This recipe for whole food plant-based burgers is packed with flavor and nutritious ingredients. It’s simple to make, can be customized to your taste preferences and offers plenty of plant-based protein and fiber to keep you feeling full!
You’ll need to bake these patties because of their softer starting texture, but once ready to eat, they hold up quite well. This plant-based hamburger recipe is super versatile; there’s endless ways to serve it!
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Are Plant-based Burgers Vegan?
While many people use the term “plant-based” to refer to vegan food (or veganism), it doesn’t have a specific definition. Sometimes, “plant-based” recipes could contain animal derived ingredients so it’s always best to be on the lookout!
If purchasing burgers or any “plant-based” product, read the label because it’s a popular marketing term and plant-based products may not always be vegan.
Luckily, this burger recipe is completely vegan and made from nutritious, whole food ingredients plus plenty of spices for a delicious patty!
Whole Food Plant-based Burger Ingredients
This recipe uses simple ingredients to create a satisfying and versatile burger patty. You can use these patties in many unique ways and change the spices for endless customizations! For this recipe, you’ll need:
- Cooked brown rice: As one of the base ingredients, pre-cooked brown rice offers a subtle flavor and plenty of tasty carbohydrates with fiber. Its starch helps holds the burgers together! This recipe assumes you have cooked rice on hand and it’s a great way to use leftovers.
- Cooked sweet potato: For a boost of color, nutrition and mildly sweet flavor, some pre-cooked (steamed) sweet potato is a tasty addition to these plant-based burgers.
- Black beans: To boost the plant-based protein in these burgers and provide a darker color that better replicates “traditional” burgers, black beans are a great choice. I drain and rinse canned beans but you can use home-cooked beans too.
- Tofu: While not technically a “whole food” ingredient, tofu is packed with nutrition and boosts the plant-based protein, healthy fats and calcium content in these burgers. If you aren’t a fan of tofu, you can replace them with an additional cup of mushrooms (however, that creates a softer burger patty). A firm tofu helps create firmer burger patties.
- Mushrooms: This vegetable has a great flavor and is often used in meat alternatives for that earthy flavor.
- Onions: Onion is an essential ingredient that provides a great boost of flavor. Use any variety you like!
- Chickpea flour: This key ingredient creates a firmer plant-based burger texture. Chickpea flour absorbs liquid from other ingredients and makes for a burger patty that holds together when eating. Just let the burgers cool somewhat before serving since this time allows the chickpea flour to work its magic!
- Spices: I use nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. This combo of spices creates a tasty burger that still has a neutral flavor, making it extremely versatile. You can use any spice combos you like!
How to Make Plant-based Hamburgers
This recipe is quite easy to make with a food processor! Just follow these simple step-by-step instructions.
Step 1: Prep Ingredients
This recipe is easiest to make with leftover cooked rice and sweet potato. The preparation time assumes these two ingredients are already cooked.
Start cooking brown rice and steam sweet potato if not done already. A half cup of dry rice should yield the 1 cup of cooked rice needed for this recipe. You’ll need 1 cup of peeled and cubed sweet potato too.
I also use canned beans for this recipe, so they need to be drained and rinsed. You could also use home-cooked black beans if you have some on hand.
Roughly chop onion and mushroom.
Lastly, you’ll need to crumble tofu. The extra firm tofu I buy doesn’t need to be pressed (no liquid is released if it’s pressed). If your tofu releases liquid when pressed, press it before using in the burgers.
I love the texture the tofu adds, but if you don’t want to use tofu, replace it with an additional 1 cup of roughly chopped mushrooms. If you do this, the burgers will have a softer texture and lower protein content.
Step 2: Prepare Burgers
Next, use a food processor to combine all these ingredients. I typically do this in two parts.
First, I process the rice, sweet potato and tofu. Pulse until everything is well-combined and there are small flecks of rice, sweet potato and tofu. Don’t blend into a full puree since this creates softer burgers; some texture is makes for a better burger consistency.
Transfer these processed ingredients into a large mixing bowl then add black beans, mushroom and onion to the food processor. Pulse until well combined, with only small flecks of ingredients left.
Scrape this mixture into your mixing bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients (chickpea flour and spices) to your mixing bowl and stir until everything is evenly combined.
Prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, then form 8 burger patties. I use a ½ cup measuring cup to scoop out evenly sized patties.
Flatten the burgers to about ½ inch (1.5 cm) thickness.
Step 3: Bake, Cool and Serve
Place the burgers into a 350 °F preheated oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. The burgers will still be soft when flipping, so flip carefully.
Once you’ve finished baking the whole food plant-based burgers, let sit on the baking tray for a few minutes. Then, transfer them to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 10-15 minutes.
This cool time is essential for the burgers to become firm and hold together well!
Serve with all your favorite vegan hamburger toppings! Tomato, onion, leaf lettuce and pickles are a must for me!
There are also endless ways to serve these plant-based burger patties. A bun or wrap is a delicious choice, but I also love crumbling these burgers over a large garden salad! Along with some honey mustard dressing, you have a tasty meal.
Plant-based Burger Patty Tips and Variations
The biggest challenge with whole food plant-based burgers is a soft texture that leads to burgers falling apart when eating. Allowing the burgers to cool after baking is essential for them to firm fully.
It’s also helpful to use leftover brown rice and sweet potato that is fully cooled before creating the patties. When these ingredients are hot and freshly cooked, the heat tends to create extra moisture.
If using mushrooms in place of tofu, the burgers will be softer due to its water content. I prefer adding tofu for a firmer burger.
The best part about this recipe is how versatile it is. Get creative with the spices you use to create any type of plant-based burger you like! You can also switch the black beans for pretty much any other type of bean. Chickpeas come to mind as a delicious base ingredient for plant-based burgers!
How to Refrigerate and Freeze these Burgers
Let leftover burgers cool completely before refrigerating in an airtight container. They should keep well for up to a week in the fridge.
You can also freeze cooked burgers in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Whole Food Plant-based Burgers
- 1 cup sweet potato , cubed and steamed
- 1 cup brown rice , cooked
- 2 cups black beans , cooked (or drained and rinsed from can)
- ½ cup onion , chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms , chopped (button or cremini; about 4 large)
- 1 cup extra firm tofu , crumbled (half a 350 g block; or additional 1 cup of chopped mushroom)
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- If needed, cook and cool brown rice. Cooked rice tends to double in size from dry, so cook ½ cup of dry rice for a standard 8 burger yield. Leftover rice is perfect if you have some around.1 cup brown rice
- If needed, peel, cube and steam the sweet potato. Leftover cooked sweet potato works well too!1 cup sweet potato
- Measure some black beans. If using canned beans, drain and rinse them.2 cups black beans
- Chop onion.½ cup onion
- Roughly chop mushrooms.1 cup mushrooms
- Crumble extra firm tofu. The tofu I use doesn’t need to be pressed but if your tofu releases liquid when pressed, press if before using. You can use an extra mushrooms in place of tofu if you prefer.1 cup extra firm tofu
- In a food processor, add cooked brown rice, cooked sweet potato and crumbled tofu. Pulse until the rice and sweet potato are ground into a fine texture. There should be small flecks of rice, potato and tofu but it’ll be mostly blended.1 cup sweet potato, 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup extra firm tofu
- Remove the rice, potato and tofu into a mixing bowl. Then, add black beans, mushroom and onion to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture reaches a similar consistency to the rice and potato (well mixed with some small flecks of ingredients).2 cups black beans, 1 cup mushrooms, ½ cup onion
- Add the bean mixture to the mixing bowl with the rice and sweet potato.
- Stir the remaining ingredients into the mixing bowl: chickpea flour, salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, black pepper and nutritional yeast. Stir until everything is well combined.½ cup chickpea flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder, ¼ - ½ teaspoon black pepper, 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Prep a baking tray with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- This recipe makes 8 burgers, about ½ C in size. Use a ½ C measuring cup to form them, then transfer to your hands and shape them into flat, round patties.
- Place formed burgers on baking tray.
Bake, Cool and Serve
- Bake the burgers in a preheated oven set to 350 °F for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking. The burgers will be soft at the halfway point so flip carefully.
- Once out of the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let the burgers sit for another 10-15 minutes before serving. This rest time is essential to allow the burgers to firm and hold together nicely!
- Serve on your favorite vegan hamburger bun, in a wrap or crumbled into a salad!
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.
These were absolutely amazing!
I added jalapeños because spice is life.
They held together beautifully. Thank you!
Hi Amanda! So happy you enjoyed and adding jalapenos sounds delicious - my husband would love it!!
Hi Nicole: So my sister Niki and I share this WFPB lifestyle and I for one am never going back to eating my fellow creatures. It’s not healthy anyway. Niki follows recipes and consistently finds colorfully delicious good ones. Weekends she makes things for me to grill in the backyard. Sent her this burger recipe despite its non grill ability. ...Bob
Awesome! Hope you enjoy the burgers; even without grilling I think they're delicious. We're cooking some for dinner tonight to use up leftover rice!
Delicious! I do not have a food processor. I chopped the veggies pretty fine and squished squished squished! I got 8 1/2 cup burgers and they were delicious ! My carnivore hubby loved them. I did add about 1/2 smoked chipotle powder, because I’m a bit obsessed with it right now. We had Oil free sweet Potato fries, corn on the cob and watermelon. Supper fit for a queen.
Hi Kathy, I'm so happy you enjoyed the recipe! Sounds like a delicious meal 🙂
I love this recipe and make it regularly. So tasty!
Thank you so much! Glad you like it - it's one of my favorites too 🙂
Have you tried freezing these? Just finished baking the batch. Look and smell great. I will come back with a review later.
Yes you can freeze them for up to 3 months! Any longer and they might get freezer burn. To reheat just bake in the oven from frozen until hot in the middle.
Hi they sound great! Do you have to use nutritional yeast? I've never heard of it before and wouldn't know where to find it? On amazon it's pretty pricey.
I'm not sure where you live but nutritional yeast is delicious if you can find some! It's often less expensive at bulk food stores if there's any around to check out. You can definitely make these burgers without it but it does add a nice flavour (and nutrition boost).
Wondering if there’s a way to make this without a food dehydrator?
Hi Kris! Thanks for the comment. I'm guessing you meant without a food processor? You could chop the onion and mushroom really fine (as if it had been processed) and mash that together with the rice and sweet potato. I've never done this so can't guarantee it will work; you may find the texture is more coarse and the patties may not stick together as well. The next time I make this recipe I'll give this a try because lot's of people don't have a food processor and it would be nice to have that as an option if it works! If you give this a try I'd love to hear how it turns out.
These are amazing! I substituted tofu for the mushrooms since I am not a mushroom fan and it worked perfectly. Even my meat loving boyfriend loved these, he asks me to make them all the time!
Awesome! So glad to hear you both enjoyed. And that sounds like a great substitution; I might try it myself sometime 🙂