Southwestern Vegan Black Bean Burgers

5 from 2 votes

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These are the best black bean burgers I've ever had, tender, flavorful, and not at all crumbly or dry.

Vegan black bean burger on bun with topping on plate with pasta salad.

These are simply the best vegan burgers I’ve ever had. They are flavorful, not at all dry or crumbly, satisfying, and zippy. The inside is moist, and the outside gets a nice crust from being seared in a pan. And they take about 15 minutes to pull together and 10 minutes to cook. Plus, they can be made ahead, so all you have to do is flip them into a skillet at the end of the day, and you have a vegan dinner that will satisfy the whole gang. Some good vegan sides would be Vegan Potato Salad, Mayo-Free Vegan Potato Salad, Crunchy Mixed Green Salad, or Vegetarian Collard Greens.

The world is populated with veggie burgers these days. Most of them…bleh, pretty disappointing, right? My sister has been vegetarian and then vegan for years. She could probably write a book called Veggie Burgers U.S.A., chronicling her exploration of various vegetarian burgers around the country. She agrees that these are total winners, and we don’t say that lightly!

Woman holding black bean burger with bite taken out.

Southwest Vegan Black Bean Burgers: These are the best black bean burgers I’ve ever had, tender, flavorful, and not at all crumbly or dry.

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Ingredients

  • Onions – Chop them finely so they blend into the burger mixture; bigger chunks of onions could cause the burgers to fall apart.
  • Garlic – Adds a little heat — you can add more if you like your burgers on the garlicky side.
  • Cumin, chili powder, and ground coriander – These spices give the burgers that Southwestern vibe. If you don’t have one of the spices, you can add a bit more of the other two. The recipe is pretty flexible.
  • Black beans – You can cook dried beans from scratch if you like, but canned beans are one of my favorite pantry shortcut ingredients.
Black beans, bun, veggies, spices, and other ingredients for vegan burger.
  • Tomato paste or ketchup – This gives a little bit of tangy tomato flavor and also helps the patties bind together.
  • Oats – I use quick-cooking oats here, which (as promised), cook up quickly in the patties. They also provide structure and heft to the burgers, but including them in a smallish amount means that the beans don’t taste like “filler.”
  • Corn kernels – You can use fresh corn cut from cobs when they are in season, but canned and well-drained or frozen and thawed corn is fine. 
  • Buns – Pick the type of burger bun that speaks to you! I love a brioche bun or just a plain sesame-topped bun. We should all try this on a pretzel bun as well! Gluten-free buns are also an option, if desired. The buns can be toasted or untoasted, as you prefer.
Two plates with black bean burgers and pasta salad.

How to Make Southwestern Vegan Black Bean Burgers

  1. Sauté the veggies, spices, and beans: Sauté the onions and garlic in a skillet until tender, 5 minutes. Stir in the spices. Add the beans and tomato paste and stir to blend, smashing some of the beans up a bit as you stir. 
  2. Process the mixture: Pulse the oats with the bean mixture in a food processor until everything is combined; the mixture should still have some texture but be quite nicely blended. Stir in the corn.
  3. Form the patties: Shape the mixture into 6 evenly sized patties. Place them on a plate and chill for about 30 minutes.
  4. Cook the burgers: Cook the burgers in the wiped-out skillet for 5 minutes on each side until browned.
Flipping black bean burger in blue frying pan with spatula.
  1. Top the burgers: Serve the burgers on buns with the toppings of your choice. If you are vegetarian and not vegan, try the Avocado Crema.
Woman placing sliced tomatoes on black bean burger.

Cooking Tips and Variations

  • If you want more substantial burgers, you can divide the mixture into 4 patties.
  • If you don’t have time to chill the burgers, don’t worry — they’ll just be a bit more delicate to flip.
  • If cooking in a pan, cook the patties without moving them until well browned on the bottoms, about 5 minutes. Flip them carefully and cook on the second side until nicely browned, 5 minutes more. They can be cooked in batches if necessary.
  • These burgers can also be grilled, but you really have to chill them first, or you’ll run the risk of them falling apart on the grill when you flip them.
  • Definitely let the burgers get a nice crust on the exterior. The interior will be fairly soft, so the relationship between the slight crunch of the exterior and the tender interior really makes the burger. Don’t flip the burgers too often; let them get crusty on the bottom, flip once, and then let them get crusty on the other side.
  • Try kidney beans instead of black beans.
  • You can also bake these in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping them once after 20 minutes, until they are crusty.

FAQs

What is a good binder for vegan burgers?

Oats are a good binder, providing structure to the burgers and preventing them from falling apart. Keep the amount of oats in moderation so the burgers have plenty of flavor and texture from the other ingredients. The tomato paste also serves as a binder in this recipe.

What makes veggie burgers stick together?

As mentioned, the oats act as a binder, but the other key is to pulse the beans with the other ingredients so everything starts to stick together. You don’t want a paste, but you want the burgers to hold together when you form and cook them. Also, make sure that you chop the onions and garlic pretty well even before you pulse them in the food processor, as big chunks will cause the burgers to fall apart.

How to Top Vegetarian and Vegan Burgers

Vegan toppings include traditional mustard ketchup (which is usually vegan, check the label), onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles. If you are a vegetarian, I hope you will try Avocado Crema, which is the perfect topping for this burger. Or maybe guacamole, which is vegan.

Spreading avocado crema on bun with black bean burger on plate.

Other vegetarian toppings to think about are cole slaw, roasted red pepper mayo, pimento cheese, and romesco sauce, and you can always make them into a cheeseburger! Use vegan cheese if you want to keep the whole thing vegan.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The patties may be prepared and shaped ahead of time and held for up to 3 days, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them for up to 9 months.

Cooked burgers can also be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge and can be reheated in the microwave or the oven.

What to Serve With Southwestern Vegan Black Bean Burgers

If you want a fully vegan meal, make sure to choose vegan sides!

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Black bean burger with toppings on white plate cut in half.

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5 from 2 votes

Southwestern Vegan Black Bean Burgers

These are the best black bean burgers I've ever had, tender, flavorful, and not at all crumbly or dry.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 People
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Ingredients 

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (or as needed; divided)
  • ¾ cup minced onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (or ketchup)
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • 4 to 6 hamburger buns (toasted if desired)

Toppings (optional):

  • Avocado crema, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, sliced avocado, bean sprouts

Instructions 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are tender, 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, coriander, salt, and pepper until you can smell the spices. Add the beans and tomato paste and stir to blend, smushing some of the beans up a bit as you stir.
  • Place the oats in a food processor, add the black bean mixture, and pulse until everything is combined; the mixture should still have some texture but be quite nicely blended. Remove the processor blade and stir in the corn with a spoon.
  • Shape the mixture into 4 large or 6 smaller patties. Place them on a plate and chill for about 30 minutes, if you have time. If you don’t, don’t — they’ll just be a bit more delicate to flip.
  • Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook without moving them until well browned on the bottoms, about 5 minutes, then flip them carefully and cook on the second side until nicely browned, 5 minutes more. If you need to cook them in batches, just divide the remaining olive oil in half and a tablespoon for each batch.
  • Toast the buns if desired and then assemble and top the burgers.

Notes

  • These burgers can also be grilled, but you really have to chill them first, or you’ll run the risk of them falling apart on the grill when you flip them.
  • Definitely let the burgers get a nice crust on the exterior. The interior will be fairly soft, so the relationship between the slight crunch of the exterior and the tender interior really makes the burger. Don’t flip the burgers too often; let them get crusty on the bottom, flip once, and then let them get crusty on the other side.
  • Try kidney beans instead of black beans.
  • You can also bake these in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping them once after 20 minutes, until they are crusty.

Nutrition

Calories: 329kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 0.002g, Sodium: 457mg, Potassium: 494mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 334IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 105mg, Iron: 5mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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