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Whether you’re new to plant-based eating or have been doing it for years, there’s a good chance that vegan burger patties are a staple in your diet.
Pulling a frozen burger out of the freezer after a busy day and frying it up on the stove is a quick, easy and filling meal. For some of us, aside from beans and rice, it’s our go-to.
And we all have our favorite brands of frozen vegan burger patties. Some prefer ones that get close to the real deal, while for others would rather have a veggie burger that taste like vegetables.
But eating frozen vegan burger patties a couple times a week or more can get expensive, and boring. Why not make them yourself? It’s much easier than you think. You can make them just the way you like them, and it’s easy to make a batch and freeze the batter in individual servings for that last-minute meal.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a handy guide to making the best vegan burger patties.
Start with Beans
Most vegan burger patties have either legumes or tofu as their main ingredient. And for good reason. It’s healthy, filling and delicious. Beans add the right texture and make for a complete meal in and of itself. Beans, tofu, and tempeh are excellent sources of protein.
Black beans are the most popular choice for spicy Mexican-style burgers, but you can also use adzuki, black-eyed peas or green or red lentils.
You can start with dried beans, soak overnight, cook the next day and drain. Or a simpler option is to use canned beans. Either way, be sure to drain well.
Most vegan burger patties need some sort of grain for a filler and for texture. Some people prefer rice or millet. Quinoa is another option. For a binder use either flour, oats or breadcrumbs.
Greens like spinach, kale or arugula will add iron and vitamins to your burger, and they will definitely add flavor. Root vegetables like grated carrots, beets or turnips are a must, and not just for color. Zucchini and other squashes work too.
Onions and garlic go without saying, but here’s where you can get creative. The spices you choose really depends on what direction you want to go in with the burger. Curry, ginger, and cumin will give your burger and Indian flavor, while chili powder, chipotle or crushed red peppers will add a south-of-the-border flair.
Since we’re not using egg, it’s important to use an alternative to keep your burger from falling apart. Flax egg is a great vegan binder and can substitute eggs in a lot of recipes. To make, combine 1 Tbs. ground flax seed and 3 Tbs. warm water and letting it sit until it gels.
Grate or chop and mash either by hand or in a food processor. Then be sure to drain as much moisture as you can. You can add additional grains or binder if needed. This is an important step to prevent your patties from falling apart.
If you’re following a recipe and the patties feel too sticky, use your judgment and add what you need to get the right texture. You don’t have to follow it to the letter, it’s just a guideline. Just be sure to make note of the changes you made, so you can repeat it the next time.
Shape them with your hand or use a mold to get perfectly-shaped burgers. Keep an eye on the thickness. You don’t want burgers that are uncooked in the middle.
Some recipes recommend refrigerating before cooking. It’s not a bad idea, just do this step before forming the patties, because it will add moisture. Then shape and bring to room temperature before frying or baking. You can also freeze them for later use at this point.
Vegan burger patties can be fried, baked or grilled. If frying, be sure to get the pan hot first, add oil and then fry on one side until crispy and then flip. If you’re adding vegan cheese, it’ll melt in a pinch by placing a lid on the pan.
Most vegan burgers can be baked for an oil-free option at 350 degrees until done. If you’re going to grill a vegan burger, one trick is to bake it in the oven for 15-20 minutes first to prevent it from falling apart on the grill. Also, make sure the grill is nice and hot and sufficiently oiled before grilling.
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to mix it up and make your own. If you’re still unsure which ingredients go well with what, or how much to add, that’s okay. Below are some great recipes for inspiration.
Falafel Vegan Burger Patties
If you live in New York City, you know that falafels are available on nearly every street corner. They’re a popular and healthier option than hot dogs. But not all of us live there, and we can’t be sure what’s really in them or if they’re vegan.
Falafel burgers use chickpeas as their base and are delicious served in a pita with tahini, tomatoes, and pickles.
Traditional spices include cumin, coriander, cardamom, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and lemon. Breadcrumbs and flax egg can be used as binders, or use oats as a gluten-free option. Blend all ingredients in a food processor, and fry in a pan for a crispy coating. They’re best served hot. Make Tahini dressing in a grinder with toasted sesame seeds and olive oil.
Check out the recipe here.
Tofu Vegan Burger Patty
There’s a reason why tofu is an essential ingredient in Asian cuisine and also in most vegan diets. It’s versatile, takes on any flavor, and it’s high in nutrients.
Making the perfect tofu burger requires a few steps. But it’s worth it. The first thing you want to do is freeze a 1 lb. block of tofu overnight. This will give the tofu a spongy quality that’s similar to meat or chicken.
Then thaw the tofu, drain, and place between a clean kitchen towel or several paper towels to absorb the moisture. Weigh the whole thing down with something heavy, and try to remove as much moisture as possible, even changing the towels a couple times. This step takes about 30 minutes but is essential for preventing burgers that fall apart.
The next step is to get creative with ingredients. Add soft greens like spinach or arugula and other vegetables like carrots are a start. Then add garlic, onions, and spices. Grate all of that up in a food processor. Add tofu a little at a time, and nuts of your choosing. Stop every once in a while to scrape down the sides.
Cornstarch makes a perfect vegan binder. Make a slurry with some water before adding to the other ingredients. And then add breadcrumbs to complete.
Here’s the full basic recipe and instructions.
Roasted Beet Vegan Burger Patty
People have strong feelings about beets, they either love them or hate them. These roasted beet burgers are sure to convert the nonbeliever.
The recipe calls for lots of garlic and other spices, but that’s not set in stone. However, you won’t regret following the recipe’s suggestions.
It also has millet as a binder, but you can use rice or another grain. The walnuts in this recipe are a good choice because they’re meaty and flavorful, but you can use almonds or pecans if you prefer.
Here’s the full recipe.
Broccoli Cheese Chickpea Burgers
Kids will love it, which is true, but grown-ups will love it too. This may become a weekly thing in our house.
Even though it says “cheese” in the recipe, it’s really is vegan. And kids that turn up their noses to broccoli, will be asking for seconds.
Here’s the recipe.
The Best “Beefy” Vegan Burger Patty
If you want a burger that tastes like the real deal, you know that the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat come close. They’re also expensive and hard to come by.
Believe it or not, you can make your own with not much hassle. The secret ingredient is mushrooms. Mushrooms have that something special that even a carnivore will admit fills that void. If you add the right amount of oil and grain, you’re good to go. Another secret is adding smoke flavor. Cook these beauties on the grill for a charred smokiness and this will become your summer favorite.
As you’re perusing these recipes, and there are plenty more online, keep in mind that they’re just suggestions. Play around with the ingredients, and make them your own. Once you get the perfect recipe, don’t forget to write it down.
For more excellent recipe ideas and vegan tips check out the Vegan.io blog.