Vegetarian Bean Burgers

Hello Dear PCVs!

This recipe is not precise at ALL, I wing it every time and it gets better with practice, therefore I apologize for the detail with which I’m about to write. I promise the reading will be worth it, I’ve converted my meat eating family back home to these bad boys as well as impressed a bunch of very skeptical Jamaicans. There are many variations you can do too, depending on your tastes so ENJOY!


Beans: Black beans or kidney beans or cow peas- 2 cans makes about 4 burgers, 6 sliders


Bread Crumbs (or mashed up Royals/Ritz)




Corn (1 can or 1/2 can)

Vegetable Oil (or olive oil if you can afford it)

Garlic Salt


Chili Powder

Black Pepper


Alright so I’ll just describe what I did for this batch, I couldn’t get canned beans so I just boiled cow peas from my personal stock:

First, boil your (cow) peas so they’re soft. If you leave them tough that’s fine too, it’ll just be the difference between creamy or chunky and sometimes chunky is hard to keep formed. Once the peas are cooked, drain and let them cool and mash them with a fork or your hands

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If the mixture is sticky and you can form it into a ball, you’ve done your job. I’d consider this batch of burgers a little chunky but not too bad.JamRock Sept-Oct 021

Add the egg– I usually add one egg per can. The egg helps the burger stay together while it’s cooked. For this batch I used two eggs. It’s ok to undershoot the egg as well, sometimes I do 1 per can and a half.

Mix the egg into the beans thoroughly and homogenously. This may require a fork as the mixture will become very gooey.

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Give it some texture– The most important part of this recipe is the breadcrumbs. You want about a 1:3 ratio of breadcrumbs to bean mixture. The Breadcrumbs “cement” the burger while it’s raw and gives it a nice crispy texture once it’s been cooked. It also helps the burger not to stick, especially if you cook it on the grill… I’ve had some burger catastrophes because I didn’t add enough breadcrumbs. If they’re Italian seasoned crumbs all the better! Mix this all in just like the egg- resume hand mashing if you are so inclined and add if it’s still sticky.

Season the “Meat”– I usually season purely to taste. I add a lot of chili powder and about half that amount of paprika, less tumric and garlic salt and black pepper to taste (or just regular salt). The chili powder gives it a nice bbq flavor, but I’ll elaborate on variations later.

(My supervisor grinds tumric so that’s what is in the little JamRock Sept-Oct 024baggie)

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Prepare the Veggies- Next, dice up about half an onion and 2 cloves of garlic and finely chop one and a half carrots (or a big and small carrot… use your judgment on the proportions but too much garlic can get overwhelming). Sauté these ingredients in some olive or vegetable oil until the onions are soft and the carrots are al dente. If you use canned corn you won’t have to prepare that, if you use it from the cob obviously boil it that way. Keep in mind that the size you chop has to fit within the burger so the smaller the better. JamRock Sept-Oct 026

Combine and cook- Once that’s all finished, combine the veggies, along with the leftover oil if it’s not a super lot, into the “meat” mixture. Hand mix so it’s all homogenously distributed. Separate into patties, I use my palm to measure size but a larger person may need another method.

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If you have a traditional grill, grill em up (maybe spray the grill with cooking oil to be safe), if you don’t, like me, stick em in a skillet or frying pan with some oil on medium to high heat till they have a nice crispy outside. Top off with some Anchor cheese if you so desire (I recommend it). We had ours with guacamole and ketchup and home made french fries.

Special thanks to my sue chefs, Megan and Autumn, and my photographer/ drink maker Chantal! Smile

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I didn’t get a “finished product” photo until I finished my first burger and remembered, so this is actually the leftovers. Which were then scarfed down by my host family.

Variations– BBQ sauce can be added for additional smokey flavor, just add breadcrumbs to keep the mixture firm.

I’ve also added and subtracted veggies- Mushrooms, Olives and Sweet Peppers are notable additions to a good veggie burger (sauté them a little before adding to soften them up). Additionally, I like to give the mushroom/olive combination a more Italian flare by taking out the chili powder and adding Oregano or Italian seasoning.

If you like spicy food, which I do not, consider Red Pepper flakes, Curry powder or even sauté with scotch bonnet if you’re feeling adventurous?!


4 thoughts on “Vegetarian Bean Burgers

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