Better Veggie Burgers On Demand

>> Friday, February 27, 2015

Here’s another installment of my Make It Better series. This time, I’m focusing on veggie burgers, which are one of the favorites in our house. Well, besides pizza and garlic knots and homemade ciabatta bread. I used to follow recipes for veggie burgers, but once I got down the basics of this method, I use whatever we have on hand to mix together delicious patties on demand.

Like this kidney bean burger!

// Choose Your Bean

Canned beans are easy in a pinch and if you need burgers to fill your tummy, like, now. If you have a bit more time, try soaking and cooking beans for less salt and BPA. I usually just use one can of beans (drained + mashed) or around 1-1/2 cups as my base.

And anything that’s bean-ish (and mashes) works, too.
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Split peas
  • Canelli beans
  • Sweet potato

// Chop Veggies Small

The key to fast burgers that don’t require a food processor? Chopping your veggies super small so they’ll incorporate well. I use around 1 cup of veggies total, but they can be a mix of anything I have on hand. How much you use total might also depend on the specific veggie, so be creative and keep the ratio pretty much 1:1 or a little less.

Some of my favorites:
  • Onions
  • Shredded carrots
  • Shredded sweet potato
  • Shredded zucchini
  • Garlic
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives

// Add Healthy Bulk

A lot of veggie burger recipes I made at the start used breadcrumbs to bulk up. Over the years, I’ve used all different ingredients to get that bulk. I always add this part by feel. You want a patty that is not too dry but also not sticking to your hands. Usually this means around 1+ cup of bulk, depending on what you use. You can also (and I suggest you do) combine different bulk items, like flax meal and rolled oats or almond meal and sunflower kernels.

Any suggestions to add?
  • Almond meal
  • TVP or TSP
  • Whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • Flax meal
  • Rolled oats
  • Sunflower kernels 

// Spice It Up

Here’s where I get creative. I honestly just start dumping in spices and taste as I go along. You can get away with just using salt and pepper. But sometimes, you want to have more fun. Start by adding a half teaspoon of different things and build. You can always add more spice, not take away. And if you splash in any liquids (maybe a tablespoon or so), you might need to add more bulk to soak up the moisture. Play it by ear.

  • Smoked paprika
  • Curry powder
  • Turmeric 
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Dill
  • Cayenne
  • BBQ sauce
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Tamari

// Bake It

After your mix starts to come together -- and feel free to tweak the ratios till you get something perfect -- you bake. Now, I didn’t always bake my veggie burgers before cooking them on the stove. But I’ve found doing so helps them keep their shape. And once they cool on the rack, you can transfer to your freezer for healthy weeknight dinners in a flash. Anyway, you can take or leave this tip.

If you do choose to bake:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet w/ parchment.
  • Scoop burgers by heaping 1/4 cups + flatten into patties.
  • (I also love using my muffin top pan for this process!)
  • Placing on your cookie sheet and bake around 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Then brown them on your stove-top. 
  • Add some cheese and melt by placing a cover on your pan.

// Related

10 Steps To Slow Cooker Perfection
Bake Better Kale Chips
Blend Better Green Smoothies
Chickpea Burgers
Bulk Veggie Burgers -- Frozen
Beet Burgers
Full Sandwich + Burger Recipe List

And if you need more ideas on how to use beans in your cooking:

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