I’m proud to say that I have finally perfected the art of making veggie burgers and I need to go back and rewrite my older recipes to incorporate my new tricks. No more burgers that fall apart when you touch them. No more needing to coat them in flour or bread crumbs to give them a crust and hold them together. No more burgers that are too thick, too thin, too large or too small. No more burgers that can’t stand up to the grill.
Here are my 5 tricks to cooking the perfect veggie burger. Why 5? Because the Roman Numeral for 5 is V and this is The “V” Word and…well, you get it 🙂
Trick #1: Keep track of unmeasured moisture. This recipe calls for a shredded onion. Onions are packed with moisture so when the instructions say to squeeze it dry, don’t skip that step! The excess water can lead to a burger mix that is too wet and won’t hold together. If you decide to add ketchup, chile sauce, zucchini or anything that has moisture, be ready to add more flour or bread crumbs to balance out the added moisture.
Trick #2: Use your judgment. Just because the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of bread crumbs doesn’t mean you need to use the whole amount or that you can’t use more. Use your hands. Get a feel for the consistency of the burger mix. Is it holding together well? Does it feel too loose? Sometimes one tablespoon more or less of bread crumbs or flour can make all the difference.
Trick #3: Don’t make the patties before refrigerating. I used to mix all the ingredients, make the patties and then refrigerate them. When I would go to make the burgers, they were moist and didn’t hold together well. Being in the fridge adds moisture we don’t want. Refrigerate the whole burger mix in a bowl and then make the patties when you’re ready to cook them. They will be firmer and hold together better while cooking.
Trick #4: Use a mold. Or a cookie cutter. Or a biscuit ring. Or a jar lid. Whatever. While it might feel fun to make free-form patties like they do on cooking shows, usimg a mold will accomplish two things: (1) ensure that you get equally-sized burgers that are the perfect diameter and thickness and (2) make denser burgers because you will pack the burger mix into the mold. My burgers used to be too large and too thin, like frisbees. They didn’t fit on the buns and they always broke. Now I use a 3 1/2″ ring and my burgers are thicker, denser and don’t fall apart.
Trick #5: Flip out! Who says you have to cook one side all the way, flip once and cook the other side? Doing that gives me burgers that are too brown on the outside and not cooked enough on the inside. Cook the burger for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown, then flip it. Cook until the 2nd side starts to brown and flip it again. Cook it on medium-high heat so the inside has time to cook throught. Cooking it this way lets the inside of the burger cook through without burning the outside of the burger.
Now that you know my tricks, here is the recipe for my gluten-free Kidney Bean-Walnut Burgers. They are tasty and hold together perfectly. I didn’t add a lot of spices to the burgers so go crazy with the toppings. We had them with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and my homemade Mississippi Comeback Sauce but we have also served them on a bed of greens and topped with sauteed mushrooms for a more elegant meal. Here’s to perfect burger making!
Smash beans in a bowl with a fork until slightly chunky. Add the onion, carrot, scallions, walnuts, parsley, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce and mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the bread crumbs little by little while mixing with your hands until you have the desired consistency. The mixture should feel firm and stick together well. Refrigerate the whole mixture in the bowl for at least 30 minutes.
When you are ready to cook, remove the mixture from the fridge and form the mixture into 4 patties. Using a 3 ½” cookie cutter makes the perfect sized, dense and thick burger patty.
Serve on buns with your favorite toppings or on a bed of greens topped with sautéed mushrooms. Enjoy!