Just say NO to bland veggie burgers! Here are a few ingredients and techniques that will transform your veggie burger into a "meatier" dinner option. Both vegetarians and carnivores alike will be impressed with the results.
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Veggie beet and quinoa burger with avocado
Credit: Sarsmis / Getty Images

Eating less meat doesn't mean you have to skip out on flavor. Whether you're vegetarian, trying to practice "meatless Mondays," or just want to add more plant-based recipes into your routine, a meat-free meal can (and should!) be entirely delicious. But it's not always easy.

Veggie burgers are a classic example of something that has the potential to taste amazing, but sometimes falls flat in execution. There are two types of veggie burgers: The ones that are more vegetable-forward, and the ones that are trying to mimic its meat-like counterpart. For the latter, there's a lot that needs to be considered for it to actually be good — and it all comes down to the ingredients you put in your patty. A great "meaty" veggie burger needs to strike a balance between being moist, but not mushy. You also need to have the right amount of fat, depth, and texture that you might usually associate with a hamburger.

Don't know where to start? We're here to help you out! We've rounded up the the best tricks for creating homemade "meaty" veggie burgers. Once you have your patty, simply cook it just like a regular burger — on the grill, on the stovetop, it's entirely up to you.

Dry Your Black Beans

In combination with rolled oats or grains, black beans are the base for many great veggie burgers. When done right, black beans add heft and texture to a veggie burger so it feels similar to a meat-based one. The flip side, however, is that black bean burgers can also be mushy due to added moisture. In order to avoid this issue, you should dry out your black beans in the oven until they are slightly crunchy (about 15-20 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F) and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Roast Your Mushrooms

An easy way to create a veggie burger that has a bouncier texture and a more distinct flavor is to add roasted, chopped mushrooms to your patty. Portobello and shiitake mushrooms are especially nice to use here. Roasting the mushrooms does two things for your veggie burger: First, it takes some of the moisture out of the mushrooms so the burger doesn't become mushy. Secondly, roasting your mushrooms will bring out a stronger, bolder flavor.

Add Roasted, Ground Walnuts or Cashews

The addition of nuts to your veggie burger patty helps up the fat content — and fat, of course, equals more flavor. Walnuts and cashews are the best nuts to go with because of their fat content and milder flavor. Ground nuts also add structure and texture to your veggie burger, which is more in line with the traditional meaty option.

Use White Miso or Avocado for a Binder

Most veggie burger recipes use egg as a binder to keep the burger from falling apart, but there's a couple of other options you can consider for a "meatier" alternative — and both just happen to be vegan. First is white miso, which does an excellent job of holding a veggie burger together and also adds an umami-rich note, just don't overdo it or you'll end up with an extremely salty dish. The second is avocado, which keeps your veggie burger moist and adds a healthy dose of fat, which means the burger is more satiating — similar to meat.

Think "Bloody" with Roasted Beets

Adding roasted, grated beets to your veggie burger patty is a great way to get that savory depth that a hamburger tends to have. Like with the mushrooms, it's important that you roast the beets so that you take out added moisture. Even more than just flavor, however, beets add a visual component to the burger with its bright red hue that mimics the look of a meat-based burger.

Bring on the Smoke

Seasoning is very important for veggie burgers. The addition of chili powder or smoked paprika to your veggie patty adds a smokiness that instantly transforms your burger into something meatier. Another great way to get this smoke is with a single chopped chipotle in adobo chile. Not only does it have a deep smokey flavor, but the chile itself provides another great textural component.

Sauté Your Onions and Garlic

One of the essentials for creating a "meatier" veggie burger is adding more depth of flavor. Every ingredient in your veggie burger should be working towards this goal. Sautéed garlic and onions add delicious savory notes, but neither of them overpower the rest of the burger. That's why they make the perfect add-in to your patty.

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