Last Updated on January 28, 2021
If anything symbolises a vegan diet for me, it’s beans and lentils – which are nutritious, protein-rich and full of fibre. In the case of black beans, treated carefully they can be used to make something that looks like meat and which can be served exactly the same way as the animal-based ingredient it imitates. So learning how to make an easy plant-based burger with black beans is one of those things all home-cooks should do.
I personally still prefer a flexitarian route, where I limit the meat I eat and try my best to avoid any grain-fed red meat. As my main driver is the environment, that also means limiting dairy and plant-based foods that have a high carbon footprint and trying my best to eat local, sustainable produce, whether that is vegetable, dairy, fish or meat. My vegan and vegetarian friends have many reasons for giving up meat and I can empathise with all of them. For example:
- Animal-loving ethical vegetarian or vegans don’t eat meat because they love all animals
- Planet and environment-conscious ethical vegetarian or vegan don’t eat meat because of the impact on our carbon footprint
- Well-being vegetarians and vegans believe a diet that avoids meat is healthier.
- Medically guided vegetarians and vegans literally can’t digest meat. I have one friend who falls into that category – and she also can’t each chocolate – even the vegan kind!
I’m always looking for dishes that I can serve on days when I’m avoiding meat – whether that’s simply to limit my own consumption or because I have friends visiting – and prefer to share a meal with them. So, I’ve been experimenting with making an easy black bean burger – one that doesn’t use any eggs or cheese and is entirely plant-based. And, being sent some Oggs aquafaba (the liquid by-product from canned chickpeas) was the perfect incentive.
The first thing I made was a simple egg-free mayo. It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks and I have used it not just as the base for my chipotle mayo for the burger, but to make potato salad and just to dip my chips in! The black bean burger was next on the list.
I searched on the internet for different options and to learn a bit more about the technique of making a bean burger. Vegetarian recipes tended to use an egg to bind the mixture while vegan options either had no binder or used aquafaba. Some recipes used a root vegetable to bulk out the bean burger, others were just beans and perhaps a little flour or bread. Some, like the recipe from Oggs that I based my burger on, involved serious spicing, others were clearly going to be milder. And that recipe used the same Oggs aquafaba as the binder.
I picked up a few tips to help make easy black bean burgers.
- Drain your beans well – or you will find getting the right consistency burger very hard
- Dry the bean mixture in some way – either by prebaking or by frying. I followed the instructions in the printable recipe by frying the beans with finely chopped onion and spices
- Don’t over-process the patty mixture. You need texture – so if you are using a food processor be careful not to create a mush. I don’t have a food processor, so I blending mine with a stick/immersion blending set on pulse.
- Baking your burgers is easier than frying them or grilling them because the bean-burger mix is less likely to fall apart.
- If you want to pre-cook your black bean burgers, you can keep them covered in food wrap in the fridge for a few days. You can also freeze them.
- Once cooked, they reheat very well in the microwave. I’ve tried with one burger – and it was just as good as the original.
Here’s what the unblended mixture looked like
And here’s the mixture blended down just a little bit, then pressed into a Chef’s ring to make a patty
I learnt one major lesson. Although they look like meat burgers, they really don’t have the same texture or taste. Expectation is everything. They are very nice but different. Nevertheless, they are a worthwhile addition to my recipe portfolio – a good plant-based burger that I can use for all sorts of reasons.
Here’s the adapted version of the Oggs recipe that I used. For more about Oggs and the full recipe, check their website.
Easy Plant-Based Black Bean Burger
- Chefs Ring
- Baking Tray
- Stick Blender
- 1 small sweet potato peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 400g can of black beans drained
- 1/2 medium red onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 small chipotle chilli finely chopped
- 30 g breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp Oggs aquafaba
- 2 tbsp egg-free mayo
- 1 small chipotle chilli finely chopped
- 1 handful rocket
- 1/2 avocado pear
- 1/2 lime
- 1 handful rocket or salad leaves of your choice
- 2 burger buns (vegan as appropriate)
- Pre-heat the oven to 200c (180 fan)
- Toss the sweet potato in half a tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper
- Roast for around 30 minutes until soft and starting to caramelise. Turn occasionally and add more oil if necessary
- Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and spices and cook for 2 to 3 minutes
- Add the beans and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes until the mixture is dry and the onions are really soft
- Tip the sweet potato, bean mixture, chipotle, breadcrumbs and Oggs into a large bowl
- Use a stick/immersion blender to create a chunky mixture. Alternatively, process in a food processor briefly or mash with a potato masher. You should be able to see small pieces of beans when you've finished.
- Line a baking tray with parchment or silicone paper
- Use a chef's ring to shape two or three patties, filling the ring up and pressing down firmly, before removing the ring
- Put in the oven at 180C (170C fan) and bake for 15 minutes until piping hot
- Add the remaining chipotle to the mayonnaise and mix well
- Mash the avocado with a little salt and pepper, then stir through the lime juice
- Split your burger buns in half and toast lightly on each side
- Build your burgers with a base layer of bun topped with a black bean patty followed by salad leaves, then mayo, then mashed avocado
- Eat while hot!
We were gifted samples of OGGS® Egg Alternative Aquafaba to make this recipe. Available in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and ASDA stores nationwide and various online outlets with an RRP of £1.95. See instore for special offers in January and February 2021.