By Kelsey YoungmanJuly 26, 2021
Seven vegetables and grains fill our ultimate veggie burger with texture, color, and flavor.
We’ve come a long way from the freezer aisle of the 1980s. Veggie burgers are no longer monotonous gray- brown pucks—they’re fresh, vibrant, and satisfyingly savory. As a longtime vegetarian who attended a culinary school focused on plant-based cooking, I’ve not only cooked and consumed hundreds of these patties, but I actually love them. With storebought options now ranging from plant-based “meat” to black bean and green pea–based patties, veggie burgers certainly have range. But the secret to the very best ones is texture. A bit of crunch, just enough moisture and tenderness, and the right balance of both in each bite make for a burger everyone at the barbecue can enjoy.
These veggie burgers are filled with whole vegetables and grains, and they boast plenty of complex flavor. The right combination of legumes, grains, nuts, and spices yields a patty that’s hearty, filling, and colorful, with crispy edges and real heft in its bite. We’ve got tamari for a salty, umami- rich base note and walnuts for a toasty, nutty crunch. Pearl barley gives the burger the right chew and structure, while panko binds the burgers with- out weighing them down. Fresh shredded beets and carrots give each mouthful just enough moisture, while roasted mushrooms lend savory, meaty tenderness. Chickpeas show up two ways: some pureed with sweet roasted garlic, and the rest processed to a chunkier grind so the patties don’t become pasty. Hot off the skillet, these burgers are golden brown and ready for a bun: I love them piled high with fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, and may- be even a slice of (vegan) cheese. (For our favorites, see “Make It a Vegan Cheeseburger,” below) Bonus: The patties freeze beautifully, so mix up a big batch and stash them in the freezer for a fast-fix veggie burger any day of the week.
How to Make Ultimate Veggie Burgers
Prepare the Ingredients
Cook and drain barley; roast mushrooms and garlic. Let cooked ingredients cool. Remove garlic cloves from skins, and discard skins. Peel and shred carrots and beets; drain and rinse chickpeas.
Process the Ingredients
Process barley and mushrooms in separate batches; set aside. Process chickpeas until roughly chopped; set aside 1 cup. Add garlic to remaining chickpeas; process until smooth.
Combine the Ingredients
Stir together processed barley, mushrooms, reserved chopped chickpeas, chickpea-garlic mixture, carrots, beets, walnuts, panko, and seasonings in a large bowl until well combined.
Form the Patties
Using a 1⁄2-cup measure to create even portions, shape mixture into 8 (1⁄2-inch-thick) patties.
Cook the Burger
Cook burgers in a skillet until browned, 2 minutes per side. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.GET THE RECIPE: ULTIMATE VEGGIE BURGERS
Make It a Vegan Cheeseburger
Forager Project Organic Vegan Jack
The best melter of the bunch, this Monterey Jack alternative is made from cultured cashews and fava beans. Find a purveyor at foragerproject.com.
Field Roast Creamy Original Vegan Chao Slices
The classic for a reason, these ever-popular vegan slices have a mild, milky, creamy flavor reminiscent of white American cheese. Find a purveyor at fieldroast.com.
Violife Just Like Mature Cheddar Slices
The “mature” version of Violife’s slices offers a more robust flavor while still melt- ing beautifully. $6 at shop.violifefoods.com