I don’t eat hamburgers, but if I did, I’d choose a smash burger. The crispy, craggy patty, the melty cheese, the secret sauce—it all comes together for the perfect-looking bite.
Recently, as I was making a batch for my fiancé (his birthday request), I began wondering what would happen if I smashed a black bean patty. After all, most homemade veggie burgers are too mushy, too gummy, too bland. Couldn’t this all be solved with a hot pan and a good smash?
The answer, my friends, is yes! This recipe is for all the vegans and vegetarians who crave the experience of a smash burger sans the beef. The patty is packed with smart flavor boosters, smashed to crispy-edged perfection, then piled high with all the classic smash burger fixings. According to my fiancé, it tastes pretty darn close to the real thing.
I like to serve these on weekends as part of a build-your-own burger night, complete with crinkle fries, pickle spears, and soft drinks. But if you make the patties in advance, a weeknight smash burger is absolutely in your future.
Key Ingredients for Black Bean Smash Burgers
This recipe is inspired by the black bean burger at Smashburger, which is made with onion and jalapeño and seasoned with cumin, garlic, and hot sauce. In a brilliant move, they use tortilla chips as a binder, which add more flavor and texture than rolled oats or breadcrumbs. (It also makes the patties gluten-free.)
My version also includes mushrooms and soy sauce for extra “meatiness” and umami flavor, and skips the eggs and cheese to keep the patty entirely vegan.
Tips for the Best Black Bean Smash Burgers
- Dry out the beans (but save the liquid). Black bean patties often suffer from one of two ailments: they’re too wet and mushy, or too dry and crumbly. Drying the beans in the oven solves the too-wet issue, and if the mixture feels too dry as you’re forming it into patties, you can stir in a splash of the starchy, flavorful bean liquid.
- Put your food processor to work. If you use your food processor to chop the veggies, grind the tortilla chips, and mix up the patties, the only thing you have to chop is pickles for the sauce.
- Smash gently with a spatula. While smashing with a heavy skillet is admittedly more fun, it’s too rough for these delicate patties. Instead, press down several times with a wide, solid spatula until they’re super thin and no longer perfectly round. The more jagged edges, the better!
- Make it a double: These patties are so thin you’ll want two on each bun. Trust me.
Customizing Your Burgers
Not a fan of heat? Omit the jalapeño and hot sauce. Breadcrumbs can be used in place of tortilla chips, shallots in place of red onion, and fresh garlic in place of dried. These burgers also taste great with fresh cilantro, so add it to the food processor if you’ve got some on hand.
More Swoon-Worthy Veggie Burgers
- Pesto White Bean Veggie Burgers
- Black Bean Burgers with Spicy Mayonnaise
- Portobello Mushroom Burgers
- Curry Spiced Lentil Burgers with Cilantro Chutney
- Green Goddess Veggie Burgers
Prepare the black beans:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Open the can of black beans, reserve 1/4 cup of the bean liquid, then drain and rinse the beans. Spread the beans onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake until dry to the touch and beginning to split, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Chop the vegetables in the food processor:
Meanwhile, place the mushrooms, onion, and jalapeño in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until finely chopped, about 6 (1-second) pulses (a few larger pieces are okay).
Sauté the veggies:
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook until golden brown and the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the seasonings:
Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the soy sauce and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic powder, cumin, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat.
Make the patty mixture:
Meanwhile, wipe out the bowl of the food processor and add the tortilla chips. Process until finely ground, about 20 seconds (you should have 1/2 cup).
Add the black beans (reserve the baking sheet) and process until mostly broken down, about 5 (1-second) pulses. Add the mushroom mixture and pulse until combined, about 3 (1-second) pulses.
If the mixture looks too dry, add up to 2 tablespoons of the reserved bean liquid. The mixture should be on the dry side but hold together when formed without crumbling apart. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Form into patties:
Divide the mixture into 8 portions, a little over 1/4 cup each. Use your palm to flatten each one into 3-inch patties. Line the baking sheet with fresh parchment or plastic wrap and place the patties on top. Refrigerate while you prepare the sauce and toppings.
Make the sauce:
Stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, chopped pickles, and pickle juice.
Cook the burgers:
Wipe out the cast iron skillet, if necessary. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until nearly smoking.
Place 4 of the patties in the pan and press down in gentle, short presses with a wide, solid spatula to form thin, 4-inch wide patties. If your pan isn’t big enough, cook 2 patties at a time.
Cook until the edges are browned and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip the burgers (they will be fragile), top with the cheese, and cook until the second side is browned and the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes more, lowering the heat as necessary. Transfer the burgers to a plate.
Wipe out the skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and repeat with the remaining patties.
Assemble the burgers:
Spread the smash sauce onto the bottom and tops of the toasted buns. Transfer 2 patties to each bottom bun and top with tomato, lettuce, sliced red onion, and pickles.
These patties are best enjoyed fresh, but leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
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