The World’s Most Versatile Veggie Burger Recipe

iStock 000019040143XSmallAfter seeing how useful (and how popular) the Perfect Smoothie Formula and the Ultimate Energy Bar Formula were, my sister Christine and I set out to see what other foods could benefit from a good formula-izing. That’s a real word.

In case you haven’t seen our other formulas, the idea is simple: instead of creating just one recipe, to make just one smoothie or one energy bar (that your taste buds will surely tire of by next week), we come up with a template that can be used to create virtually limitless variations, leaving room for your ideas in the process.

Smoothies and energy bars were natural choices for formulas. These are foods we eat all the time, so we need endless variations. But what else would lend itself well to a formula?

Enter the veggie burger formula

It’s not that we eat veggie burgers every single day. Or even every week.

But what’s great about veggie burgers is that if you’ve got just a few standby recipes, on any given weeknight you’ve almost certainly got everything you need in your pantry or fridge to throw something edible together in 20 or 30 minutes.

They’re super healthy and a good protein source too. And most importantly, they’re substitution-friendly, making them a perfect fit for a formula — if you’ve got a can of beans and a few random veggies in the fridge, chances are you’ve got what you need.

About the formula

And so Christine got to work creating a new formula. What’s really interesting is that she started with the energy bar formula as the backbone, since the bars are based on beans as well and have a texture that’s befitting of a burger. Of course, she replaced sweet flavors with savory ones, and designed the burgers to be fried, not baked like the bars are.

These burgers work great for a weeknight meal, and they’re perfect for tucking into a pita for a lunch on the go. We like to make them slider-style, since smaller burgers tend to stay together better than large ones and have a better texture. You can also make a large batch on the weekend and freeze ahead of time, but keep in mind that they tend to defrost better in the refrigerator than in the microwave.

Alright, here we go! The master formula is below, and we’ve listed several options for each broad type of ingredient, which you can mix and match to come up with your perfect burger. We’ve also included, at the bottom, three of our favorite combinations in case you’re not in a creating mood.

Enjoy!

The veggie burger formula

Ingredients:

  • 1  pound can of beans, drained and rinsed, or 1.5 cups cooked beans (suggestions: your favorite bean!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups diced veggies (suggestions: carrots, celery, mushrooms, chopped spinach, chopped kale, corn, chopped artichokes, zucchini, squash, sweet potato)
  • 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons oil for frying (suggestions: olive, coconut, grapeseed)
  • 3 tablespoons liquid flavor (mix and match suggestions: mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, vegan worcestershire, buffalo sauce, balsamic vinegar, salsa, pasta sauce, marsala, water)
  • 4 teaspoons spice (we recommend combining at least two: smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, montreal steak seasoning, black pepper, cayenne pepper, fennel, oregano, curry powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (omit or reduce if your liquid or spices contain salt)
  • 1 cup dry base ingredient (suggestions: buckwheat, unsweetened protein powder, bread crumbs, cornmeal, oatmeal)
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredient (suggestions: chopped walnuts, olives, avocado, sundried tomatoes, leftover cooked rice/quinoa/bulgur, parsley, cilantro, basil)

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the onion, veggies, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and pulse with beans, liquid flavor, spice, salt until combined but still chunky. Pulse in the dry base and texture ingredient.

Form into golf ball size balls and flatten into patties.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Fry patties 2-3 minutes per side until browned and heated through.

Makes about 18 small patties.

Our favorite variations

Mexican Sliders

  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups of veggies: 1 cup canned yellow corn, 2/3 cup sweet red pepper, 1/3 cup packed spinach
  • 3 tablespoons liquid: 1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 a lime), 2 tablespoons red prepared salsa
  • 4 teaspoons spice: 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry ingredient: cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredients: 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup white rice

Classic Sliders

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups of veggies: 1 cup mushrooms, 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup green pepper
  • 3 tablespoons liquid: 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 2 teaspoons soy sauce or vegan worcershire
  • 4 teaspoons spice: 3 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp salt (omit salt)
  • 1 cup dry ingredient: panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredients: 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Indian Patties

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups of veggies: 1 cup sweet potato, chopped fine, 1/2 cup sweet red pepper, 1/2 cup yellow corn
  • 3 tablespoons liquid: 1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 a lime), 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 4 teaspoons spice: 3 tsp curry, 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dry ingredient: oats
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredient: 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped cashews

 

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Comments

  1. Great recipe base! Thanks! I highly recommend beets as part of the veggie component!

    • I just tried the veggie burger recipe. It worked out well! The next time I will make more modifications to the taste but the consistency was perfect this time around. My blog post gives photos and details if you are interested. Thanks! Blog Link: http://kb1awv.com/?p=862

  2. I make soy and almond milk with a specially designed appliance (Soyajoy G3 – search on Amazon). It works great (I had the old model which didn’t work well and recently gave it another try) – saves money and saves cartons.

    But I end up with a lot of soy and almond mash – I’ll have to try adding some of that to these recipes…

    Mike

  3. Cindy Gingrich says:

    Terrific — thanks! I’m determined to get away from the processed soy burgers on the market and so many recipes don’t work for us because they contain something my picky omnivore husband won’t eat. But you give choices and explain the purpose of the various ingredients. Thank you, thank you!

  4. Oh, it’s my dream come true! I love these formulas. I already love the energy bar formulaizer. I can’t wait to try this one!

  5. Love this!! Can’t wait to try them!

  6. Awesome formula! I should print this out and put it on our fridge. I am always looking for straightforward, whole-foods-based recipes that have the potential to become weekly staples.

  7. Awesome! I can hardly wait to try making some when I get home! The best part is that I’ve already got all of these ingredients in my kitchen. Thanks for this post!

  8. These sound awesome! I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 6 years old, and veggie burgers are still one of my favorite meals of all time. I get excited just thinking about them!

    Healthy, protein-packed, and satisfying—what more could you ask for? Can’t wait to try these recipes!

  9. In the past, I’ve tried so many veggie burger recipes and been disappointed, so when I tried these last night, I cautiously used half measures as I wasn’t sure how they would turn out. I tried the Indian burger and oh my goodness, it is soooooooo good! I’m kicking myself that I didn’t use full measures and make more! :-) Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. This is wonderful. I can’t wait to try them out… thinking of all the delicious possibilities!

  11. I love your typical soy burger, but this recipe looks great. Plus, soy isn’t good for people with thyroid issues so this is a great alternative. Making meals from scratch is a lost art. It makes you really think about what you’re putting inside your body. A good thing. Thanks Matt.

  12. Good timing! Trying them all at tonights bbq :) The Scott Jurek’s are great but takes a bit of time to prepare, so kudos for the get-them-on-the-grill-in-almost-no-time-version!

  13. Matthew Bevan says:

    How about Old Bay seasoning?

    • Christine says:

      Old Bay is great! Just remember that Old Bay contains salt, so you may need to reduce or omit the other added salt.

  14. Matt, thank you for posting this veggie burger formula and including some specific variations! This is amazing. I have already shared this with a few of my veggie friends and we all agree this is stellar! Recipes/formulas are great, so keep them coming!

  15. Thank you so much for posting a great formula! My husband and I made the Mexican Sliders and they were so tasty! Can’t wait to try your others and create new ones!

  16. Thank you, love the formula. I’ll definitely try the others also, think I’ll start with the Indian ones -sounds fab!

  17. Dawn Steeves says:

    This is soooooo helpful!I just decided, after a lifetime of waffling between meat-eating and veganism, that I am now committing to a strictly plant-based diet. I came upon your website by mistake… So glad to have found it! My partner is also taking this step with me! We’re very excited about it!
    Just made a batch of these veggy burgers… First time I ever got to taste the ‘meat’ before it was cooked… Awesome!!! Thank you!

  18. This is such a good idea, I’ve been looking for a fool-proof formula for meat-free burgers for ages and this one looks so easy to do and eliminates the need to have to go and buy a load of ingredients as here you can just use up what you already have! Genius!

    One quick question, how do you go about freezing them? Is it best done before or after cooking? And then how would be best to reheat? Would baking them in the oven, or grilling be an option?

    Thanks :-)

    • Christine says:

      Hi Hannah,

      I freeze the burgers before cooking. I shape them into patties and lay them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or wax paper. Freeze the burgers until hard, then you can gather them up into a freezer baggie and they will keep their shape. Thaw in the fridge the morning before using, then fry as directed. You can microwave defrost them in a pinch, but that tends to make the burgers too soft and fall apart.

      I haven’t tried grilling or baking these burgers yet. In the past, I have baked burgers at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then given them a quick pan fry to brown the outsides.

      These burgers will be a little softer after being frozen because the dry ingredients soak up more moisture, which means they might fall apart during grilling, but as I said I haven’t tried it yet.

      Good luck,
      Christine

  19. I just have to thank you for this recipe! I will NEVER buy another Boca burger again as long as I live! I just posted my variation if you’d like to see- http://runplantstrong.com

    Thanks again!

  20. I’m so bad at cooking when I’m missing an ingredient but the format of this recipe was awesome. I mixed and matched and came up with something my meat eating family devoured.

    More of these please :)

  21. I have always been pretty much a vegetarian, but I just went 100% two weeks ago. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes. Thanks!

  22. Thank you thank you thank you for this recipe/formula! So many veggie burger recipes that I see have an endless list of ingredients, and look like they will take hours to make. I love the variability built into this recipe and I cannot wait to try my own variations. Thank you again!!

  23. Wow! This is literally just what I’ve been needing!

  24. Thank you for this Matt!
    I’m been eating a plant-based diet for almost 3 years now and my husband is slowly joining me, but he says he would miss burgers too much, so now I have some options to give him that might help make the switch easier for him.

  25. Would cooked lentils or split peas work in place of beans? It seems like they should, and I’ve made a recipe for split pea burgers before (they turned out well), but I’m not sure if I’d have to adjust the amount or not.

  26. Fantastic idea! I used your formula to make my own take on indian style patties and they were amazing! I can’t wait to try out the formula again and make another great burger. A huge thank you from Ireland for all the great work you guys do :-)

  27. Love these. My husband could even figure out the Mexican sliders and had them ready when I arrived home last night. :) He substituted fresh corn for canned and carrots for spinach based on what we already had in the fridge. Yummy!

  28. Soon as i saw this recipe, i knew what i was having for dinner! Thanks for this recipe. Im a struggling vegan and this recipe made my world brighter!

  29. Thanks so much for posting the burger and energy bar formula. I just found your site and am quite inspired by this. Love it!

  30. So far, I’ve done the classic sliders recipe for the vegetarians at my work on hamburger and hot dog day, and tonight I used Italian style choices within the formula to make meatball subs!! Thank you so much for publishing this!!!

  31. This recipe is a lifesaver! We have been plant based for 1 year and I have never made a veggie burger from scratch. I tried the indian sliders and everyone LOVED them. We have six kiddos so that was a relief. I just made double batches of the Mexican, Classic and Indian versions for the freezer this week. They are great to have in a pinch. I also found raw shelled hemp seed at Costco this week and used it in place of 1/2 the oats! I’m so glad I know what is in my veggie burgers now!!! Thanks

  32. Thanks so much! The spouse is an athlete and I’m generally a no-meat kinda person so this is great!

  33. Thanks for posting the veggie burger formula. This is awesome. Multiple combinations/flavors to make a variety of veggie burgers. That is awesome.

  34. Daniella Renee says:

    Tried the recipe for the first time last night. A-MA-ZING. Love the fact that it can be vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and DELICIOUS.

  35. You should add this to your recipe page!

  36. PuterrotMond says:

    We’ve stopped eating red meat, pork and fowl three years ago, and seafood or soy burgers just never appealed to us. The veggie burger formula is a gem! I’ve made the “Classic Sliders” twice now and made them into regular size patties and baked them, they held together well, weren’t dry, and the texture was great. I plan to make a huge batch once a month for burgers once a week.

    • I was going to try this method myself. Glad to see it worked. Anyone know of a way to calculate nutrition facts for these burgers? Do you simply add the information together and divide by the number of patties it makes?

      • The easiest way I find to calculate nutrition these days is using the my fitness pal app. It’s free and you can track what you eat if that’s important to you, or you can just assemble your own recipes in the app and it does the work of calculating most of the nutrients for you. I hope that’s helpful. :)

  37. Just tried these and YUM! First veggie burger I”ve ever made that stayed together. And I happened to have all the ingredients already so bonus! :)

  38. Hi Matt,
    I make veggie burgers all the time. They’re easy and sooooo yummy with just mayo, tomatoes and lettuce on whole meal bread. My husband uses Lebanese bread since he’s from Egypt. I got to try the Indian patties they do sound great. Thanks for your article

  39. Thanks we have been eating meat free since Nov. Its hard to think of new ways of cooking but this is great. Thanks this will definitely be a weekly on our menu.

  40. Tried these with a whole bunch of ingredients but they turned out like pancakes. Still pretty tasty though :)

  41. Susan Wandling says:

    Made a batch with chickpeas — fantastic! Gonna try them all! Thank you!!!

  42. Stephanie J. says:

    wow these are fantastic! thanks for another great recipe!! just made them tonight!

  43. The best veggie burger recipe ever!!!

  44. Can you give me the nutritional facts on these burgers, particularly protein, carbs and fat? I am trying to keep my carbs up, so I need to know how much each one would be.

    Thanks

    PS Can’t wait to try them!

  45. Raymond Husk says:

    Thank you so much, this is just what I was looking for.

  46. This recipe is SO delish and I love the mix and match component. I’ve even had non-vegans LOVE this. My only issue is getting them to stay together. They are slightly crumbly, which isn’t the end of the world when they taste so good, but any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

  47. Notquitevegetarian says:

    Made these for dinner with what I had on hand. Black beans, corn,green pepper and cauliflower. Oatmeal for my dry base salsa as my liquid. Taco seasoning and chipotle as my spices. Loved loved loved them! I actually cooked them up then put them in tortilla shells w vegan cheese because It seemed appropriate. I look forward to trying many different combos. beans and veggies and sauces oh my!

  48. Hi Matt,
    I really like your idea of the flexible recipe, of using what you prefer. I just wanted to let you know about another similar type of flexible recipe called the Magical Loaf Studio, which is located here: http://www.veganlunchbox.com/loaf_studio.html. Jennifer McCann created the Vegan Dinner Loaf recipe page. I’d recommend that you and her possibly get together and make a similar recipe page that she has for loaf, but made for your burger recipe instead. Have a look at what she had done, it’s great!
    Best Wishes,
    Stephen

  49. Absolutely horrible. Such a disappointed. I followed the directions and used the correct amount of dry ingredients, beans, everything. It came out the consistency of dog food. Never making again. Would not recommend to anyone

    • Bummer! That does seem to be the common complaint — the consistency sometimes turns out badly. But sometimes the texture turns out well, considering it’s a formula … I wish I could figure out what ingredient makes the difference.

  50. You sir, are a genius. I was looking for a good vegan burger and haven’t had much luck. This formula work fabulously for me! I have found my perfect veggie burger! Thank you so much for this. I’m sharing it with everyone I know!

  51. JuliannieM says:

    Great Recipe. I love the versatility of it. Only thing I added was ground flax meal to act as a binder. Tripled my batch and now I have cooked burgers in the freezer for quick meals for the family and BBQ’s this summer.
    Thanks!

  52. Love this formula — thank you!! What a nice, simple way to approach this. Can’t wait to try it.

  53. Shelley says:

    These look fantastic and I can’t wait to try them out! Any suggestions for combinations using white/cannellini beans?

Trackbacks

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