At the beginning of summer, one of my goals was to discover the perfect veggie burger recipe and I definitely exceeded my own expectations! Before getting into it, I don’t think I ever even thought it was possible for veggie burgers to be both THIS good, hitting all the same pleasure sensors as a traditional burger, and also made from only whole foods. After having a fair amount of Impossible or Beyond burgers over the years, I thought they were as good as it gets and anything healthy and homemade (and not full of unfamiliar, hard to source modernist ingredients) would fall short. I’m so glad I was wrong and that it’s not only possible to make the tastiest, most satisfying burgers from the healthiest, most sustainable and affordable ingredients around, but it’s also a really enjoyable process throughout. As someone who has become a pretty lazy cook and gets by doing the bare minimum 90% of the time lately, I really love making this recipe. The main way we eat them is actually in a wrap at room temperature, with sprouts and sauerkraut, and one batch makes pretty much a week’s worth of lunches. ***These absolutely perfect veggie burgers work phenomenally on a grill by the way!***
The main ingredient in these absolutely perfect veggie burgers is short grain brown rice and it’s truly wild how well humble starches imitate the sensory attributes of fattiness in your mouth (and with your eyes! I can’t believe how unintentionally similar these look to ground meat). The starches in the short grain brown rice, as well as in the tapioca starch, aren’t just there for their binding capabilities, but they also help reduce moisture loss, add structure and are so good for gut health! The starches are what makes these feel like juicy burgers when you’re eating them while being remarkably low in fat (7g per burger, half of what a Beyond burger has and less than 1/3rd of a burger made from cow’s body parts). I mentioned to my boyfriend, after we shared these burgers with several groups of people (all of which eat pretty much just dead animals) about how surprised I was that they all loved these veggie burgers so much, since I assumed they’re kind of an acquired taste for people who don’t eat many plants, and he was like “I’m not surprised at all. Flavor is a science. There’s just no way people wouldn’t think they’re good”.
I serve these with a pickles, onions, chopped romaine and a copycat ‘shack sauce’ recipe (the sauce they use at Shake Shack’. I added the recipe below!
Absolutely Perfect Veggie Burgers
makes 10-12 burgers
1.5 cups uncooked short grain brown rice
3 cups broth (I use better than bouillon brand, either vegetable or their vegan beef)
at least 8 oz mushrooms, diced (based on personal preference, can go up to 16 oz without modifying the rest of the recipe. mostly any type would work, I use crimini due to availability usually, but shiitakes would be most ideal)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red miso (any will work but red is the ‘meatiest’)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup grated beet
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (optional, I usually forget lol)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 a cup ground flax or 2 tbsp psyllium husk (make sure your flax isn’t old/still gels up!)
1 tbsp tapioca or corn starch
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup chickpea flour (or can just use 3/4 cup more oats)
optional – brush lightly with vegan worcestershire sauce after flipping
Cook the short grain brown rice in the broth (I use a rice cooker). Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the diced mushrooms. Lightly salt to release moisture and saute them for about 5 minutes, until most of the moisture has released. Stir in the miso and balsamic, making sure they’re evenly dispersed, then remove from heat. Add the sauteed mushrooms to a large bowl, then stir in the cup of grated beets. Mix well.
In a blender or food processor, pulse the brown sugar, paprika, rosemary, sunflower seeds, flax or psyllium, starch, nutritional yeast, oats and chickpea flour into a coarse flour (you still want a bit of texture). Let it sit in the blender until the rice is done.
Once the rice is done, stir the blended mix into the beets and mushrooms making sure everything is evenly coated, then stir in the rice. You want to make sure you’re using freshly cooked, still hot and starchy rice so that everything binds together well. It’s usually too hot to sufficiently mix at this stage, so I put a tight fitting lid (or in my case, a plate) over the bowl and set it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, I really really mix and slightly squeeze it, using both hands.
Heat a skillet over medium heat with some oil. Form the veggie burgers (not too thick), then cook about 4 minutes per side, sprinkling with salt and pepper once you flip. Optionally, you can brush the patties with vegan worcestershire sauce as you’re cooking them. I find the patties hold the best for grilling if you let them rest in the fridge 5-10 minutes after forming.
Copycat ‘shack sauce’ recipe
1/4 cup vegan mayo (I use Hellman’s)
2 tsp ketchup
2 tsp yellow mustard
4 slices ‘hamburger pickles’, finely chopped
a splash of pickle juice
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Stir together well, that’s it 🙂