Black Bean Burgers

I stopped eating meat about 2 years ago. In that time, I have tried many many bean burger recipes. It took a while for me to learn how to get the right consistency. And then it took a lot of trial and error to get the flavors right- so much so that I would consider this my own recipe, even though it is probably a lot like other recipes out there.

This is 1 of 2 burgers that I definitely got right. I will post the recipe to the other (spinach hummus burgers) the next time I make them. In the meantime, you should definitely give these a try. Soooo easy and cheap, too. I love a quick and easy meal, but cheap is the best because when your core meal is cheap, you can splurge on the sides. Or dessert. Right?

Easy Black Bean Burgers
Makes 8-10 burgers

Food Processor
Large Bowl
Rubber Spatula
Cookie Sheet
Frying pan
(overkill there, right? I am used to writing crochet patterns. Give me a break! haha!)

2 cans of low-sodium black beans
medium sweet onion
3-4 cloves of garlic (or to taste. I like a lot of garlic)
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp liquid smoke
1-2 tsp of creole seasoning
1/2-1 tsp of cayenne pepper
2 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of sea salt
3 Tsp of sesame seeds (optional- see note at the bottom)
2 cups (give or take) of panko bread crumbs
And...Stuff you want to eat it with- bun, cheese, etc.

Note: Okay- I admit I don't really measure things. Those are estimates. You can add more or less of the spicy bits, depending on how spicy you like things. I tend to do it somewhere in the middle and use a spicy mustard if I am feeling like a zap that day.

How To:
  • Process your garlic, and then you onion.
  • Drain MOST of the liquid from your beans. -Save it in case you need to add back in some liquid to stop the processor from chugging.
  • Add beans to the onions and garlic in the processor. Process well, adding in a splash of your bean juice if you need to.
  • Add everything left except the panko. Process until well blended, scraping the sides to get everything worked in if needed.
  • Empty all this into your mixing bowl. Add about 1/2 the panko and fold it in well with you rubber spatula. It needs to be firm, but not dry- test it by trying to make it into patty. If it stays in that shape, but relaxes a bit in your palm, you've got it just right. Add a little more panko at a time until it gets to that thickness. 
  • Shape into patties and place on a cookie sheet. You can spray it lightly with cooking spray first if it makes you feel better, but I've never needed to do that. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes on each side (40 minutes total). Test the thickest ones by poking them with a fork. It shouldn't come out clean exactly, but also shouldn't cave in when you poke it. If they still seem gooey, turn the oven down a little and bake them another ten minutes. 
When cooled completely, place in a ziploc or freezer bowl. Good in the fridge for 3-4 days and in the freezer for a few weeks. Set one out to thaw a couple hours before you want to eat it. If you forget, wrap it in a damp paper towel and defrost in the microwave. Easy peasy! Be sure to read the following if you want a really good bean burger!

The trick to a good bean burger is to cook it twice. I know, I know. I said it was easy. But... you made a ton of them, so you need to reheat anyway, right? But more than that, cooking it twice is what gets the center firmer while maintaining that outer crispiness like a good fried burger (I do remember those- so greasy, so bad for you, but there is something about a fried burger that grilling can't do!)

I almost always have sauteed onions and mushrooms on my sandwich. A little olive oil does the trick. I will reheat my burger in the pan with the onions, before I add in the mushrooms (if I have mushrooms- sad day today that I didn't!). I also like to toast by bread in the pan while I'm at it. I like texture to my food (and refuse to eat food lacking texture- yuck to oatmeal and mashed potatoes!). Also, I keep my bread in the fridge because Rooster the cat can open any and all cabinets and has a thing for bread and crackers and I don't want to eat it cold, so toasting is pretty much a given. If I buy frozen veggie burgers, I cook and eat them the very same way. These have a LOT less sodium, though, and much better for you!

Another option to reheat/re-cook is a George Foreman grill. I will use this option if I already have it our for something else OR if I want to break up my burger to make a chimichanga or panini or some other grilled wrap or sandwich. Mostly I prefer it just like I pictured it up there at the top- spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato, onions and mushroom, and a nice strong cheese like smoked cheddar or pepper jack. You add what you like! And let me know how they turned out!

Using dried beans:
Definitely, if you prefer, cook your own beans. I don't unless I plan to do other things with them because my freezer is full of dog food and no room for extra stuff that I can't use right away. You may need to add more salt and no extra liquid at all.

About sesame seeds:
I add sesame seeds to a lot of stuff because they naturally lower your blood pressure. They're good for you in a lot of ways, really. And you can buy a pound of them at the tiende for a couple of bucks and they last forever sealed tight.

About panko:
Japanese bread crumbs, if you're not familiar. Walmart now carries a store brand, which made me silly happy to discover. The ones over in the ethnic foods section are 3x the cost. Panko really works best, though, to get something firm without tasting like it is made up of mostly bread crumbs. You can make your own bread crumbs or use store-bought ones, but you aren't going to get quite the same result. If you aren't concerned about sodium like us people with high blood pressure and compromised kidneys, process some Doritoes for your filler. The taste is very complimentary. My daughter likes to process flavored crackers like Tobasco Cheez-its- for her bean burgers. You might not want to add extra salt, though. Or that just might be me. :P

This recipe was originally published on A Dog In A Sweater (my old blog)


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