Veggie burgers are convenient, cheap, reasonably healthy emergency food for vegetarians (or for non-vegetarians). As a result, just about every cooking or consumer site has carried out a taste test to see which ones are the best. Cook’s Illustrated didn’t care for any of the frozen veggie burgers they tried, although they did say that the Gardenburger Original was the best of the bunch. It’s made up of mostly mushrooms, brown rice, onion, and a touch of mozzarella cheese. I do like the Gardenburger Original, but I disagree with their generally negative view of frozen veggie burgers. When I lived in the states there were a number of different veggie burgers I found more than acceptable. But here in Germany the veggie burger doesn’t exist. I can get countless varieties of veggie sausages and even veggie schnitzel, but no veggie burgers. So I decided to try to make my own.I started but looking in my Cook’s Illustrated “The Best Light Recipe” cookbook. They tried a number of different bases for veggie burgers.
- Tofu: They say that tofu burgers were way too moist and lacked flavor. I think they’re probably right that using raw tofu as the bulk of the burger wouldn’t work. But I think frozen, seasoned tofu might give lots of flavor and texture. And using silken, blended tofu as a binder might work reasonably well.
- TVP: They say that TVP is extremely bland. Since TVP is so processed, I never cook with it. I’m not inclined to test CI’s conclusion.
- Tempeh: They say that tempeh has a rich and meaty texture, but that it’s way too sour for burgers. I wonder if they pre-cooked the tempeh. I think even just steaming it briefly reduces the sourness by quite a bit. Even so, I could believe that it might not be the right flavor for veggie burgers.
- Seitan: They used store-bought seitan I think, and they said it made veggie burgers that were too soft, gluey, gummy, and even “fishy”. I had a similar reaction when I tried making Isa’s chickpea burgers with gluten flour. Still, I think seitan or gluten might be useful when added in small quantities.
- Beans and grains: CI said rice was too soft and pasty and barley was too hard. They preferred a combination of lentils and bulgur wheat. They said that the flavor was mild but nutty and the texture was firm (as long as the lentils and bulgur were drained well).
I’ve started on a quest to find a tasty, healthy homemade veggie burger that freezes well and can be kept in the freezer at work to serve as emergency food. It’s going to be a long journey I think, but I’ll record my experiments here:
- Cook’s Illustrated veggie burgers: Base is lentils and bulgur. Also contains panko bread crumbs, cashews, mayo, mushrooms, onions, celery, leek, and seasonings.
- Northstar Cafe beet and black bean burgers: Base is black beans and beets. Also contains brown rice, onions, flour, and seasonings. B-
- Rancho la Puerta mushroom potato burgers: Base is mashed potatoes. Also contains onion, mushrooms, carrots, bread crumbs, cashews, scallions, egg whites, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and seasonings. B-
- Veganomicon chickpea gluten burgers: Base is chickpeas and gluten flour. Also contains bread crumbs and seasonings. B-.
- Vegan Gourmet tofu millet patties: Base is tofu and bulgur (but I subbed in millet). Also contains onions, sesame seeds, arrowroot, and seasonings. B-