Easy Black Bean Burgers (Make-Ahead)


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Here’s my favorite EASY Black Bean Burger recipe – and it’s make-ahead and freezable, too! I’ve got a few tricks to make a black bean burger that STAYS TOGETHER and WON’T FALL APART(!) but it’s not dry or crumbly in texture, either. This recipe also makes the entire mixture in your food processor so there’s minimal chopping and dicing. No sautéing veggies, pre-drying beans, or any of that “extra” work here! Adding soy sauce and olive oil adds umami and juiciness that veggie burgers are often lacking.

Close up side view of a black bean burger with cheese.

I’ve made black bean burgers that taste great, but smush out the sides of the bun as soon as you bite down. Too soft. I’ve made some that hold their shape, but are dry and crumbly in texture. Too dry! This is my Goldilocks version of Black Bean Burgers. Juuuuuussssst right.

This is the perfect recipe to stock your freezer with something super easy to pull out on a busy night, or make a single serving if you’re cooking for one.

One word of warning: the mixture is quite wet (so be prepared for this!) – I’ll talk about how to manage this below.

Why are these black bean burgers so tasty and EASY?

  1. They’re firm enough to hold their shape, but not dry or crumbly! The trick? Form patties and bake them first. The oven cooks through the burger slowly, firming everything up and dehydrating them a bit so they aren’t too soft. Then, before serving, sear the in a skillet with oil to make a delicious crunchy exterior and reheat the inside perfectly (this step is optional – you can just eat them as is – but highly recommended).
  2. They have healthy fat and umami flavor – Veggie and bean burgers often lack juiciness and umami compared to beef burgers. To compensate for that, this recipe adds some olive oil into the mixture itself, as well as uses soy sauce for a savory umami punch instead of salt.
  3. They’re easy to prepare! Everything is chopped up and mixed in a food processor in only a few minutes. You don’t need to sauté any peppers and onions or chop them up finely – saving you time and dishes.
  4. You can make them ahead and stock your freezer with them. This batch makes about 8-10 burgers, so you can stash them in your freezer and take out one or as many as you need, making them perfect for prepping a cheap, healthy meal ahead of time.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Black Beans – I used canned, but you can use any cooked black bean. Or other bean for that matter – feel free to experiment with what you have on hand! Make sure they are drained and rinsed very well, and any excess water is shaken off before using.
  • Onion – I used yellow, any will do.
  • Bell Pepper – any color.
  • Garlic – omit if you like, or use garlic powder instead.
  • Eggs – flax or chia “eggs” or mashed sweet potato can be used for a vegan version – see more below on this.
  • Breadcrumbspanko or regular are fine, gluten-free if needed, or quick oats.
  • Olive oil – or another oil of choice.
  • Spices: cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika – feel free to use what you have here or experiment!
  • Soy sauce – this adds saltiness and umami, feel free to use salt if you don’t have any soy sauce, or tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free option.
  • Hot sauce – optional, if you like things spicy!
  • Things for serving – buns, sliced tomatoes, etc. See more serving suggestions below.

How to make Black Bean Burgers (that won’t fall apart!)

The trick to making black bean burgers that STAY TOGETHER and WON’T FALL APART? Baking them! Baking ensures the burgers cook through completely, the eggs can work their magic at binding everything together, and they dehydrate a little bit so they aren’t squishy.

But the trick to making black bean burgers that won’t fall apart but are still juicy and not dried out? You have to start with a fairly wet mixture.

1) Make the mixture:

  1. First, in a food processor, add onion, bell pepper, and garlic (no need to chop anything!). Process until everything is finely minced.
  2. Then, add half the black beans, spices, olive oil, eggs, soy sauce, hot sauce if using, and breadcrumbs. Pulse until everything is very well combined (but not completely pulverized).
  3. Finally, add the rest of the black beans and pulse only a few times. You want some of those beans to remain whole.
Process collage showing how to make a mixture for black bean burgers in a food processor.

2) Bake the patties:

  1. Check the mixture. It should be fairly wet and soft, but if it’s too wet to hold its shape at all, you can refrigerate it for a while. Refrigerating it will help the breadcrumbs that are already in there absorb some of the excess liquid. If it still seems super wet, you can add some more breadcrumbs.
  2. Prep a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and preheat your oven.
  3. Form patties. I used a half-cup measure to get even amounts for each patty. Form the patties with your hands and place them onto the parchment paper on the baking sheet. Note, again, that the mixture will be quite wet. You should be able to form a patty, but once you place it on the parchment paper, it will be there for good – you won’t be able to move it until after its baked or it will smush out of shape!
  4. Bake! Bake for about 25-30 minutes. You can flip it halfway through carefully, but it’s not 100% necessary.

At this point, you can dive right in and eat them! OR, you can store them in your fridge or freezer once they are cooled off a bit. Tip: the longer you let them cool, the more firm and less likely to fall apart they will be.

You also have the option of searing them in a skillet for an extra delicious black bean burger – let’s move on to the final step!

Black bean burgers on a parchment paper covered rimmed baking sheet.

Searing the black bean burgers in olive oil in a skillet accomplishes two things – 1) it makes a crispy browned outer layer that’s delicious, and 2) it is the best way to reheat the burgers if you’ve made them ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen them.

  1. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. I used nonstick but any kind will work.
  2. Sear on each side for 2-5 minutes, depending on their beginning temperature. If they were warm out of the oven, cook on medium-high heat for 2 minutes per side. If they were out of the refrigerator, cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side. If they were frozen, cook on low heat for 5ish minutes per side so they completely warm through.
  3. Add cheese when you flip them, if you want to!
  4. Build your burger! See below for suggestions.
Process collage showing how to sear a black bean burger in a skillet and add cheese to it.

How to serve a black bean burger

You can serve black bean burgers like you would any burger – on a bun with whatever you want! But there are other options too:

  • I served them with spicy mayo, baby arugula, cheddar cheese, red onion, and sliced tomato.
  • Have them for breakfast or brinner with a fried egg on top.
  • Crumble them up and use in veggie burger hash browns or in tacos.
  • Slice them up and add them to a salad.
  • Serve in a pita pocket with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and tzatziki sauce, like a vegetarian gyro.

Do you have other ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

How to freeze them

Place the baked black bean burgers on a baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, until they are solid. Then, transfer them to a zip-top bag or airtight container. You can take them out as needed for quick and easy meals!

Is there an egg substitute to make these vegan?

While I haven’t personally tried it, I’ve heard that you can use a flax or chia egg or mashed sweet potatoes in veggie burgers in place of eggs.

Side view of a black bean burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Other veggie burger recipes

Other black bean recipes

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Square photo of black bean burger.

Easy Black Bean Burgers

These baked Black Bean Burgers are easy to make, hold their shape and don’t fall apart, and have a moist texture! Using soy sauce and olive oil in the mixture adds umami and juiciness normally lacking in veggie burgers. You can make these ahead of time for easy lunches or dinners all week or stash in the freezer for later! Don’t be alarmed by the wet mixture – they’ll firm up as they bake.

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Course: Veggie Burger

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 8 – 10 servings

Calories: 116kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion peeled and quartered (or ½ large)
  • 1 bell pepper any color, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 14 oz. cans black beans drained and rinsed (or about 3 cups cooked black beans)
  • 2 eggs (see notes for vegan option)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs panko or regular are fine, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for optional searing
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • a few dashes hot sauce optional, depending on spice level preference

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the food processor. Process for a few seconds until everything is very finely minced (no need to pre-chop any of these ingredients).

  • Add half of the drained and rinsed black beans (shake off as much water as you can from them!), the eggs (2), breadcrumbs (1 cup), olive oil (2 tablespoons), ground cumin (1 teaspoon), chili powder (1 teaspoon), smoked paprika (¼ teaspoon), soy sauce (2 tablespoons), black pepper (½ teaspoon), and hot sauce, if using. Pulse until everything is well combined (but not completely pulverized).

  • Add the remaining half of the drained and rinsed black beans to the food processor and pulse only a few times, until some of those beans are mashed but some remain whole.

  • Form patties out of the mixture and place on the parchment- lined baking sheet. (The mixture will be quite wet, but you should still be able to gently form patties with your hand. If it’s too wet to do this, you can refrigerate it for a while – as it cools and the breadcrumbs absorb the moisture, it will firm up. In addition, you can add more breadcrumbs if needed.) I used a ½ cup measure to measure equal portions of the mixture (8-10 patties). You can do ⅓ for more patties if you like. Because the mixture is fairly wet, once you place the patties on the baking sheet, they are there for good – it would be very difficult to move them and have them keep their shape – so make sure you plan ahead with spacing or use two baking sheets!
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. I recommend flipping once halfway through cooking, but that’s not 100% necessary.

  • At this point, you can store the patties in your refrigerator or freezer for later (see notes on freezer directions) after they’ve cooled a bit. You can eat them as is. Or, you can move on to the next step.

  • Optional, but highly recommended: heat two tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet. Sear the patties on each side until browned and crispy. After you flip them, you can add a slice of cheese to melt on top if you like. See notes for directions on searing depending on starting temperature.

  • Serve the burgers however you like. I like spreading mayo and hot sauce on a bun, adding arugula, sliced red onion, and tomato to the black bean burger patty. See notes for other ideas.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a food processor, I recommend very finely chopping the onion, pepper, and garlic (or grating them on a box grater). Add to a bowl, add remaining ingredients, and use a potato masher to mash to a consistency that allows some of the beans to remain whole.
  • Spices: this recipe is flexible. Feel free to experiment with what you have in your pantry or omit anything listed!
  • Refrigerate patties for later: allow the patties to cool for a while after baking. Then remove to an airtight container and store in your fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freeze patties for later: allow the patties to cool for a while on the baking sheet. Then, place the baking sheet directly in the freezer to flash freeze the patties until they are solid, for about 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the patties and place in a zip top bag or airtight container and place in the freezer.
  • To sear in the skillet: The time and temperature will vary based on starting temperature of the patty. Directly after baking while they are still warm: sear on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side. Cold from the refrigerator: sear on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes per side, so the inside warms up enough. Directly from the freezer: sear on medium-low or low heat for 5ish minutes on each side, so the inside completely defrosts and warms up without burning the outside. You can also cover the skillet to trap in the warmth to speed things up.
  • Serving black bean burgers: Serve as you normally would any burger – on a bun with fixings. Or top with a fried egg for brunch or brinner, slice and add to a salad, crumble and add to tacos… get creative! 
  • Make them gluten-free: use gluten-free soy sauce alternative (like tamari or coconut aminos) and gluten-free breadcrumbs or quick oats.
  • Make them vegan: While I haven’t personally tried it, I’ve heard that you can use a flax or chia egg or mashed sweet potatoes in veggie burgers in place of eggs.

Nutrition

Serving: 1burger patty | Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.004g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 372mg | Potassium: 119mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 634IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition Information Disclaimer

The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools:

Very Well Fit Nutrition Information Calculator



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