Black Bean–Chipotle Falafel Burgers From Joe Yonan

February  4, 2020
13 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
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

Watch This Recipe
Black Bean–Chipotle Falafel Burgers From Joe Yonan
  • Prep time 10 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 8 burgers & 1 cup aioli
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes