Cut the Cow: 5 Meat-Free Burger Recipes

We’re about to show you how you can go meat-free this month and have a burger, too. Yes, it is possible. You just have to be willing to go outside your ground meat comfort zone, and it may or may not involve chickpeas.

The name of the game is veggie burgers, and before you run for the hills, we encourage you to give these inoffensive patties a try. Sure, you probably won’t find the die-hard carnivore converting to the veggie variation anytime soon, but veggie burgers are still a great way to reduce red meat in your diet and cut calories and saturated fat. Veggie burgers are often low in calories, and on top of that, they provide plenty of protein and fiber.

Here are 5 ways you can interchange your typical meaty burger for a lighter variation tonight. These patties offer a great way to cut down on red meat while satisfying your nutritional needs, dinner cravings, and taste buds.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

1. Traditional veggie burgers

First up, the iconic veggie burger — the one people think of when they see the two words next to each other on a menu or hear that’s what they’re having for Friday night dinner. When most restaurants serve veggie burgers, they make a patty made of up ground-up vegetables, such as beans, mushrooms, and carrots. These veggies are packed with nutrients and are full of fiber, which is why many veggie burgers also boast an impressive nutritional profile.

The great thing about veggie burgers is that they are extremely customizable, and as long as you have a good food processor, you can pick and choose what ingredients you want going into your patties. Here’s an example of a recipe from Cooking Light for a classic veggie burger to get you started. From there, you can mix and match your own add-ins.


  • 1 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon amchur powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and quartered
  • 2 pounds peeled red potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Combine first nine ingredients in the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 13 minutes. Add onion, and cook for 2 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain; cool 10 minutes. Place potato mixture in a large bowl; mash with a potato masher or fork. Stir in chickpea mixture and breadcrumbs; cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

Divide potato mixture into eight equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty (about ⅔ cup mixture). Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add four patties to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned and heated through. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and four patties. Place ⅓ cup spinach and one patty in each pita half. Top each serving with one onion slice.

Can of Black Beans

2. Chickpea burgers

Next up are the chickpea burgers, a spinoff on the classic veggie patty that places more of a focus on its star ingredient: the chickpea. These legumes, also called garbanzo beans, are nothing to be afraid of, especially considering they’re packed with fiber, iron, protein, and folate, and what’s more, if you’re convinced you’d never consider consuming these lovable beans, guess what makes up the majority of your favorite spread, hummus? That’s right: chickpeas.

These beans wear many hats, and today, they’re making up the primary component of our burgers. Here’s a recipe for chickpea burgers from Rachael Ray herself, and if Ray can like these meat-free burgers, you can, too.


  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • ⅔ cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ⅔ cup bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions: In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, green chiles, and parsley until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the egg and form the mixture into four patties, each about 2/3 inch thick.

In a large skillet or grill pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Cook the burgers for 4 minutes, then flip and cook for 3 minutes more. Top the patties with the cheese slices for the last minute of cooking. Serve the cheeseburgers on the hamburger buns with mustard, ketchup, or mayonnaise.


Can of Black Beans

3. Chipotle black bean burgers

We’re using a different kind of bean for this next fiber-packed burger, and that would be the black bean, a legume that many would argue is easy to love. But do people love them pulsed into a protein and fiber-rich burger? Yes, they do. Even the most hardcore beef-burger loyalists can be converted, especially if they happen to like Mexican.

Thanks to the versatility of black beans, it’s easy to spice up black bean burgers, and that’s what Bev Cooks does in this next highlighted dish. Get out your ingredients and prepare to be amazed. You won’t even miss your beef when you’re chowing down on black bean burgers this Friday. In fact, they’ll give you another reason to look forward to the end of the week.


  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons minced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup smoked chopped almonds
  • ½ cup frozen corn, thawed
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons jarred chipotle spread, divided
  • 1 egg

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, add the beans and lightly mash with a fork. Add the onions, garlic, almonds, corn, cilantro, 2 tablespoons chipotle spread, egg, and a small pinch of coarse salt. Mix to combine.

Using your hands, equally form the mixture into four patties. Arrange on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Carefully flip, add the cheese and bake for 8 to 10 more. Spread the remaining chipotle spread on the bottom of each toasted bun and serve with greens, avocado slices, and fresh lime wedges.



4. White bean quinoa burgers

It’s official. We’re leading you into unchartered territory. These burger recipes just took a turn for the scary, but we’re going for it because we’re confident you’ll like the end result this next recipe yields. Quinoa is definitely one of the “it” grains in the current food industry, and we’re enlisting it to provide the back bone for this next recipe via The Simple VeganistaThis burger is packed with nutrients thanks to the all-star nutritional profiles of the white beans and quinoa, and let’s just say the taste of this patty also hits it out of the park.


  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons thyme, divided
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, optional
  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • ½ cup shallot, finely diced (about 1 medium) or red onion
  • juice of one lemon
  • ⅓ cup oat flour, or flour of choice
  • 1 Ener-G egg replacer or 1 flaxegg (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water), optional
  • mineral salt & cracked pepper, to taste
  • coconut or olive oil, to grease

Directions: Start by making your flax egg or ener-g egg replacer and set aside. If baking in the oven, turn oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium pot, bring water, quinoa, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon thyme to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Once done, remove cover and let set for 10 minutes.

While quinoa is cooking, prepare your corn, shallot and red pepper. Be sure to dice your onion and red pepper fairly fine, they should be about the same size as the corn kernels.

Next, mash your beans. I mashed about 3/4 of the beans leaving a quarter of the batch whole or somewhat whole. Once quinoa is ready, add the quinoa to the beans along with the shallots, red pepper, corn, remaining 2 teaspoons thyme, smoked paprika and optional chipotle powder and lemon juice. Mix well. Add in the flour and egg replacer, mix well again. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more of the other spices. We all vary on how strong we like our spices.

Now to divide and make your patties. Take each section and pack it tightly into a ball in the palm of your hands. It should be about the size of your hand. Flatten with your palms and place on hard surface. Cup the edges with your palms and tighten them in a bit and flatten the top to the desired size.

Cook one of two ways: In the oven at 375 degrees on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet for 30 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes. I also added a sprinkle of himalayan salt to the top before baking. Or in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil over medium to medium high heat. Cook patties about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.


Source: iStock

5. Mushroom lentil burgers

Are you still with us? Hope so, because we have one more recipe via Cooking Light to help convert the burger traditionalist we know resides in you. The name of this next dish may sound daunting, but you have to give mushroom lentil burgers a fair try. Thanks to the complimentary flavors packed inside them, you won’t even know what hit you. These last burgers prove that you can have your healthful, wholesome burger, and eat it too.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 hamburger bun
  • 1 (8-ounce) pouch precooked black beluga lentils (such as Archer Farms)
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled

Directions: Preheat broiler. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Remove from heat.

Place 1 bun in a food processor; process until coarse crumbs form. Remove breadcrumbs from food processor; set aside. Combine mushrooms, lentils, 2 teaspoons mustard, and the next three ingredients (through salt) in food processor; pulse to combine.

Combine onion mixture, breadcrumbs, mushroom mixture, and egg in a large bowl, stirring well. Divide mixture into four equal portions, gently shaping each into a ½-inch-thick patty. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add patties; cook for 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove patties from pan; arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle patties evenly with cheese. Place under broiler for 2 minutes or until cheese is softened. Assemble burger with bun to your liking.

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