Mastering the art of veggie patties

by Marc-André Plante

It can be pretty daunting as a vegetarian or vegan to attend a BBQ likely full of hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks and the like. What should you bring? Probably the most obvious answer is purchasing some frozen store-brand veggie patties or veggie dogs… However, these are more often than not packed with a multitude of soy protein variants along with other highly processed ingredients. As this Clear Labs report on hamburgers finds, there are even some cases where veggie burgers (and hotdogs) contained trace amounts of beef or harmful pathogens.

Ultimately, your best bet is actually to make own patties. But that’s much easier said than done. For anyone who has tried before it can be very difficult to get your patty to maintain its structural integrity, and then there’s the issue of flavour: should you strive for it to taste like a regular beef hamburger? What about getting the right texture? What kind of dressings should you add to the burger?

Black beans solves both the texture and flavour debacles, and you’ll still get the protein you’d expect from a normal beef patty. Other alternatives include chickpeas and lentils. The rest of the flavour is achieved by mixing in nuts and spices. After all, a veggie patty with a ton of spices will taste just like a beef patty with a ton of spices. I personally avoid striving for a beefy flavour and mix in some finely chopped bell peppers, carrots, onions, garlic and whatever spices I have on hand. That way you’ve got a protein-packed patty with lots of vitamins and minerals. The only problem is maintaining the patty when it’s on the grill. Breadcrumbs do a great job at holding it together along with ground flaxseed.

Ground up, they’re the secret to structural success

So now you’ve got a delicious patty ready to grill, but what will you top it with? If you’re just out for a BBQ with some friends the typical condiments will do the trick. If you’ve got a little more time on your hands you can dress it up with some fresh sprouts and homemade sauerkraut. In the end the most suitable toppings depend greatly on what you put in the patty itself.

There are many recipes available online for hearty veggie burgers. The greatest aspect about veggie patties are that the variations are endless. After trying a few recipes out you’ll find out what you’ve enjoyed in one recipe over another and eventually you’ll have your own personal burger recipe—just like everyone has their own spaghetti sauce recipe. You can freeze your patties like regular beef patties and you’ll never be unprepared for the next surprise BBQ.