This is my go-to veggie burger recipe, and there is a secret involved. Here's the deal. I've been making these veggie burgers for years. It's a great base recipe, and you can tweak the patties with different seasonings and toppings, based on what you have on hand. I posted them on 101 Cookbooks first in 2007, after including them in Super Natural Cooking.
The Secret to a Great Veggie Burger
Here's the trick - no bun. I'm going to argue that when you put a bean or lentil patty on a bun, you run the risk of building a burger that is too dry and bready. The ratio is all out of whack, with not enough ooey-gooeyness to balance the bread and mashed beans. It wasn't until I sat down to write this recipe for the book that I had the revelation I needed: Turn the patty into the bun and stuff that with all sorts of good stuff. Problem solved.
Veggie Burger Recipe Variations
The other thing I've learned after making these for years, is that they're easily adaptable for any friends who avoid gluten. In place of the breadcrumbs called for in the recipe, replace with puffed quinoa cereal. Or puffed rice cereal. Or rolled oats. Or gluten-free bread crumbs. I bet cooked rice would even work.
Streamlining the Process
In the years since writing the original recipe, I've had a few revelations related to streamlining (the already simple) recipe. I'm updating the recipe below with those tweaks down below.
Filling Ideas for Your Next round of Veggie Burgers
- Avocado Slices
- Cipollini onions - sweet and just the right size
- Sliced Roma tomatoes
- A sprinkling of smoked paprika
- Grilled vegetables
- Salted yogurt
Ultimate Veggie 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 sometimes use sprouted chickpeas, and they are becoming more readily available. But if you can't find them, canned or cooked chickpeas will work great. Sprouting boosts their already fantastic nutritional value even more. Also, for any friends who avoid gluten, in place of the breadcrumbs called for in the recipe, replace with puffed quinoa cereal. And if you're grilling, you can cook these on a small griddle.
- 2 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 onion, quartered
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Grated zest of one large lemon
- 1 cup micro sprouts, chopped (try broccoli, onion, or alfalfa sprouts), optional
- 1 cup toasted whole-grain bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)
If you are using sprouted garbanzos, steam them until just tender, about 10 minutes. Most of you will be using canned beans, so jump right in. Pulse the onions a few times in a food processor. Add the garbanzos, eggs, and salt. Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus. Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the cilantro, zest, and sprouts. 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 moist mixture that you can easily form into twelve 1 1/2-inch-thick patties, or six larger 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.