A really, really good vegan burger recipe

by | Jul 31, 2023 | Food & recipes | 2 comments

Not going to lie, this recipe has so many things that should make me hate it. I have to wrestle my food processor out from the cupboard. There’s the frying of onions. (As a human smell sponge, I usually nope out of any recipe that starts with caramelising onions.) It involves a slightly weird ingredient. There’s a long chill in the fridge. And then steaming? If I saw this recipe online, I’d be tempted to skip over it.

And yet … and yet … these are the best homemade plant-based burgers I’ve ever made. And I’ve made a few. Just look at the inside and tell me that doesn’t look incredible.

The texture is somewhere between a modern fake-meat burger and a good old bean burger. So it’s a bit squishy, but has much more bite than your average bean burger. It’s got a slight meatiness, but is packed with plants. In short, it’s the perfect middle ground between the two. Or I think so.

I’m so proud of this recipe. Yes, it takes a little time and effort, but it’s absolutely worth it. It makes a big batch, and the burgers freeze really well, so you only have to go through the process once every couple of months. (Well, depending on how often you eat burgers.)

A few notes to make your life easier

  • Blitzing the veg and beans in a food processor saves a lot of time. But if you don’t have one, you can mash the beans well with a fork/potato masher and finely chop or grate the veg.
  • Yes, this recipe calls for vital wheat gluten, which you might struggle to find in your local supermarket. I’ve sometimes found it in Holland & Barrett, but failing that it’s readily available online – including on Amazon. (In Bulgaria, I believe Zoya stock it.) Well worth seeking this stuff out. Regular flour WILL NOT achieve the same texture. I speak from experience.
  • Nutritional yeast is widely available in supermarkets. If you’ve never used it before, it adds a deeply savoury, slightly cheesy note to dishes. It’s brilliant on popcorn!
  • And sorry about the steaming process but, again, it’s essential for the texture. I have a cheap two-tier bamboo steamer that I got in a Chinese supermarket. You could, at a push, fudge something together with a colander and lid. (But you’ll probably have to steam the burgers in two batches.)

The recipe

Makes 10 or 12 burgers, depending on how big you want them.



2 onions

500g mushrooms (just regular brown or white mushrooms)

1 cooked beetroot (medium-large, supermarket pre-cooked ones are fine)

½ tsp liquid smoke (entirely optional but very good)

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tin black beans, drained

1 tin kidney beans, drained

175g vital wheat gluten



1. Blitz the onions in a food processor until finely chopped. Fry gently in a little oil, with a good pinch of salt, for around 20–25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, blitz the mushrooms and beetroot until finely chopped.

3. When the onions are caramelized and smelling gorgeous, add the mushrooms and beetroot to the pan and continue to cook until all the moisture has cooked off the mushrooms (at least 10 minutes).

4. Add the liquid smoke (if using), soy sauce, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, and some salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or so, then set aside to cool slightly.

5. Blitz both sets of beans in the food processor. (Actually, I like to blitz the kidney beans into a mush, and then lightly pulse in the black beans so they retain some texture. You do you.) Add the beany mixture to a large bowl.

6. To the bowl of beany mixture, add the slightly cooled vegetables and vital wheat gluten. Combine thoroughly, using a sturdy wooden spoon at first, then get your hands in there. Knead roughly for a minute. In fact, give it a few punches – it’s good for the texture, and your wellbeing. (If you wanted to create a super-meaty texture, you’d thoroughly knead and punch the dough for at least 10 minutes. But since I’m not looking for a fake meat texture – just a firmer texture than your average bean burger – a brief punching session is fine.)

At this point, the mixture should look like the photo below. It should mostly come away clean from the bowl and form a solid ball – if it doesn’t, add another tablespoon or two of vital wheat gluten. Pull at the dough and the texture should look like Freddy Krueger’s face (see second pic)!

7. Chill the mixture in the fridge for two hours.

8. Flour your chopping board or work surface and divide the mixture into 10 or 12 equal balls (depending on how big you like your burgers). Form each ball into a burger shape, flattening it down with your hands and patting the edges.

9. Wrap each burger tightly in foil and steam for 45 minutes. (The foil wrapping is essential for keeping the burgers dry during steaming, but if anyone has a more sustainable alternative, I’d love to hear it.)

10. Leave to cool fully then unwrap the burgers from their foil wrappers. At this point you can cook the burgers in a pan or on the barbecue. Or do what I do and freeze them… If freezing, arrange the burgers in a single layer on a tray (or if you have to double stack, separate the layers with a sheet of greaseproof paper). Once frozen, pack the burgers into a freezer bag. They can be cooked straight from frozen.

I know it sounds like a minor mission, making these burgers, but each stage is easy enough and the result – having a big stash of tasty, nourishing burgers in the freezer – is well worth it. We’ll be eating these most weekends for the rest of the summer.


  1. Sharon

    These look tasty Claire !


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