If you can’t tell from my website — or more so, my Instagram — I went through a rather, shall we say, unfortunate phase recently. See, I got these colourful backdrops from DeSerres and thought I’d try photographing everything against super-bright, vibrant blues, greens and purples. In fact, it was when I posted the recipe for my almond-crusted tofu and my balsamic brussels and berries that I realized what a bad choice that was. Such delicious, vibrant food all washed out and drowned by an unflattering, glorified construction paper.

Anyway, I was still in that phase when I photographed this burger. Now, don’t let the yucky background fool you, this burger is the best recipe I’ve made in a long time. I actually had a few photos of it with a nicer setup, but the problem was I covered it in so many toppings! Sorry, I’m just always a sucker for the right amount of pickles and avocado.

So, what makes a good veggie burger? Well, I think there’s a million ways you can make a veggie burger. I like beans, I like nuts and seeds, I like sweet potato, I like portobello mushrooms. You could just pull a Parka Foods and make a “burger” out of several hashbrowns. Hey, I wouldn’t complain.

The key with this burger that makes it firm and shapeable, tender on the inside without being “gooey,” is vital wheat gluten, which is the main ingredient in seitan. If you’re shopping in bulk, this is sometimes also listed as “gluten flour.” It’s basically wheat flour without the starches, so it’s what gives wheat a more elastic-like quality, which is why it makes such good faux-meat! Since there really is no “gluten-free” substitute for vital wheat gluten, there’s no gluten-free version of this, unfortunately. You can try with a lighter gluten-free flour (nothing too dense) but that hasn’t been tested.

The absolute best black bean burgers, makes eight


  • Vegan
  • Refined sugar-free
    • Sugar-free
  • Soy-free
  • Nut-free option*
  • Prep time: 25 minutes (including quinoa)
  • Inactive time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 5-10 minutes

* For a nut-free option, sub the same amount of sunflower seeds or pepitas.


  • One 19 oz can of black beans, liquid reserved
  • One red onion
  • Three cloves garlic
  • Two cups cooked quinoa (about one cup uncooked)
  • One cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (ensure vegan-friendly)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste and preference
  • Other flour of your choice for dredging


  1. If not already cooked, prepare the quinoa according to directions.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, chop the onion and garlic finely.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and drained, rinsed black beans to a food processor. Process until combined. I go for a mostly smooth texture here.
  4. Once it’s smooth, add the cashews, tomato paste and spices. Process again until smooth.
  5. Add the mixture into a large bowl and fold in the cooked quinoa*, the reserved black bean liquid, the wheat gluten and the bread crumbs. Work in with clean hands.
  6. Once all is incorporated, chill in the fridge for 10-20 minutes.
  7. Separate the chilled mixture into eight medium-sized patties. Fry on a stovetop on medium-high heat in a less heat-sensitive oil (or a little water/vegetable broth if trying to not eat oils).
  8. Cook for about five minutes per side or until the flipper goes underneath cleanly. The burgers will be crispy and firm on the outside, tender (not messy!) on the inside.

* The first time we did this, I pureed the quinoa along with the beans, nuts, etc. It turned out alright, but it was way better when the quinoa was freshly cooked and able to absorb a little bit of the burgers.

These burgers are (of course!) great with fries, but they’re also the kind of light and flavourful burger that don’t feel crazy to enjoy with a nice vibrant cucumber salad or something of the sort. So go crazy, folks! Bun it, lettuce wrap it, solo that thing, but definitely don’t let me catch you enjoying it without some avocado and pickle!