The Best Veggie Burgers Are Made With Vegetables

Patties made with black beans, tofu, mushrooms or a combination are infinitely more delicious than plant-based meat substitutes.

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By Tejal Rao

When the latest round of meat analogues first hit the market, I was so excited to try them. But for me, a real, high-quality, well-seasoned veggie burger — that is to say, a homemade patty, built with a mix of beans, mushrooms, vegetables, grains or tofu — tends to be way more interesting, more satisfying and more delicious.

I wrote about some of my favorite old-school veggie burgers in Los Angeles for the Times this week, and if you want to make your own at home, New York Times Cooking has a great collection of veggie burger recipes (and other fun vegetable patties like palak ki tikki, a spinach and potato patty that isn’t a burger at all but will happily slide into a buttered, toasted potato roll with some chutney).

Whatever ingredients you’re into right now, there’s a veggie burger for you! Mushrooms and farro, bound with potato. Grated beets and brown rice, held together with white beans. Quinoa and red lentils, packed with sweet potatoes.

I love Melissa Clark’s veggie burger, made with both tofu and tempeh, kidney beans, and cashews. A diversity of ingredients makes this patty particularly rewarding, and precooking the vegetables before forming the patties means there’s no extra moisture or excess mushiness. And a black bean burger, enhanced with coriander seed and red onion, is a classic in the genre for good reason.

If you’re looking for more ideas, I highly recommend the writer Lukas Volger’s book “Veggie Burgers Every Which Way,” which served as inspiration for Melissa and includes recipes for many kinds of patties that fall in three main categories: vegetables, beans and tofu.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

Go to the recipe.

Black Bean Burgers

Go to the recipe.

Palak Ki Tikki (Spinach and Potato Patties)

Go to the recipe.

One More Thing!

You asked for my dad’s granola recipe. About 20 years ago, he started making Alton Brown’s granola, and over time he’s made it his own. I love my dad’s granola, and in my version of it I add pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds!

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Mix together 6 cups rolled oats, 1½ cups dried unsweetened coconut flakes, 2 cups chopped walnuts, 2 cups chopped pecans, ½ cup dark brown sugar and 1½ teaspoons sea salt. Stir in ½ cup unsulphured molasses and ½ cup neutral oil, then spread evenly on two parchment-lined sheet pans.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, pulling the pans out every 20 minutes or so to mix. Switch off the oven and leave the pans in for another 10 minutes (you can skip this step if your granola has already browned nicely). Let cool completely (completely!) at room temperature before transferring to an airtight container. Add dried cherries to taste and pile it all on some yogurt.

Thanks for reading, and here’s one final note from our friends on the research team: New York Times Cooking is conducting research with our readers. These studies are conducted remotely and anyone who participates will be compensated for their time. If you’re interested in being considered for a paid study, please fill out this brief survey. If you’re selected, the team will be in touch soon to ask a few more questions and give you more details.

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