Classic Bean Burger

SonjaMain Courses38 Comments


Classic Bean Burger

Check this out. Yes, it’s a burger made entirely of beans and nuts. That’s not mushy. That holds up on a grill. That actually tastes like something when you eat it on a bun.

Don’t expect it to taste like meat, but it actually tastes…surprisingly good! Perhaps a little less juicy than its meaty cousin, but that’s to be expected. AND it’s incredibly healthy, as well as easy to make (especially if you have a food processor).

So what’s the catch? Well, nothing. Except for the 10 (count them) – TEN times we had to make these burgers to get them to work out. (And that’s not counting this major failure from last summer that almost turned us off to the idea forever.)

Granted, our ambitions were rather high. We were looking for a meatless burger that was:

Grillable (most veggie burgers are pan-fried or baked, and fall apart quite easily)

Easy to prepare (many veggie burgers require lots of prep time pre-cooking grains and veggies, or even pre-cooking the burger before grilling)

Satisfying on a bun (especially when you’re expecting a burger, beans on a bun isn’t generally the most pleasurable experience)

It doesn’t seem like rocket science, but somehow our burgers were either too wet, too dry, too bland, too salty, too hard to work with, or too inconsistent. We tried endless variations eggs, cheese, and oats to try to bind them together, and various combinations of spices and sauces.

In the end, turns out  that simply beans, nuts, bread crumbs and some spices makes for a burger that’s easy to shape, grill-able or bake-able, and tastes pretty good too! (It also happens to be vegan, if that’s important to you!)

So, it’s not glamorous or fancy. It’s not the best recipe we ever developed. BUT….we did it!  We conquered the bean burger! (I don’t even want to tell you how many of these things we’ve consumed in the past several weeks.) But honestly – I’m already excited to make more of them :)

Classic Bean Burger
Notes: We opted here for a classic recipe in terms of taste – we may try in the future to add some more smokiness, like a chipotle pepper or some pimentón. Feel free to mix up any spices or herbs that you prefer! While the burger had a better texture than most we’ve tried, it’s still a tad dry on a bun, so toppings like cheese, ketchup, mustard, or pesto are helpful! However, if you’re looking for a meaty and juicy taste for your “burger”, a grilled portabello mushroom might be the way to go.
Serves: 4
What You Need
  • ½ red onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 15-ounce can pinto beans
  • ½ cup dried bread crumbs
What To Do
  1. Preheat a grill to medium heat.
  2. Peel 5 garlic cloves. In the bowl of a food processor, add ½ red onion and garlic and process until finely chopped (alternatively, finely chop the ingredients with a knife.)
  3. Add ½ cup almonds, ½ cup sunflower seeds, ½ cup fresh cilantro, 1 teaspoon hot chili powder, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt, and a good amount of fresh ground black pepper. Pulse 10 to 15 times until the mixture is coarsely chopped.
  4. Drain and rinse the beans. In a medium bowl, mash the beans with a potato masher. Stir in the chopped ingredients above (onion, garlic, nuts and spices), and add ½ cup bread crumbs. Mix together with your hands; taste and add additional salt if desired.
  5. Form the mixture into four patties. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the heat of the grill. (Alternatively, bake the burgers in a 450°F oven for 30 minutes, flipping after 15 minutes.)
  6. Top with toppings of your choice, and enjoy!

38 Comments on “Classic Bean Burger”

  1. Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum

    Ah the veggie burger!! I’m definitely trying this next week! I knew you guys would get it sooner or later. :)

    Oh, by the way, we grilled some romaine last night and topped it with homemade blue cheese dressing. It was delicious. Thanks for the great idea!

    1. Sonja

      Aww, thanks!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the romaine — blue cheese dressing sounds delicious! I have a feeling we’ll be making it a lot this summer, so we’ll haev to try that variation :)

  2. Ginnette

    Uuhh this looks very good! I have a question… Since you added hot chili powder, did it make it hot?? I don’t like spicy things, I’m sure I can change it for something else, right? Thanks!

    1. Sonja

      Our burgers didn’t turn out very spicy, even though we used “hot” chili powder (the quantity was pretty low; I’d add more or use hot sauce to get a spicy burger).

      I would think a standard or mild chili powder would provide good flavor without too much spice — and of course, you can substitute or add spices to your own taste! (A lot of bean burger recipes call for cumin or even curry powder, but we were going for a less distinctive flavor).

      Good luck!

  3. Kay Ecker

    Your photo is beautiful and your burger looks great! I’ve always wanted to make a veg burger and now that you perfected your recipe, I hope to try making it soon. Thanks for the inspiration:-)

  4. Biz

    Actually it sounds kinda good – although I am not sure I could fake out the hubs on this one – that’s okay, there will just be more for me!

  5. Lauren

    Wow! I’m SO excited to try this. I’m super glad to have found this on tastespotting. I’m still looking for the perfect veggie burger recipe.

  6. Jen

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. My daughter is a new vegetarian and my husband is an avid meateater who’s biggest complaint about vegetarian food is that it’s not hearty enough. I think these would satisfy all parties.

  7. eatlovedrink

    Oh my gosh…good for you for persevering! I’ve been trying to make a good black bean burger for about a week now. I’ve made a couple straight-up gross batches. It’s kinda turning me off them forever. I’m really impressed you kept at it — your recipe looks fantastic! (Love that it doesn’t use eggs…)

    1. Sonja

      Haha, I hear you on “straight up gross” – love it! :) Somehow the eggs made the consistency pretty runny, and didn’t seem to add a lot to the ability to hold together. Let us know if you give ours a try!

  8. Annie

    I can so relate to all the tweaking and remaking until you get a recipe just the way you want it (or also, remaking until you get a photo that does the dish justice). Glad you stuck with it! These sound wonderful. I love bean burgers!

  9. Lori

    Hi! I made these burgers last night for Jeff and I and they were awesome! I’m sharing your blog with all my math teachers too so you’ll probably get a few more devoted readers. Thanks again helping me make an amazing dinner!

    1. Kiersten

      Lori, I love this blog! Thank you so much for telling me about it! Can’t wait to try out the recipes. Happy cooking!

    2. Sonja

      Oh, I’m so glad you made them AND enjoyed them – that is so encouraging! :) And thank you for sharing with your friends too!!

  10. Erica

    Hi! I am so glad that I stumbled upon your wonderful blog through Foodgawker. I am always looking for meatless recipes that are healthy and taste good. I have plans to make so many of your recipes for my family of 5. I have tried so many Black Bean Burger recipes, and I still have not been able to find one that I love. I have been making Martha Stewart’s recipe, but no matter what I do it is still mushy on the inside. I will definitely be trying your recipe. Thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful recipes:)

    1. Alex

      I’m glad you stumbled on to our site! You’ll have to let us know which recipes you try, and if you enjoy the bean burger!

  11. Jamila

    Hello Sonja and Alex,
    Wow A Couple Cooks really is charging ahead in the Websphere. Here I am reading my daily Google Reader selection of Apartment Therapy-The Kitchn articles and there is your Classic Bean Burger recipe. I will surely have to try it now. It’s great to see what a good time you guys are having cooking together.

    :-) Jamila

    1. Sonja

      Aww, thanks! So good to hear from you – let us know if you try it out! And if you’ll be in town anytime soon – it would be great to catch up! :)

  12. Erica


    We had your Classic Bean Burgers for dinner last night, and they were delicious! I was so happy when I pulled them out of the oven and they were firm. I finally found a recipe that is not mushy…great success! Thanks for the recipe! I did not have pinto beans, so I used Cannellini beans. I will have to try pinto beans next time.

    1. Sonja

      Wonderful! I’m so glad they worked out! Sounds like you tried the baked version too – I was excited that baking also works for this one (we’ve had lots of past failures with that!). Cannellini beans would probably have a similar flavor to pinto beans – sounds like a good substitution!

  13. Jen

    I’ve made these three times now and they were great each time. Having never made a bean burger before, I had no idea what to expect. I was so into their raw flavour, that I couldn’t wait to see how they would be cooked. We were too chicken to do them on the BBQ, but maybe next year when we’re more established vegetarians.

  14. Emily

    Just made these tonight and they were great! They got a fantastic crust on the grill, and held together perfectly. A major winner — thanks for all your hard work coming up with the recipe!

  15. emily

    these sound great! i want to take them camping. do you know if they will keep in a cooler for a night or two?? thanks.

  16. Susan

    I’ve made this recipe several times. But I dramatically reduce the garlic – 5 cloves is quite a bit for 15 oz of beans – the first time I only put in 3 and it was still overpowering. And I’m a garlic fan.

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