Looking to go vegan, vegetarian, or just increase your intake of plant-based foods? Great news… you have tons of options to get you started on making a veggie burger from scratch.
Start by exploring the shelves of your grocery store's freezer section.
You'll find burritos, frozen prepared vegetarian soups, veggie burgers, meatless nuggets, veggie stir-fries, Indian entrees and much more. You don't have to rack up a grocery bill stocking up on these prepared foods… but checking them out will inspire your at-home plant-based protein creations made from scratch.
You will also find some good quality alternate protein sources like this in your supermarket’s produce aisle.
Tofu in varying levels of firmness, tofu hot dogs, veggie nuggets, seitan, and other magical meatless food sources can help when you're trying to eat meatless but need sustenance in a hurry.
TIP: Base your own homemade veggie burger and veggie nuggets recipes on what you find pre-packaged in the store.
The best part of this is that your own homemade veggie burgers will not contain unwanted extra ingredients like MSG, dextrose, and various addictive powders that they add to packaged foods to make them look and taste better and cause us to want more of them.
So how do you make veggie burgers from scratch?
It takes some advance preparation, but you can do it! If you typically use a pressure cooker to spring dried beans to life and make into a nutritious meal, then this will be step one.
But if you don't have the time or energy to cook dried beans you can easily find canned beans on your grocery store shelves. Canned beans have already been cooked and are waiting to be added to your recipes. Most grocery stores have a canned veggie aisle that is packed with selections, and that includes beans and legumes! For example, black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and butter/lima beans!
TIP: Rinse the beans before using them to lower sodium content AND to reduce the amount of gas causing carbohydrates.
So, step one of your homemade veggie burger or veggie patty recipe would be to get a source of legumes or beans.
Let's say that you simmered up a pot of lentils on the stove. Maybe you even added all of the flavorings like garlic and onion, some oil and some herbs, salt and pepper. Even leftovers from a lentil dinner that you already made as a porridge style meal can become veggie burger patties which will lend some excitement to the week's dinner and lunch rotation.
Also precook a whole grain such as brown rice. There are other grains to try, but brown rice works well because of its gelatinous consistency. Also, the small grains stick together very well when formed into a patty along with the beans.
So, mix together about 2 cups of beans or legumes to 1 cup of rice or adjust to your own preference. Then add ingredients to give it flavor and texture such as minced garlic, minced onion or chopped onion, and a variety of spices plus salt and pepper.
What kinds of spices should you add to your homemade veggie burger?
Well, if you would like an Indian flavored veggie patty, then add your favorite garam masala or yellow or green curry powder. If you're going for southwestern or Mexican flavor, then add some chili powder, paprika, oregano and onion powder.
If you enjoy Mediterranean flavors, you can add basil, thyme, garlic, parsley, and rosemary.
So many options! You get to choose with what to season your veggie burgers. That's one of the best things about scratch cooking!
Next, you'll want a fat component which will typically be a nut or seed oil. It can be anything from olive oil to sesame oil to sunflower oil. You only need maybe two tablespoons along with the rest of the ingredients mixed in.
Of course, you will need something to help the burgers stick together. If you are vegetarian but not vegan, then you can simply crack a couple of eggs in and then sprinkle breadcrumbs which will form your vegetarian protein patties.
To make these homemade veggie burgers, fry them in hot oil; a couple of tablespoons is enough. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side in a frying pan on the stove top.
Click here for our delicious recipe for garden burgers, which is based on the Morningstar Farms Garden burgers.
You can also bake your veggie burgers. To minimize the amount of oil you use, you can put your oil in a spray bottle and coat the bottom with avocado, olive, or other oil. You can also spray the veggie burgers with oil to help aid browning and crispiness. Place in a 375-degree oven and let it cook for about 6 minutes, then flip to the other side and cook for six more minutes or until cooked to your liking.
Veggie burgers made from scratch can be frozen and used for a quick lunch or dinner.
In the same way that it is very convenient to simply reach into your grocery store's frozen foods case and grab veggie burgers in a box, you can pre-cook and then freeze your homemade veggie burgers the same way. We do this every time we make garden burgers. Since making from scratch can be time consuming and messy, and you only have to clean up once!
It's helpful to separate your pre-cooked veggie burgers with wax paper before packaging and freezing. This is so they don't stick to each other when you attempt to thaw them out and cook them. You will want your veggie burgers to retain their shape and avoid developing freezer burn if possible. An affordable vacuum sealer can help with that. My husband LOVES his vacuum sealer.
Stay tuned for information on how to use tofu in recipes to add protein and more!