The Ultimate Veggie Burger

The Ultimate Veggie Burger ~ the burger is the all American summer favorite, and switching out a healthy meatless burger  just makes so much sense. To be honest, half the fun is the bun and all the toppings, anyway! You can make a big batch of these vegan burgers and freeze them for easy healthy eating all year long.

The ultimate veggie burger

If you’re a reader of this blog you might know that I’ve been on a life long quest for the perfect veggie burger. I thought I had found it it in my Hal’s Soyburger, which I learned to make when I worked one summer in a natural food restaurant in college, but the problem is that soy beans are very hard to find, and so, sadly, I’ve had to move on to a recipe that’s more convenient to use. Since then I’ve made an epic Chickpea Veggie Burger and a Red Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Burger. Those two burgers are totally different, but both awesome.

Veggie burgers can be made a million different ways, but take it from someone who routinely orders them whenever I can, they usually aren’t that good. They can be mushy, tasteless, and almost always too thick. Sometimes you can barely distinguish them from the bun. Sometimes, gasp, they’re even artificially colored to look more meat-like, or to give them grill marks. Sometimes they’re made from engineered protein that’s supposed to imitate the taste and texture of meat. Yuck. No wonder they have a bad reputation.

The ultimate Veggie Burger recipe!

Veggie burger recipes are fun to play with because they’re not an exact science, and you can fiddle with the ingredients here and there, just as long as you get enough flavor, and a texture that more or less resembles a raw meat burger or meatloaf mix. It should be moist and sticky, but not overly wet. It should be smooth enough to form into a patty, but retain some texture. Rices, grains, and beans make good starting points. You can add finely chopped or shredded vegetables, and then it all gets bound together with a little beaten egg and bread crumbs. Within that general framework there’s a lot of wiggle room.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger recipe is worth its weight in gold!

I used red rice for its amazing texture and flavor, black beans, some zucchini, mushroom, and bright bell peppers. One of the secrets is not to over process the ingredients so that the burgers have a nice, nutty… ok, I’ll say it… ‘meaty’ texture. The red rice and black beans give a pleasing rich deep color, and the veggies give it even more visual interest.

A stack of veggie burgers

I used an ice cream scoop to portion out the mixture, and then pressed it flat in between pieces of waxed paper. I used my tortilla press, but you can do it with your hand or a plate. Use your fingers to form it into a perfect round if you need to. I like them on the thin side.

The patties get chilled for an hour or so which helps them firm up and become easier to handle. You can make them a day ahead of time, too, which is nice.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger reciepe is made with lots of colorful healthy ingredients

The big question ~

Why haven’t the big fast food chains embraced the veggie burger? It’s a huge mystery to me. McDonald’s has 13 different beef burgers, 8 chicken burgers, a fish filet, and countless wraps, yet none of them are vegetarian. It makes no sense.

Mixing up The Ultimate Veggie Burger!

Tips for veggie burger success:

  • Use flavorful whole grains as your base. The Wehani red rice I used has got a great rust color and wonderful flavor and texture. It’s my new favorite rice around here.
  • Cook your beans from dried.  It’s not that much effort, and you can double or triple the recipe and freeze extra burgers for later. Canned beans will make a mushy burger with a ‘canned’ taste.
  • Slightly under cook your rice and beans until they are just barely tender. They should have a nutty bite to them.
  • Be gentle with them, they are delicate. Plan to cook them on the stove rather than on a grill. Transfer them from their paper onto the pan carefully, and flip them carefully. Their delicate texture when raw is what makes them delicious after they are cooked.
  • Veggie burgers are on the thin side, so don’t overwhelm them with huge buns.
  • Treat veggie burgers just like you would a meat burger— use all your favorite burger toppings!
  • If you freeze them, first freeze them flat, in their waxed paper, then you can stack them in freezer baggies.

Reader Rave ~

“These burgers were A-MAZING! I will be making them again! ”  ~ Amy

The ultimate veggie burger
3.22 from 133 votes

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

A classic vegan veggie burger is a super healthy alternative to beef, and so easy to make!
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 8 burgers
Calories 88kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 cup cooked red rice
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup rough chopped colorful bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup rough chopped portobello mushroom
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini about 1 small (squeeze out excess moisture in a paper towel)
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce substitute soy sauce if vegetarian
  • 1/2 tsp smoked salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • sliced cheese if desired


  • Put the rice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the machine until the rice has broken down but still has some texture. Don’t process into a paste, but break down the rice so there are no big pieces.
  • Remove the rice to a bowl, and then put the black beans in and do the same thing. Add them to the bowl.
  • Put the bell peppers and mushrooms into the processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add them to the bowl.
  • Add the shredded zucchini, bread crumbs, beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce and spices. Add lots of fresh cracked black pepper, and mix everything together until completely combined.
  • At this point your mixture should resemble a meatloaf or meatball mixture: moist and sticky but not too wet. If it seems overly wet, add a bit more bread crumbs.
  • Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, measure out about 1/2 cup of the mixture and form it into a ball. Place on a square of waxed paper and cover with another square. Press down to flatten slightly and then flatten with a tortilla press or a plate, using gentle even pressure to press the burger into a round. Use your fingers to even it out.
  • Stack the burgers on a plate, in their waxed paper, and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow them to firm up.
  • Grease your pan with olive oil and cook the burgers for about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, until they are hot through and crisp on the outside. Be careful when flipping them because they are delicate. Homemade veggie burgers probably won’t work on a grill because of their delicate texture, but you could try if you have a special pan.
  • Add a slice of cheese at the end of the cooking time, if using.
  • Serve right away in a bun with all your favorite fixin’s!

Cook’s notes

And to go with your burger?


Calories: 88kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1.16g | Saturated Fat: 0.31g | Sodium: 183mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Homemade veggie burgers in the freezer are the best thing. I really need to whip up a batch of these!

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    June 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    These are very innovative and what stunnin colours. I am tempted even though I am not vegetarian.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 17, 2013 at 3:39 am

      I’m not vegetarian either, but I prefer vegetables over meat for so many reasons. At least it’s good to have an alternative now and then!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Wow I’ve also been looking for the perfect veggie burger recipe! I can’t wait to try this!

  • Reply
    Milk and Honey
    June 16, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I’m with you all the way on this Sue. Veggie burgers can all-too-often be a stodgy excuse for a burger – leaving the eater feeling like a second-class citizen. I really love that you’ve made them so thin (and with a tortilla press – genius.)

  • Reply
    Abbe Odenwalder
    June 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    These sound great. I’m always looking for a veggie burger recipe just like I’m always looking for a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I always think I have the perfect one and then something comes along that sounds better!

  • Reply
    belleau kitchen
    June 16, 2013 at 6:04 am

    I love your quest for perfection and I think you’ve found it Sue. It’s hard isn’t it? Funnily enough The Viking loves his fake meat burgers but I too on occasion strive for a perfect veggie burger although I don’t think I’ve come close to this. I imagine the mushrooms really bring it together. Have you tried grating raw beetroot into the mix? I know you love your beets and they will add an incredible red colour to everything that even looks like blood!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      Eeek, what a thought! I do love beets, and they would definitely add texture, I’ll try that. My veggies were added raw, too, and I liked it better than the method of cooking them beforehand which most recipes use.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    June 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    The veggies look like little jewels in the burger, Sue! I wish this was my dinner. I love all these different rices, I just sent my husband to Whole Foods for black rice!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks, Chris, I do think they’re better looking than your average veggie burger 😉 I adore black rice—that would be a perfect choice for these.

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    June 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    The perfect veggie burger is not easy to come by for all the reasons you mentioned. And good for you for re-vamping your own recipe due to hard to come by ingredients. This truly does look like the ultimate veggie burger and I love it b/c it’s PACKED with veggies! Which is the only way for me! Pinned!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks, Averie—Come to think of it, the red rice might be hard for some people to come by, but here in LA I noticed they have it at my regular grocery store.

  • Reply
    Sulpicia (III)
    June 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    These look amazing. The red rice is such a good idea!

  • Reply
    June 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I was JUST cooking for a veggie burger recipe THIS morning! This sounds delicious, thanks for the recipe and tips!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Oh I’m so glad! There are so many ways to go with them, but I really recommend trying the red rice, if you can find it.

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