much anything that falls into the allium family. Another vegetable I like to use when making veggie burgers are mushrooms. Mushrooms are rich in glutamates, which provide an umami (savory) taste to food. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, you could use other glutamate-rich foods, such as seaweed or soy sauce.
Brown rice adds a wonderful chewy texture to any veggie burger. It’s also on the starchier side so it absorbs quite a bit more moisture, helping to hold the burgers together. If you’re not a fan of brown rice, you could experiment with oats instead.
Walnuts – I love using ground nuts in veggie burgers because they add a nubby meta-like texture. The pastiness of nuts also helps to hold the veggie burgers together, so it’s a win-win. The burgers will remain soft but with enough texture that you feel like you’re actually biting into something.
Breadcrumbs – all legumes lack connective tissue that helps meat burgers hold together. So for a veggie burger, you’ll need a good binder. As Mark Bittman writes in New York Times, breadcrumbs do a great job at bridge the gap between liquids and solids by capturing the moisture and transforming it into a binder. Without a binder, your burger might completely crumble and fall apart the second it hits the grill or when you bite into it. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to use breadcrumbs. Any binder will do, including ground oats, flax seeds, or mashed potatoes.
Seasoning – 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.
Pre-cook the veggies – you can make veggie burgers out of almost any vegetable. The one trick with veggies is to sauté 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 cooking the vegetables is that you can season them to make them even more flavorful.
Cook the grains – even though you’ll be throwing these burgers on a grill, it won’t be enough time to cook the grains. So whichever grains you’re using – rice, quinoa, or bulgur – always cook them first.
Mash the beans – the degree to which you process the beans is really important. If you don’t mash the beans enough, your patties will fall apart. If you mash the beans too much, the patties will be too mush, having a paste-like texture. I prefer to mash them well, yet leaving about 3/4 of the beans only partially mashed.
Taste before throwing the burgers on a grill – the one advantage veggie burgers have over regular meat-based burgers is that you can taste them as you go. There’s no raw meat or raw eggs. So consider tasting the veggie burger mixture before forming it into burgers to see if it needs additional seasoning.
Bake, fry, or grill – my favorite method of cooking these veggie burgers is grilling. Grilling is particularly useful when you want more meat-like texture from your veggie burgers. Plus, grilling is a lot of fun, especially when it’s nice outside.
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 veggie burgers. 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!
Tools You’ll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Cookware Set (Calphalon, Stainless Steel) | 3. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 4. Cutting Board (12″x 9″, Midori Way, Bamboo) | 5. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 6. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 7. Measuring Cup (2 cups, Pyrex, Glass) | 8. Mesh Strainers (Set of 3, Cuisinart, Stainless Steel) | 9. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
Nutrition Refined is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites — at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support