Good Question: Good Veggie Burgers

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My dilemma: my struggle to find the perfect vegetarian burger recipe.
My boyfriend and I are not vegetarians - but we love meatless burgers (of all kinds). Years ago I had a fantastic veggie burger at Houston's in New Jersey. It was dark (almost black), crunchy and had really amazing flavor.

I have yet to find anything that comes close - I can't even imagine what the ingredient were, black beans, barley, rice? After (yet another) failed attempt last night, with a recipe found in a Martha Stewart magazine (rice, chickpeas, beets - MUSH!), I decided to drop AT Kitchen a line.

I would love to see recipes recommended by the readers and editors. Thanks! - Kari Anne

Kari Anne, yes! We have some suggestions. First off, we looked for copycat recipes for the Houston's burger. If it's as great as you say, surely someone has tried to recreate it. Sure enough, we found copycat recipes at Yahoo! Answers and Recipezaar. Check these out first and see if they work for you.

We also have some recipes bookmarked at Epicurious to check out - namely, this one for Portobello-Black Bean Burgers with Corn Salsa and these Mushroom Kasha Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise (pictured above).

And then of course there is Mark Bittman's article from February about the varieties of vegetarian burgers; we suggest experimenting with his basic recipes to find the sort of veggie burgers you like best. His article is here: Burgers With Lots of Sizzle and None of the Guilt.

We have our own recipe here too: Tomato, Corn, and Basil Bean Burgers, which admittedly is more of a bean patty than a meatlike veggie burger.

And finally, remember that great veggie burgers lean heavily on technique. A great recipe can only go so far; you need to replicate the deep, dark complexity of flavors in meat through strategic cooking. In many recipes this is achieved through caramelized onions and many small flavor notes - which is why veggie burger recipes are often so long and complicated. You also have to make sure you deeply brown and caramelize the mix to get that strong and smoky flavor that is characteristic of a great burger - meat or veggie.

Any more suggestions for Kari Anne?

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(Image credit: Romulo Yanes for Gourmet)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.