Burgers every day of the week? Yes, please.
If you want to enjoy a veggie burger every night of the week, Dana Ellis Hunnes Ph.D., MPH, R.D., author of the book Recipe For Survival, says go for it — as long as its “full of beans, fresh vegetables, and other healthy whole grains or leafy greens.”
(Don’t worry, we also have ways to make a healthier burger with meat, too.)
Try this sure-fire formula for a tasty veggie burger you can make and enjoy at home!
1. Choose Your Base
Beans are in so many veggie burgers for a good reason: They have a lot going for them.
Hunnes explains that beans make a great base nutritionally because they’re a source of plant-based protein, but that’s far from their only advantage.
When blended, “they become sticky due to their starches, which allows them to mash/stick together well to form a veggie burger.”
They also hold up well to cooking, even if you’re grilling.
Lentils are another good choice — they blend up nice and creamy to help bind burgers, adds Sharon Palmer, M.S.F.S., R.D.N., author of the new book, California Vegan.
2. Add Roasted Veggies
“Roasted vegetables make a great addition to any burger because they will add a depth of flavor you might not otherwise get,” notes Hunnes.
Most vegetables are fair game, but try not to add too many veggies with a lot of moisture (more on that later).
Palmer likes carrots, celery, mushrooms, and onions.
Pulse them in a food processor — but stop when you can still recognize the pieces of different ingredients, she suggests.
3. Go Nuts
Palmer likes her veggie burgers to hit all the flavor and nutrition notes.
Beans and grains add fiber, protein, and carbs, while chopped nuts and seeds contribute healthy fats, texture, and crunch.
Try the usuals like almonds, walnuts, and cashews, or get creative with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or pistachios.
Roast them for even more flavor, but if your nuts and seeds are salted, reduce the salt used elsewhere in your recipe.
4. Choose and Add Your Favorite Flavorings
Seasonings like herbs and spices take your veggie burgers to the next level.
Pantry staples like dried oregano, smoked paprika, and cumin are wonderful options, but Hunnes challenges you to think beyond that.
Mix in chopped olives, minced garlic, or caramelized onions for extra flavor.
Pro tip: If you make a big batch of caramelized onions, you can also save them for a topping.
Palmer suggests these delicious flavor combinations:
- Herbal: garlic, green onions, and cilantro
- Thai: ginger, peanuts, red pepper flakes, cilantro, and basil
- Southwest: garlic, chili powder, cilantro, and cayenne
5. Add a Binder
Your veggie burger mixture should be like cookie dough — thoroughly mixed and not overly wet or crumbly.
Beans help bind everything together, as will the extra veggies you include, Hunnes explains.
If your mixture feels too wet, add some bread crumbs, suggests Hunnes.
You can use rolled oats for a gluten-free option, as well as cooked grains (such as sorghum, farro, or brown rice) for extra texture, adds Palmer.
Still not sure if your burgers will hold up?
Chill the mixture for about an hour, then press into the shape of a burger, Palmer suggests.
If they’re dry and crumbly, add a bit of salt-free broth.
If they’re wet, reach for those oats or breadcrumbs, then wait a few minutes for them to soak up the excess moisture.
6. Cook to Perfection
While you can totally grill a veggie burger, use a cast-iron skillet if you’re concerned they’ll fall apart or if your grill grates seem too wide.
You can also cook them on the stovetop, in a pan set over medium-high heat with a teaspoon of oil.
Or, bake your veggie burgers on parchment paper for a completely oil-free option.
(A good rule of thumb is to bake them at 375℉ for 30-40 minutes, flipping them halfway.)
7. Add Toppings
You know what to do here! Let your creativity run wild.
Go with the classics (onion-tomato-pickle) or get a little fancy depending on what’s in your burgers.
Try salsa on Southwestern-style veggie burgers, or green goddess dressing and plenty of fresh veggies on an herbal patty.
With this much flavor, you might not even need a bun!