Regardless if you’re vegetarian or not, veggie burgers are the perfect main to accompany any side dish (especially french fries!). They can usually be made with pantry staples you already have on hand and are filled with whole ingredients. But, there is an art — or rather a science — to making a good veggie burger. You’ve likely eaten or made a veggie burger before that was too mushy or fell apart immediately after taking a bite. Or maybe it was too dry or completely bland and flavourless (read: cardboard patty). Veggie burgers require more thought than typical beef burgers, because you need to consider texture and flavour that much more. So we’re offering up tips to crafting the perfect patty, as well as one of our favourite recipes: The Southwest Burger! We also adore the Crunchy Sunshine Burger and Cashew Mushroom Slider.

Veggie Burger Rules

1. You Need a “Binder” and a “Dry” Component
● If you want a veggie burger that holds together, use binding agents like cooked grains (rice, quinoa, millet), eggs, flax eggs, bread crumbs, oats, flour or nut/seed flours like almond flour.
● The amount of grains or flour will depend on the recipe, but it’s usually anywhere from ¼ to 1 cup.

2. Any Bean Will Do
● Truly any bean you use will be great, whether it’s chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, white beans, mung beans, lentils or a melange of beans.

Related: Dinners That Start With Frozen Veggies (But Don’t Taste Like It)

3. Choose the “Right” Veggies
● Water and excess moisture will drown your burger in mushy sorrows, so choose veggies that have a low water content, like sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, broccoli or cauliflower.
● If you choose veggies like zucchini, grate them first, then squeeze out the excess water. This is a must!
● Or if using mushrooms, cook them first to release the moisture.
● It’s always good to start a veggie burger with onion and garlic as the flavour-base.

4. Make it Flavourful
● It’s really easy to wind up with a bland veggie burger. Beans don’t have a high fat content, like ground beef, which is where most of the flavour comes from in a traditional burger.
● It’s important to rely on flavour-bombs like:
– Spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala, curry powder, chili powder, paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric).
– Fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint, dill, thyme, rosemary, basil).
– Nut or seed butters (tahini, almond butter, pumpkin seed butter).
– Condiments (balsamic vinegar, tamari, hot sauce, mustard). Tip: use these sparingly if liquid so you don’t add more moisture.
– Others (sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta, nutritional yeast, roasted red pepper).

Related: 10 Veggie-Forward Grilled Skewers and Kebabs to Try This Summer

5. Resting and Cooking
●  Once shaped into patties, let the burgers rest in the fridge, if only for a few minutes, this will help them stick together.
● Most veggie burgers are not grill-able, because their texture is fragile. They may fall through the grates, so we recommend baking or pan-frying. If you desperately want to grill, bake them first then finish them on the BBQ once they’re a bit more solid.

6. Toppings
● Of course, toppings only add more flavour, crunch and excitement.
● Obvious ones are pickles, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mustard and ketchup.
● Not as obvious ones are avocado, guacamole, BBQ sauce, cashew mayo, salsa, sprouts, sauerkraut and caramelized onions.

Related: 20 High-Protein Vegan Meals That Are Beyond Tasty

The Southwest Burger

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rest Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 75 minutes
Servings: 4 burgers

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp ground flax
2 Tbsp water
½ yellow or red onion, roughly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 garlic clove
1 small sweet potato (about 1 cup chopped)
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp granulated garlic
1 x 19 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked beans)
½ cup cooked brown rice
3 Tbsp oat flour
Olive oil for brushing the burgers

Directions:

1. Combine the ground flax with water to make a vegan “egg.” Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients so it congeals.

2. Using the S-blade of a food processor, run the onion through. Then move it to one side or take it out and squeeze it to release excess liquid. If there is liquid pooled in the food processor, gently pour it out without losing any onion.

3. Turn the processor back on and run the garlic and sweet potato through. Pulse it a few times until the sweet potato resembles little rice kernels.

4. Next, add the spices, beans, rice, oat flour and flax egg. Pulse until everything is combined. If you like a more “textured” burger, then you can leave some of the beans unprocessed and whole.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take out 4 equal parts of the burger mixture and shape them into 4 patties.

6. Place the uncooked burgers in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

7. Brush the tops of the burgers with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, then flip, brush the other side with oil and bake for another 15 minutes.

8. Let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes so they can harden. Top with your favourite toppings.

Want more summertime recipes? These vegan sloppy Joe sliders and strawberry chia frozen yogurt pops will surely be a hit.