Black Bean–Chipotle Falafel Burgers From Joe Yonan

October  4, 2022
19 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 10 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 8 Burgers & 1 Cup Aioli
Author Notes

The secret behind this brilliant veggie burger recipe was right in front of us. As author Joe Yonan writes, "In the ongoing quest for the perfect veggie burger recipe, at a certain point a realization occurs: wasn’t the perfect veggie burger created long ago—in falafel? Soaking but not precooking the beans, it turns out, is a good hedge against the curse of mushiness that befalls so many of this ilk. I grind the soaked beans with appropriate seasonings—chipotle and cilantro—along with the requisite onion and garlic, fold in some cooked sweet potato for extra binding power, and finish cooking in the skillet. The result boasts the crispy edges you love in falafel, plus a moist, but never mushy, interior."

The secret of the matching (also vegan) mayonnaise for these veggie burgers come from a newer era of discovery—aquafaba! (a.k.a. the powerful liquid from a can of chickpeas) Yonan continues, "News flash: You don’t need eggs to make mayonnaise, now that we’ve got aquafaba, the cooking liquid from chickpeas, which behaves much like egg whites. When I first tried it, I liked the results—but the mayo needed a little body, I thought. What better than a small amount of chickpeas to help thicken it up? Turns out I wasn’t the only one onto such an idea. My friends at Little Sesame in Washington, DC, told me they were doing the same thing. Great minds and all that. Note that it’s easiest to make it in a mini food processor or small bullet-style blender because larger machines often require more volume than this to work effectively, but you can also use an immersion (handheld) blender, especially if you have a jar with an opening big enough for the blender to fit into."

IMPORTANT FOOD SAFETY NOTE: Do not substitute for other bean varieties and be sure to cook your burgers thoroughly—raw beans have varying levels of a toxin that can cause food poisoning when not thoroughly soaked and cooked. See here for more food safety information from the FDA.

Recipes slightly adapted from "Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World's Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein" (Ten Speed Press, February 2020). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Black Bean–Chipotle Falafel Burgers From Joe Yonan
  • Falafel Burger
  • 1 cup dried black beans (do not substitute—see food safety note above), soaked overnight and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile (or substitute 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato (the easiest way is to poke the potato with a fork, microwave till soft, then peel and mash)
  • grapeseed or other neutral vegetable oil, for frying
  • 8 soft burger buns, such as brioche or potato rolls, (optionally) lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup Chickpea Aioli (recipe follows) or vegan or traditional mayonnaise
  • Mustard, ketchup, or both (your choice)
  • 8 leaves romaine or iceberg lettuce
  • Flesh of 2 ripe avocados, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • Chickpea Aioli
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba (from one 15-ounce can of no-salt-added chickpeas)
  • 2 tablespoons cooked or canned no-salt-added chickpeas
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  1. Falafel Burger
  2. Place the black beans in the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, and chipotle and process until the mixture is the texture of very coarse cornmeal—it will look like a loose, pebbly mix; don't let it blend into mush. Fold the sweet potato in by hand, just to combine.
  3. Divide into eight portions (a heaping 1/3 cup apiece) and form by hand into patties about 1/2 inch thick. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. (You can refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)
  4. To fry the patties, heat the oil to a depth of 1/4 inch in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (It's very important to cook these burgers thoroughly—see food safety note above—so if it seems they're browning to quickly on the outside before the inside cooks, lower the heat or make your patties thinner.) Once it shimmers, add as many patties as will fit without overcrowding (leave at least an inch of space between them) and cook until crisp and deeply browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plates to drain. Add more oil if needed and repeat with the remaining patties.
  5. Serve on the burger buns, layered with the aioli and other condiments of your choice, and with the lettuce, avocado, onion, and tomato.
  1. Chickpea Aioli
  2. Cut open the garlic and remove any green sprout inside; this will keep the garlic from being too bitter when eaten raw.
  3. In a mini food processor or small bullet-style blender (or using an immersion blender), puree the garlic, aquafaba, chickpeas, mustard, and salt until smooth. With the processor running, drizzle in the oil, starting slowly and then feeling free to speed up once it starts thickening. (If using an immersion blender, you may need to blend for several minutes before the mixture will thicken.) When you’ve poured in all the oil and the aioli is thick, add the lemon juice and whir a few seconds just to combine. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice if needed.
  4. The aioli will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Angie
  • daisybrain
  • Anthony Back
    Anthony Back
  • rob
  • caroberts77
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

37 Reviews

jorlofsky February 21, 2023
This is a very problematic recipe. I followed the directions and watched the video, but the burgers did not hold together, at all. Basically, I had fairly tasty crumbles, but nothing like a burger. Did I not process the beans to the right consistency, were the patties too thick or too thin? I don't know, but my guess is that you have to get lucky and get every little detail exactly right or these suckers just fall apart in the oil. In the end, the crumbles were quite tasty, but I wouldn't make this recipe again. If you're going to publish a recipe, you need to provide the necessary instructions. I'm an experienced cook and these didn't come out anywhere close to what they were supposed to be.
Felice April 21, 2022
This was so delicious! We only made the burgers and are them with melted Jack, tomato, onion and avocado on toasted potato bun. My husband likened them to the great ones Applebees used to have, but “so much better”.

Soaked the beans for 36 hours. Shaped the chilled mix directly into the frying pan, and then they crisped up/held their shape.

Highly recommend!
Angie April 19, 2022
Like other reviewers I had trouble with them sticking together so the next time I made them I used the Superiority Burger method of cooking the beans all the way through then drying them out some in the oven. Worked Perfectly. Other than that I loved them.
daisybrain February 24, 2022
I know there are a few reviews here so I hope I'm not being redundant. I made these and loved them with a few caveats. 1. in the video I think that they made the black bean mixture too coarse. I processed it longer, until it held together without the help of the sweet potato. This will help with more thorough cooking too if that is an issue for you as it was for some. 2. Having read a few of the reviews I ended up soaking the beans for two days until I had the chance to make them. It would be good if they specified an amount of time to soak the beans rather than 'overnight' which means different things to different people. When soaking beans for this or for falafel, for instance, you really can't soak them for too long but you can soak them too little. 3. The freezing time, which I'm not sure you need if you process the beans longer, make this a meal you can't really make on a weeknight if time is tight. 4. My partner proclaimed these the most flavorful veggie burgers yet. 5. Disclaimer, I threw a random piece of feta that needed to be used into the processor with the beans. I don't know if it helped or hurt but it was now no longer in the fridge which was a load off.
Oxfordde December 8, 2021
I made the burgers according to the recipe. The beans were a little too raw and hard. Maybe next time soak double time or cook slightly. Otherwise delicious.
JoAnne October 12, 2020
IMPORTANT FOOD SAFETY ISSUE: I made these for my family (used a different bean, not black beans). After we ate the burgers, we all felt a little *off* and then, in the night, my husband was throwing up. He suggested that it could have been the burgers, which seemed incredible to me, but when I researched on the Internet, I found that soaked, uncooked beans are actually toxic to the system. (See here, for example: Of course, the beans in this recipe are cooked, but they aren't cooked for long enough (at least not the way I made them) to eliminate the toxins. I have made falafel using the same technique but I think because they are smaller and deep fried, they end up being more thoroughly cooked. At any rate, just wanted to post to be sure that other people are aware.
Anthony B. September 2, 2020
Well...I found the soaked, uncooked, fried beans to be indigestible—the following morning! I like a lot of these genius recipes but would NOT make this again...
fricky1 August 16, 2020
When I fried mine, they didn't hold together very well (or at all.) Is that a sign of too much moisture? Also, I made 8 and cooked for three minutes per side, but the beans tasted raw to me. I soaked the beans approximately twelve hours, and the patties sat uncovered in the refrigerator for 7 hours before I cooked them. What changes would solve the consistency problem?
rob August 16, 2020
I baked the sweet potato so it was a bit denser and stickier.
fricky1 August 17, 2020
I did too. It was still pretty soft. Thanks for the thought though.
jtg August 31, 2020
Mine turned into delicious oily crumble - not a burger in sight...
Leighatum June 2, 2020
This was the best burger I’ve ever had, period.
Mimu May 30, 2020
Ahhhh, raving review here. This burger is so delicious. Supersuper yummmm. First time I had to make it with smoked paprika + chili powder. Added a tiny scoop of black bean garlic paste. Worked just fine. Also, added handful of panko crumbs because my mixture was a bit moist. Worked out perfectly! Very important though to use ‘fresh’ dried beans and to leave them to soak overnight and then some. I soaked them for 24 hrs. I really do love this recipe, it made me order Joe’s book straight away.
rob May 26, 2020
Overall a successful recipe. The best falafel recipes do not cook the chickpeas but just soak them so I was ready for that slightly gritty mouth feel you get with traditional falafel. We have a house policy of not using cilantro/coriander so I substituted parsley. I also had no chipotle chile or adobo sauce from canned chipotles but I did have a dried chilli and some liquid smoke. Three drops of liquid smoke were enough with half a dried chilli.
rob May 26, 2020
I had to use the oven earlier in the day so I baked the sweet potato. This may have made the sweet potato a bit denser and more sticky.
caroberts77 April 23, 2020
Trying to eat less meat, I was really intrigued by this; especially after watching the video. I definitely liked it, I only made a half batch in case I hated it, but both the hubs and I dug it. I used parsley instead of cilantro, as I’m one of ‘those’ people. I think I put too much in though; it tasted too strongly of parsley. I also think that my garlic was much larger than the ones used in the video, it was almost overpowering for me and I LOVE garlic. So I’ll use smaller cloves or use less of large ones in the future. The only other change I made was using chili powder seasoning, just because I didn’t have the chipotle chili or the adobe sauce. I might up that next time, I couldn’t really taste it. I used the 1/3 cup measure, got 4 patties and a small test bit. The recommended 3 minute per side cooking time didn’t seem like enough to cook out the raw flavor though, admittedly I should have looked at how brown it was getting and not stick straightly to timing. Given the size bag of dried black beans I had to get in order to do this, I will definitely be trying it again. Someone on here had done them in their air fryer, definitely going to try that. I topped them with some extra sharp cheddar cheese, served on buns with pickled onions, lettuce, and tomato. Had a nice red wine to go with it and some spicy oven ‘fried’ potatoes. Really nice dinner.
Marlene L. April 18, 2020
Semi-fail. The beans didn’t apparently get soft enough even after soaking overnight. Following the instructions with 1/3 cup per Patty gave me seven patties, which apparently were too thick to cook all the way through. I needed to go back and microwave the patties after cooking them to ensure they were cooked all the way through. That helped a lot, but four cloves of garlic barely cooked through was a bit overpowering. So for next time, at least for me: a boiling soak to guarantee my beans are softer, fewer cloves of garlic, and definitely 8 patties not necessarily 1/3 cup to ensure they are thin enough to be well done. The outside really did brown up nicely and was delicious. So close, and yet so far. My family were willing guinea pigs but I will definitely try to do better next time I make these.
Angie May 5, 2020
I boiled my beans for 5 minutes then let them soak overnight, they were still too crunchy. I think next time I"m going to do the "soak" in my instant pot because the beans really needed a lot more liquid in them to make this.
Terri U. March 26, 2020
My whole family loved these... made them 'falafel' size and served in pitas. The chickpea aioli was better than I expected and we used it on many other things (drizzled on harissa roasted potatoes). Making again this week.
Note: My teen son who swears he hates black beans loved them.
Dineindiva March 2, 2020
The Aioli is delicious! My burgers, however, are weirdly crunchy.
Angie April 3, 2020
You might have had older beans that needed to soak longer. When I'm soaking beans I look to make sure they actually softened. If they're wrinkly they might never soften.
Tony M. February 17, 2020
Meh. These were nothing special. Perhaps soaking the beans for 12 hours wasn’t long enough, because there was a hard, crunch texture to them in the burger. The flavor was okay, but these won’t become a regular in my rotation.
Liz S. February 17, 2020
I made these yesterday and am very happy! I used canned pumpkin instead of sweet potato … only because I always have some as I supplement my dog's food with pumpkin and I just didn't feel like doing the sweet potato. I did back off amount a bit because I wanted to add an egg and some masa harina for binder. I do this with falafel and it works well for me. All else followed the recipe. I got 7 patties … fried 2 and froze 5 "raw". They held together and were delicious. I went with the black bean-chipotle-cilantro vibe and had them as tacos in corn tortilla with avocado, tomatoes and a little cheddar. I keep masa harina as I make corn tortillas and aside from really liking the taste, I find it great in vegetable fritters, meatballs, etc. vs breadcrumbs or 1/2 and 1/2.
Stacey February 16, 2020
Way. too. much. salt.
susan G. April 3, 2020
Kosher salt (Diamond brand) has 1/2 the sodium of standard US table salt. However, I almost always cut the amount of salt in recipes, as a personal preference anyway.
Lorraine February 13, 2020
These were incredibly good. However the mixture was very thin. I added an egg and some bread crumbs to hold it together, with great success.
SUSAN February 7, 2020
I just made this earlier today. It was pretty good. I actually got 7 patties from my batch. I fried 4 just like the instructions and cooked 3 in my air fryer. Both technique were good. If you are looking for a lower fat version, I suggest brushing both sides of patties with a little oil and air frying.
Mary D. April 22, 2020
I want to try these with my air fryer. What temp did you use and for how long did you cook them? Thanks!!!