Sweet and Smoky Beet Burgers

June 15, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

These scarlet burgers can be served on top of grains or salad, eaten like latkes or falafel, or tucked into a bun. My favorite way to eat them is topped with yogurt, a fragrant mound of dill, and a simple chopped tomato and cucumber relish. The burger mixture can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. (This recipe is from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia).

Louisa Shafia

Makes: 8 burgers


  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, plus extra for searing
  • 1 cup peeled and grated raw beets (approximately 1 small beet)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup cooked green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice or white sushi rice, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
In This Recipe


  1. Slice the onion to a thickness of 1/4 inch. In a medium skillet, sauté the onion in the oil over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until it starts to darken and caramelize. Turn down the heat slightly and add the beets along with the garlic, walnuts, raisins, and paprika, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor and pulse several times until chunky. In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture with the lentils, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Replace the food processor without washing and add the rice and egg, and pulse to form a coarse puree. Add the rice mixture to the onion-lentil mixture and mix well with your hands.
  3. Lightly oil your hands and divide the dough into 8 portions. Shape each portion into a patty just under 1 inch thick.
  4. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add oil to coat the bottom. Place the burgers in the skillet and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Gently flip the burgers and turn down the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, until the burgers have a firm, brown crust. Serve hot with your favorite condiments.

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Reviews (21) Questions (0)

21 Reviews

Paloma A. August 19, 2018
The best hamburger I ever had. Like in the picture I served the hamburger with dill, tomato and mustard. Its tasted so delicious, the dill made it more perfect. You must try this recipe!!!
K July 26, 2017
Can these burgers be grilled rather than cooked indoors? It's very hot to use the flame inside! Thanks!
Author Comment
Louisa S. July 31, 2017
I've parcooked them in advance in a pan on the stovetop, then finished them on the grill. I'm not positive they would hold up on the grill without being parcooked first. There's a chance they could fall apart.
Kristen May 30, 2017
These are absolutely delicious--maybe the best veggie burgers I've ever made and eaten, and there have been many candidates! My burgers didn't turn out as red as the ones in the photos, though they did get redder as they cooked. After forming the patties I left them in the fridge for a little while to firm up. As the directions suggested, I let them cook undisturbed for five minutes before flipping carefully and by then they had developed a nice crust. DELICIOUS!
Author Comment
Louisa S. May 30, 2017
Good idea letting them firm up in the fridge!
Kristen January 19, 2018
In case anyone reads these comments these many months later...I have made these several times and they're a family favourite now. One trick that has made a big difference in the texture is using warm, freshly-cooked rice, as opposed to precooked rice from the fridge. Rice tends to dry out in the fridge and just-cooked rice is more effective as a binder, resulting in burgers that stay together better as you cook them. Hope that helps someone! These are phenomenal burgers, well worth trying.
Author Comment
Louisa S. January 23, 2018
Thanks for sharing this tip, love that the burgers are a hit with your family!
Molly C. March 3, 2017
This was a great dish, however I was a bit disappointed by how easily they fell apart. I ate these served over a kale salad so it wasn't a big deal, however I can't imagine eating this on a bun- I think it would be too messy. The flavor is delicious! One more suggestion is; if your beets are very sweet you should consider using less raisins than called for.
Adelucchi May 31, 2016
Yea! Another beet burger to try. Thank you!<br />
Jana E. April 11, 2016
These are out of this world. I made two batches in a row because I couldn't get enough. Topped mine with hummus!
sticksnscones April 4, 2016
These are really SO delicious! Can they be frozen, either in the pre-cooked or cooked state? I'd love to be able to keep them on hand & ready to go.
vsmith September 2, 2013
I went to the local farmers market and bought a bunch of beets just to try this recipe. The burgers were wonderful. Even my daughter who avoids beets enjoyed them.
Pookie13815 June 23, 2013
Raw or cooked beets?
polly S. June 24, 2013
the ingredient list says raw....
Pookie13815 June 30, 2013
Thanks Polly. These were tasty.
oterenzio June 19, 2013
Does anyone have instructions for a beet-based veggie burger that doesn't use legumes? My husband is allergic to beans, peas and lentils, but it seems like those are critical for helping the patty stay together.
Author Comment
Louisa S. June 19, 2013
Hi Otorenzio, you can leave out the lentils from this recipe. They're really there to add texture and bulk. To make the burgers without lentils, just make up the amount by using more rice.
oterenzio June 19, 2013
Great, thank you Louisa! I'll give it a try. I appreciate your help!
Lefty June 19, 2013
I see "3 cloves garlic, crushed" listed under ingredients.
PA-PETE June 19, 2013
Directions mentions garlic but none is listed in the recipe.
Pookie13815 June 30, 2013
Ingredient list states 3 cloves