*Actual* veggie burgers

Veggie burger recipe by Primary Beans


Who’s with us? You make a veggie burger because you want an actual veggie burger, not a plant-based burger that tastes exactly like meat. This recipe celebrates beans and veggies and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to flavor and texture. Thanks to great minds like J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Joe Yonan, and Melissa Clark, we’ve figured out how to make patties with the perfect mush-free texture and complex flavor. The secret? Cook beans from scratch and stop cooking them when they’re just al dente. These patties are not vegan, but we provide vegan-friendly options below. Fire up the grill or cook ‘em indoors on a skillet. Either way, you’ll up your veggie burger game, won’t miss the meat, and will have these on rotation all grilling season long.

Veggie burger essentials

  1. Al dente beans: Choose beans that have a firm texture and cook them from scratch until they’re just al dente to solve the problem of a mushy texture. Try Negro, Bayo, Ojo de Cabra, or Ayocote Morado.
  2. Sauteed veggies: Sauté the veggies beforehand to remove moisture and add depth of flavor. 
  3. Smoky flavor: Chipotle chiles or smoked paprika kicks the flavor up a notch.
  4. Coarsely ground nuts: Make for a hearty bite.
  5. Panko bread crumbs: Perfectly binds the ingredients together.
  6. Crumbled salty cheese: Adds moisture and seasoning right into each patty.

The details

  • Serves: 6
  • Time: 30 minutes (plus bean cooking and chilling)
  • Cookware: medium skillet, food processor, grill or large cast-iron skillet

What you’ll need


  • ⅓ lb dried beans (makes ~2-⅓ cups cooked)
  • 1-½ tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for cooking the patties
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion (any color) or scallions
  • Up to 1 cup veggies (grated or very finely chopped): fresh peppers, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, beets, carrots, sweet potato, zucchini, etc.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped, or 1-½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¾ cup toasted nuts, pulsed in a food processor into small pieces: cashews, walnuts, almonds, etc.
  • ½ cup finely crumbled feta or cotija cheese (optional)
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise (or substitute with vegan mayonnaise)
  • 1 egg (or substitute with 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 2-½ tbsp water)
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Burger fixings

  • 6 hearty hamburger buns
  • Sliced cheese: muenster, Swiss, sharp cheddar, pepper jack
  • Condiments: mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, etc.
  • Toppings: crisp lettuce, juicy sliced tomato, thinly sliced onions, pickled onions, smashed avocado, dill pickles, pickled jalapeños, fried egg, etc.


Prepare the beans: Cook beans according to our guide in the cooking vessel of your choice. Reduce the cooking time so that the beans are nearly tender, but not quite cooked through, by roughly 5 minutes (pressure cooker) or 20 minutes (stove top). Once cooked, strain very well and allow to cool.

Sauté the veggies: Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables (minus garlic) and sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chipotle or smoked paprika and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool.

Pulse the ingredients: Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until chopped into small pieces (stop before nuts become a smooth meal). Add to the bowl with vegetables. Transfer strained beans to the food processor and add cheese (if using). Pulse just until beans are roughly chopped. Transfer mixture to the bowl with the other ingredients.

Mix everything together and chill: Add mayonnaise, egg (or substitute), bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or your hands. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions and form each portion into a patty about ¾ inch thick and roughly as wide as the buns you are using. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (and for up to 3 days) to let everything firm up before cooking. 

Cook the patties: For grilling: Heat the grill and brush the patties with oil. Grill over a low to moderate flame for 4-6 minutes per side, until well browned and cooked through, topping with cheese at the end if desired. If they start to burn before they’re fully cooked, move them to the sides of the grill to finish cooking over indirect heat. For the stovetop: Heat 2 tsp oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Cook 2-4 patties at a time (depending on how many will fit comfortably) until well browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes per side, adding more oil as necessary in between batches.

Dress up and serve: Toast the buns if desired. Spread top and/or bottom buns with condiments, place patties on bottom bun, and top as desired. Enjoy immediately.

Serve with

Grilled vegetables (if you already have the grill going), corn on the cob, oven roasted sweet potato fries, tangy red cabbage slaw, cucumber-watermelon salad, broccoli spoon salad

Inspired by Really Awesome Black Bean Burgers by J. Kenji López-Alt, The Ultimate Veggie Burger by Melissa Clark, and Chipotle Falafel Burgers by Joe Yonan.

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