The Best Veggie Burger Ever

veggie burger final header

Yes, yes, the title of this post is bound to invite raised eyebrows. Could this really be the best veggie burger, of all time, ever? Well, I can tell you this with full confidence: this here veggie burger is the best I’ve tasted by some margin.

Because here is the thing–given the choice between a beef or lamb hamburger and a vegetable facsimile, I would never normally choose the later. Ever.

It’s not that I have something against vegetables. In fact, I quite like vegetables, in their natural state, or coaxed with a bit of heat, olive oil and sea salt. But veggie burgers are not vegetables. Veggie burgers have always seemed to me a strange and unhappy amalgamation of rabbit food mash, a strict and humorless attempt to appease those who forgo meat.

But then, but then. I tasted the veggie burger Burger FI. And then all my previous ideas of veggie burgers were exploded. What was I to do?

I asked what was in these magical, paradigm-changing patties, and was told the following:

quinoa, lentils, onions, fontina cheese, Parmesan cheese, red wine, panko bread crumbs, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, egg

Armed with this information, I took to my kitchen to try and reproduce the restaurant’s version. After a bit of tinkering, I arrived at this recipe. While I don’t have a deep fryer (and didn’t cover mine with melty cheddar cheese and “special” sauce, although by all means you could if you like), I think my homemade version tastes almost as good.

What’s more, you can make a big batch, and then freeze them individually for some other night you are short on time.

Makes 12 veggie burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup French lentils
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • sea salt, pepper
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1/2 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons red wine
  • 1.5 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 -1.5 cup peanut oil
  • about 1/2 cup of flour, for dusting
  • 12 whole wheat or oatmeal buns
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into slices
  • 1 red onion, cut crosswise into slices
  • 1 heart of Romaine lettuce
  • hot sauce (optional)

Procedure:

1. Prepare the lentils: Empty the French lentils into a medium pot. Add 1 of the garlic cloves (peeled), the 2 bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Pour in 1.5 cups of water, and bring the lentils to a boil. When they reach a boil, cover the pot with a lid, and let them soak for 1 hour. After the hour is up, simmer them for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then set the lentils aside.

lentils with bay leaf and garlic

2. Prepare the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa under running water for 1-2 minutes, and then tap the sieve to dry them off as much as possible. Add the quinoa to a small pot, along with the thyme sprig and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Turn the heat to medium, and cook the quinoa for about 2 minutes, or until it is quite dry and smells toasty. Add a small pinch of salt and the chicken stock. Cover the pot, and cook the quinoa for 10 minutes. (At this point, the chicken stock should be absorbed.) Turn off the heat, but keep the lid on for another 5 minutes. Fluff, and set the quinoa aside.

quinoa, chicken stock, and thyme

3. Prepare the onion and carrot: Mince the remaining garlic clove, along with the onion and the carrot. Saute the three vegetables together with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, until everything is quite soft, about 15 minutes. (If the vegetables start to brown before the carrot is soft, you can add a little water to the pan.) Add the red wine, and let it reduce until there is no spoonable liquid left. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set the vegetables aside.

carrots, onion, and garlic

4. Prepare the mushrooms: Wash and slice a punnet of button mushrooms, until you have 1.5 cups of mushrooms slices. Heat the butter over medium heat in a large pan, until the butter is gently bubbling. Add the mushroom slices, and cook until they are soft. Add salt to taste, and then set the mushrooms aside.

sauteed mushrooms

5. If you have not done so, grate both the cheeses.

6. Move the lentils, the quinoa, the onion/carrot, the mushrooms, and the cheeses to a food processor. Pulse everything together until it is quite well combined. (I admit, at this point the mixture will not look very pretty, and you will be able to smell the funk of the fontina cheese. Power on!) Move the mixture to a large bowl.

veggie burger mix in processor

7. Meanwhile, in a separate small bowl, beat the eggs.

8. Add the beaten eggs, the panko bread crumbs, and the lemon juice to the bowl with the vegetable/lentil/quinoa mixture. Fold everything together until just combined. Add a healthy pinch of sea salt and pepper, for good measure.

9. Now form the veggie burgers into patties: roll the mixture into balls, about the size of a large meatball. Place each ball between your palms, and push together to flatten. (It’s better to make smaller veggie burgers and plan to serve 2 per person; the cooking process is just easier when they are smaller.)

10. Pour the peanut oil into a cast iron pan or Dutch oven (you want about 1/2″ of oil in the pan). Heat the oil over medium heat; the oil is hot enough when it sputters after being spritzed it with water.

11. When the oil is hot, dust each patty generously with flour. Depending on the size of your pan, you should be able to cook a few patties at a time. (Don’t crowd them.) Cook the veggie burgers for a few minutes per side, or until both sides are thoroughly golden brown. When you are finished cooking each patty, move it to a paper towel-lined plate.

veggie burgers, dusted with flour

veggie burgers, draining

12. Put the burgers together: Toast the buns, slice the tomatoes and onion, and pull the lettuce apart. Allow everyone to dress the veggie burgers how they like; I think they taste best with a healthy splash of hot sauce. Serve warm.

veggie burger, vertical 2

veggie burger, bite 2

 

 

28 Comments

    • CristinaSciarra

      Thanks, Lindsay! If you want to make them vegan (forgoing the fontina and Parmesan), I suggest adding a bit more salt, and perhaps a touch of something umami to make up for it–a spoonful of balsamic vinegar or soy sauce, or maybe some oven dried tomatoes?

  1. Hannah

    Veggie burger with chicken stock as an ingredient. Riiiight.

    • CristinaSciarra

      Hi Hannah, you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this veggie burger! Of course you are welcome to substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

      • Santiago

        Hannah is just being a hater. I’m not vegan or vegetarian (anymore) I think its important to include meats and such in my diet! meat doesn’t need to make a meal though and this recipe is great for someone like me.

        its not all about you vegans!!

  2. Erika

    This looks super amazing!! You’ve definitely sold me on the “best” part of this burger. It’s unfortunate how time-consuming the recipe looks (otherwise I would be making these tonight!) but I’m sure it’s all worth it!

    • CristinaSciarra

      Thanks, Erika! You’re right that they are a bit time-consuming. My suggestion is to make a big batch on a day you have some time, and then freeze them individually. That way, you’ll be stocked for whenever the craving strikes!

  3. Nunki

    Hi, in your directions you instruct to add eggs, but don’t have the number of eggs in your ingredient list. Also, is there any way to use something other than eggs as a binder?

    • CristinaSciarra

      Yeesh, thanks Nunki! This is why proofreading is important! I’ve added the eggs to the ingredient list. Personally, I don’t know too much about egg substitues, but a quick google search revealed quite a few options. Happy tinkering!

  4. Aiza

    Looks and sounds AMAZING

  5. Con

    These seem quite time consuming but delicious. Have you tried to bake these (skipping the flouring & panfrying step)? I wonder if they will hold up.

    • CristinaSciarra

      You’re right, Con, they are a bit time consuming. However, if you decided to make a double batch, you could freeze each patty individually. Then, you would have a rather large supply to call on in no time at all. As to the cooking method, I think part of what makes these veggie burgers so tasty is the contrast between the hot, crunchy outside and the warm, creamy middle. However, by all means you could try baking them. In that case, I might lightly spritz them with olive oil, and bake at 400-425F. I would probably tent them with foil for most of the cooking (so as not to dry them out), and then put them under the broiler in the last few minutes, to make them golden and a little crispy.

  6. Erika

    Wow, I have had been trying different kinds of Veggie burgers and burger substitutes since I haven’t been able to eat beef in 5 years. These Veggie burgers are the best I have ever had!! They seem to take a long time but Now that i have made them I see where you can cut the cooking and prep time in half. Getting the lentils started first and then cooking everything at once will have everything ready to add to the food processor at the same time.

    Great recipe I will be making these alot!

    • CristinaSciarra

      Hi, Erika. I’m so glad you like the veggie burgers! Thanks for your message

  7. Elle

    They were SUPER tasty (better than some restaurants) and I didn’t follow the exact recipe. I cooked the lentils and quinoa together in one go as they have the same 1:2 ratio of grains to water/broth. Boiled with all the spices/garlic and simmer for 20. Still plenty flavorful for me! Mushrooms were awesome (used cremini) and just threw in parm cheese as slapped on a slice of provolone as a topping. Didn’t bother with the carrot and red wine so I don’t know if I missed the 8th wonder of the world there or not. Overall: DO IT!

    • CristinaSciarra

      Hi Elle, I am so glad you liked the veggie burgers, and that you adapted them to your preferences! Perhaps I will try cooking the lentils and quinoa together next time, too.

  8. Brandy Moore

    I work at Burger Fi and LOVE the Veggie burger here, better then the regular in fact. You could grill it if you don’t want as much grease. Taste just as good to me, just a different texture.

  9. Lesley

    YAY! BurgerFi has the best Veggie burger anywhere! And I eat meat and enjoy a juicy burger… but the flavor and texture combination is just out of this world. This is better than most beef burgers I have tried. I have been searching for this recipe and I am glad I found it! A great Sunday afternoon experiment! Can’t wait!

    • CristinaSciarra

      I hope the recipe works out well for you! It’s just my interpretation of the Burger FI veggie burger, but I think it comes pretty close!

  10. Taylor

    Any special tips for BBQIng these bad boys? I’m giving them a go at a friends cottage tomorrow and hope they hold up!

    • CristinaSciarra

      Hm. I hadn’t thought to BBQ them. Part of what makes these so delicious is the crisp-hot crust formed by pan searing, contrasted by the creamy-warm insides of the burger. For BBQing, my recommendation would be to brush them lightly in oil. Let me know how it goes!

  11. Vegan James

    This is the kind of recipe I’m afraid a well-meaning non-vegan friend of mine will find and invite me over to try. Eggs, cheese, and chicken stock in a veggie burger? Yikes.

    • CristinaSciarra

      Hi James, While this is clearly not a vegan burger, it can very easily be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable or mushroom stock for the chicken stock.

  12. Cricket

    Love, love this burger . I was tired of going to BurgerFi and spending a arm and leg on family of 4. When I came across this recipe it was a no brainer. Yes it is time consuming but so worth the time invested. Thanks again!!!!

  13. aleta

    I am so excited to try this recipe. I had the burger fi one a few weeks ago abd have to agree, it was the best veggie burger I’ve ever had. Thanks Again for this, you didn’t happen to get the onion ring recipe too?

    • CristinaSciarra

      Hi Aleta, This isn’t actually Burger FI’s recipe–I developed the recipe based on a list of ingredients. I think it’s pretty close, though, although this one is not deep-fried. As for onion rings, my suggestion would be to use Wondra flour, which is much finer than all purpose flour.

  14. Cricket

    Any idea of the calorie count? Trying to add this up and it’s is becoming a brain pain

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