Secret formula for summer veggie burgers

Posted 7/19/23

Kitchen creativity needs problems, limits, and formulas. How will I use up these chickpeas? What will I do with these leftover carrots? Our problems push us to come up with solutions; the limits spur …

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Secret formula for summer veggie burgers


Kitchen creativity needs problems, limits, and formulas. How will I use up these chickpeas? What will I do with these leftover carrots? Our problems push us to come up with solutions; the limits spur creativity, and formulas are essential roadmaps.

What’s the difference between a formula and a recipe? A formula is a ratio of ingredients with a method for using them. A recipe is the specific use of the formula.

I’m giving you a formula to make your own veggie burger recipes! Veggie burgers are a fabulous way to use up leftovers and hide vegetables in a classic form. So, here are my secrets for your future family staple!    

My Veggie Burger Formula

1 cup cooked veggies plus 1 cup cooked green veggies plus 1 cup grains plus legumes plus 1 cup seeds/nuts plus binders plus flavor.

Choose from each category

• 1 cup lightly cooked (not soft) veggies like sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, sweet peppers, zucchini or mushrooms   

• 1 cup cooked green veggies like kale, cabbage, chard or spinach

• 1 cup cooked grains or dried breadcrumbs like rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, barley, or polenta

• 1 cup cooked legumes like tofu, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas or pinto beans.

• 1 cup nuts and seeds like walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, olives or coconut flakes.

Use both as binders: ¼ cup ground flaxseeds and 1 tablespoon psyllium seed husk powder. (Psyllium, while not a pantry staple, is a great addition and has lots of uses.) 

Add Flavor

Salt: ½ to 1 teaspoon salt or other salty ingredient

Heat: ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, cayenne or black pepper. Up to
½ teaspoon additional hot sauce, or diced hot chilies, chipotle and chili pastes of choice.

Umami: Always add ¼ cup dehydrated onion flakes, 2 cloves minced garlic PLUS 2 to 3 tablespoons total of the following choices; mushroom powders, tomato paste, nutritional yeast.

Sweet: choose one of the following — 2 teaspoons: maple syrup, honey or sugar. Or 1/8 of a cup of raisins or chopped dates.

Sour: Choose up to 1 tablespoon liquid sours — lemons, limes, vinegars, tamarind paste or ¼ teaspoon citric acid.

Herbs and spices: Choose up to 2 teaspoons — smoked paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel seed, anise seed, dill seed, caraway or citrus zests. Choose 1-2 tablespoons of the following — fresh dill leaves, fennel leaves, parsley, fresh thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil, or rosemary.

Build Those Burgers


Jot down your key ingredients. The binders, flax and psyllium will always stay the same. Now get creative and choose flavor elements. Tip: Write your recipe so you can replicate.


Pulse the veggies, legumes, grains, nuts/seeds, and other wet ingredients together in a large food processor (10 to 12 pulses). Grind the flaxseeds, psyllium powder, salt and all other dry spices in a spice/coffee grinder. Add the flax/spice mixture to the burger mix and pulse together several more times. Use directions in Italian Inspired Veggie Burger for molding and cooking.

Serving Ideas

Go beyond the bun and try pitas, tortillas or lettuce. Top with the fixings and a quick sauce to go along with. (Check out my additional Indian and American Veggie Burger recipes plus Maroon’s Barbecue Sauce on the P.T. Food Coop’s Blog “The Beet.”) 

Italian Inspired Veggie Burger

Makes 10 burgers


1 cup cooked mix of carrots, zucchini and celery (rainbow veggie)

1 cup cooked, drained chard (green veggie)

1 cup cooked quinoa (grain)

1 cup chickpeas (legume)

½ cup pistachios (nuts and seeds)

½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped (nuts and seeds)

½ cup Parmesan cheese (optional) 

¼ cup flax meal (binder)

1 tablespoon psyllium seed husk powder (binder)

⅛ cup raisins (sweet)

¼ cup dehydrated onion flakes (umami) 

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (heat)

2 teaspoons fresh oregano

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed 

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped 

2 cloves garlic, minced (umami)

2 tablespoons tomato paste (umami)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (salt)

1 tablespoons red wine vinegar (sour)


Pulse ingredients together in a large food processor.

Firm the mixture into a 1/3 cup measure, and tap out onto a parchment paper lined tray. Flatten them into 3½-inch rounds. Freeze for ½ hour.

To fry: Heat oil in a shallow frying pan and fry three burgers at a time until crisp on both sides. Add oil as needed. To air fry: Coat burgers with cooking oil and air fry at 390F for 6 to 7 minutes, turning them halfway through.

To bake: Coat burgers with olive oil and bake in a preheated oven at 425F for 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve hot with fresh tomatoes, basil,
pepperoncini, and fresh mozzarella on toasted panini. 

The burgers freeze well and are wonderful to make in bulk as a healthy homemade convenience food.

(More recipes are available at Sidonie Maroon is culinary educator at The Food Co-op; Follow Sidonie on The Food Co-op’s Facebook group, Cooking with the Co-op.)