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Vegetarian alternatives to burgers

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Vegetarian burger recipes

Whether you’re looking to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle or simply want to cut down your consumption of meat, there’s no reason to forgo sinking your teeth into burgers hot off the grill or out of the oven. Substituting beans, lentils and nuts for beef is an easy way to reduce your intake of saturated fat and calories while boosting your intake of fiber and phytonutrients. Take a bite out of these three vegetarian burger recipes.

Vegetarian burger recipes

Grilled Chipotle Black Bean Burgers

Makes 4

Top these smoky burgers with jack cheese and mayo blended with a pinch of cayenne. Nestle in a lightly toasted whole grain bun.


  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Put all ingredients and pulse until combined. Form into 4 patties.
  2. Preheat grill and oil grate. Cook burgers for 3 minutes per side or until heated through.

Sunflower Seed and Chickpea Burgers

Serves 4

Tuck these vegetarian burgers into a pita and slather with tzatziki sauce.


  • 2 cups unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Tzatziki sauce (recipe below)


  1. Combine sunflower seeds, chickpeas, onion, garlic, eggs, and parsley in a food processor and pulse to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook burgers for 3 minutes on both sides or until lightly browned and heated through
  3. Tzatziki sauce: Puree 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup seeded cucumbers, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest, 5 to 6 mint leaves, and salt to taste.

Red Lentil and Walnut Burgers

Serves 4

For a change, nix the bun and wrap burgers with large lettuce or Napa cabbage leaves. Drizzle with a little sesame dressing before serving.


  • 1 cup red lentils, picked over, rinsed
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for broiling
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 11/2 tablespoons minced gresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon 5-spice powder
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Cook lentils in a pot of salted boiling water until very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and lightly mash. Set aside.
  2. Place walnuts in a large dry skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and finely chop. Set aside and preheat broiler.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrot and shallot and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Season with 5-spice and cayenne, stirring to combine.
  4. Add lentils, walnuts, bread crumbs, cilantro, and eggs to skillet, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties.
  5. Place patties on a broiler pan and generously spray or brush with olive oil. Broil for 3 minutes per side or until golden.

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