veggie bean burger

With Memorial Day just around the corner, it’s time to talk about burgers (again). Yes, I know I just wrote about all-beef patties, but you don’t need meat to make a tasty burger. Veggie burgers can be just as delicious as their beef counterparts, and healthier too.

Now when I say veggie burgers, I do not mean garden burgers. Just like any mass-produced food, frozen garden burgers are a quick commercially-made alternative to a true veggie burger. Making homemade vegetarian burgers is not much more difficult than preparing beef burgers (especially if you have a food processor) and you can modify the recipe for your own tastes and preferences. Plus they aren’t full of sodium (unlike the frozen varieties).

There are numerous ways to make veggie burgers. Whether using mushrooms, vegetables, tofu or beans as a base, each recipe has something different to offer. I like making my burgers with beans because the texture, when pulsed in a food processor, is really perfect for shaping into patties. I also just like the flavor of beans. Other ingredients I tend to use are walnuts (which provide both substance and flavor), spinach (which helps bind the burger), carrots and onions. You’ll also need to mix in a dry ingredient or the burger will disintegrate into the pan when you try to fry it (trust me on this as I’ve had it happen). The good news is that you can really use whatever you’d like, from bread crumbs to oatmeal, rice, bulgur or couscous (which is what I used when preparing the recipe below this week as I had some leftover from dinner the night before).

Seasonings are really whatever you want. If using black beans, try a tsp of cumin and 1/2 cup cilantro. If you want something with an Italian flavor, use cannellini beans and then add in some sun dried tomatoes and basil. Other flavorings could be chili powder, turmeric, curry powder, ginger, soy sauce or a variety of herbs. It’s your burger, so mix in whatever sounds good.

    Keep in mind that veggie burgers need to be cooked and prepared a little differently than meat burgers. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Don’t over process the ingredients or else the burger will fall apart
  • Cook in a nonstick pan (I use my cast-iron pans)
  • Fry your burgers in a little bit of oil
  • Handle your burgers carefully as veggie burgers are more fragile than meat burgers and tend to fall apart
  • Chill your burgers before cooking (if time allows) as they will maintain their shape better
  • Start off cooking in a hot skillet and then reduce the heat
  • If you accidentally over process the beans, just add more dry ingredients
  • Taste the bean mixture before adding the egg so you can determine if you have seasoned everything to your liking

Following is my bean burger recipe along with some links to other types of veggie burgers that you may find interesting. Some are vegan, some vegetarian and all worth considering.

Recipe: Vegetarian Bean Burgers

Summary: You can use whatever type of bean you’d like in this recipe. I often prepare it with lentils or kidney beans, but black beans, pintos, garbanzos or cannellinis would also be fine. And although I use canned beans in the recipe, you can use home cooked if you have them around.

bean veggie burger

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
Total time: 15 min
Yield: 4 burgers

This recipe also uses an egg to help bind the mixture into patties. I’ve never made it without the egg, but I hear you can substitute a 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes if you want to keep it vegan. You can also leave out the nuts if you’re not a fan or are allergic. They are optional.


  • 1 14 oz can beans (kidney, lentil, garbanzo, cannellini, black or pinto)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1/4 onion diced
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce*
  • 1 tsp Dijon or brown mustard
  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup dry ingredients (fresh bread crumbs, bulgur, brown rice, oatmeal or couscous)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (taste before you put in the egg)
  • Olive or vegetable oil for frying


  1. Dump the beans, onions, walnuts, carrots, spinach, Worcestershire sauce and mustard into your food processor and pulse 6 times.
  2. mixing everything in the food processor

  3. Taste mixture and add salt and pepper (and any other seasonings you want) to taste.
  4. Add in the egg and pulse another one or two times, making sure not to over puree, and then place everything in a big bowl.
  5. your pureed ingredients

  6. Mix in your dry ingredients and then carefully shape into patties using wet hands (so the mixture doesn’t stick to your fingers). Refrigerate for 10 minutes if you have time.
  7. Heat your pan (I prefer my cast iron for this job) to medium high and then add in enough oil to coat the bottom of the entire pan. Set your burgers into the pan and cook uncovered until the bottom is nicely browned. Lower the heat to medium and then gently flip your burgers. Cover the pan and cook for about five minutes.
  8. Check your burgers to see if they’re done. Flip again (gently or else they’ll fall apart) if they need to cook further. If you’re adding cheese, this is the time to do it.
  9. Remove burgers, set on a bun, add whatever toppings you like and dig in.

*Apparently Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies (who knew?) so if you’d like to keep this vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute soy sauce.

Other Veggie Burgers That Look Good

Here’s a list of recipes for veggie burgers that I haven’t yet tried, but plan on preparing in the future.

Veggie Burgers! 23 May,2013Denise Santoro Lincoln

  • Just a note that Worcestershire sauce is actually not vegetarian as it contains anchovies. So if this is being prepared for vegetarians or vegans you can buy vegan Worcestershire sauce made by Annie’s (which you can get at Whole Foods or Rainbow).

  • Thanks, Vi. I didn’t realize it wasn’t vegetarian. You can also use soy sauce. I’ll make a note of it in the post.

  • Emily

    This sounds delicious. Where did you get the bun in the photo? I’ve been on a quest for the perfect hamburger bun. Thanks!

  • Hi Emily — Nothing fancy. I just picked them up at Trader Joe’s. They’re in the fresh bread section (not on the packaged hamburger rolls shelf). There are four in a bag.

  • Emily

    Thanks, Denise. I’ll give them a try.

  • LT

    Just an FYI. Vegetarian/vegan Worcestershire sauce can be purchased at natural food stores like Whole Foods, etc.

  • SK

    All this discussion about the worcestershire sauce being vegetarian/vegan and not one mention of the egg in the recipe

  • Hi SK — There’s already a note about the egg (and nuts). It’s above the ingredients list. Here it is again: This recipe also uses an egg to help bind the mixture into patties. I’ve never made it without the egg, but I hear you can substitute a 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes if you want to keep it vegan. You can also leave out the nuts if you’re not a fan or are allergic. They are optional.

  • Becky

    Questions about the “dry” ingredients…do the rice and couscous require cooking prior to use? what about oatmeal? I would assume not the oatmeal, but would you clarify all of those?

  • Hi Becky — Great question. Thanks so much for bringing this up. I use cooked rice, couscous and bulgur. You can use uncooked quick oats or cooked steel cut oats. I also prefer fresh bread crumbs (usually just the heels of sliced bread chopped in the cuisinart) over dried bread crumbs because they have more substance, but that’s just my preference.

  • Thank you for sharing this one-of-a-kind burger recipe. I will definitely try this for the weekend. Advance Treat for my 27th Birthday! Hope my 2 kids and my husband will like it! Well it looks very yummy as what the picture above shown. : )

  • RdvG

    I’m a meateater and like it that way. However, I will be giving this a try. Thank you!

  • I am not a vegetarian but I try to eat healthy. The burger looks so yummy, I just have to try this recipe.

  • Hi Shine — I’m not a vegetarian either and I love these burgers. I hope you do too! Thanks for your comment 🙂


Denise Santoro Lincoln

I am a writer, editor, mother of twins, and enthusiastic home cook. I was raised by an Italian-American mother who, in the 1970s, grew her own basil (because she couldn’t find any in the local grocery stores), zucchini (for those delicious flowers), and tomatoes (because the ones in the store tasted like “a potato”). My mom taught us to love all kinds of food and revere high-quality ingredients. I am now trying to follow in my mother’s footsteps and am on a mission to help my daughters become adventurous eaters who have a healthy respect for seasonal food raised locally. My daughters and I grow vegetables and go to the farmers’ market. We also love to shop at Piedmont Grocery and Trader Joe’s. When I’m not hanging out with my daughters or cooking, I like to contribute to cookbooks (including Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast and Foods of the World series), work as an editor, and write about food for Bay Area Bites and Denise’s Kitchen. My food inspirations are M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters — three fabulous women who encompass everything I love about food.

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