In recent years, the number of people opting to live as vegans and vegetarians has consistently grown. People make the decision to live meat-free for many reasons — whether it be for ethical reasons including animal rights and to benefit the environment, health-based reasons such as weight loss.
If your dietary lifestyle restricts you from eating meat, there are many substitutes for common meat-filled meals, such as the veggie burger. But how can you build the perfect burger without ground beef? Here are a few tips and tricks to maximize your veggie burger flavor, and you don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to love the taste:
Decide Between Vegan and Vegetarian
A vegetarian diet avoids meat but can include animal-derived products, such as cheese and eggs, whereas veganism avoids any animal products, even when the animal did not have to be slaughtered to produce it. There are delicious options for patties that fit either diet, but use different ingredients to bind the burger patties. Vegetarians patties can include binders made from beaten eggs or some shredded cheese. For those looking to stay plant-based, ground flax seeds make an excellent egg replacement. Another trick is to whip bean or lentil water drained from the can. This liquid, called aquafaba, whips up just like egg whites and can help keep your burger from falling apart.
Determine Your Flavor
Some people want a veggie burger that tastes like meat, while others want one that features spices that enhance the flavor of its plant-bast components. Meaty flavors can be achieved by using ingredients such as tomato paste, mushrooms, lentils and seasonings such as cumin, soy sauce and paprika. Certain ingredients can mimic the texture of ground beef as well, such as tempeh or tofu. On the other end of the spectrum, some of the best veggie patties taste nothing like a hamburger and can take on the texture and flavor of a vegetable croquette.
Black Bean Patties
Mashing black beans and forming them into patties is an easy way to achieve a vegan-and-vegetarian-friendly burger. The black bean patties can be grilled or cooked on a stove top for a juicy and flavorful burger. This recipe calls for eggs to act as a binding agent, but it can be manipulated to be suitable for vegans by substituting the binder for flax seeds.
Sunflower Seed Patties
With their sunflower seed base, this veggie burger recipe doesn’t have the same texture or taste as a traditional beef patty — but that’s what makes it so great. The patty is made by chopping and the sunflower seeds with quinoa, garlic, red kidney beans and spices and forming them into patties to be cooked on a stovetop.
Sweet Potato Patties
For a burger with a sweet and spicy Southwestern flavor, make the patties with a sweet potato and black bean base. This recipe mixes sweet potatoes, black beans, quinoa, oats and spices together for a flavorful meal that will never crumble as you eat it. Top it with avocados and dig in.
Tofu is a common meat substitute used by vegetarians and vegans alike, so naturally they’re a popular option when it comes to making veggie burgers. If you still eat animal by products, this recipe combines the tofu with eggs, cheese, onions and spices for a flavorful patty. For a completely plant-based rendition of tofu patties, use wheat germ, flour and soy sauce to add flavor and bind the tofu together.
Don’t Forget Condiments and Toppings
Like all burgers, veggie burgers only get better by adding toppings such as ketchup, mayonnaise, crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes and pickles. Add your favorite toppings to your burger to give it even more flavor and make it more like a regular, juicy beef burger. And if your patty includes some exotic flavors, try to find condiments or toppings that will make great complements.