The ideal black bean burger strikes a balance between big-time flavor and not-mushy structure. There are many possibilities for seasoning your black bean base, from ground spices to zingy condiments, but ultimately you want a savory patty that can easily hold together inside a bun. Add too much of a wet ingredient, or over-process your bean mixture, and you’re likely to end up with a very tasty black bean dip (not a bad thing, but not what we’re going for).
While some bean burgers go straight from can to patty, this recipe includes the extra step of toasting the beans in the oven. (That said, it doesn’t include any extra prep time because, while those are baking, you can start on the other ingredients, like soaking the oats.) I do this to dry out the beans a bit, allowing me to introduce more flavor by way of Worcestershire, mayo, and hot sauce, without turning the mixture into a soggy mess. Also in the interest of flavor, I don’t rinse the beans of their brining liquid. After they’re out of the oven, I recommend simply mashing your beans by hand. No need to lug out special equipment—you just need two bowls and a fork.
The generous amount of Worcestershire sauce adds lots of umami to these veggie burgers. If you’re serving them to vegetarian or vegan eaters, make sure to seek out a Worcestershire sauce that doesn’t include anchovies. If you only have rolled oats—not quick ones—you can break them down by hand, then measure out ⅔ cup from there. This makes them all the better at binding the burgers.
This recipe can easily be doubled to make 8 smaller or 6 larger sized burgers. Both cooked and uncooked patties store well in the freezer. —Allison Bruns Buford
- Prep time 25 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Makes 4 smaller (3-ounce) burgers, or 3 larger (4-ounce) burgers
(15.5-ounce) can black beans
large egg, lightly beaten
3 to 4
slices cheese (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Drain the beans and spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, giving them a shake about halfway through.
- While the beans are in the oven, put the quick oats into a small bowl and use your hands to break them down a bit further. Add the egg, Worcestershire, mayo, and hot sauce. Stir and set aside to let the oats soak up some of that moisture.
- Turn your attention to the onion: Finely dice about a quarter of the onion, or 2 tablespoons worth. If you wish, you can slice some of the remaining onion to use as a topping for your burger.
- Once the beans are out of the oven, transfer them to a large bowl. Sprinkle them with the chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt. Mash with a fork, making sure to leave the mixture a little chunky. Add the oat mixture to the beans, and stir to incorporate. Once everything is pretty well combined, gently stir in the diced onion.
- To form the patties, you can use a 1/3 cup measure to make four equal portions. These smaller, 3 ounce burgers are the perfect fit for an English muffin (my preferred lunch size portion). If you are craving a bigger burger, use a 1/2 cup measure for the standard quarter-pound patty. Either way, using wet hands to form the patties helps.
- While these black bean burgers were designed to hold up well on a grill, the skillet method is foolproof. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook the first side for about 4 minutes, or until the bottom is browned and has formed a nice crust. Flip the patties over, lay a slice of cheese on top (optional, though highly recommended) and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove from the skillet and rest on a towel-lined plate to blot any excess oil.
- Sandwich between your bun of choice, with any toppings you'd like.