If you’ve been trying to grill your veggie burgers but they keep falling apart at the slightest touch, don’t worry. We’ve all been there, and there is a way to keep it from disintegrating.
I’ll tell you just what to do to make that burger stay. And grill.
Can veggie burgers actually be grilled ?
Yes, veggie burgers can be grilled. As long as your burger has a good binding agent – something like beans, thick hummus, eggs, cornstarch – it’s going to keep its shape and thus be grilled.
Most of the time veggie burgers are just sauteed or fried, either by choice or because of fear that the gill will crumble them.
But to understand why and how veggie burgers can successfully be grilled, let’s talk about why they fall apart.
Why veggie burgers fall apart in the first place
Most of the time vegetable burgers are too watery, that’s one thing. Either because of added mushrooms, which release lots of water, or because of zucchini, which again release water, or because of bell peppers, which again release water.
For the most part, you can’t really make a veggie burger with uncooked ingredients. Some will be okay uncooked, like finely chopped red onion.
Others though will really need a quick sautee to both cook and release water, so you can get a good burger.
Another reason, aside from all the extra water, is that vegetable burgers tend to be low on protein and starch. Protein, when taken from meat or eggs, will act as a sort of glue that holds everything together.
So one way to counteract this is by adding egg to your veggie burger. When adding eggs, go for less. There is such a thing as too much egg, and it will do the opposite of what you want. So first add just one egg, and see how everything mixes.
If you’re vegan, this isn’t an option but there are other things to try, let me explain.
Other binding agents are starches, aside from protein. So things like rice, oats, breadcrumbs, polenta (freshly cooked), even plain ol cornstarch can all become binding agents.
You could even add mashed potato, mashed sweet potato, even mashed peas to help give those burgers something to hold them together.
You’ll know your veggie burger is going to be firm and hold together when you get a paste very similar to that of cookie dough.
Finally, adding fats to the burger will not be very necessary. I mean, half he time any oil will make your burgers disintegrate faster, if you have no high starch content.
How to make a veggie burger keep its shape
If you’re looking to make your own veggie burger keep its shape, then you’ll need to be mindful of protein and starches.
So you’re going to need a nice list of all (or most) of the helpful ingredients. Which I’ll provide right here. You’re going to want:
- egg, just one for 1 lb of mixture
- hummus, or pureed chickpeas
- mashed beans or lentinls, of any kind
- mashed peas
- flaxseed, ground (will absorb moisture)
- cooked rice of any kind
- cooked oats, on the thicker side
- cooked potato, classic or sweet
- freshly cooked polenta, before it forms a definite shape
- a bit of cornstarch
There might be other ingredients that I’m not aware of, but these are the most commonly used ones. Most of there add some protein as well, like the beans or hummus.
What’s going to be very tricky is to form the burger patties into thin, half inch patties without adding too much starch, and without them breaking.
So either keep your patties on the thicker side, or if you make them half inch, don’t make them wider than a couple of inches.
Now let’s get to an actual veggie burger recipe that’s both easy, and will also hold up to grilling.
Recipe – Veggie burger that holds up to grilling
This recipe is actually very delicious, and you’re free to make what you want out of it. As in, it’s going to take many kinds of spices very well, so if you want to personalize it, you’re going to find that easy.
This recipe yields 10 5″ burgers. Feel free to scale it down if you need less. You’ll need:
- burger buns of your choice
- 10 oz mashed cooked beans, I suggest kidney for appearance
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- half a red pepper, finely chopped as well
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 teaspoons BBQ sauce
- 5 tablespoons cooked round grain rice
- olive oil for sauteeing
- lettuce leaves
- BBQ sauce
- spicy mayo
- sliced tomato
- sliced onion
Now, you’re going to need to cook the rice before we do anything else. 5 tablespoons of cooked rice depend on what kind you’re using. I recommend you use round grain here, but you can use jasmine or basmati.
Fire up the grill so it has time to heat to medium while you’re making the burgers.
Round grain rice needs 1:3 rice to water ratio, and it pretty much doubles in size. So to a cup add 2.5 table spoons of rice, and check where the level is. Remember that, and add 3 time more water.
It will need about 10 minutes to cook, on a very low heat and you’ll need to keep stirring.
So, when the rice is done cooking, set it aside.
In a frying pan sautee the onions and red pepper with a bit of olive oil, and then add the mashed beans. Now, these are going to be very dry when you mash them so the oil will be absorbed right away.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients: cooked rice, paprika, cumin, mustard powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, BBQ sauce, and keep at it until you’re left with a very sticky, but mostly coagulated paste.
If it’s too dry, add a bit more olive oil, or half an avocado (mashed).
Now it’s time to form the patties.
Get a bowl of cold water, and clean your hands. Set a clean place close to you, that’s where we’ll put the formed burgers.
Dip both hands in cold water, and grab a handful of the patties. Form in your hands until you get a patty half the size if your hand.
Set it on the clean plate, and keep making the rest.
In the meantime the grill should be fired up by now and very very hot.
Lightly oil the grates, and set the burgers on the grill.
Since all of these ingredients are already cooked, you won’t need to let the burgers sit on the grill for too long.
2 minutes on each side should be enough, but be careful when flipping them. Be sure to sue a wide spatula for this.
Of course, if you want to keep the onions or red peppers raw to get a different flavor, feel free to do so.
After the patties are done grilling and have left the grill, you can put the burger buns on, cut-side down.
Let the buns grill for about a minute. If you want to grill them outside, only do so for about 20 seconds, or the buns will become too dry.
Start building your burger, starting with a bit of mayo on the lower bun. Add the lettuce, burger patty, BBQ sauce, onion, tomato, and spicy mayo. Top with top bun, and possibly run a skewer through it to keep it in place.
If grilling veggie burgers over grates is making you nervous, you can always use a grill mat. They’re made of thick, non-stick material and can be placed directly over the grates.
This means that even if your burger somehow disintegrates, it won’t fall into the grill since it’s on a grilling mat.
These mats are also useful to keep already grilled burgers warm while you’re finishing up the other ones.
If you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional grill unit one that you can use indoors, I suggest you check my recommendation of the Ninja FoodI 5-in-1 4-qt. Air Fryer, Roaster, Baker, Dehydrator Indoor Electric Grill (AG301) page at Amazon, You’ll find it very appealing and versatile for when you can’t grill outdoors
Grilling veggie burgers is possible, and it’s not hard once you understand what to add to the mix to get it to stay put.
If you make your burger too watery, it will fall apart and you’ll only be able to cook it in a frying pan.
But, if you add something with high protein and starch content, you’ll find your burgers will hold their shape very well.