Using a rather unique method of cooking dried lentils with onion, spices, black beans, and tomato puree, this makes solid and flavourful spicy black bean burgers. The burgers are baked and flipped halfway through for a good texture and slightly crisp outside. They’re gluten-free as is and the spice level can be adjusted.
You will need cooked rice, preferably left over from the day before, so keep that in mind. This does make a big batch of burgers and the mixture can be frozen before baking. It is a little bit time intensive, needing about an hour of cooking time in total, but mostly hands-off stovetop and oven time.
For some more veg burger recipes, try my chickpea sweet potato burgers, black bean quinoa burgers, or Nina’s Bombay cauliflower burgers. This recipe is adapted from the Boon Burger salsa burger (a now defunct vegan restaurant in Winnipeg).
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Beans: cooked or canned black beans. If using canned be sure to drain and rinse very well.
- Rice: cooked brown rice. White rice or another type should also be fine as long as it’s cooked. Day-old (or two, or three) is ideal.
- Seeds: sunflower seeds are great and an inexpensive option, but you can also use nuts if preferred. Walnuts are good.
- Oats: use certified gluten-free oats if necessary. Rolled and quick-cook are both fine.
- Broth: homemade or store-bought vegetable broth, it doesn’t matter. Note that store-bought versions tend to be a lot saltier so you’ll have to adjust for that.
- Passata: this is pureed or crushed tomatoes (I think I wrote passata in the ingredient photo due to lack of space).
- Lentils: this should be dried brown, green, or black lentils. I think red lentils would also be fine but I haven’t tested with them.
- Spices: adjust the hot pepper content to your taste. These are medium spicy, I’d say, using standard hot pepper flakes, but everyone will have a different heat tolerance.
Step by Step
Step 1: cook the onion, celery, and garlic for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 2: stir in the spices, then add the crushed tomatoes.
Step 3: add lentils, broth, and beans.
Step 4: cook for about 30 minutes.
Step 5: mix in the remaining ingredients, then puree about a cup of the mixture and stir it back in.
Step 6: form 6-8 burger patties and bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
This can be made without a food processor. Rather than pureeing part of the mixture and adding it back in, use a potato masher to mash it up until it looks like it’s about half mashed but you still see whole black beans in the mix. This is a little less straightforward – it’s harder to know when the texture is right – but it works.
If you don’t have celery or it’s out of season where you are, a carrot or leek can be used in its place. It’s not a hugely important part of the recipe.
I haven’t tried frying these and find frying vegan burgers to be more of a hassle than anything. I imagine that they can be cooked in a frying pan but the middle always ends up underdone anyway.
How to Store
Storage: the cooked burgers will keep for a couple of days in a sealed container in the refrigerator, but will dry out a bit during storage. You can brush them with a little oil before reheating in the oven to bring a little moisture back. The uncooked burger mixture can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days before baking.
Freezing: the uncooked mixture can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking as usual. Cooked burgers can be frozen for up to a month.
- Season to taste: this is a vegan burger and you can test the mixture before baking. Try a bit and add more salt if needed.
- Change up the spices: try adding smoked paprika, coriander, or use more herbs to replace the cumin.
- Don’t forget to oil the paper: the burgers have a slight tendency to stick to parchment paper if it’s not oiled.
- Use damp hands: if you find that the mixture is sticking to your hands when you’re forming the patties, give them a quick rinse under the tap and try again with a little water.
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Spicy Black Bean Burgers
- 2 teaspoons olive oil plus more for brushing
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 stalk celery finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes to taste
- ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 65 grams crushed tomatoes (passata)
- 350 grams cooked or canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 250 ml vegetable broth
- 100 grams dried brown lentils
- 140 grams cooked brown rice day-old if possible
- 40 grams oats rolled or quick-cook
- 2 tablespoons almond flour or cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- Handful fresh parsley chopped
- Heat a large pot over medium-low. Once hot, add the oil, then add the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. The onion should be translucent. Turn the heat down if it's sticking or browning too much.2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 medium onion, 1 stalk celery, 2 cloves garlic
- Stir in the spices, then add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the beans, broth, and lentils.1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 65 grams crushed tomatoes (passata), 350 grams cooked or canned black beans, 250 ml vegetable broth, 100 grams dried brown lentils
- Cover the pot and increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. After this time the lentils should have soaked up most of the broth.
- Remove from the heat and mix in the rice, oats, almond flour, sunflower seeds, and parsley.140 grams cooked brown rice, 40 grams oats, 2 tablespoons almond flour or cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, Handful fresh parsley
- Take about a cup (this can be a measuring cup, or just use a mug, it doesn't matter) from the mixture and blend it in a food processor until smooth.
- Add the pureed part back to the mixture and stir very well. You should have a rather sticky burger mixture at this point. Taste and season as needed.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the surface of the paper with a little oil.
- Form eight evenly-sized patties, each about 1.5cm (⅔ in.) thick, and the width needed for the buns you're using. Place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Rinse your hands as needed to prevent sticking.
- Bake the burgers for 20 minutes, carefully flipping at the halfway point. They should be golden around the edges and quite firm to the touch when ready.
- Serve hot with desired toppings. Leftover burgers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days but are best fresh.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.