Why make black bean veggie burgers?
Vegetarians and omnivores alike are leaning toward black bean veggie burgers as a healthy, cheap alternative to beef hamburgers. Meat eaters have growing concerns about the fat content and food safety of ground beef, especially meat that might sit by the grill for hours before cooking.
A growing number of vegetarian or vegan alternatives are available in supermarkets. Among the most popular are black bean veggie burgers. The store-bought patties pose some minor food safety concerns, as described here. The main issues are that they are rather bland and fairly expensive (typically at least $1 each). They are generally pretty healthy, but necessarily have some additives and preservatives.
It’s simple to make black bean veggie burgers at home. There are plenty of recipes online, but after trying some and reviewing dozens of others, they are all essentially variations on the same basic idea.
Main ingredients for black bean veggie burgers
The top ingredient is obviously black beans. You can use either canned beans or well-cooked dry beans. Either way, the beans should be well-drained, rinsed and mashed. They can be well-mashed with a fork until almost smooth. The beans or the combined ingredients can also be blended in a food processor, but don’t get too crazy with the pulse button. The mashed beans or burger mixture shouldn’t be a paste as fine as refried beans.
The next ingredient is some kind of grain to help form mashed beans into a solid burger. Bread crumbs are popular, but oats can also be used. Those with gluten intolerance can substitute rice or ground flax seed.
Bread crumbs will hold together a black bean veggie burger with some flour, forming a kind of paste with the liquid in the beans. Otherwise, eggs or egg substitutes will help bind the burgers. Roughly one egg and half a cup of breadcrumbs should be added for every two cups of beans.
From there, add any seasonings and flavorings you like or that you might have on hand in the kitchen. Onions are particularly popular, adding flavor and texture. Other than that, flavorings can be as simple as salt or exotic as Thai curry paste.
From there, form patties and fry or bake the patties until browned. Don’t make the patties too thick or they might fall apart and the eggs may not cook thoroughly in the middle of the burger.
Additional tips to consider
I recommend testing and perfecting your black bean veggie burgers before trying them on the grill, unless you like fishing out and eating ash-covered bits of bean mash. They can fall apart without enough egg or other binding ingredient.
Refrigerating the patties for a couple of hours can help hold the patties together more easily, but it’s not necessary.
Black bean veggie burgers are the most popular homemade style, but many other veggie burgers can be made at home, adding similar mixtures of spices, carbs and veggies to potatoes, lentils, tofu and more. Many of them can be trickier to hold together as patties, but if they don’t work, just call it veggie hash and go with it.