We’re settling into another week at our favorite vacation spot: Deep Creek Lake. We haven’t taken a non-work trip in over 2 years, so we packed up Noelle, the dogs, and pretty much everything we own and are here for 2 weeks! There’s been biking, hiking, swimming, boating, tubing, s’mores-ing, grilling, cheers-ing, and above all else: sitting on the deck doing absolutely nothing. Now that’s vacation.
Yesterday we took Noelle to where we got engaged 5 years ago. Remember that? Those photos. We were babies! ♥
Earlier in the summer, with vacation in mind, I made a batch of what I believe to be the best black bean burgers ever. Or at least the best black bean burgers I’ve ever had. The goal was to have a delicious homemade vegetarian option for the nights we grill burgers and hot dogs. My assistant, Hilari, was visiting and we couldn’t believe their hearty texture, incredible flavor, and overall ease of preparation. I was expecting good, but not this good. Kevin actually loved them too, which… I don’t know… sort of surprised me because he loves beef and this was… beans.
Let’s highlight the good stuff. These black bean burgers are:
- big + thick
- NOT MUSHY
I feel the need to shout that these black bean burgers are not mushy, one of the common problems with homemade black bean burgers. On the other hand, these black bean burgers are not crumbly either. They hold their shape beautifully!
What makes them the best?
BEHIND THE RECIPE
- Partially dry out the black beans. I learned this from Serious Eats. Spread out the canned black beans onto a lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. This prevents the black bean burgers from tasting like mush.
- While the black beans are in the oven, sauté some garlic, onion, and pepper together. This will be the flavor base of the entire burger. Make sure you blot the garlic, onion, + pepper when they’re done– you don’t want its moisture in the black bean burger.
- Food processor or fork! Your choice. Whichever you choose, make sure you don’t completely mash the black beans. We want a bulky and satisfying texture. Larger chunks of beans are the best part!
- FLAVOR. A black bean burger would simply be a patty made from beans if we didn’t add some pizazz. The sautéed garlic, onion, + pepper combo is a great start, but a little cumin, worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, feta cheese, and chili pepper turn black beans into the BEST black bean burger.
Now let’s talk about binders.
How do the black bean burgers hold their shape?
- Breadcrumbs. I used gluten free bread crumbs to keep the burgers GF, but any bread crumbs are great. You can use crushed crackers, almond flour, or even oat flour instead.
- Ketchup. I love ketchup so the more the merrier, but you only need 2 Tablespoons. Some sort of condiment like this is needed so the burgers hold their shape. Instead of ketchup, try mayo or BBQ sauce. (I used a tangy BBQ sauce in the 2nd batch and the burgers were incredible.)
- 2 eggs. Best burger binder you’ll find.
All of this stuff, plus the baked black beans, goes into 1 big bowl. Lightly mash it all with a fork to combine. It’s too easy.
Shape the black bean burgers however large or small you want, keeping in mind that the larger they are, the more unevenly they’ll cook. From what I tested, the sweet spot is about 1/3 cup of mixture.
You can bake or grill the burgers– instructions for both included in the printable recipe below. You can also make the burgers ahead of time and freeze, which is what I did for our trip. Stack them between parchment paper in a freezer container or zipped-top bag. You can even bake/grill the frozen burgers if you forget to thaw them.
For a light lunch, skip the bun and eat on a salad. For a seriously impressive supper, get creative with the toppings: mashed avocado + caramelized onion, pepper jack cheese + spicy mustard + sweet pickles, herbed goat cheese + roasted red peppers, sriracha + sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella + pesto, corn salsa + cheddar cheese.
When I made them this past weekend, I piled the black bean burgers high with BBQ sauce, Swiss cheese, and grilled pineapple. Best thing I’ve eaten all week. And my week included s’mores made with peanut butter cups. SO THAT’S A GOOD BURGER.
Let me know if you try them for Labor Day!
- 2 (14 ounce) cans black beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (1/2 of a pepper)
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1/2 of a large onion)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tablespoon)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs or oat flour
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup, mayo, or BBQ sauce
- pinch salt + pepper
- Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Spread beans evenly onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until slightly dried out.
- Meanwhile, sauté olive oil, chopped pepper, onion, and garlic over medium heat until peppers and onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Gently blot some of the moisture out. Place in a large bowl or in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Stir or pulse everything together, then add the black beans. Mash with a fork or pulse the mixture, leaving some larger chunks of beans.
- Form into patties– about 1/3 cup of mixture in each.
- To bake: Place patties on a lined baking sheet and bake at 375°F (191°C) for place patties on baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes on each side. To grill: Place patties on aluminum foil and grill 8 minutes on each side.
- Serve with your favorite toppings.
Make ahead tip: Cooked or uncooked black bean burgers freeze wonderfully! Stack between parchment paper in a freezer container or zipped-top bag. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat to your liking or, if uncooked, cook according to instructions. If desired, you can skip thawing and reheat/cook from frozen for an extra couple minutes.
These black bean burgers are vegetarian, but they are not vegan. To make vegan, leave out the cheese. Replace the Worcestershire sauce with a different vegan condiment (your favorite BBQ sauce would be great!) and replace the eggs with 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato.
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SHOP THE RECIPE
Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.
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