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!”

Enjoy!!

Grillable Tofu Burgers

5 from 5 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
 
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • 1. You have my mother's Cuisinart :) 2. I think flax "eggs" could work as a binder in this recipe.

    Holland
  • Wow, this looks incredible! I love the idea of adding sliced avocado to it. Can't wait to make these. :) Thank you!

    Jenny Sansouci
  • 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. Sliced avocado, perfecto.

    Lisa Barnes
  • I've been making tofu burgers for a while now and I have found that one useful trick that is rarely mentioned is to weight the tofu block overnight in order to compress as much liquid out as possible. Once you are ready to mix your other ingredients, just crumble the tofu by hand or in a processor. You can easily adjust the amount of liquid by adding more soy sauce or water or even veg stock if you have it. That is a lot easier and tastier than adding extra flour or some other thickener to get that "ground beef" consistency. I'll be trying your recipe in the next few days since it looks pretty tasty.

    Gregg
  • I'm liking these, Heidi. Liking them a lot. I stopped buying veggie burgers in the store for all their processed weirdness (although I do like Sunshine brand), so I'll have to try these...only so many homemade black bean burgers a girl can stomach. Have a great weekend!

    Megan Gordon
  • ooh - I've never made tofu burgers! I've made black bean, chickpea, and the regular versions of meat burgers, but clearly i'm missing out on this one!

    heather @ chiknpastry
  • WOW, i was so ready for these burgers. I was just complaining to a friend i had nothing in the house that didn't take at least 30-40 min to get ready, opened your post and YOUSA! They were done by the time I finished my tea, I do drink tea out of a 20 oz Scottish beer mug so i had some time :) They were totally delicious, thank you so much for saving me yet again!

    Susan
  • Already has my mouth watering...never made a tofu burger, and the easy food processor method makes it a must try.

    sarahb
  • Those do look convincingly like burgers! Sounds like a great, easy recipe. Thanks :-)

    Michelle @ Find Your Balance
  • Such a simple recipe. I usually just buy frozen veggie burgers, but this one looks worth a try. Luckily, I finally purchased a food processor recently! Thanks for the post!

    madge @ vegetariancasserolequeen
  • Heidi these look fantastic. Any way of avoiding the egg as a binder? What might you recommend? HS: Hi Noelle, I've listed some vegan suggestions up above in the main post.

    Noelle @ GreenLemonade
  • Hm, I can't believe I still haven't made (or eaten) tofu burgers in my entire life! This recipe looks simple enough for even a burger makin' novice like me to throw together. Thanks!

    Rachel @ Working Out Wellness
  • i don't think there's a humanly possible way of making tofu burgers simpler than this! great! they look delicious! i'll have to try!

    Adriana from Baking Powders
  • Awesome recipe. The boyfriend is going to love this as he is doesn't eat meat but likes hearty food! I might try baking them in oven.

    Nathalie
  • Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe Heidi! I will try it this weekend : )

    Tini
  • YUM! now this looks like a burger I would be excited about!

    Simply Life
  • These sound delicious! I can't wait to try them. For those looking for an alternative to the eggs, I have a substitute that I use in my black bean/mushroom burger recipe that works quite well. I am thinking it will work with this too. For the equivalent of one egg: Mix 2 tablespoons of whole or ground chia seeds with 3-4 tablespoons water. Let sit until it forms into an eggy--gel like consistency. The whole seeds will add a bit more texture.

    Megan
  • I have used over cooked pasta to serve as the binder for veggie burgers and it has worked well. It might be an option in place of the eggs.

    Renee
  • P.S. - Per the fat-free question, you'll need something with fat in it to season the grill or skillet, but a few sprays of PAM should do the trick an be negligible enough. BTW tofu burgers normally work fine on a well-seasoned grill; you just need to be careful flipping them.

    Caroline
  • Timberly: I've made vegan tofu burgers by pureeing half the tofu (so it's hummus consistency) and using it as a binder in lieu of the eggs. I think I got the idea from a Mark Bittman recipe.

    Caroline
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