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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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!!
Grillable Tofu Burgers
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.
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
Serve with your favorite burger fixings!
Adapted them from a reader contributed recipe that ran in the October 2004 issue of Sunset Magazine.
Post Your Comment
I just made some bean and millet burgers last night...tasted fabulous, but more the consistency of soupy, unset polenta than of a firm burger. So, I admire your burger-making capabilities. These look wonderful and just the right texture. Maybe next time I'll use a recipe to start!
These look amazing, Heidi...I'm having a dinner party this evening outside and my guests are going to love these incredible tofu burgers...thank you for sharing. Enjoy your weekend.
This looks awesome! Has anyone tried it yet to enlighten me about the texture? I'm definitely curious...
I wonder if you could these egglesss and thai spiced, like with a red curry base in lieu of the cumin... and a pepper medley instead of the nuts?
being a vegan, i get excited to see recipes for tofu burgers; but i was disappointed to see eggs in the recipe. Please Heidi, make more vegan friendly recipes, everyone can enjoy vegan recipes, but vegans can't always enjoy all the vegetarian recipes that contain dairy and eggs.. I will try to put flax seeds in this one and see how it goes. Thank you though for all that you do. The photos are inspiring and love your style! HS: Thanks Nancy, just for easy reference, there is a section here with all the past recipes that are vegan, well over 100 of them. And if you come across a vegan burger recipe that you find exceptional, please let me know.
These look delicious. Where we live, we can gather our own wild rice. Has anyone ever made a wild rice burger they loved?
I made these tonight and they're fantastic! I broke the patties apart and put them in crisp lettuce shells topped with a pickled, Thai-inspired slaw.
Is it ok to eliminate the eggs to make this a vegan burger recipe? Or do I need to substitute the eggs with something else?
The only thing I miss by being a vegetarian is a good burger, but this one seems to do the job as a good and TASTY alternative to the usual beef burger.
Oh, for the vegans, I use water and it binds pretty well. Some wheat flour improves that, and olive oil too. Not as great as if you used eggs, but if you're vegan, I'm sure you can make that compromise :-)
Hi Heidi, for sure i will try this this one, it's vegetarian but full of goodness from the other ingredients. Thanks for posting such wholesome recipes.
Yes, you can grill them. There will be some stray crumbs, but otherwise they hold. HS: Thanks Lakshmi!
I've had some bad experiences with tofu and never thought that I'd be willing to try it again, but these might convert me.
I'm so confused about tofu. I love the stuff but getting mixed messages about how healthy or unhealthy it really is. Ay yi yi. This recipe looks delish though. HS: Just for reference, so you get a sense of where tofu fits into my overall diet (not to say my diet is perfect) but I eat tofu a couple times a week, always made from organic soybeans - non-GMO soybeans. And I avoid any processed soy products, soy and soy components are in all sorts of processed foods. I like cooking with it, appreciate its culinary legacy, and it is a great source of protein, but like most things, I try to balance it with a diverse diets of other ingredients as well. Nutritionfacts.org is a good resource for science-based nutrition advice.
This is such a beautiful recipe. I have created veggie burgers with vegetables, beans and mushrooms. I have made meatballs with tempeh- but have never thought to add tofu in to the mix.
Hey Heidi the amounts in grams is hugely appreciated. I'm cooking all the way from Australia and although I was starting to get the hang of ounces and pounds it makes it that little bit easier. Also wanted to say that your recipes have changed mine and my husbands nutrition and health in a major way. The benefits of wholefoods and real meals is amazing. Thanks!
these were absolutely outstanding; thank you for sharing and I want to comment on how nice it is for you to give us all measurement choices as I use American and so many print metric recipes and I stopped looking at those as no conversion chart seems to be accurate for all things... am awaiting your newest book...
These look fantastic! And easy. Glad to hear I'm not the only one whose magazine clippings get forgotten once in a while. I've been doing a lot of clean-our recently too and came across a crepe recipe I meant to try last year. I'm determined to give it a try before summer's end.
mmm cashews and sunflower seeds! can't wait to try these.
I'm often wary of tofu trying to be anything "meaty", but I like the idea of pairing it with things like nuts, sunflower seeds and spices like cumin. Maybe this recipe will win me over! :)