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10 Awesome veggie burgers to make this summer

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Plant-based burgers aren’t just for vegans, vegetarians, and hippies anymore. (Back in that day, they were simply called veggie burgers—but then, who would have dreamed there would be alternatives like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat?) The successes of vegan burger trucks and joints like Atlanta’s Slutty Vegan or Burgerlords in Los Angeles have grabbed everyone’s attention—including fast food chains such as White Castle and Burger King. Plant-based burgers are firmly mainstream now. At home, they’re an excellent option for a quick meal whether you're a vegetarian or vegan, you want to add more veggies to your plate, or you want to reduce the amount of meat you're eating. Serve them with your favorite gluten-free or whole-grain bun, crumble your patty over a salad, or wrap a patty in a leaf of lettuce. Just don't forget your favorite toppings! Items like avocado, tomato, lettuce, cheese (real or plant-based), whole grain mustard, and other condiments all taste great on a plant-based burger, too.

Why eat plant-based burgers?

Plant-based burgers can be part of a balanced diet. They typically contain more fiber than meat-based burgers due to the added veggies and beans, which are important for digestion and weight care. Generally, research has shown that adding in more sources of whole, plant-based foods can support your health.

Fair warning, though: Read the labels. You can't assume that just because a burger is plant-based that it's automatically a healthier choice than meat-based burgers. Many store-bought varieties have excess sodium, preservatives, and other additives that dim a veggie burger's health halo. The most important thing to look for when choosing a plant-based burger is the list of ingredients on the box or in the recipe. Try to find a burger with less sodium, few additives, and more protein.

What to look for at the supermarket

A box of store-bought burgers can be lifesavers when you're short on time. The store-bought burger options below all have simple, minimal ingredients and are quick to prepare.

Store-Bought Plant-Based Burger Options:

Making your own plant-based burgers

These recipes sit squarely in the veggie burger category because they’re made with beans, quinoa, and other whole ingredients. That said, they’re fast, easy, and you can make them in batches: you can make a meal now plus make some up burgers to freeze for later.

A veggie burger shouldn't taste like a beef burger. If you're looking for that kind of taste, you might as well reach for a real grass-fed beef burger. Throw out the expectation that it will taste like beef and instead put veggie burgers into their own category. Once you do that, you'll be able to see just how accommodating a plant-based burger is to different flavors. 

One of the biggest challenges with homemade veggie burgers is keeping them together during cooking. Many tend to crumble apart, and no one wants to lose their burger to the flames. Some burgers can also have a very dry texture. 

Here's the remedy: If you just want a vegetarian version, then using an egg as a binder is a good idea. If you don't eat eggs or are looking for a vegan version, try using things like silken tofu or a flax "egg" to bind the ingredients together. You'll see the flax egg used in several of the recipes below. A panade—bread that's been soaked in some flavorful liquid—can help bring moisture to an otherwise dry patty. You can also use moist ingredients like caramelized onions, roasted and peeled peppers, or smoked eggplant.

Add spices and herbs for the best flavor. You can mix and match, but some of the best and simplest spices to use are garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, thyme, rosemary, or cumin. You can also use fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, thyme, or sage. It all depends on what kind of flavor you enjoy or if you're leaning towards a certain type of cuisine.

Homemade plant-based burger recipes

The basics

Quinoa Burger If you’re ready for more than just beans in your patty, this is a great next-step basic veggie burger. It’s got quinoa, a small grain that's become a staple for plant-based eaters everywhere. It is packed with protein and can hit the spot when trying to avoid fast carbs since it is technically a seed and breaks down slower in the body. Just make sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking it to avoid the bitter taste of the saponin that coats the seeds. Recipe via Love and Lemons

Easy 5-Ingredient Veggie Burgers Got a can of beans? (Bonus if they’re low-sodium.) You’ve got the start of a quick dinner. This recipe uses beans plus four other ingredients you’ve likely got in your pantry. You don’t even have to worry about firing up the grill: Bake these in the oven for a meal that’s ready in less than 30. Recipe via Sweet Simple Vegan 

Veggie Burger Want a burger recipe that’s super flexible? Grab any can of beans (pinto, kidney, navy… all the better for your heart if they’re low in sodium) and any veggie you’ve got on hand to hold it together. Bada-bing! This recipe is super flexible and helps you use what you’ve got on hand. Now you’ve got a way to use those cans of beans hiding in the back of the pantry. There are even instructions for successfully grilling them, if you like. Recipe via Chocolate Covered Katie

Really Awesome Black Bean Burgers  If you’re a fan of the Food Network classic Good Eats and you’re in pursuit of the perfect black bean burger, you’ll want to check out the Serious Eats version by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. He’s known for testing recipes dozens of times to get the best results, and this recipe tackles everything—texture, moisture, flavor, and holding together on the grill. Because of the egg, it’s a vegetarian burger—but one that most anyone will enjoy. Recipe via Serious Eats 

World flavors

Thai Sweet Potato Veggie BurgersLove Thai flavors? These plant-based burgers are made with sweet potato and chickpeas as a base with fresh garlic, ginger, cilantro, basil, and lime juice to flavor them up. With a flax "egg" to keep them together, they are perfect for the grill and will definitely be hit at your next Meatless Monday. Recipe via Oh She Glows

Vegan Black Bean Burgers with Tahini Garlic CreamIf you're not familiar with tahini—sesame seed butter—prepare to delight your taste buds! This burger has easy ingredients, and you'll throw it together in a hot minute, but the true hero of this recipe is the tahini sauce. Recipe via Ambitious Kitchen

Crispy Falafel BurgersStill looking for another type of plant-based burger different from the others? Try this Mediterranean-inspired falafel burger. Making falafel is incredibly easy, and turning into a patty won't take long either. Serve with fresh tzatziki or hummus and your favorite whole grain bun or lettuce wrap. Recipe via Oh She Glows

No beans

Vegan Quinoa Burgers Here’s a bean-free recipe that’s also gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free. Mushrooms and quinoa make the patty, along with your choice of herbs and either ketchup or tomato paste. And, they’re ready in 35 minutes. Recipe and photo via The Banana Diaries 

Portobello Mushroom Burger If beans aren't your thing but you want to try a plant-based burger, the portobello mushroom burger just might be the next best thing. Add some blue cheese and caramelized onions or basil pesto with tomato to make it more exciting. Recipe via Love and Lemons

Beet Burger  Shredded red beets give this bean-free patty a gorgeous color. If you’ve got people who are beet-skeptics, this just might be the way to win them over. Feta cheese, mint, garlic, and parsley punch up the flavor. Recipe via Yummly

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