Jenny Rosenstrach’s Weeknight Veggie Burgers

updated Jun 7, 2021
Eat More Plants
Veggie Burgers

These hearty homemade veggie burgers are loaded with beans, mushrooms, sweet potato, oats, and brown rice.

Serves8

Prep15 minutes

Cook28 minutes

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veggie burger stacked hight with avocado
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Styling: Alex Brannian; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

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Like a lot of people, we really got into the plant-based burger craze when all the new, impossibly-meaty-tasting patties started showing up in the refrigerator section of our supermarket. We each had our favorites and treated them like California-style burgers, piling on the onions and lettuce and homemade “special sauce,” remarking over and over, mouths full, “This really is almost as good as a hamburger!” But after a while, I started to feel like it maybe wasn’t such a great idea to rely on them too much — especially since the brand we picked up most frequently had a super-long ingredient list. So I set to work trying to develop a homemade veggie burger that might take its place.

This was not easy or fun — in fact, if you ever meet my daughters, you might not want to mention the bean-burger phase of testing to either of them. (Although maybe they’ve blocked it out?) Eventually, I landed on this recipe, which tastes more like a burger and less like a bean. It was originally inspired by a recipe from Sprouted Kitchen’s Sara Forte, one of my great heroes of plant-based family cooking. Like many veggie-burger recipes, hers relies on the depth of cooked-down mushrooms and is based on black beans, which I’ve tried and loved, but I knew the diners at my table would more likely respond to a milder pinto-based burger that also resembled the color of a burger. I was right.

And they weren’t the only ones who responded favorably. Christine Han, the lovely and talented photographer who shot every picture in my book, told me she couldn’t stop thinking about the burgers after eating them at our photo shoot. (When we wrapped, I gave her four frozen patties as a thank-you gift.)

Why These Are Weeknight Veggie Burgers

There is a hitch, though. I promised you easy vegetarian dinners, and I’m not going to lie: This one does take time to prep. But! Let me just say that I rely on them so much that I couldn’t not include the recipe — especially since I wound up making a habit of mixing up a batch of patties on Sunday to freeze for my later, less-relaxed weeknight self. If you think ahead to do that, they’ll only take 10 minutes to fry up in oil — no thawing required. There you have it; a quick weeknight vegetarian dinner.

Credit: Photo: Christine Han; Wardrobe Stylist: Roberto Johnson

Jenny Rosenstrach Knows You Can Do More than Meatless Monday
Read our interview with Jenny on her next book, The Weekday Vegetarians, and how meatless Monday can be so much more.

Veggie Burgers

These hearty homemade veggie burgers are loaded with beans, mushrooms, sweet potato, oats, and brown rice.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 28 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the veggie burgers:

  • 4 tablespoons

    extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1/2

    small yellow onion, roughly chopped

  • 8 ounces

    mushrooms (I use baby bellas), including stems, chopped

  • 1 cup

    cooked long- or short-grain brown rice (I often use Trader Joe’s precooked rice to save myself time)

  • 1/2 cup

    old-fashioned rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup

    roughly chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2 tablespoons

    soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1

    small Japanese sweet potato (about 7 ounces) or baking potato, cooked, cooled, flesh scooped out, and broken into rough chunks

  • 1 1/2 cups

    cooked pinto beans, or 1 (15-ounce) can, rinsed and drained

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour, for dredging

For serving:

  • 8

    potato buns or brioche buns (for next-level burgers)

  • Spicy mayo (3 tablespoons mayo mixed with 2 teaspoons sriracha; optional)

  • Pickled Onions, regular bread-and-butter pickles or minced red onions

  • Crunchy lettuce (optional)

  • Avocado slices

Instructions

  1. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a cast-iron skillet set over medium heat. After a minute, add the onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are crispy, 10 to 15 minutes. As the mushrooms cook, they will release a lot of water—you want all the liquid to evaporate from the pan. Set aside to let the mixture cool.

  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the brown rice, oats, cilantro, egg, soy sauce, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined, about ten 1-second pulses. (Don’t over process; you want the mixture to be textured—no more than eight to ten pulses.) Add the cooked sweet potato, beans, and cooled mushroom mixture. Pulse until blended but still textured, not even 10 seconds total.

  3. Shape the mixture into 8 very thin 4-inch patties—think California-style. They will probably look mushy and unappetizing, and I implore you not to let any of your diners watch this part, but press on! (Also, just like with regular burgers, it’s easier to shape them when your hands are slightly wet.)

  4. After shaping, place the patties on a plate, covered with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes if you have the time. (I’ve made them without chilling and they’re fine, just a little harder to handle in terms of flipping.) If you want to freeze them for a later date, wrap each in parchment paper and place them in a single layer in a resealable freezer bag, set the bag on a plate or cutting board (to stay flat), and freeze for up to 3 months. (You can remove the plate after a few hours.)

  5. When you’re ready to eat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron or nonstick, over medium-high heat. Dredge each patty in flour, then fry until golden and crispy on each side, 7 to 8 minutes total. Serve on buns with your choice of toppings.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted from The Weekday Vegetarians. Copyright © 2021 by Jenny Rosenstrach. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Christine Han. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

This story is part of Eat More Plants, Kitchn’s June 2021 special issue devoted to putting the flavor and magic of plants at the heart of your plate.