Giving up meat doesn’t mean living without burgers. There are lots of alternative burgers you can make at home with plant-based foods. Different kinds of beans, soy products, and vegetables can all be flavored and cooked into delicious burgers. Stick them on your favorite kind of bun with classic condiments and you will get that classic burger experience.
Black Bean Burgers
1) Drain the water from a can of black beans. (Some people also recommend patting the black beans dry with a paper towel right after you pour them out of the can. Other people let them sit out in a strainer for an hour to drip dry.)
2) Next, think about what other vegetables you want in your burger. Chopped onions, garlic, and bell peppers are the most common. Some people add leafy greens, too, like kale.
3) Chop up veggies fine enough that the patties still hold together. Check if the beans you are using are salted or not. You’ll probably want to add some salt either way, but always check the can first so you don’t accidentally over salt.
4) When your vegetables are ready, use a blender or a masher to combine the beans and vegetables with seasonings of your choice.
5) Add spice to your burgers. With burgers made from black beans, most people stick with traditional flavors. Think cumin and chili powder. Of course, you can take the flavors wherever you want by adding your favorite seasonings. If you are trying to recreate the flavor of meat, consider what spices you used to add to your burger recipes.
6) If the black bean mixture is too runny, you can experiment with adding flour (regular wheat or gluten free), bread crumbs, oats, or ground flaxseed to reach the right consistency.
7) Once you like the look of your veggie burger mixture, wash your hands and scoop out a handful. Pat it between your hands to make it into the shape of a burger. You can make it big, small, thick, or thin to match your preferences. If you’re cooking for a group of people, you can even make burgers to their specifications!
8) Sometimes, the mixture looks thick enough when you’re stirring it but then when you get to the patties step it is too watery. If this happens, toss your half-formed burger back into the mixture and add a thickening agent. Lots of black bean burger fans add an egg to help the burger thicken, but not everyone likes this addition. You can try both with and without an egg to see what texture and flavor is your favorite.
9) Once you have a plate of formed burgers, it’s time to cook them. Cooking veggie burgers differs quite a bit from cooking traditional burgers made from meat. Luckily, because all of the ingredients are vegetables, you don’t have to worry about cooking the burger all the way through or getting it hot enough like with meat. You want to cook your veggie burgers long enough that they are hot all the way through, the minced vegetables inside become soft, and the outside of the burger has a texture you like.
10) A cast iron pan or other skillet makes a perfect pan for cooking veggie burgers in. Choose your favorite cooking oil and add the burgers once the pan is hot. You’ll want to experiment with how long to cook them and when to flip them. Remember that burgers of different thicknesses will cook at different speeds.
11) When your burger is cooked to your specifications, it’s time to plate! You’ll want to create your sandwich bun just like you would with a meat burger. Do you like whole wheat or white hamburger buns? Do you toast them first? What condiments do you prefer? If you are trying to make this new burger taste as much like meat as possible, build the sandwich just like you would if you were eating meat.
Beyond Black Beans
1) Cook lentils on a stovetop first. Luckily, they cook much more quickly than most beans. You can add your veggies and spices to the cooking lentils if you like them very soft. Carrots are a common addition to lentil burgers.
2) Flavor the lentils the same as black beans or you can mix it up a bit. Though not a traditional burger flavor, curry spices are the usual companion of lentils so adding them to lentil burgers can be tasty.
3) Chickpeas are another versatile bean you can use to make burgers. Their flavor is perhaps the most distinct compare to black beans and lentils. Rather than try to make them taste like meat, chickpeas should be enjoyed for their own flavor.
4) Tahini is added to chickpeas to make hummus and so some people recommend adding it to chickpea burger recipes as well.
1) To make tofu burgers, you’ll want to choose a firm tofu. You can also freeze the tofu ahead of time. This changes the texture and some people think it tastes more like meat. The first step with tofu is always to drain it and then press it. Pressing it means squeezing out excess liquid. You can get a tofu press or you can wrap a paper towel around the block of tofu and set something heavy on top of it like cans of beans or a cookbook. You’ll be able to see the water wick away from the tofu.
2) Next, mash tofu in a bowl just like with bean burgers. Add spices. Add thickeners as needed. And then cook in a pan with oil until browned.
3) Tempeh can be used similarly to tofu, though it has a tougher texture and often comes flavored. Rather than cooking tempeh burgers in a skillet, consider baking them in the oven. You can set them in a baking dish or use aluminum foil.
There are lots of reasons to eat veggie burgers instead of traditional meat burgers. Maybe you are trying to quit meat or maybe you are just trying to bring some new meals into your life. Luckily, there are lots of options to making delicious burgers without meat.