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4 Veggie Burgers That Don't Suck

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- 1783 days ago -
Someone passes you a paper plate, a seeded bun, and--wait, you don't eat meat? Oh. Well, here's a tomato and some lettuce.

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Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 5:33 am
Photo Credit: Christina Heaston
Lukas Volger's Mushroom Burger with Barley, from his cookbook "Veggie Burgers Every Which Way"

It's a warm summer evening, and you're on a back porch with a group of friends, drinking a beer and getting ready for dinner. Someone passes you a paper plate, a seeded bun, and—wait, you don't eat meat? Oh. Well, here's a tomato and some lettuce.

If you steer clear of beef, you've probably experienced a similar scenario. If you're lucky, you maybe even found a frozen soy patty masquerading as a burger that, when grilled, sort of tasted like nothing, and drenched it in mustard.

I know: Vegetarians need to stop whining about missing out at barbecues because we choose to cut delicious juicy hamburgers out of our diets. But even if you're just trying to cut back on meat, or trying to impress a vegetarian, the alternatives usually offered are lackluster at best, and unhealthy and environmentally questionable at worst. As my colleague Kiera Butler reveals, it can take just as much energy to produce a veggie burger as a beef burger, and many soy-based fake meats are processed with hexane, a neurotoxin.

Luckily, there are savory alternatives to this dilemma, made from ingredients you probably have at home. I reached out to a few vegetable-oriented chefs and cookbook authors for their favorite burger recipes, which are shared below. Some of them are vegan and gluten-free, too. And you can always freeze them after you've made a bunch, so next gathering, you'll come prepared with a burger made with unprocessed ingredients and devoid of mystery chemicals.

Mushroom Burgers with Barley (vegan)

Lukas Volger takes his vegetarian burgers very seriously, as evidenced by his book on the topic. He also hosts the cooking show Vegetarian Tonight; see below for the episode featuring the Mushroom Burger with Barley, which Volger cooks while clad in a neatly arranged apron and hipster glasses. Volger opts for potatoes rather than eggs when binding his burger, meaning the result is vegan. Writes Volger: "This burger, based in part on the fortifying soup, is simple and delicious and abundant in mushroom flavor. Substitute other mushroom varieties, such as oyster mushrooms or plain button mushrooms."


Makes four 4-inch burgers

1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 portabello mushroom
12 cremini mushrooms
10 shiitake mushrooms
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup cooked barley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Steam or boil the potato until tender. Mash with a fork. Trim off the stem of the portabella mushroom and scoop out the gills. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Thinly slice the crimini and shitake mushrooms. Preheat oven to 375° F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Cook the portabello mushrooms and dried thyme for 6 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to soften and sweat. Add the crimini and shitake. Cook for 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have sweat off their moisture and it has dried up in the pan. Deglaze with the vinegar, scraping off browned bits with a wooden spoon.

Transfer mushrooms to a food processor and coarsely purée. (Alternatively, chop the mushrooms finely by hand.) Combine the mushroom mixture with the potato, barley, salt, pepper, and mushroom mixture in a mixing bowl. Shape into patties.

In a large oven-safe skillet or nonstick sauté pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the patties and cook until browned on each side, 6 to 10 minutes total. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the burgers are firm and cooked through.

Don't forget to "go crazy with the condiments," adds Volger: Yogurt sauce, caramelized onions, homemade pesto, or more sauteed mushrooms, as pictured above.

Recipe from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way: Fresh, Flavorful and Healthy Vegan and Vegetarian Burgers—Plus Toppings, Sides, Buns and More, copyright © Lukas Volger, 2010. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment, LLC.

Beet and Bean Burger

Recipe editor Emma Christensen loved the legendary beet burgers at the Northstar Cafe in Columbus, so she and fellow Kitchn bloggers set out to recreate their own version. The resulting burger, writes Christensen, "had a deep, savory umami flavor" and unlike other veggie burgers, "captured that unique hamburger texture." Dice the beets really small, she notes, and don't use a food processor if you're trying to avoid mushiness. I liked how this burger uses lots of cheap and readily available ingredients; find the full recipe here.

Falafel Burger (vegan and gluten-free)

"Whole-food dishes like falafel—chickpeas ground up with spices and then deep fried—might be a better beacon towards a less meat-intensive future," writes MoJo's food and agriculture blogger, Tom Philpott. Falafel might be the ticket to a better burger, too.

In his piece "3 Ways to Home-Falafel Nirvana," Philpott walks readers through different techniques for creating no-frills falafel at home. Philpott starts with Mark Bittman's recipe, adding:

Having never made falafel before, I was surprised that you don't pre-cook the chickpeas before they're ground. You simply give them a 24-hour soak, drain them (reserving some of the soaking water), and drop them in a food processor with a few other ingredients: onion, garlic, parsley, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, a little lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Then you pulse the mixture, using as little of the reserved water as possible, until it forms a kind of rough paste.

I found that the whole thing came together quickly, with only a splash of water. With very little fuss, I suddenly had a whole bowlful of batter that looked fit for a real falafel joint—minimalist, indeed. Following Bittman's orders, I tasted the batter for seasoning, decided to ramp up the coriander, cumin, paprika, and salt.

To make this falafel work as a burger, I'd recommend pan-frying or baking larger patties. Lay one large or a few small falafel patties onto a toasted bun. Top with fresh cucumber and even a yogurt/tahini sauce, and end with some good old-fashioned Ketchup.

Sweet Caramelized Onion Burger (vegan and gluten-free)

Blogger and chef Joni Marie Newman likes her veggie burgers first thing. In her 2011 cookbook the Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet, she includes recipes for 10 breakfast burgers, with ingredients ranging from tofu to potatoes to oats. A personal favorite of Newman's is her Sweet Caramelized Onion Burger, because "sometimes sweet and savory with a bit of salty is all I crave." Like the recipes above, this burger is devoid of soy and uses simple foods.


Makes 4 burgers.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
1 large white onion, julienned
5 ounces mushrooms, chopped or sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup rice flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon dried parsley

Preheat the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Add a pinch of sea salt to really get those onions sweating. Sauté, turning often, until the mushrooms have reduced in size by about half, or about 5 minutes.

Add the maple syrup and vinegar, lower the heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add a liberal amount of freshly cracked pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the flour, cornstarch, pine nuts, parsley, and liquid smoke, and knead until a nice dough forms. If you think the mixture feels too dry, don’t worry; keep kneading and it will come together, I promise.

Form into 4 patties.

Cook as desired. Bake at 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) for 30 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat, covered loosely in foil, flipping halfway through. Or panfry in a small amount of oil over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side, or until a nice crispy crust forms.
****Photos and video at VISIT SITE ****

By: Maddie Oatman | Mother Jones |

Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 5:34 am

Have a great recipe? Why not share....

Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 5:37 am

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Burgers

•1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (smaller potatoes cook faster)
•1/3 cup millet
•1 cup old fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats if you are avoiding gluten)
•1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked black beans)
•1/2 small red onion, diced
•1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
•2 teaspoons cumin powder
•1 teaspoon chili powder
•1 teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked hot paprika
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional, to taste)
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•high quality vegetable oil for cooking burgers (or coconut oil, if you don’t mind the coconut taste, olive oil may burn)
•8 whole wheat hamburger buns (optional)
•your favorite burger fixings (avocado or guacamole, tomato or pico de gallo, lettuce, sprouts, ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, pickles, cheese)

1.Roast the sweet potatoes: Slice the sweet potatoes down the center lengthwise. Place the sweet potatoes cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until they yield to a gentle squeeze, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it should pull off easily) and roughly chop the insides. Set aside to cool completely.

2.Cook the millet: In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Stir in the millet, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain off any remaining liquid and set aside to cool.

3.Grind the oats: Use a food processor or blender to grind the oats until the flakes are broken up, but not as fine as flour.

4.Mix the burgers: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cooled sweet potatoes and millet, black beans, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, chipotle or paprika, cayenne (optional, add to taste for spicier burgers) and salt. Use a potato masher, big mixing spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix really well. It’s ok if the black beans get smashed in the process.

5.Mix in the oats: Sprinkle the ground oats over the mixture and mix well with a big spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty. If possible, cover and refrigerate the mixture for best results (the patties will hold together better during cooking if they are chilled first).

6.Shape the burgers: Use a measuring cup to measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture. Gently shape it into a patty about 3 1/2 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 would like to toast your hamburger buns, preheat the oven to 350 degrees now.

7.Panfry the burgers: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast iron or non-stick 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.

8.Toast the buns (optional): Place the buns on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and bake until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serves 6-8

Ben O (171)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 5:48 am
OK Kit; -5 Delicious Homemade Veggie Burgers:,,20706085,00.html

Ben O (171)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 5:54 am
And, 10 more Delicious Homemade Veggie Burger Recipes:

Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 6:33 am

Thank you, Ben. I will check both sites.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 7:04 am
Thanks Kit and Ben. My wife doesn't cook and I don't like spending a lot of time in the the one processed foods we buy are Amy's Kitchen organic frozen meals. There are a lot of different veggie burgers to choose from as well as some other great choices. Amy's contributed money to pass Proposition 37 in CA so they are on our "good guys" list. They also voluntarily recalled some meals that could have been in contact with nut products. Perhaps one of the hot, humid days when I won't go outside I will try the black bean and sweet tater recipe..sounds tempting.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 7:20 am
Great recipes. Thanks for sharing.

Nicole W (646)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 7:43 am
thank you for the great recipes Kit!

Arielle S (313)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 7:54 am
Yum - thanks, Kit, for the great recipes (and Ben, too!) There are actually many good veggie burgers out there now but I tend to like the black bean and chickpea best. I often eat them cold or cut up in pasta, too. I'm a lazy cook but I think I'm going to have to try that sweet caramelized onion burger....

Frans Badenhorst (582)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 8:00 am
very very nice recipes Kit, thanks my friend - DELICIOUS !

Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 8:10 am

I'm going to try the Beet and Bean burger, that sounds like a great burger for July 4.

Christina C (43)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 8:22 am
Thank you for the recipes - yum :)

pam w (139)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 8:54 am
Many thanks to Kit and Ben for these....I printed out several. Every now & then, a friend and I will cook several varieties of veggie burgers on the same day and then rate/freeze them. These will be the basis of one of those days.

We've learned that many recipes which call for pan frying can be adapted to the grill if you use a few extra crumbs and cook on a pam made for small vegetables, shrimp, etc. (Just let them get nice and brown on the bottom before turning and use two spatulas (one on top, one on the bottom.)

This is mine.


divergent revolution (309)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 9:07 am
Thanks, just in time, kinda
We just bought a stainless steel grill for the boat.
A major investment. . (SS)

We had our first bbq, there were storebought vegan burgers for me...they svcked.
So, next cookout, I have an alternative.
And , paper plates, please?
A shame.
Thanks kitty cattitude!

David C (131)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 9:12 am
they look and sound good....

Nancy C (806)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 9:18 am
Been so into making salsas, I've forgotten about burgers!!! Thanx all. I've used mushrooms and onions for many a great veggie burger! Will look into all recipes...

JL A (281)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 10:05 am
Thanks for all the yummy options everyone!

Nancy M (197)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 12:11 pm
That mushroom burger sure looks great. And I have ALWAYS! loved falafel.

Joanne Dixon (38)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 12:40 pm
The beet and bean one does sound great, and I suppose one could use GF flour (or just oat flour) for the small amount called for. Actually what is almost more crippling to me in veggie burgers is I can't have mushrooms, but the bean-beet combo gets around that, and LOOKS appetizing too. Thanks for posting it in a text comment, that saves me the trouble of fighting with the html myself. :-)

Lisa N (206)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 1:09 pm
Yum, love a good veggie burger!! Thanks Kit & Ben O.

S S (0)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 3:02 pm
Thank you.

Laurie H (817)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 10:01 pm
You're the BEST Kit!!!! Thank you for these==I'm saving them & will try!!!! Love new veggie recipes!!!!!

Laura T (105)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 2:48 am
ok I eat meat. I like meat. these recipes sound fantastic. I would gladly try them&if they were good add them to my grilling routine.

Kit B (276)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 6:41 am

I think some that eat meat think that veggie burgers are yuck - so I decided to add this. Veggie burgers can be a great alternative to meat burgers, and a very good way to have children learn to love veggies.

Lynda W (64)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 9:14 am
Thanks Kit, I am going to try some of these, yum !

Past Member (0)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 1:49 pm
Great sounding recipes Kit! Will def try them out...i usually make lentil burgers and they're pretty yummy too! And thx Ben too!

Rose B (141)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 4:17 pm

Rose B (141)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 4:18 pm

John De Avalon (36)
Friday July 5, 2013, 8:04 am
Good article. Thank you.

Melania P (122)
Wednesday June 4, 2014, 3:47 pm
Chickpeas are my favorite :)
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