Smoky Barbecue Black Bean Burgers

Believe it or not, I was an extremely picky eater as a kid. The number of meals I would eat could be counted on one hand, while the number of meals I turned my nose up to could easily fill a small book. My poor food-loving parents, huh? They were always trying new recipes from their many cookbooks and magazines, and I had zero appreciation for how avant garde they actually were. Thankfully, my older brother was an adventurous eater who was able to validate my parents’ efforts to feed us healthily.

My top five least favourite dishes? Tofu pesto (yeah, that was a Moosewood cookbook classic), parathas (Indian sweet potato-stuffed flatbread), bulgur burgers, salmon burgers (the only way I would choke them down was with a thick layer of Cheez Whiz), and anything containing ground meat.

I never liked meat, but it wasn’t until around age 10 that I began to warm up to vegetables. I always loved my carbs, though! I think I must have been on the 80/10/10 diet before it was even a thing, ha!

These veggie burgers are, according to my trusty taste testers, my best yet. They are sturdy, flavourful, and have crispy exteriors, which are my top three veggie burger parameters. The smoky flavour comes from smoked paprika (my secret weapon for endowing that elusive meaty note to vegan cusine) and subtle sweetness from barbecue sauce. And they actually hold together, thanks to the inclusion of both ground walnuts and bread crumbs. I chose to serve them on buns with pickles, lettuce, tomato, and my homemade green goddess sauce that I originally created for my Vegan Meatball Pizza, only I subbed cilantro for the parsley to give it a southwestern flair.

I think you’re going to LOVE these burgers. They’re the perfect way to usher in a new season, and they’re so much fun to eat.

Black bean burgers with green goddess sauce.

Smoky Barbecue Black Bean Burgers

These hearty black bean burgers are spicy, smoky, and a bit sweet. They hold together perfectly and are accompanied by a tasty cilantro green goddess sauce. Enjoy them on buns or crumbled over greens with the green goddess sauce as a dressing! 
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dinner, Entree, Lunch, Main
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Servings: 10 large burgers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 medium sweet potatos, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, preferably homemade (see note)
  • 3 cups cooked black beans (or 1 large can, rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt, plus more to taste

For serving:

  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Pickles
  • Green Goddess Sauce, made with cilantro instead of parsley (see note for recipe link)
  • Buns, collard or lettuce leaves, or pitas

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Cook the brown rice: In a small saucepan, combine the brown rice, water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 40-45 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed. 
  • Place the diced sweet potato on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Roast for 40-45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 F and leave it on to bake the burgers. 
  • Toast the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and fragrant. Once cool enough to handle, finely chop and place them in a large bowl along with the breadcrumbs. 
  • Place the black beans into a food processor fitted with the ‘S’ blade. Pulse a few times until broken, but do not over-process. Add the beans to the large bowl. Then add the cooked sweet potato, brown rice, onion, garlic, barbecue sauce, spices, hot sauce, cilantro, and salt. Lightly mash the sweet potato and stir everything well to combine. Taste and add additional salt if desired. 
  • Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the mixture into 10 tennis ball-sized rounds and place on the prepared baking sheets. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers. Bake until the burgers are crispy on the outside but not burnt, about 35-40 minutes. 
  • Serve on buns, collard or lettuce leaves, or pitas with desired toppings. 

Notes

To make 1 cup of homemade bread crumbs: Cube 5 slices of desired bread (I like whole grain sourdough) into 1-inch cubes and toast in a 350 F oven for 7 minutes. Then place the toasted bread into a food processor fitted with the ‘S’ blade and blend until you have bread crumbs.Β 
Green Goddess Sauce recipe can be found here.

I’ve been feeling discombobulated this week, having just returned to work and a with big term paper due in seven days. I have a lot of negative feelings about university. I’ve never felt that my program is a good fit for me, and as whiny as it sounds, I can’t see a point in anything I’m learning. I still wish that I would have chosen to major in nutrition and dietetics, and I’m definitely not ruling that out. I guess I still have time to figure it out. But the one thing that always brings me joy is writing recipes and sharing them with the world. That’s where my heart is, and that’s what I’ll continue to do as I figure out everything else!

Thanks as always for reading my posts, and I will be back here again on Saturday with my standard weekend beverage post.

Did you make this recipe? Let’s see it! Post a photo on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with #holisticallie and @holisticallie!

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