Black bean burgers: how to avoid a mushy burger
One year ago nearly to the day, I posted the following on Facebook, “I feel bad about only posting about coronavirus recently, so here’s an unrelated question. Why do my bean burgers always come out mushy, and how do I minimize that?” That mushy burger was the seed that gave birth to this blog.
As starts go, there isn’t anything particularly remarkable about black bean burgers. A can of beans dried on a paper towel for a bit. Mixed with uncooked onion/garlic, frozen corn, one egg, a couple of handfuls of crumbled up corn chips (or panko when we don’t have chips), spices, and maybe a smidge of hot sauce. I usually fried them on cast iron with a thin layer of oil. I had tried them in the oven, but that resulted in an even mushier burger.
Suggestions came pouring in because all of my foodie friends were happy for a diversion. Coat it in corn starch like my crispy baked tofu, they said. Add vital wheat gluten to bind and firm them up (and even add protein). Use dried beans rather than canned (I do this when I make Ottolenghi’s falafel). And then someone suggested that drying them in the oven for 10-15 minutes first could avoid a mushy burger.
Drying out the beans helped to avoid the mush. I hate a mushy bean burger.
Drying is key. I continue to use chips like I do in my taco meatloaf, and I have since added a half cup of cooked quinoa. Now it’s a burger with great mouthfeel. It’s not a bacon cheeseburger, but it’s a great option for Meatless Mondays.
If you don’t have tortilla chips and don’t want to buy a bag, you can use tortillas. Slice them into strips, spray or coat them with a thin layer of vegetable oil, salt them lightly, and bake them for ~10 minutes until crisp. Use them in this recipe in place of the chips or serve them on top of a salad to provide a bit of texture.
This recipe makes four large burgers or three large burgers and two half-sized burgers for the kiddo. I cook and freeze the extra one and a half for a night when mr. uglyducklingbakery is working.
Black bean burgers
- 2 cans black beans
- 1 oz tortilla chips
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh
- 2 green onions, tops only, chopped fine
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp neutral oil (e.g. vegetable, corn, safflower)
- Rinse the black beans and drain. Put them in a large roasting pan and bake at about 375°F for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool at least slightly.
- In a large bowl, use your hands to crumble the tortilla chips into very small pieces. You can use a food processor for this, but why get one more thing dirty.
- Add the beans and mash with a potato masher or fork until the beans are mostly mashed but some large pieces remain.
- Add the corn, green onions, garlic, and cilantro, and mix.
- Add the flour and spices (cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper). Feel free to add a pinch of hot stuff (e.g. cayenne or chili powder) if that makes you happy. Mix until uniform.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs for a few seconds to combine and then add it to the bean mixture. Stir the eggs into the mixture until it comes together. This can be made ahead and held in the refrigerator for a few hours. This is not critical but may help them firm up even more.
- Form into patties of desired size and fry in a thin layer of oil on a griddle, cast iron skillet, or other fryng pan, about 5 minutes on one side. Flip and cook an additional 3 or so minutes until browned.
Now to work on my hamburger buns, because those store-bought ones are sad.
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I thought it was interesting that my beans (same brand) had two different colors. It happens.