You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to fall madly in love with these savory, smoky BBQ Vegan Black Bean Burgers. They’re hearty, packed with flavor, and don’t fall apart!
There’s nothing worse than spending precious time blending great bean burger ingredients just to have them crumble when cooking. I’ve been there with crab cakes, too. No fun. This burger isn’t as firm as meat burgers, but darn is it close. No need to handle with kid gloves! They hold up well searing in a skillet, and can even withstand charring on the grill!
Building the Perfect Black Bean Burger
First, the flavor comes from a bold blend of toasted walnuts and a palmful of cumin, chili powder, paprika, and brown sugar. Spinning in the food processor creates a beautiful, mealy blend.
Second, mash the black beans with a fork against a large bowl to create a thick foundation. Leave about half the beans whole.
To blend, add the walnut-spice mixture, sauteed onion, cooked brown rice, a bit of panko breadcrumbs, and BBQ sauce. The sauce replaces egg as a binder to keep the recipe vegan. I strongly recommend wearing food prep gloves to mold the burgers to avoid orange hands from the BBQ sauce and spices. The recipe yields 8 substantial burgers, or 16 sliders half the size. Once shaped into the desired form, chill the burgers at least 30 minutes to firm up before cooking. You can make the burgers a couple days ahead, or freeze!
Lastly, cooking the burgers is a breeze. Whether you’re pan-searing or grilling, heat your element of choice over medium heat. For a little extra crust, sprinkle each side with a bit of kosher salt and ground pepper. Cook/grill on each side 3-4 minutes. That’s it! Burgers will be crusty outside and lusciously moist inside. Have your favorite toppings on hand. Round out a vegetarian menu with appetizing Baked Zucchini Bites, and ending with refreshingly tart and sweet Key Lime Bars. Enjoy!!
*Recipe adapted from Chef Dianne Dillman of The Culinary Arts Center at Rowan College
- 1 ½ cups walnuts
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 15- ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ cups cooked brown rice
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup BBQ sauce (I use Stubb’s)
- Salt and pepper
- 8 multi-grain burger buns
- Toppings: sliced tomato, red onion, avocado, lettuce
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add raw walnuts and toast 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté 5-7 minutes until onion is soft and translucent, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once walnuts are cool, add to a food processor along with the cumin, chili powder, paprika, and brown sugar. Process until thoroughly combined and mixture becomes a fine meal. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mash black beans with a fork, leaving about ⅓ to ½ whole beans. To the beans, add the sautéed onions, walnut-spice mixture, cooked rice, Panko breadcrumbs, and BBQ sauce. Mix thoroughly with a spatula or wooden spoon until a moldable dough forms. If the mixture seems dry add 1-2 more tablespoons of BBQ sauce. If it’s too wet, add more Panko. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
I suggest wearing vinyl, powder-free disposable gloves to form burgers so your hands don’t turn orange from the spices and BBQ sauce. Mold mixture into 8 patties that are about ¾-inch thick and 4 inches in diameter. You could also make 16 sliders half the size. Place on baking sheet or plate and chill at least 30 minutes to firm up before cooking/grilling. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Or, to freeze, wrap each burger individually with plastic wrap and place in a freezer-safe bag. Keeps for 1 month. Thaw completely before cooking.)
To cook*, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add only as many burgers that fit comfortably in the pan. Brown burgers 3-4 minutes on each side. Reduce heat if they brown too quickly. If desired, serve burgers on multi-grain buns with the suggested toppings.
* These burgers aren’t as firm as meat burgers but will hold their shape on the grill. Brush grates with a little oil. Heat grill over medium heat. Grill burgers with the lid closed 3-4 minutes per side.