Grillable Tofu Burgers

Seasoned with a good amount of cumin, cayenne and mustard, these are hearty, filling, easy to make, dump-everything-in-the-food processor grillable tofu burgers.

Grillable Tofu Burgers

Wayne calls this the “1996 Veggie Burger.” It’s basically an old-school hippie burger. I love them for a few reasons. First, they’re grill-able. Second, they’re made from ingredients I understand - organic tofu, seeds, nuts, eggs, spices, and breadcrumbs. And third, they’re endlessly adaptable by switching up the spices & your burger toppings.
A Grillable Tofu Burger Recipe

The Recipe

On the cooking front, I've been cleaning out some drawers. Primarily going through old magazine clippings (which is part of the reason I've been featuring more magazine inspired recipes than usual). I've been finding lots of gems, and these tofu burgers jumped out at me. I've adapted them from a reader contributed recipe that ran in the October 2004 issue of Sunset Magazine. The recipe was sent to Sunset by Jeremy Wolf of San Francisco, and I enjoyed them so much! They were impossibly easy to make, relying on the "throw everything in the food processor" technique, and called for a quirky mix of ingredients ranging from tofu, seeds, and nuts, to mustard, cumin, and mushrooms. In the years since, I've done a lot of variations, and I'll talk through a few of them below.

I will say, I suspect you'll be tempted to tweak the seasonings, and you should! But here's my advice. Don't skimp on the cumin or mustard, you need some assertive flavors to kick in - keep in mind you're dealing with ground tofu and eggs as a burger base. Whatever you do think bold!

Ingredients in Food Processor for Tofu Burgers

Tofu Burgers - How To Cook Them

One of the great things about these is you can cook them a number of ways. You can use a skillet, you can grill them, or you can bake them. The main thing you need to do is blend the mixture to a smooth-ish consistency. Then firmly shape and press the mixture into firm patties. I call for the firmest tofu you can find (extra-firm), but each tofu brand has a different quantity of water in it. If your mixture is too wet, simply blend in more breadcrumbs 1/4 cup at a time, and go from there. The mixture also firms up as it sits, so keep that in mind. You can let it rest for 10 minutes or so before shaping if you have the time.
A Grillable Tofu Burger Recipe

Tofu Burger Variations

A number of people have attempted to make these without the egg. I haven’t tested that version yet, but here’s are a few notes from the comments. From Lisa,”For the vegan, I reserved part of the batch before adding eggs, and put in a tablespoon of almond butter as a binder, plus a little extra breadcrumbs.” Jacqui says,”...although I was out of eggs, so I used 2 T of chia seeds mixed with 6 T of water as a replacement. Worked great!”

For a gluten-free option Lisa commented with this brilliance, “I make something similar to these and use masa harina instead of breadcrumbs for a gluten-free option… it definitely gives it a “southwestern” twist, and is SO delicious.”

Cooking Tips

If you’re nervous about the patties falling through grill grates, Judith says,”…my husband was in charge of the grill, started out on aluminum foil, we thought they might fall through the grates, he ended up putting them right on the grates (they firmed up while cooking on the foil for a bit) and they were wonderful!”

A couple other favorite summertime sandwiches include this chickpea salad sandwich and this veggie burger from Super Natural Cooking. And I like to bring these when we're out camping. Here's where you can see all my favorite camping recipes. Enjoy!!

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Grillable Tofu Burgers

4.62 from 26 votes

Be sure to seek out the firmest tofu made from organic soybeans you can find. If your mixture is too wet after blending (tofu brands have a range of water in them) add more breadcrumbs 1/4 cup at a time. Toppings pictured include basil, tomatoes, avocado, & sriracha-ketchup-mayo slather. You can also do a lettuce wrap in place of buns.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound / 16 oz / 450 g extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry, then sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55 g fine dried bread crumbs, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55 g cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz /55g sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • extras: whatever buns & condiments you like!
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together and is free of most chunks, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor once or twice if needed. If it seems a bit thin to you, add more bread crumbs a handful at a time until everything comes together.
  2. Divide the mixture into eight equal portions and use your hands to (really) press and form into round but flat-ish patties. If you want larger burgers, shape into 4-5 patties. Allow to sit for ten minutes or so. You can also refrigerate at this point.
  3. If grilling, gently rub each patty with a bit of olive oil, and place on a medium hot grill. Grill, covered, usually 5-7 minutes on the first side, and 4-5 on the flip. Be sure the centers are cooked. If cooking on a stovetop, pour the olive oil into your largest skillet over medium-high heat, and arrange as many patties as you can without crowding. Cover, and cook turning once, until deeply browned on both sides. Roughly ten minutes. You want to make sure the middle of the patties cook through. If the pan is too hot you'll burn the outsides before the middle cooks up, so be mindful of that.
  4. Serve with your favorite burger fixings!
Notes

Adapted them from a reader contributed recipe that ran in the October 2004 issue of Sunset Magazine.

Serves
8
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 
 
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Recipe Rating




Comments

These were really good and satisfying. My partner liked them too -- so thanks for helping me convince him we don't need to buy those frozen, ultra-processed things at the supermarket anymore. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

Barbara

    Thanks Barbara!

    Heidi Swanson

These looks great! Are they freezer friendly precooked?

Sasha Elias

    Hi Sasha - I think that is going to impact the texture. Not sure if it'll be in a good or bad way, but let me know if you give it a try!

    Heidi Swanson

I made these super yummy burgers for my family last night. We are vegan so I used lfax eggs and it was not entirely successful holding things together. They were still delicious, but a little crumbly. Next time I'll try chia or a combo of chia and flax and will report back. I've also heard silken tofu might be good too. Stay tuned. . .

Leah

    Thanks for the egg-free report Leah! The eggs definitely act as a binder, and you need that here. Maybe something like Just Eggs could be an option as well.

    Heidi Swanson

The texture is off on these burgers - too mushy.

LZ

I made this for my vegan 12 year old lunchbox, they were so awesome! My biggest peeve with vegan burgers has been the way they fall apart since I insist on shallow frying them like pancakes... This one held its shape! I added 2 green chillies to kick up the spice a notch. Thank you so much for this!

kanakapriya

    Happy to hear it! Love the green chile addition! - h

    Heidi Swanson

I prepared a double recipe of these using flax eggs and packed them for a music festival camping trip. I grilled them up as sliders for our group's potluck supper one night. I served them on potato rolls with vegan ranch and fresh greens from my garden. They were a HUGE HIT. Now I make this recipe on the regular, sometimes tweaking the seasonings a bit; always with great results. Thank you for the awesome recipe!

Nicole

    Yay! Love hearing this Nicole. I'll have to give the vegan version a try. Thanks for the comment.

    Heidi Swanson

Grillabity in a homemade burger is something that I always fail at. The end up sprinkled all over the bottom of the grill. :( It makes me wonder what actually is in the processed ones!? I'm excited to try these! Are you able to offer any alternatives to the mushrooms? They are a deal breaker to my husband, but I think they may be a textural element here and I'm not sure what to replace them with.

Anna

    Hi Anna - I think you should be ok just leaving them out. Let me know how it goes.

    Heidi Swanson

Fantastic recipe! I have tried to make veggie burgers from two (2) other recipes before this one. This recipe was a lot easier, faster, and tasted much better. You can hardly tell the difference between this tofu burger and a regular hamburger. I added more bread crumbs to get just the right texture as the recipe suggests. We'll be adding this to our repertoire of family meals in the future. Thank you!

Paul

    So happy you enjoyed them Paul! Thanks for the comment.

    Heidi Swanson

Are the cashews for flavor or binding? We have nut allergies in our house, and it's a bummer that nuts, nut butters, and nut milks are so popular right now.

Alexis W.

    Hi Alexis, go ahead and double up on the sunflower seeds. Should be a-ok!

    Heidi Swanson

I LOVE these burgers! They remind me of Fantastic Foods' dearly departed tofu burger mix, and are just as quick to whip up. I've found that pressing the tofu for ~30 minutes and using 1 egg creates a nicely workable texture. I also like to sometimes add sesame seeds and/or nutritional yeast.

amy

    Thanks Amy!

    Heidi Swanson

You are so wonderful. I love everything that you do - thank you so much for your contributions to my cooking and eating!

Liz Sosne

    Thank you Liz!

    Heidi Swanson

The best plant based burger I’ve had. Texture was great. “Dough” was easy to work with and held together just as well as ground beef. Burger flavor is good for making whatever kind of burger you want whether mushroom swiss or cheddar bbq.

Jessica

    Thanks Jessica!

    Heidi Swanson

Hi, I am so excited to make these, I was just wondering if you think these would be suitable to freeze? Thank you so much.

Bridget

    Hmm - I'm not sure Bridget. Freezing definitely impacts the texture of tofu. If you give it a shot please report back!

    Heidi Swanson

Another fantastic recipe to add to my weekly rotation!

Maurizio Leo

I made this for dinner tonight and it was so good! Thanks for sharing.

Mehndi

    Thanks Mehndi!

    Heidi Swanson

I really enjoyed these- I don't usually like the "meaty" sort of veggie burgers but these were delicious and fulfilling without being too filling- if that makes sense. I was able to follow the recipe as written, which was nice for me since I usually need to make substitutions to accommodate my no onion/no garlic diet. We grilled these last night topped with sharp cheddar and I don't even want to think about if it is odd or not to eat cheese on a tofu burger- and served on sweet potato buns with juicy fresh jersey tomato. For lunch we will go tex mex with chili lime crema and sliced charred poblano as toppings.

Nicole

    Omg - yes to the chili lime crema and charred poblano! Sounds amazing.

    Heidi Swanson

I am always looking for new burger recipes and this looks fantastic! i cannot wait to try them very soon. thank you for sending recommendations on egg-free version.

dixya @food, pleasure, and health

This recipe looks great. Has anyone else found tofu kind of hard to cook with? When I go out to vegan restaurants, I enjoy it in scrambles and in burgers, but it's not always easy to handle - even when it's firm. I have many clients (as a nutrition consultant) who have a soy allergy, so I suggest black bean burgers, which I think would work well with this recipe too!

Rea Frey

I made these last night for a barbecue with neighbors (some vegan, some vegie, some carnivore). Everyone loved them! For the vegan, I reserved part of the batch before adding eggs, and put in a tablespoon of almond butter as a binder, plus a little extra breadcrumbs. Also, I didn't have sunflower seeds, so omitted them entirely. Didn't seem to make much difference. Both mixtures (with and w/out eggs) were pretty runny, so I cooked them in a pan. Next time, will try chilling first. Great recipe!

Lisa

This was my first go 'round with any type of veggie/tofu burger ever and I have to say the results were pretty yummy. This is definitely not a 'hamburger' but it was a tasty alternative--and served on a toasted white Portuguese bun with goat's cheese, arugula and ketchup (I couldn't help myself!) it made a great dinner. A couple of notes: I only had a package of pressed tofu on hand and got a bit nervous part way through that the mixture was maybe too dry so I added an additional egg. In retrospect I probably should have just let the mixture puree a bit more before I panicked but things turned out Ok. I didn't have any cayenne so I ended up adding a teaspoon of Mexican chili powder plus a 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander and one clove of garlic in addition to the cumin Heidi recommended. I also toasted my cashews and sunflower seeds before adding. I did get eight good sized patties out of this recipe and I'm hoping they freeze well--I wrapped them up individually before stashing in a freezer bag for a quick weeknight supper later on this week. We'll see how it goes! Another great recipe. Trust in Heidi and all will be fine :)

@lynneux

I halved the recipe and made these last weekend, with enough left for my husbands tea the following night, because as you mentioned tofu does weird things when it is frozen! We both thought they were great! A lot of veggie burgers can be really dry, but these were just right. I baked them in the oven at about 180 for 15 minutes each side and they held together! Thanks for a great recipe. I will be making them tonight (with the other half of the tofu block) but will try them with different seasonings.

Mandy

To respond to Noelle's question about how to eliminate the egg, I find that adding coarsely-mashed beans or sweet potatoes works really well as a binder. It sounds like this recipe would be tasty with black or pinto beans. A potato masher works well for this. I like the coarsely-mashed texture because it lends some textural contrast. The burgers will be a bit more delicate than the egg version, so use care when flipping them. Using a slender fish spatula will help.

Laurie Gauguin

oops also -- they were a little wet when forming the patties, but i placed them on a plate and put in the fridge while i waited for guests to arrive and they firmed up considerably.

jen

made these tonight. toasted the cashews, used a blend of half sharp hungarian paprika and cayenne. ended up using panko and upping the total contents to probably 3/4c. a warning - these make small patties, unless you smoosh them flat. that was the only way i could get a full 8 burgers out of the recipe (not a complaint, more of an FYI).

jen

Hi everyone. . . I just made this burger for my boyfriend, Frank who has been Vegan for over 40 years (ever since he was 8 and he decided that he didn't want to eat any relatives of his parakeet Perkey). Frank's response was: "WOW, this is the best soy burger I have ever had", followed quickly by "and who is Heidi?" HA. Anyway - it doesn't just look amazing. It actually is. And here's the kicker - I forgot to add the ENER-G egg replacer that I normally use in recipes, and it still held together like magic. So actually it can be vegan by omitting the egg element. . .

Elizabeth

I made these for dinner tonight, and wish I'd read the comments about fresh bread crumbs... they definitely were a little runny when raw. While the finished product wasn't really a looker, man was it delicious! Served on whole wheat toast with guacamole, lettuce and tomato... delicious!

NikaD

I made these last night. I just realized I forgot to add the breadcrumbs...they were still great...held together perfectly in the pan. They are way better than the prepackaged veggie burgers. Full of wholesome ingredients and super easy to make. I made some fried onions to go with them. For me - veggie burgers are all about the toppings!

Jaime

Made these last night - the same day I found them on my email, as my son was coming to dinner. Very easy to make and shape - they held together brilliantly, and tasted great, although I was out of cummin seeds! The recipe also made a good size batch - enough to give away and to store.

Margaret

these just rocked my world, i threw some Chipotle in and served them in wraps with vegies, fresh spinach and a beetroot chutney. Right now i am a very happy man

Andy G

I'm always looking for new tofu recipes. Printed this one and can't wait to try it!

Julie

these look so good- i usually use sweet (or regular starchy) potato mixed with tofu for my veggie burgers, but i'm looking forward to trying a version with eggs instead...maybe with a few pinches of hijiki thrown in there too. thanks for the recipe, can't wait to make them.

Ana

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