A vegetarian smash burger that’s just as satisfying as the original? Absolutely! This version highlights black beans and don’t worry, we’ve still got all of the best toppings including a homemade sauce that will leave you licking the bowl.
We’re kicking off the new year with a bang if I do say so myself. This black bean smash burger is a flavor-packed meatless meal you will love if you’re working on adding more plants to your diet… or even if you aren’t, actually. It’s that delicious.
The smash burger is a classic. It’s lightly crispy and charred on the outside, tender on the inside and perfectly assembled. The trick is cooking it on a cast iron surface and gently smashing down with a spatula to get a beautiful exterior. I wanted to try this technique with a vegetarian patty and was pleasantly surprised when it not only worked, but worked so well.
What You Need to Make These Beauties
- black beans are the foundation and I use both puréed and whole beans in this one for the best texture.
- egg for a binding agent (you could also try a flax egg for a vegan option)
- rolled oats to soak up some of the moisture and give them some shape
- soy sauce for a salty, umami pop of flavor
- tahini to assist in holding it all together and add another savory pop
- grated onion and garlic get cooked right in (I’m not the biggest fan of raw onion on a burger, so this is a great way to make sure you still get a hint of it without the harsh bite)
- smoked paprika aka the best simple way to add a little something special to any dish
Tips for Making an Actually Good Bean Burger
Now I’ve had my fair share of vegetable-based burgers over the years and let’s just say I have thoughts on what makes a really good one. Here are a few of my top tips:
- Purée some of the beans, and leave some whole. This way it’ll stick together well and you still get the benefit of some “meaty” beans too.
- No chunks of vegetables. Leave out the chopped green pepper, onion, carrots, etc. It throws the texture off and makes it harder to cook evenly. Just stick with the basics.
- Choose the right bun. Brioche buns are a classic choice for a smash burger because they are light and airy and perfect, in my opinion. If you choose something too dense, you run the risk of overwhelming the delicate bean burger.
Again, I prefer to keep things super simple here with butter lettuce (or romaine, leaf, iceberg), pickles and a great sauce. I like something similar to the famous Shake Shack sauce!
Lastly, I’ll take a thick tomato slice but only in the summer. If they aren’t in season, I would rather skip it. It doesn’t need cheese, but go for it you think it’s a non-negotiable.
Even more-so than with the beef version, you’ll want to avoid overloading a bean burger with fancy toppings. It just won’t hold up to things like sautéd mushrooms, a pile of caramelized onions or heavy cheeses. This isn’t the time to get gourmet!
Black Bean Smash Burger FAQs
Follow these three steps: Use a flax egg in place of the real egg in the burger patties; swap in vegan mayonnaise in the sauce; choose a vegan bun (most are, but the brioche buns we use and love here are not!).
As long as you use certified gluten-free oats, then yes, the patties are gluten-free. Wrap it in lettuce or choose a gluten-free bun to make the whole thing work for you!
Yes you can. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container for up to a month. Let it thaw in the refrigerator for a day before reheating in a skillet, or use an oven or toaster oven to warm all the way through from frozen.
More Favorite Vegetarian Dinner Ideas:
- Veggie Burrito Bowls with Green Goddess Dressing
- Sheet Pan Portobello Mushroom Fajitas
- Mediterranean Grain Bowls
Black Bean Smash Burgers
A vegetarian smash burger that’s just as satisfying as the original!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 burgers 1x
- Category: Mains, Entreés
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 small yellow onion, grated (moisture squeezed out)
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- olive oil, for brushing the pan
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon ketchup
- splash of pickle juice
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- brioche buns
- fresh toppings: butter lettuce, sliced pickles, and sliced tomatoes (if in season)
- Pulse the rolled oats in a food processor several times until chopped up a bit (you don’t want oat flour). Add half the beans, egg, soy sauce, tahini, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Pulse a few more times until everything is well-incorporated but not totally puréed. Transfer to a big bowl and stir in the remaining black beans (leaving them whole), grated onion and garlic.
- Divide the black bean mixture into 6 equal portions (a heaping 1/3 cup each) and place on a parchment-lined plate or quarter sheet pan. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce by mixing mayo through cayenne in a small bowl.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium and brush with olive oil.
- Roll each (chilled) black bean portion into a ball with your hands and drop into the hot pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, pressing down gently with a spatula, then flipping and cooking 5-7 more minutes until browned. It should be crisp on the outside and firm (not mushy) on the inside.
- Once the burgers are fully cooked, transfer them to a lightly toasted bun that’s been smeared with sauce and add your favorite fresh toppings.
- The equipment section above provides affiliate links to things I use often in my kitchen and love.
- Cooking tips: you may need to cook longer depending on what type of pan you use. Keep them in the pan until they have a nice brown and crispy exterior.
- Keep these vegan by using a flax egg in place of the large egg in the burgers, vegan mayonnaise in the sauce (like this one) and choosing a vegan bun.
- These freeze well. Let them cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to one month. Reheat in a skillet or the oven.
- Serving Size: 1 burger
- Calories: 511 calories
- Fat: 25 grams
- Carbohydrates: 55 grams
- Fiber: 13 grams
- Protein: 16 grams
Keywords: plant-based dinners, vegetarian dinners, 30 minutes or less
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