Favorite Veggie Burgers
Have you met my favorite veggie burgers? If not, it’s about time! I have high standards for veggie burgers, and these put all the rest to shame. I have a feeling they’ll become your favorite veggie burgers, too.
These veggie burgers are hearty and satisfying, and feature an irresistible combination of flavors. They start with a base of quinoa, black beans and oats. Then we amp up the volume with sweet potatoes, fresh herbs, and some carefully chosen seasonings. They’re a little sweet and a little spicy, in the best of ways.
You may recognize this recipe as the “Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers” that have been hidden in the archives for quite some time. There’s a chance you’ve enjoyed these burgers in my cookbook, Love Real Food, sandwiched between buns with a crisp lime-cilantro cabbage slaw and guacamole (page 177).
Or maybe you’re seeing these burgers for the first time right now! If so, I’ll share why this veggie burger recipe is my favorite:
- These burgers are absolutely delicious. In fact, these are the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had. They’re better than any restaurant’s, and far better than store-bought frozen veggie burgers.
- These burgers retain their shape before, during and after cooking. Many veggie burgers are a chore to make or to eat, but these are totally fuss-free.
- You can cook these burgers in the oven, on the stove, or yes, even on the grill. They also freeze well, so you can make a full batch and enjoy them over time.
- These veggie burgers are perfect for serving to friends who follow special diets. These burgers are vegetarian, of course. They’re also conveniently vegan, gluten free, nut free, egg free and soy free.
Veggie Burger Cooking Options
You have three cooking options for these veggie burgers, and we’ll start with my favorite one.
I love baking these veggie burgers in the oven. It’s the easiest way to cook a bunch at once, and they turn out beautifully cooked through and golden on each side.
These burgers grill well, too! I’ve successfully grilled them on the grates without the burgers falling apart. (If you do run into any trouble, just chill the burgers for a bit before trying again.)
Lastly, you can cook these veggie burgers in a skillet on the stovetop. The stovetop isn’t my favorite method because it requires more babysitting than the oven, but it’s totally doable. These burgers are extra moist inside. Check the recipe notes for details.
Veggie Burger Ingredients
These veggie burgers are made with easy-to-find, healthy ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Sweet potatoes: For the best results, weigh your sweet potatoes at the store to ensure you’re starting with the right amount. Ideally, choose smaller sweet potatoes because they’ll cook a little quicker. We’re going to slice them down the middle and roast them until tender.
- Quinoa: We’ll start with raw (uncooked) quinoa, and you’ll find instructions on how to cook it within the recipe. Or, if you happen to have 1 1/2 cups leftover cooked quinoa, you can use that instead. Millet will work in place of quinoa, too (check the recipe notes for details).
- Black beans: Canned or home-cooked will work, as long as they are rinsed and well-drained. Though I have’t tried, I bet you could substitute an equal amount of pinto beans, chickpeas or white beans in a pinch.
- Red onion, cilantro, and garlic: If you’re sensitive to any of these flavors, don’t worry, they mellow during cooking and produce a delicious end result.
- Spices: Adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo) or smoked paprika lend some smoky grilled flavor. We’ll also add cumin, chili powder, and salt.
- Quick-cooking oats: Oats absorb excess moisture and offer a dose of whole grains. You can also use old-fashioned oats, pulsed briefly in a food processor or blender to break them up.
Veggie Burger Serving Suggestions
Serve these burgers as, well, burgers! Find some great buns, or use butter lettuce leaves for a low-carb, gluten free options. Add any of the following:
- Ripe, juicy sliced tomato
- Crisp lettuce or fresh sprouts
- Sliced cheese
- Onion, very thinly sliced
- Avocado or guacamole
- Ketchup and mustard
- Maybe even fried eggs
Side Dish Suggestions
These burgers would go nicely with my Simple Healthy Slaw or Gaby’s Cucumber Salad.
You could make extra quinoa while you’re at it (you’ll need a total of 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa for the burgers), and make my Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach and Quinoa Salad or Favorite Quinoa Salad.
Ideas for Leftovers
Keep these burgers on hand for quick, healthy meals. Leftover cooked patties store well in the freezer for several months.
Warm one up and serve it with a simple green salad, or a quesadilla, or any hodge-podge of ingredients you may have. However you serve them, these burgers will add some additional veggies, fiber and protein to your meal.
Please let me know how your veggie burgers turn out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Favorite Veggie Burgers
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 8 burger patties 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
These sweet and spicy veggie burgers are both vegan and gluten free. You can bake them, grill them, or cook them on the stovetop! For best results when choosing the grill or stovetop method, prepare the burger mixture in advance and let it chill in the refrigerator (you can let it chill overnight or longer if you’d like). Recipe yields 8 patties.
- 1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (2 medium or 3 small)
- ½ cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander
- 1 cup water
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked black beans)
- ½ cup chopped red onion (about ½ small red onion)
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce* or 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups quick-cooking oats** (use certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing (or avocado oil, if using stovetop method)
- 8 whole wheat hamburger buns (optional)
- Your favorite burger fixings: Avocado or guacamole, tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, cheese, sprouts, ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, fried eggs…
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- Roast the sweet potatoes: Slice the sweet potatoes down the center lengthwise. Place the sweet potatoes, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until they yield to a gentle squeeze, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Set aside for now. (If you’ll be baking the burgers, reserve the parchment-lined pan and leave the oven on.)
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, 11 to 14 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let the quinoa steam for 10 minutes.
- Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin (it should pull off easily) and roughly chop the insides. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cooled sweet potatoes and quinoa, black beans, onion, cilantro, garlic, adobo sauce, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Use a potato masher, pastry cutter, large spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix really well. It’s ok if the black beans get smashed in the process.
- Sprinkle the oats over the mixture and mix well with a large spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty. If you won’t be making the burgers immediately, cover the mixture and refrigerate for later.
- When you’re ready to cook, shape the burgers: Use a measuring cup to measure out ½ cup of the mixture. Gently shape it into a patty about 3 ½ to 4 inches in diameter. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers and smooth out any jagged edges. Repeat the process for each patty; you should end up with 8.
- If you’re baking the burgers (see recipe notes for alternate options), brush both sids of each patty generously with olive oil and place them on the lined baking sheet, leaving a few inches of space around each one. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the patties are deeply golden on the outside, about 35 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Serve burgers as desired. Leftover burgers keep well, refrigerated, for 4 days. Or, freeze them in a freezer bag for up to 3 months (thaw in the microwave for about 1 minute or in a 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until warmed all the way through).
Recipe adapted from the Cafe Flora Cookbook. Cafe Flora is a wonderful vegetarian restaurant in Seattle with an ever-changing seasonal menu—check it out if you’re nearby.
*Adobo sauce note: Buy canned or jarred chipotle peppers in adobo and use the sauce. You’ll usually find this ingredient in the international or Hispanic aisle of the grocery store. You can transfer leftover peppers and their sauce to a freezer bag, squeeze out any remaining air, and freeze for later use.
**Oats note: You can use old-fashioned oats instead, if you briefly blend them in a food processor or blender until broken into smaller pieces (not as fine as flour).
Stovetop cooking method: Heat 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or other high heat oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, place several burgers in the pan, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook each patty until browned and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet for each pan of burgers you fry, and dial down the heat as necessary to prevent burning.
Grilling method: Ideally, let the mixture chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before shaping the burgers and grilling. No need to coat the burgers in oil, which might burn on the grill. Shape the burgers as instructed in step 6, and cook on a grill over medium heat, turning once the undersides have turned golden and developed some grill marks. Repeat on the other side.
Make it gluten free: Use certified gluten-free oats and choose your accompaniments carefully. As an alternative to buns, try butter lettuce leaves!
Prepare in advance: Prepare the burger mixture and let it chill in the refrigerator (you can let it chill overnight or up to a couple of days if you’d like). Then assemble the burgers and cook as directed.
Serving suggestions: These veggie burgers don’t have to be served as traditional burgers. The patties are good on their own with toppings like guacamole and pico de gallo, or in a salad with Southwestern flavors. Try serving them with corn on the cob in the summer.
Recipe notes 8/18/20: The original version of this recipe called for ⅓ cup millet cooked with 1 cup water (yielding 1 cup cooked millet) and 1 cup old-fashioned oats, lightly ground in a food processor or blender until the flakes are broken up, but not as fine as flour.