Burgers are a classic summer food, especially when paired with potato salad, chips and ice-cold beer.
Of course, the burgers I’m talking about lack one typical ingredient: meat. These vegetarian burgers taste incredible, whether you serve them on a bun with sweet potato fries or with rice and steamed vegetables.
I enjoy how easy it is to throw a ready-made burger in the oven after a long day’s work, but store-bought veggie burgers can be expensive.
My favorite, the vegetable masala burgers from Trader Joe’s, cost $2.49 for four burgers. And the organic black bean burgers I buy from Costco cost around $14 for a 12-pack.
With a little planning, it’s easy and cheaper to make a batch of veggie burgers on the weekend and freeze them for the week. There are a lot of veggie burger recipes out there, but most of them have a few basic things in common:
Veggie burgers typically have some sort of bean base — whether that’s black beans, kidney beans or chickpeas. I’ve even seen some burger recipes that call for black-eyed peas (sans Fergie). Beans are easy to mash, and mashed beans stick together well. Therefore, most veggie burger recipes include beans.
Eggs are the typical binding agents in recipes, and veggie burgers are no exception. If you are vegan, though, you can substitute a flax or chia mixture.
To make these vegan egg substitutes, mix together 1 tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds with 2 ½ to 3 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes as it thickens and becomes slightly gelatinous.
This replaces one egg in your recipe, so double or triple is as needed.
Along with beans and eggs or egg substitutes, you need to add breadcrumbs or a breadcrumb substitute to your burger mixture. If you avoid bread, try using gluten-free oats instead.
Quick oats work better, but if all you have are regular oats, you can pulse them a few times in a food processor to get the right texture.
To add some bulk to your burger, you can add textured vegetable protein, rice, chopped mushrooms or any other veggies you have on hand.
Potatoes make a good addition too, either diced small or mashed. Most burger recipes include onions; you can swap red onions in for boring white onions to enhance the burger’s flavor.
Depending on what kind of taste you crave, you can add all sorts of herbs and spices, onions, bell pepper, corn and even liquid smoke. The right flavors mean you won’t miss the meat at all.
Some recipes call for a ready-made spice mix, such as taco seasoning. If you have the spices on-hand, you can mix them together to make the seasoning instead of using the store-bought stuff.
Cat’s Go-To Veggie Burger Recipe
I make veggie burgers often, especially in the summer. Smoked paprika makes a flavorful addition to this basic burger recipe. If you’re not a fan, you can swap it out for sweet paprika or your favorite blend of herbs and spices.
Servings: 6 burgers
1 can black beans: 99 cents
½ cup onion, diced: 27 cents
½ red bell pepper, diced: 49 cents
½ cup frozen corn: 25 cents
1 egg: 17 cents
¾ cup breadcrumbs: 37 cents
2 teaspoons smoked paprika: 25 cents
½ teaspoon liquid smoke: 5 cents
Cost per serving: 47 cents
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Drain and rinse the black beans and place them in a medium bowl. Mash the beans well with a potato masher, leaving a few beans intact.
Add the onion, bell pepper and corn, and mix well with your hands. Add the egg and breadcrumbs, and combine. Finally, add the smoked paprika, liquid smoke, salt and pepper to taste.
Form the mixture into 6 patties. The best way to do this is to roll them into balls then flatten them, patting the edges to make them look neater.
Place the patties on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they are firm. Serve the patties in a bun with ketchup or barbeque sauce.
If you have leftover patties, place them individually on a tray lined with parchment paper and pop them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Once frozen through, put the burger patties in a freezer-safe gallon bag. Freezing them individually will prevent them from sticking together in the freezer. When reheating the frozen burgers, simply bake in a 350-degree oven until heated through (about 15-20 minutes).
Veggie Burger Resources
If you want to mix it up, consider the following recipe resources for your next veggie burger.
I’ve had “The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet” by Joni Marie Newman for years and can attest to the yumminess of its recipes. Many of the ones I’ve tried contain textured vegetable protein, which is a cheap way to add protein and bulk to your burger.
If you want to avoid soy, the book also has plenty of TVP-free recipes that will delight your taste buds. At the time of writing, this book was available on Amazon for $15.22 for the paperback edition, or $9.99 for the Kindle edition.
My favorite recipes online come from Minimalist Baker, Cookie and Kate and the New York Times.
Veggie burgers are delicious for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Starting with this basic recipe, you can easily tweak the ingredients to find what appeals to your family’s taste buds.
Catherine Hiles is a writer, editor and amateur chef. After a long work week, you can often find her in her kitchen prepping delicious eats for her family to munch on throughout the week.
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