5 Healthy Plant-Based Burger Recipes

Hold the beef! Here are some veggie burgers you’ll actually want to eat.
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Plant-based eating is no longer consigned to shaggy utopians, and trending research indicates that ditching beef for beans can help you live longer while benefiting the environment. These homemade veggie burgers could win any burger war with nutrition muscle alone and deliver the knockout punch with high-end flavor. So grab your buns and try these easy no-moo meals, guaranteed to satisfy any palate.

Woman looking at a burger

A survey from the International Food Information Council found that out of 1,000 people questioned, nearly half have recently tried a plant-based meat alternative.

Perfecting Your Patty

There are a few tricks of the trade you can implement to ensure picture-perfect burgers each and every time.

Soggy Setbacks

Nothing is more off-putting than a mushy burger, which can be an issue with veggie burgers because of the high moisture content of vegetables. A binder such as breadcrumbs can glue everything together, or you can opt for more nutritious ingredients like almond flour, ground flaxseed, wheat germ or quick oats. You also can remove some moisture by patting ingredients dry with paper towels, such as beans and cooked rice, before adding to the recipe. And of course, add liquid ingredients like soy sauce, tomato paste and barbecue sauce judiciously.

The Texture Test

Most plant-based burgers are better if they have some texture. Try adding cooked whole grains like quinoa or brown rice or some nuts and seeds for palatability. Leave ingredients like beans or lentils slightly chunky instead of mashing them into a paste. And because veggie burgers generally lack the fat content of a traditional meat patty, add herbs and spices such as smoked paprika, thyme and cumin to bring up the flavor.

Size Matters

Many plant-based burgers are crumbly and weak, and most of the patty often ends up between the grill grates rather than on your plate. Keep your burgers intact by forming 1-inch-thick patties, which also ensures a nice, even crust on the outside and a thoroughly warmed-through center.

Running Cold and Hot

Veggie patties hold together better during cooking if they are chilled beforehand, so refrigerate them at least 30 minutes before grilling. When ready to cook, preheat your grill on high for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and add your patties.

Two people eating burgers

Broil buns in the oven on a baking sheet for a toasted texture.

Nice Buns

A toasted bun is the coup de grace for burger flavor. Broil them in the oven on a baking sheet for 45 seconds, or place them facedown on the grill after cooking your burgers for 30 seconds. Watching your carb intake? Ditch the bun and serve your burger sandwiched between lettuce leaves or atop a salad.

Top This

Level up from the customary ketchup-and-mustard treatment with these modern and nutrient-rich condiments.

  • Guacamole: Avocado adds a creamy element along with a payload of heart-healthy fats.
  • Kimchi: This gives you just the right amount of fiery funk and a dose of gut-friendly probiotics.
  • Sun-dried tomato pesto: Pesto delivers the ultimate umami punch, and the sun-dried tomatoes contain a glut of the cancer-preventative antioxidant lycopene.
  • Tzatziki: This yogurt-and-cucumber dip is fresh and bright and gives your patties a protein bump.
  • Mango chutney: Boost your daily dose of vitamin C with this sweet-savory flavorful condiment.

Halloumi Fig Burgers

Hands-On Time: 25 Minutes

Cook Time: 6 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

Halloumi is a Greek cheese with a firm, almost meaty texture that can withstand the heat of a grill without melting. That makes this the ultimate — and literal! — cheeseburger, topped with a fig sauce for a dash of grown-up goodness.

INGREDIENTS

Fig Sauce

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fig preserves
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Burgers

  • 1 (12 oz) block halloumi cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 whole-grain buns, split
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • ¾ cup sliced Peppadew peppers
  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced
  • 2 cups arugula

DIRECTIONS

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add fig preserves, balsamic vinegar, thyme, cayenne and salt and simmer 3 minutes. Set aside. Slice halloumi lengthwise into four slabs. In a small bowl, mix together Italian seasoning, lemon zest and olive oil. Brush mixture over halloumi slices. Heat grill to medium and grease grates. Cook halloumi slices until tender and grill marks appear, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve on buns topped with fig sauce, mint, Peppadews, cucumbers and arugula.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 483, fat 28 g, carbs 38 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 12 g, protein 23 g, sodium 780 mg

Pesto Lentil Burgers

Pesto Lentil Burgers

Pesto Lentil Burgers

Hands-On Time: 25 Minutes

Cook Time: 8 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

Infusing these burgers with creamy goat cheese and lively pesto guarantees they don’t taste too, well, lentil-y. Walnuts add a little crunch, while flame-licked zucchini gives this savory dish serious Insta-cred. Plus, each patty packs nearly a day’s worth of fiber, thwarting hunger pangs for hours.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¼ cups dried green or brown lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 4 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
  • oil for brushing
  • 4 whole-grain buns
  • ¼ cup pesto
  • 2 cups baby spinach

DIRECTIONS

Bring lentils and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Blot excess moisture with paper towels. Add lentils to a food processor container and pulse until half the lentils are broken down and the other half is still intact. Add flaxseeds, goat cheese, walnuts, garlic, balsamic vinegar, mustard, cumin, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Form into 4 patties and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Slice each zucchini half into 4 thin slices and brush with oil. Heat grill to medium and grease grates. Cook burgers 4 minutes per side, or until they have darkened and developed a crispy crust. Grill zucchini slices until tender, flipping once, about 4 minutes. Spread bun bottoms with pesto and serve burgers topped with zucchini and spinach.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 554, fat 21 g, carbs 68 g, fiber 24 g, sugar 4 g, protein 28 g, sodium 630 mg

Nutrition boost: Walnuts and flaxseeds supply heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid, which research shows help keep your ticker beating strong.

Falafel Burgers With Tahini-Dill Sauce

Hands-On Time: 25 Minutes

Cook Time: 6 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

Middle Eastern cuisine is having a moment, and these burgers make a great alternative to greasy fried falafel. The tahini-dill sauce adds a savory flavor layer and is so versatile you can make extra to use on steamed veggies, sandwiches or grilled chicken. Trade the buns for pita for a more traditional feel.

INGREDIENTS

Burgers

  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups cooked or canned
  • chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ½ cup red onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 4 whole-grain hamburger buns, toasted
  • 4 thick slices tomato
  • 4 lettuce leaves

Tahini-Dill Sauce

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp chopped dill
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp warm water

DIRECTIONS

Add pistachios and parsley to a food processor container and chop into small pieces. Add chickpeas, chickpea flour, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper and blend until slightly chunky. Form into 4 patties and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Heat grill to medium and grease grates. Cook burgers 3 minutes per side, or until a golden crust has formed. Whisk together tahini, dill, lemon zest, garlic, paprika and salt. Stir in warm water, adding more, if
needed. Serve burgers topped with tomatoes, lettuce and tahini-dill sauce.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 482, fat 20 g, carbs 62 g, fiber 14 g, sugar 5 g, protein 20 g, sodium 846 mg

Nutrition boost: Chickpeas are a great source of folate, which helps keep blood pressure in check, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Sweet Potato Black-Bean Burgers with Mango Guac

Sweet Potato Black-Bean Burgers with Mango Guacamole

Sweet Potato Black-Bean Burgers with Mango Guacamole

Hands-On Time: 30 Minutes

Cook Time: 8 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

Hearty, naturally sweet and infused with just the right amount of smoky heat, this vegan burger truly sizzles. Sweet potatoes up the health ante with immune-revving vitamin A, and black beans are jampacked with gut-friendly dietary fiber. When topped with mango-spiked guacamole, you may be tempted to give up meat for good.

INGREDIENTS

Burgers

  • 1 cup cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups mashed sweet potato
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled brown rice
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 4 whole-grain buns
  • ½ cup red onions, sliced

Mango Guacamole

  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mango, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Add beans to a large bowl and mash gently so they still have some texture. Add sweet potato, rice, almond flour, cilantro, chipotle pepper, garlic, cumin, salt and black pepper and mix well. Form into 4 patties and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Heat grill to medium and grease grates. Cook burgers 4 minutes per side, or until browned and warmed through. In a bowl, mash together avocado, jalapeños, lime juice and salt. Stir in mango. Serve burgers on buns topped with guacamole and onions.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 510, fat 18 g, carbs 75 g, fiber 15 g, sugar 17 g, protein 15 g, sodium 311 mg

Nutrition Boost: A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that dietary fiber, which is found in beans, can help you sleep better, improving recovery and overall health.

BBQ Tempeh Burgers

Hands-On Time: 25 Minutes

Cook Time: 8 Minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

The nutty flavor and meaty texture of tempeh makes it a natural fit for veggie burgers, and ounce for ounce, it contains twice the protein as tofu. Adding pinto beans means a big magnesium boost, which can help reduce your risk for diseases such as diabetes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked or canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp almond or peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp liquid smoke, optional
  • 1 (8 oz) package tempeh, cubed
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1/3 cup low-sugar barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a skillet over medium. Add onions, carrots and salt and cook until onions have softened and darkened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. To a food processor container, add cooked vegetables, pinto beans, wheat germ, lime juice, tomato paste, nut butter, maple syrup, soy sauce, chili powder and liquid smoke (if using). Pulse until beans are roughly mashed but not pureed. Add tempeh and pulse until just incorporated. Form into 4 patties. Spread sesame seeds out on a plate and coat both sides of burgers with seeds. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Heat grill to medium and grease grates. Cook burgers until browned and warmed through, about 4 minutes per side. Serve on buns with equal amounts of barbecue sauce, red peppers and cabbage.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 432, fat 16 g, carbs 56 g, fiber 11 g, sugar 7 g, protein 23 g, sodium 472 mg 

Nutrition Boost: The beans and cabbage in this burger provide an insane amount of belly-friendly dietary fiber.

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