These are amazing—so good you’ll want to double the recipe and freeze some.
TIME 30 to 40 minutes with cooked beans
MAKES 4 to 8 servings
2 cups cooked or drained canned white, black, or red beans or chickpeas or lentils
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
½ cup rolled oats, or more as needed
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bean-cooking liquid or water as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Put the beans, onion, oats, and chili powder in a food processor with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let the machine run, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides, until the mixture is thoroughly combined but not puréed, about a minute. (If you don’t have a machine, use a potato masher and a large bowl.)
2. Let the mixture sit in the processor for 5 minutes. You want a moist consistency that will easily form cakes. If the mixture is too wet, add more oats, 1 tablespoon at a time. If it’s too dry, add bean-cooking liquid or water 1 tablespoon at a time. Pulse (or mash) after each addition.
3. Shape the bean mixture into 4 large or 8 small patties and put them on the baking sheet. Let them sit for another 5 minutes.
4. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the patties. Cook, undisturbed, until brown and crisp on one side, 3 to 8 minutes. Add more oil if the pan looks dry, then turn them over carefully with a spatula and cook on the other side until the burgers feel firm and are browned on the other side too, another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm with side dishes or on buns with the usual burger fixings.
PROCESSING THE BEAN MIXTURE
Pinch a bit between two fingers: If it’s too wet, add more oats, 1 tablespoon at a time; if it crumbles, add liquid 1 tablespoon at a time.
If the burgers are sticking, wet your hands with a little water before you shape them. The less you handle them, the better. If you mess up, return the patty to the bowl and start over.
It’s important that the oil be hot when you add the patties so that they form a crust quickly. If you’re not sure, add a morsel to the skillet; it should sizzle immediately.
FLIPPING THE BURGERS
Raise them high enough off the pan to leave plenty of room to turn them. They’ll hold together, but they’re not as sturdy as burgers made from meat.
Canned beans work well here, since their super-soft texture and their mild flavor makes them very amenable to other seasonings.
Letting the bean mixture and the patties rest for a few minutes helps keep the burgers from falling apart. If you have time, you can put the patties in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate them for an hour (or up to a day), or freeze for up to a month; let them return to room temperature before cooking.
Bean Burgers with Cheese: Remove the food processor blade and stir in ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan, cheddar, Swiss, Jack, or mozzarella cheese to the other ingredients in the food processor right before forming the patties in Step 3.
Bean Burgers with Greens: Add 1 cup cooked greens to the other ingredients in the food processor in Step 1. Be sure you press them dry first.