The Secret Black Bean Burger Recipe

I learned to make veggie black bean burgers. They’re good. I often recommend that people make them in online food forums. Then somebody asks “What recipe did you use?”

Goddamnit. Mine. I went to a cooking class and got the original recipe on a printed handout. Then I modified it to be way simpler. So it’s not anywhere on the Internet that I can link to. Unless I type it out for you, and I’m tired of doing that! Goddamnit.

So here it is, so I don’t have to type it out ever, ever again. This is the original recipe, annotated with the shortcuts that I made. The original recipe also called for chopped cooked veggies and shredded carrot, which I don’t include.

The Black Bean Burger Recipe:

The recipe makes 12-15 burgers. You can fry them, grill, or bake them. I fry them, but they should hold together any way you do it. After I’ve made them, I save a couple to eat, and freeze the rest. They reheat in the microwave well, and do well on a bun with the usual fixings (or even avocado), They make good cheeseburgers if you don’t care too much about being vegan.

After I’ve made them, I save a couple to eat, and freeze the rest. They reheat in the microwave well, and do well on a bun with the usual fixings (or even avocado), They make good cheeseburgers if you don’t care too much about being vegan.

Note that this makes a fairly floppy burger; too much moisture is the enemy. If such is the case, add a little more breadcrumb or dry oatmeal “breadcrumb.”


  • A “flax egg” to bind all the ingredients together. That requires
    • 1/4 cup ground flax (aka flax meal)
    • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 15-oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of nuts or seeds — original recipe said cashews, but also almonds or hulled raw sunflower seeds if preferred. I use the sunflower seeds because we have them around anyway. Tastes good, cheaper. Pulse the seeds/nuts into crumbs (not dust) in a food processor or grinder.
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onions .
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice or any other cooked grain, including oatmeal. I use oatmeal because it’s always around, but use any cooked grain.
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs. (I just run dry oatmeal through a coffee grinder.)
  • 2 TBSP smoked paprika — a meaty flavor
  • 1 TBSP chili powder — for a little kick
  • 1 to 2 TSP of salt, to taste.


  • Make the “flax egg.” In a small bowl, combine the flax and water. Do this first thing and set it aside to let it develop. It’ll gradually congeal into something like translucent pudding.
  • Dump the drained and rinsed black beans into a large bowl. Use a potato masher or big fork to mash them savagely into a paste, leaving maybe a quarter of the beans whole for texture and variety.
  • If you haven’t alredy, put the nuts or seeds into a food processor, electric chopper, or electric coffee grinder, and pulse them into crumbs (not dust). Put the crumbs in the bowl with the beans.
  • Once your flax egg has thickened up and absorbed all or nearly all the water, add it and all the other ingredients into the bowl. Mix everything together well. The mix should be pretty stiff, or get that way shortly. (If you wait too long and your flax egg turns into an actual solid, mix harder.)
  • Most of the ingredients were cooked or ready-to-eat, so at this point the mix’s flavor is just about what it’ll be when it’s fried or grilled. Taste it now; if you want to adjust the taste with different spices, more onions or nuts, a little parsley or shredded carrot whatever, now is the time.
  • Put the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes to a half-hour to give the mix time to solidify even more; if it’s already pretty solid, 15 minutes will do. Clean up. Take a break.
  • Shape the mix into individual patties; the original recipe says 1/2 cup each, about 3/4 inches thick. Whatever you like. I tend to make them thick and small. The recipe says you’ll get 12, I get more like 17 or 18. The smaller they are, the better they hold together. (Besides, you can use small ones like meatballs in other dishes.) While they’re waiting, I put them on a plate on parchment paper.

Frying on the Stovetop (What I do)

  • Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil to the pan (depending on the size of the pan) over low/medium heat. I just use canola because it doesn’t smoke. If you were using a non-stick pan, you could probably use less oil.
  • Fry four patties at a time and cook until golden brown and crispy on one side. If it gets a little darker than that, it’s not the end of the world. You’re actually making a crust to hold the burger together.
  • Flip over and do the other side.. When done, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels or (yes) parchment paper.
  • Go ahead and freeze the patties that you’re not eating now. I freeze them in a glass storage bowl with a snap-on plastic lid, with a layer of parchment paper between each level of burgers. You can also wrap each one in parchment paper and throw them all into a plastic freezer bag. The frozen burgers heat up quickly in the microwave: maybe a couple of minutes, a minute or so on each side.

Baking (I never do this)

Preheat to 350 and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper. Place the patties on the pans and bake for 20 minutes. Flip them and cook for 15 more, and pull them out of the oven. It’s way easy to make them too dry, so pull them sooner rather than later.

Grilling (I never do this, either)

Heat the grill to medium high, brush the patties with oil on both sides, and cook each side for about four minutes.

Eating (I always do this)

Generally I heat the patties, then pop them on a slice whole grained bread with a slice of cheese and nuke it till the cheese melts. I like to dd avocado, onions, tomato, and sometimes I nuke with tomato and onion along with the cheese. They also make great “chili burgers” lurking in the bottom of a bowl on a piece of bread with chili and cheese and whatever else poured/melted on top. And I have used them as meatballs in pasta with red sauce.

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