Fake meat has come a long way in recent years — unless you don’t want a vegan burger that “tastes like beef,” in which case, basically nothing has changed. That’s a shame, because good veggie burgers kick arse. Flavour-wise, they’re more interesting and versatile than ground beef (real or plant-based) and they’re dirt cheap to make. Where’s the vegetable-based burger renaissance we deserve?
I guess until they get a little sexier, regular old veggie burger enjoyers will have to keep making our own. The only problem is that my favourite recipe, while a confirmed banger, is kind of a commitment. Sometimes I don’t have time to soak beans overnight and spend an hour reducing vegetables to a paste — but I’m always down to crush a black bean burger, so I developed a version that’s faster, easier, and every bit as delicious.
This recipe uses ingredients that regular people keep in their houses. There’s no chopping or mincing required — the most involved step is drying out the beans in a skillet to ward off mushiness. Your food processor takes care of the rest. Best of all, these burgers are ready in about 30 minutes flat, which I verified by testing them on a dangerously empty stomach.
You’re going to take one look at these instructions and think I’ve finally, truly, permanently lost it, but trust the process. Pulverizing oats, nuts, mayo, canned chiles, and bean juice makes a sort of mortar for the burgers, so they hold together surprisingly well without eggs or other binders. Oh, and they absolutely slap: Savoury, a little spicy, crispy on the outside, and almost creamy on the inside — everything you want from a black bean burger.
Quick and easy black bean burgers
This recipe should yield 4 thin yet substantial patties. Feel free to make some common-sense substitutions: If you don’t have mayo, sour cream or ranch dressing will work great. A couple of large dried chillies, soaked and peeled, can easily stand in for the canned ones. And, of course, you should add or subtract seasonings to suit your tastes.
- 1/2 cup rolled or quick-cooking oats
- 1/2 cup nuts, any kind, toasted or raw (I used toasted walnuts)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
- 1 x 100 g can roasted green chiles or 1 chipotle in adobo, drained
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, homemade or from a 400 g can
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce of choice, or more as desired (my go-to is El Yucateco Black Label)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon adobo seasoning or garlic salt, plus more to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons water, as needed
- Vegetable or olive oil, for cooking
- Buns and condiments of choice, to serve
Place the oats, nuts, mayonnaise, and drained chillies in the bowl of a food processor. Add about 2 tablespoons of liquid from the beans. Pulse until you have a rough paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Let this mixture sit while you prepare the beans.
Thoroughly drain the beans and spread them out in a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Cook over over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they’re totally dried out and starting to split. Taste one for seasoning and adjust as needed — canned beans usually need at least a little salt.
Scrape the hot beans into the food processor, add everything else except the water, and process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Take a little taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. If it holds together when pinched, you’re set. If it’s a dry, crumbly mess, throw in a tablespoon of water and process to combine. Generously wet your hands and form the burger mixture into 4 patties. (Some extra surface moisture helps prevent cracking and crumbling.)
Wipe out the bean skillet and heat it up over medium-low with a thin layer of vegetable or olive oil. Add as many patties as you can and let them cook until they’re dry on top and firm to the touch. This will take at least 4-5 minutes for thin patties and 6-8 for thick ones. They’ll fall apart if you flip them too soon, so don’t touch! Use the downtime to toast buns, slice onions and tomatoes, and get your other condiments ready.
Flip the burgers and cook until the underside is brown, another 3-5 minutes depending on thickness. Serve on toasted buns with your favourite toppings. If you have any leftover burger mixture, form it into patties and freeze on a parchment-lined sheet pan so they’re ready for your next bean burger craving.