Oh man, these veggie burgers are so much better than I thought they would be. I’ve made many a veggie burger in my day — white bean, black bean, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, mushrooms. You name it, I’ve made it into a meatless patty. And then doused it in ketchup. K likes to (lovingly) tease me about my preferred burger to ketchup ratio… I will totally admit that I’m a ketchup-a-holic. Or at least I was until these smoky, cheesy, creamy, fresh veggie burgers came into my life. They’re perfect all on their own, and I devoured an entire burger without reaching for the ketchup bottle once. WHAA?!
And they’re just in time for the first long, lazy weekend of the summer. Whether you’re off to a barbecue gathering or relaxing at home, cooking for family and friends or for yourself, make a batch of what I’ve dubbed my “Ultimate Veggie Burgers”.
Veggie burgers have gotten a seriously bad rap. Lifeless, freezer burned, chalky, cardboard-like patties plopped on the grill — or worse, in the microwave. GASP! While frozen veggie burgers are super convenient — and I’ve been known to reach for a box at the grocery store a time or two — that convenience comes at the high price of flavor and texture. I pinky swear that making a great veggie burger at home is easier than you’d think!
Here are a few of my best tips to get you going:
- Start with lots of fresh, full-flavored ingredients. Great ingredients — from the bun to the greens — make such a huge difference in the finished meal. You can transform fewer, higher quality ingredients into the most amazing meals. Reach for bold flavors like a hearty, chewy whole wheat roll in place of the standard hamburger bun; peppery arugula rather than shredded lettuce; nutty, melty gruyere instead of American or cheddar. A few simple substitutions with the freshest ingredients you can find, and you’re off to a good start!
- Drain your beans really well. And I mean really well. I rinse mine in a colander and then set the colander over a bowl to drain for at least 30 minutes, even up to a couple hours if I’ve got the time. You’d be surprised how much more liquid drains out of them! The more liquid you can get out of the veggie patty ingredients, the more stable and firm your patties will turn out.
- Leave a little texture. I prefer my veggie burgers to have a little texture to them, a little chew. To achieve this, I pulse the beans in a food processor (or mash with a fork) rather than pureeing them, until they’re about ¾ of the way mashed.
- Get your pan screaming hot. A hot pan helps you achieve the perfect sear on your veggie patties, forming the wonderfully crunchy brown crust that we all looooove! Set your pan to about medium-high and allow the olive oil to heat up until glistening. Make a mini patty with about a tsp of your bean mixture and drop it into the center of the pan. If it sizzles and browns to crispy perfection on one side within 5 minutes, you’re ready to start cooking! If it browns too quickly, turn back the heat a little bit. Not browning fast enough? Crank up the heat!
- Season everything. I can’t stress the importance of seasoning your food through every step of the recipe enough. No matter what you’re cooking, every time you add a new ingredient into the mix — season with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper. This helps to layer the seasoning incrementally, building up intensity over time and enhancing / complimenting the other flavors in the dish. I find that when I add the same amount of salt to a dish at the end rather than throughout the cooking process, the resulting meal ends up tasting overly salty rather than super flavorful.
You can even pre-cook and then freeze them for quick anytime meals later on. Simply prepare the veggie patties according to the recipe, cook them through, and then let them cool completely. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer, cover and freeze. Once frozen solid, load them into a freezer safe bag or tupperware, and voila! Homemade freezer veggie patties. 🙂
On a completely unrelated topic:
What do you think of our new logo?? Check it out up in the header of this blog post — but don’t go away for too long!
I feel so fancy and so… official now with mah new whisk and ladle. K and I started this blog over year ago to share healthy, whole foods recipes with our family and friends. The support that we’ve seen has been overwhelming, and our little corner of the interwebs community has continued to grow. I’m beyond excited to move forward with this new, fresh identity — designed by the wonderfully talented Molly Benningfield at Spectacle Design Studio.
Aaaand back to these beautiful, backyard barbecue-licious burgers. I couldn’t stray away for too long. I’ve already eaten three this week!
Join me in ditching the ketchup bottle this summer and make a better veggie burger!
- 1 15-oz can black beans, drained
- 1 15-oz can red beans, drained
- 1 heaping cup shredded carrots
- ¼ cup shredded red onion, liquid squeezed out
- ¼ cup shredded red pepper, liquid squeezed out
- 1 egg, beaten**
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 whole wheat ciabatta rolls, split
- 6 oz sliced Gruyere cheese**
- 6 tbsp mayonnaise**
- A handful of arugula
- ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 avocados, pitted and thinly sliced
- A sprinkle of salt and pepper
- Pulse the beans in a food processor or mash by hand with a fork until coarsely mashed, with a few chunks remaining. Pour into a medium mixing bowl. Add in the following 9 ingredients, through the salt and pepper, and mix lightly until combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a 1-cup measure about ¾ full and press the bean mixture into the cup. Flip over and tap out into the palm of your hand. Refine the shape with your hands until the patty's thickness is even all around. Lay on the parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining bean mixture.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the hot oil in the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Gently lay each of the veggie burger patties in the hot pan and sear on one side for 5-6 minutes, until a golden brown crust forms. Gently flip the burgers and top each with 1 ounce of sliced gruyere cheese. Cover the pan with a secure-fitting lid and allow to cook until the cheese is bubbly, about 2-3 minutes.
- While the patties are cooking, toast the ciabatta roles in the toaster or in a dry hot pan.
- Once the patties are cooked and the cheese is melted, turn of the heat and start assembling the burgers.
- Spread each ciabatta roll with mayo. Lay a burger patty on the center of the bottom bun, and add arugula, red onion, and avocado. Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper, top off, and serve!