Vegetarian Lentil Burgers Recipe

Tasty, hearty vegetarian lentil burger recipe. Slathered with saffron yogurt and stuffed with avocado, lettuce, and onions.

Vegetarian Lentil Burgers

For those of you who are fans of the chickpea-based veggie burger I did in Super Natural Cooking, you might want to try this vegetarian lentil burger recipe - it's a twist on the one from my book. This version is a tasty, hearty lentil "burger" slathered with saffron yogurt and stuffed with avocado, lettuce, and onions. As I mentioned in SNC I finally figured out how to make a veggie burger that I actually enjoy - but it took an ah-ha moment for me to get there.

I've always felt that when you put a veggie burger patty on a bun you end up with a burger experience that is too dry and bready. It finally dawned on me to turn the patty into the bun by splitting it in half and then stuffing that with all sorts of deliciousness - avocados, greens, tomatoes, onions, spreads, whatever. This lentil burger uses the same approach.

I'd bet caramelized onions would add another dimension of depth and flavor either on (or in) these, if you have a bit of extra time on your hands. How about chopped cilantro? Or a bit of crumbled goat cheese, you all know I like lemon zest in just about everything, or chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chives, finely chopped walnuts, a bit of corn....not all at once of course, but feel free to spike the lentil mix with a few extras if you are feeling adventurous.

Party option: Do round, ultra-mini patties and serve them with a selection of dips, use double-pronged toothpicks for easy dipping. There is a garlic, cilantro yogurt dip in my book that would be delicious, also the red pepper and walnut-based muhammara featured here.

The saffron yogurt that I mentioned up above is one of my favorite condiments lately. I came home from the CIA Worlds of Flavor: Spain conference late last year with a drawer full of saffron and saffron spice blends, so I've been using it in all sorts of ways. I particularly like saffron yogurt with black lentils and use this combination in various ways in my day-to-day cooking. To make the saffron yogurt place a tablespoon of scalding hot (or boiling) water in a cup, add a tiny pinch of saffron threads to the hot water (about 10 threads). Wait about five minutes, then stir in about a 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Fage 2% Greek yogurt is thicker and a good consistency for a burger spread if you can find it....the vibrant yellow color is stunning, and I never cease to be delighted by it. A dollop of this can transform a plate.

Other vegetarian recipes that can work well in the role of main course:
- Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini Recipe
- Bulgar and Spinach Pilaf Recipe
- Chickpea Veggie Burger Recipe
- Maranui Surf Club Salad Recipe
- Big Bowl Quinoa Recipe
- Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad

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Vegetarian Lentil Burger Recipe

These make great do-ahead meals, and you can store shaped, ready-to-cook patties in the refrigerator for a week's worth of work lunches. I use black lentils in this recipe, some of the other types of lentils are too mushy when cooked - so I'd stick with the black lentils. Feel free to spice up the batter by experimenting with your favorite seasonings.

3 cups cooked black lentils
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup toasted fine (whole-grain) bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)

Combine the lentils, eggs, and salt in a food processor. Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a runny yet textured hummus - it's o.k. if many of the lentils remain whole (see photo). Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the onion. Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a very moist mixture that you can easily form into twelve 1 1/2-inch-thick patties. I err on the moist side here, because it makes for a nicely textured burger. You can always add more bread crumbs a bit at a time to firm up the dough if need be. Conversely, a bit of water or more egg can be used to moisten the batter.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium low, add 4 patties, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes. Flip the patties and cook the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. Carefully cut each patty in half, insert your favorite fillings, and enjoy immediately.

Makes 12 mini burgers.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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These burgers together with baby spinach, avocado slices and drizzled with balsamic dressing were out of this world! Thanks for the yummy recipe; the entire family liked it, and it’s definitely a keeper. I do have one question, though: How do you keep them from not crumbling while flipping? Mine were a bit crumbly and I had to use two spatulas to flip them. Also, they look so great in the picture- how do you slice them in half without them falling apart? I hope you can give me some tips, because I’m sure I’ll be making these often, so the advice will be very helpful!
HS: I think the key is making sure you have a moist patty for starters, if they are too bready or if they dry out during the cooking process, you’ll run a higher risk of crumble issues. So I tend to keep them on the chubby side, I make sure they are moist – just this side of tacky. I cook them covered for as long as possible (until they are cooked through), and now that I think of it shape plays a role as well. I make the patties equal thickness throughout, you don’t want thin, tapering edges that can dry and break off – go for more of a hockey puck shape.


Those lentil burgers truly look amazing! I have only tried portobello burgers as of now.. but this is going on the top of my next burger list.


Hi – re comments by GreenMyEyes I can confirm that 1 tsp of ground cumin, 1tsp ground coriander and 1 tsp chilli powder (1/2 if you dont like it so hot) gives it a fantastic spicy taste. I also added a mildish fresh green chilli finely chopped seeds removed, this added a nice fresh edge.


great recipe I love the veg stuff!!
awesome post


Hi Heidi! I am a junior at Case Western Reserve University, and I tested out my dorm kitchen with this recipe today! Everything worked out really well–I could only find French lentils (they turned greenish when I washed them…oops!) and a friend made impromptu breadcrumbs for me with the oven and our mini food processor. My suitemates really liked them, even the boys who sustain themselves with microwavable “man” meals. How would you recommend spicing up the burgers in the future? Perhaps with an Indian twist?
I love your blog–it’s my inspiration for when I own a kitchen!

Anita Sadhu

I’m sure you know this already, but your blog is featured in the article below on MSN’s home page!!!! How exciting!!!

Debo Hobo

I tried to do without the eggs as well (substitute: mushy quinoa and ‘hope and prayer’), but those didn’t do the trick and I ended up mixing in a single egg. still didn’t hold together well enough to cut in half but held a burger shape and was tasty.


My veggie husband and I have made the original version of this recipe several times with great success. Only we have changed it up a bit, we used 1/2 canned chickpeas and 1/2 canned white beans, and more recently 1/2 chickpea and 1/2 canned black beans. The black bean version also had cilantro, and fresh roasted green chile – mmmm! I think that has been the best one yet. I also tend to amp up the spices a bit more, adding pepper, smoked paprika and garlic powder. At any rate, its definitely a keeper and amenable to many revisions/substitutions. panko for the breadcrumbs also works nicely too, btw. Can’t wait to try this lentil version, maybe with some garam masala or balti seasoning?
Heidi, this was the recipe that spurred my hubby to buy me both your books, which we love – he had the hardest time finding them at Powell’s until he asked and was told they were in the “sustainable cookbooks” section. Only in Oregon, I guess 🙂


Hot damn! I am sooooooo making these this weekend. It will be my reward for doing so much homework.

S. from The Student Stomach

Hi. I made these lentil burgers for lunch yesterday. They were pretty good! I added a handful of chopped cilantro (I love cilantro), and filled it with sliced tomatoes, purple onion and a bit of alfalfa sprouts. It’s so nutritious and good! Thanks a lot, Heidi.
BTW, I consider myself vegetarian and I eat cheese. LOTS of cheese.


Very interesting take on a veggie burger. I love lentil burgers. I make a Turkish style lentil burger and serve it on pita. The flatbread is thin enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the burger.


Yep, vegetarians eat eggs and dairy, vegans don’t eat any animal-derived ingredients. Here’s a little FAQ list about the terms:
But, anyhow, I made a vegan version of the chickpea burgers substituting a flax seed paste (1 part flax seeds to 4 parts water, blend them in a blender or food processor, and it keeps for a couple weeks in the fridge) for the eggs, and didn’t notice any taste difference, they just weren’t quite so yellow-orange since they were missing the yolks.


I like the look of this a lot better than all those generic “fake meat” patties you can buy at the store–instead of imitating meat, it looks like these patties do their own thing!


Don’t want to hijack this thread, but I’m curious to know whether Anthony distinguishes between vegetarian and vegan.
In my mind it has always been: no dead animals = vegetarian; no dead animals or animal products = vegan. Maybe this is too simplistic?


i just bought your cookbook and found your blog. it is so beautiful. i am posting on you on wednesday.
thanks for the recipes!


my stomach is growling, black lentils are on my shopping list for tomorrow, these look divine!


mmmm both burgers sound great!
I’ve never had black lentils so I’m quite curious!

maninas: food matters

Heidi, I just wanted to say that I have been a long time reader of this site and love all of your inovative recipes. They are delicious and always inspire me to try new foods/food combinations.
For the people asking about egg and dairy substitutes, Cook’s Illustrated has a lentil burger recipe that uses bulgur, cashew butter (because of nut allergies I sub with tahini and also get excellent results) and mayonaise as binders – I imagine a vegan mayo could easily be substituted to give similar results. It might take some playing around with to get the right consistency, but I think combining the flavors from Heidi’s recipe with the binders from the CI recipe could give you what you are looking for.


The recipe sounds amazing but I am also looking for subsitutes for the eggs and any dairy…please help!


Just wanted to stop by and let you know I made the step into alternative grains. I have never had barley in my life, but I made a beef and barley soup. I was inspired by your meyer lemon risotto. Anyway, it was great. Thanks again!


Wonderful idea about making the burger the bun. I also really like the suggestion about making mini burgers to serve with dips. As always, love your blog!

Deb Schiff

I really wish people would stop saying “vegetarian” when there is non-vegetable products in it.. Eggs & Dairy aren’t vegetarian… Don’t kid yourself.


I could totally eat these, what a great concept and so versatile too. Great recipe!


I made the chickpea burgers from the book the other night and they were delicious and easy. These lentil burgers look even easier. What a great idea to use the burger as the “bun.”


I used to be a vegetarian, and I still love eating veggie food. I long ago gave up involving excessive amounts of bread in my veggie patty recipe, but this looks sooo delicious. thanks for inspiring me to forget about expensive meat for a little while.


Great site ! any replacements for eggs in the recipe ?


great recipe! my roots are from afyon city – turkey, where the lentil recipes are the heart of their kitchen. they use aubergines with black/green lentils, hope you give a try (and take a nice photo shot for us:))


Re the last post comments: Yes Barry definitely with a French accent is there any other way? Barb will certainly impress her up market friends
Good reminder of the veggi burgers too

Heidi A-P

todo: buy black lentils


Looks fantastic! def worth a try, especially since the Black lentil Daal is my fav daal 🙂 I think a dash of “garam masala” or plain ol’ cumin powder would do wonders too!


Wow this looks amazing! and it is truly brilliant how you just turned them inside out like that. What a great idea.


Yay! Lentils. Being an Indian, I have plenty in stock. I tried your chickpea burgers which came out great. I attempted to make the bun also and had a hard time. This one doesn’t need buns, so its even better 🙂


OOOOOHHHH! That looks sooooo goood!!! I think I am going to run downstairs and soak a bag of blackbeans so I can make it tomorrow! I even have an avocado in the fridge…it was “meant to be” ;0)
I love love love your recipes Heidi! Keep ’em comin’!!!


Your yogurt recipe is divine…
The photos on your site are
and so far everything I’ve tried
is delicious……..
love your site

Paula Ross

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