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A veggie burger as appealing as its real — and fake — meat counterparts

Black beans and sautéed mushrooms add meaty chew and heft to veggie burgers that eat as convincingly as beef.
This veggie burger eats as convincingly as beef thanks to black beans and sautéed mushrooms, which add meaty chew and heft.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

I have a secret to confess: I love fake meat burger patties like those made by Impossible Foods or Beyond. Despite all the science that goes into making them, I still don’t think they taste like real beef, but I like them as much as all-beef patties.

Veggie burgers — the ones made with actual whole vegetables — well, that’s a different matter entirely. I had never been a fan of veggie burgers — they’re often too pasty and vegetal-tasting (go figure!) — until I had some made by my friend Lukas Volger, the veggie burger whisperer. He taught me all about combining different textures of cooked and raw vegetables and beans with lots of seasonings to make veggie burgers as exciting as their meaty counterparts.

With that in mind, I set out to make my version of the ideal veggie burger — one that can fool unsuspecting carnivores into thinking they’re eating a beef burger. My tactic is to not use vegetables at all but a mix of beans and mushrooms. I lightly mash black beans — necessary for adding heft — and stir in chopped, browned and soy-sauce-d mushrooms, which add an umami-rich chewiness. Seasonings and breadcrumbs bind everything together; a 20-minute stint in the fridge allows the breadcrumbs time to hydrate and set the patties so they don’t fall apart.

I griddle them, top them with vegan cheese if I’m in the mood, and serve them with all the classic burger fixins to complete the package. It’s a vegan burger that apes like fake meat but is full of whole ingredients I find just as captivating.

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Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 3 to 6


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