Summer backyard grilling is synonymous with burgers. But for health reasons—both for ourselves and Mother Nature—it’s best not to go overboard with those big patties of grilled red meat. Thankfully, veggie burgers are ready to come to the rescue.

While meatless burgers have a reputation for being bland, if you infuse them with the right seasonings and layer on big flavours, you certainly won’t be left wondering, “Where’s the beef?” Best of all, plant-based burgers offer up plenty of nutritional perks. Primarily, those that incorporate beans, lentils, and whole grains are fibre powerhouses. Research is promising that higher intakes of fibre can be protective against renal, breast, and other cancers.

These sizzling veggie burgers are so tasty you’ll want to keep your grill fired up all year long.

Recipes

Take them indoors

No grill? No problem. To prepare these burgers on the stovetop, simply heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook them as directed in the recipes. You can use your oven’s broiler to prepare toppings such as roasted red peppers and zucchini.

Where’s the bun?

For many people, no burger is complete without the bun. Keep in mind, however, that the typical bun adds about 115 calories to each burger. So if you’re watching your calorie intake, rest assured that many patties are wonderful sans bun if served with inspiring sauces and toppings. Or if eating two burgers, consider having just one with a bun.

When selecting hamburger buns, make sure to choose those that contain whole grain flour as the first ingredient. And of course, burgers are always better when placed between buns that have been toasted on the grill.

Back in black

Black beans are an excellent meat substitute. These little black beauties contain high amounts of protein, magnesium, thiamine, and iron. They’re an excellent source of energy for vegetarians who may have difficulty obtaining enough of these important nutrients in their diet.

Veggie madness

Follow these tips to get the most out of your meat-free burgers.

Hold the bread crumbs

Bread crumbs are often called for in veggie burgers to help absorb moisture and improve consistency. You can get the same results but with a much larger dose of beneficial nutrients by using wheat germ, oat bran, or ground flaxseed instead of bread crumbs. Try the latter if serving backyard guests who need to steer clear of gluten.

Smooth move

Most veggie burgers are better if they have some texture. You can accomplish this by mixing in cooked whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice. Nuts and seeds work too. Also, when mashing beans and lentils, leave them slightly chunky.

Oil slick

To avoid serving burger bits, lightly coating the patties (not the grill grate) with grapeseed oil can go a long way toward keeping them from sticking to the grill. Grilling them on a cast iron griddle can also make flipping delicate veggie burgers less worrisome.

Chilling uncooked meat-free patties for about 30 minutes before grilling may also help them to keep their form.

About the Author

Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD, is an Ontario-based dietitian, nutrition writer, and recipe developer. He is also the author of Muffin Tin Chef and The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook (Ulysses Press, 2012, 2013).