If you ask me, nothing screams “summer” quite like a grilled burger.
But if you stick to a plant-based diet or you’re someone who loves having plant-based options (hi! hello! that’s me, too!), summery grilled vegetarian burgers come with some challenges…
…Like the fact that black bean burgers are often textureless & mushy, for one. Or the fact that many recipes for homemade vegetarian burgers are a total pain to make. OR the fact that black bean burgers are notoriously un-grillable, usually falling apart into a crumbled mess as they cook. & while there is an increasing number of store-bought plant-based burger options out there these days, it’s always nice to be able to make your own, from scratch, with ingredients you trust.
For all these reasons, I’ve sort of grown obsessed with creating a better plant-based burger option for grilling season this year. It’s exactly why I’m so excited to share this grilled black bean burger recipe with you today!
Changing everything you think you know about vegetarian burgers!
These black bean burgers are…
- MADE WITH SIMPLE INGREDIENTS. No need to source strange ingredients, here. These easy black bean burgers are made with simple pantry staples: black beans, quinoa, & plenty of spices to keep things super flavorful.
- EASY TO MAKE. Toast up the black beans on the stovetop, cook a little quinoa, & mix it all together with some wet ingredients. It’s as close to a one-bowl operation as a plant-based burger recipe could get. (Better yet, they’re also meal prep friendly – I have notes on that below!)
- THICK & SATISFYING. While not intended to emulate beef burgers, these black bean burgers have wonderful texture (no mushy vegetarian burgers here!!!) & rich umami flavor. They’ll be loved by meat-eaters & veggie-eaters alike.
- EASILY VEGAN. As written, this is a vegetarian burger recipe. With a few simple tweaks, you can easily make vegan burgers.
- & most importantly – GRILLABLE. With a couple of quick grilling tips & tricks, these black bean burgers hold together on the grill beautifully. Absolutely perfect for summer grilling or socially distant BBQs!
I humbly believe this is the best vegetarian burger recipe out there. I can’t wait for you to try it out. ♡ Read on to learn all about this Grilled Black Bean Burgers recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
This plant-based burger recipe calls for simple pantry ingredients.
Having made plenty of meatless burgers that call for any number of strange ingredients, we’re keeping this vegetarian burger recipe as approachable as possible. While these black bean burgers are made with a decent number of ingredients, all of them are simple staples that you probably always keep stocked in your pantry.
Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
Primary black bean burgers ingredients for texture & flavor:
- black beans – I always use the Simply Nature Organic black beans from ALDI, one of my all-time favorite ALDI products. Not only are they super affordable, but they’re also really high-quality & have great flavor, a combination that can be hard to come by when it comes to organic black beans.
- quinoa, which does triple duty, since it: adds bulk to the black bean burgers, binds them together, & provides a plant-based protein boost. You guessed it – the Simply Nature Organic Quinoa from ALDI is forever my go-to!
- walnuts – Chopped nuts give vegetarian burgers a really wonderfully satisfying texture, without mimicking meat. I like walnuts best, as they also give these black bean burgers a healthy dose of plant-based omega-3s.
- onion & garlic, for a ton of aromatic flavor.
- spices, like chili powder & smoked paprika, for even more flavor.
- & Worcestershire sauce – My favorite little secret ingredient for any burgers, Worcestershire adds deep umami flavor to these plant-based burgers. Vegans: use a vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce or swap with something for similar richness. Soy sauce, tamari, aged balsamic, miso, or even vegan BBQ sauce are great options.
Plus, a few other ingredients to help bind the burgers together:
- old-fashioned rolled oats – Pulse them up in a food processor to make the easiest gluten-free binder. The secret to making these black bean burgers without breadcrumbs!
- egg, tomato paste, & mayonnaise, which all add richness & moisture that help bind the meatless burger patties together. Vegans: swap the egg with your favorite liquid egg replacer or a flax egg & use your favorite egg-free mayo or fabanaise in place of the mayo.
How to make black bean burgers from scratch:
Having made numerous meatless burger recipes that are high-maintenance & dirty just about every dish in the kitchen, my goal with this vegetarian burger recipe was to streamline them as much as possible. Making black bean burgers from scratch doesn’t have to be a total pain!
This recipe has a few different steps, of course, but they’re all very straight-forward & can easily be accomplished in less than 60 minutes.
Full recipe directions provided in the Recipe Card, below.
5 simple steps for prepping this plant-based burger recipe:
- Cook some quinoa. Simply prep a pot of quinoa according to package directions. You can do this right at dinnertime, or up to 5 days ahead of time if you’re keen on meal prep.
- Cook the aromatics & toast the black beans. First, sauté some onion in a skillet to draw out its flavor. Once softened, add the black beans & cook over low, low heat. Pan-toasting the black beans helps draw out some of the moisture, which keeps the black bean burgers from turning into mush. Just as the beans finish toasting, stir some garlic & spices into the mix to wake up the flavors.
- Pulse up the oats & walnuts. As the onions & black beans are cooking on the stovetop, grab your food processor & let it help you buzz up oats & walnuts. First, process the oats into a fine flour-like consistency, then add the walnuts & pulse to roughly chop. Because they add a meaty texture to the black bean burgers, it’s okay if the walnut pieces are a little bit large. They’ll be delicious!
- Mix the wet ingredients. Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl until combined. Mixing the wet ingredients together helps ensure that you won’t overmix the vegetarian burger mixture.
- Mix the black bean burger “meat”: Add the quinoa, black bean mixture, walnut mixture, & wet ingredients to a large bowl, using a spatula to fold it all together. Be careful not to overwork the plant-based burger “meat”, as you’ll run the risk of crushing the quinoa & black beans.
With the meatless burger components ready to go, all that’s left is forming the black bean burger patties, a brief 20-minute chill in the freezer, & grilling them up.
How to form black bean burgers:
Properly forming the patties is absolutely crucial in ensuring that these black bean burgers do not fall apart on the grill. These meatless burger patties need to be very compactly formed.
I find it’s easiest to:
- Divide the black bean burger mixture into 4 equal portions, then use your hands to roll each portion into a compact ball.
- Press each ball into a 1-inch thick patty. The edges will crack a little as you press out the burger patties, but you can use your hands to press the edges in toward the center, keeping the mixture really tightly formed as you shape the patties.
Again, it’s incredibly important that your burger patties are as compact as possible; this is how you keep the black bean burgers from falling apart or crumbling as they cook.
Make-ahead black bean burgers:
Whether you’re looking for a shortcut for weeknight cooking or you’d like to pack a meatless burger to bring with you to a socially distant BBQ or cookout this summer, this plant-based burger recipe is incredibly make-ahead friendly!
2 easy options for prepping these black bean burgers in advance:
- Full assembly: Store the formed meatless burger patties in an airtight container, separating them with a piece of wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. When you’d like to make your black bean burgers, simply preheat the grill & cook them off.
- Partial prep: Cook the quinoa & dice the veggies ahead of time, storing them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. At dinnertime, you can get straight to cooking the components of the black bean burgers.
How to grill black bean burgers:
As far as grilling goes, these black bean burgers are pretty easy! Since all of the components of these vegetarian burgers are fully cooked, the goal of grilling them is to simply heat them through.
To grill, cook the burgers for 4-5 minutes per side over medium-high direct heat (about 450 degrees F). Refrain from fussing over them too much as they cook. 1 simple flip halfway through will do the trick!
My #1 grilled black bean burgers tip?: If you’ve ever wondered how to keep black bean burgers from falling apart on the grill, the secret lies in making sure the grill grates are very clean & well-oiled. Immediately prior to placing the black bean burgers on the grill, use grill tongs to run generously oiled paper towel all over the surface of the grates. The black bean burgers will not stick to a clean, well-oiled surface, so making sure they stay in 1 piece & do not fall apart when flipped will be a breeze.
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How to serve these meatless burgers:
& lastly, the fun part: serving up your grilled black bean burgers. Pop ’em on a bun or serve ’em over greens, then pile on your favorite toppings!
Some of our favorite vegetarian burger toppings include:
- cheese – I’m especially partial to pepper jack or white cheddar for these grilled black bean burgers, but you can of course use whatever cheese you love most. Vegans: use your favorite plant-based cheese, or whip up a batch of vegan cashew crema to slather over your burgers. We have an original, smoky chipotle & cilantro lime versions here on PWWB. Any of these would be excellent!
- lettuce or a handful of salad greens
- grilled onions or pickled red onions
- burger condiments, like ketchup, mustard, mayo (or egg-free mayo), or BBQ sauce. If you really want to kick it up a notch, whip up a batch of guacamole & slather it on!
I can’t wait for you to give these Grilled Black Bean Burgers a try this summer. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love them as much as we do – plant-based perfection!
If you do try them out, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡Print
Taking vegetarian burgers to the next level with these Grilled Black Bean Burgers! Finally, a plant-based burger recipe that uses simple ingredients, is easy to make, & holds up like a dream on the grill! Naturally dairy-free & gluten-free, easily vegan (tips shared below!).
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (or scant 1/2 cup oat flour)
- 1 cup walnut halves & pieces
- 1 large egg (see Recipe Notes for suggested vegan substitutions)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (see Recipe Notes for suggested vegan substitutions)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (see Recipe Notes for suggested vegan substitutions)
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- oil or nonstick cooking spray, for the grill grates
- for serving, as desired: burger buns, cheese, lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced onion or pickled red onion, ketchup or mayonnaise or burger sauce as desired, mustard, etc.
- Cook the quinoa: Cook about 1/2 cup quinoa according to package directions; you will need 1 cup cooked quinoa for this burger recipe. Set aside, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Line a baking sheet or large plate with parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil. Set aside.
Black Bean Burgers:
- Toast the black beans: Add the avocado oil to a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt & sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until the onion is softened. Reduce the heat to low. Add the black beans to the skillet, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, until the black beans are toasted. Add the garlic, chili powder, & smoked paprika to the skillet. Stir to coat the onion & black bean mixture, cooking for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Remove the skillet from the heat & set aside.
- Process the oats, chop the walnuts: Meanwhile, as the black bean mixture cooks, prep the oats & walnuts. Add the oats to a food processor. Process until the oats are broken down into a fine, flour-like consistency. Add the walnuts to the food processor. Pulse to chop into small pieces. Set aside.
- Mix the wet ingredients: Add the egg, mayonnaise, tomato paste, & Worcestershire sauce to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Mix the black bean burgers: Add the cooked quinoa, black bean mixture, oat & walnut mixture, & wet ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Use a spatula to fold, combining the mixture evenly. Take care not to overwork the mixture, crushing the black beans & quinoa, as you fold it together.
- Form the black bean burger patties: Divide the mixture into 4 even portions & shape into 1-inch thick burger patties. I find it’s easiest to roll each portion into a compact ball first, then pressing it into a patty shape. If the edges crack a little as you press it down, simply use your hands to press the edges in toward the center of the burger patty, keeping the mixture really tightly formed. It’s important that your burger patties are as compact as possible; this will help prevent them from crumbling or falling apart on the grill. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Chill: Transfer the black bean burger patties to the freezer to chill for 20-30 minutes.
- Prep the grill: Prepare your grill for medium-high direct cooking, about 450 degrees F. Make sure the grates are clean. Immediately prior to grilling, grease the grill grates. Generously oil a paper towel (or spritz it with nonstick cooking spray). Use the grill tongs to run the oiled paper towel over the grill grates.
- Grill the black bean burgers: Remove the black bean burgers from the freezer & place on the prepared grill grates, directly over the fire. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, flipping once halfway through. If desired, place a slice of cheese on each burger with 2 minutes cooking time remaining.
- Serve, as desired. I opt for lettuce, some smashed avocado & pickled red onions on my black bean burgers – delish! Enjoy!
- Vegan substitutions: As written, this meatless burger recipe is vegetarian. With a couple of easy tweaks, you can make your black bean burgers vegan, too:
- Egg: Swap with your favorite liquid egg replacer or a flax egg.
- Mayonnaise: Use your favorite egg-free mayo or fabanaise.
- Worcestershire sauce: Use a vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce or do a 1:1 swap for something of similar richness, such as soy sauce, tamari, aged balsamic, miso, or even vegan BBQ sauce.
- Stovetop black bean burgers: If you do not have access to an outdoor grill, you can also cook these black bean burgers on the stovetop. Rather than using a grill pan, I suggest using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive or avocado oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the black bean burgers, working in batches as needed to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook according to Step 8 of Recipe Directions, above.
- 20-minute meal prep: A little bit of prep will go a long way when it comes to easily throwing these black bean burgers together any night of the week. I suggest dicing the onion & cooking the quinoa according to the Prep Notes above. Store separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. At dinner time you can get straight to cooking. OR…
- Make-ahead black bean burgers: Black bean burger patties can be mixed & formed up to 3 days in advance. Follow Steps 1-5 of Recipe Directions above. Rather than placing the formed patties on a baking sheet & freezing to chill, transfer the formed patties to an airtight container, separating them with a piece of wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. When you’d like to make your black bean burgers, simply preheat the grill & get cookin’ – easy!
Keywords: grilled black bean burgers, vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, healthy, easy
Trying to eat more plant-based? Here are more easy vegan & vegetarian recipes to try:
- The BEST vegan tacos: Roasted Sweet Potato + Cauliflower Tacos (with Chipotle Cashew Crema!)
- & another goodie: Vegan Quinoa Black Bean Taco Meat
- A 25-minute weeknight wonder: Lemony Basil Creamy Vegan Pasta with Broccoli & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- SO. MUCH. FLAVOR. Sheet Pan Chickpea & Veggie Shawarma
- All PWWB Plant-Based & Vegan Recipes
Ready to Hit the Grill?
If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to Grilling 101, a compilation of tips & tricks for all of the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.
All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 15 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.
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