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Fat-Free Bean Burgers

These everyday bean burgers satisfy when you want something tasty on a bun to go with the ketchup, mustard, and onions. Top them with salsa and guacamole for a Tex-Mex twist. You can also crumble the burgers to use in tacos or on pizza.

Because fat-free bean burgers freeze and reheat well, you can make a batch or two on a cooler day to enjoy when it's too hot to move or when you have company who prefers a lean, green option. These bean burgers are vegan, gluten free, and high in fiber as well as being free of added fat and cholesterol.

fat-free vegan bean burger on a homemade bun with lettuce, ketchup, and mustard

Fat-Free Bean Burgers

Active time: 25 minutes. Total time: 1 hour. Serves 8.

Ingredientsserve homemade plant-strong bean burgers on homemade buns with lettuce ketchup and mustard and a side of carrots

  • 4 cups cooked pinto beans, black beans, or Anasazi beans
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch spring onions (100 grams or 1 cup chopped)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (80 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (7 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon bean broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (7 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Cook beans if you haven't already (see Cooking Dried Beans). I used these gorgeous spotted Anasazi beans, which remind me of the horses I use to dream of riding as a girl. Anasazi beans taste like a slightly sweeter pinto bean and are said to be easier to digest than more common beans. Put cooked beans in a colander or strainer so they drain completely, saving broth from home-cooked beans for use in this recipe and others.

    wet organic Anasazi beans in a vintage colander are white with burgundy spots

  2. Heat oven to 450°F if you don't have time to let the burgers rest in step 4. Drop garlic into a food processor set up with the stainless steel blade and the blade spinning at top speed. Turn it off when the garlic quits flipping about, after about 10 seconds. Cut spring onions crossways two or three times and pulse in the food processor three or four times until roughly chopped.
  3. Put flaxseed and bean broth or water in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for about 30 seconds until mixture is sticky when stirred. In this recipe, flaxseed replaces the egg used as a binder in many burger recipes.
  4. Put drained beans, flaxseed mixture, and remaining ingredients in the food processor and process until mixture is well mixed but still a little rough. If you have time, let mixture rest for fifteen minutes or so to let the oats soak up the extra moisture.
  5. If you haven't already done so, heat the oven about 15 minutes before you start to shape the burgers. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Divide bean mixture evenly into eight mounds (an ice cream scoop makes this a snap) on the parchment paper, then flatten the mounds into burger shapes. In the picture, I'm reusing parchment paper that I'd just used to bake the buns. Bean burgers don't shrink, so shape them to fit your bun.

    shape pinto bean burger mix on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. This parchment paper was used to make homemade buns, also pictured.

  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then use a spatula to turn over. Bake until the other side is browned and crispy but still creamy inside, about 15 minutes. Sometimes the bottom of the burger is more attractive than the top, so don't hesitate to check and flip as needed before serving.

    homemade baked fat-free bean burgers are browned and crispy

  7. Serve hot on buns with your favorite condiments. Cool any extra on wire racks and refrigerate for four days or freeze for up to a year. Reheat thawed bean burgers in a toaster oven or on a grill; they get soft when microwaved.

Tips and Notes

  • Sliders. Thrill the hearty eaters at your next party by shaping small versions of these burgers and serving them on matching homemade buns. They will bake in about half the time. I might serve fat-free bean sliders if I were throwing a party for proponents of low-fat, plant-strong eating such as Dr. Neal Barnard or Rip Esselstyn.
  • Make-ahead tip: Make the burger mix up through step four a day or two before a party, then bake the day of the party. Or do the same on Sunday for an easy Meatless Monday.
  • Frozen bean burgers are a terrific addition to your emergency frozen-food store because they thaw and reheat so quickly. Pull out as many as you need to feed one or a crowd.

Reader Comments (6)

any suggestions on a spice to use instead of chipotle? its not one i have on hand commonly.

Jul 23, 2012 | Registered Commenterrunnerteacher78

i made these last night and i and my husband liked them. they came out a little dry but i had to remove the spring onions and garlic cloves. i added in more lemon juice. but do you have a suggestions for something to replace those (besides dry spices) or to make them not as dry? (my husband is allergic to garlic and onions).

Jul 24, 2012 | Registered Commenterrunnerteacher78

Thanks for the comments, Runnerteacher78! Instead of chipotle, try cayenne, a few dashes of hot sauce, or curry powder. To make them less dry when you make them without onions and garlic, try mixing in a cup of grated carrots or 3/4 cup grated summer squash. Grated, cooked beets would also add moisture and an earthy taste. Let me know if you try these options or find others.

Jul 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson

Tried this last night, they were very good - another hit with my 5 year old, which is saying something for my little carnivore! Mine were also quite dry, wish I had read the comments. I made it as written, the summer squash sound great for this time of year to help add moisture. Thanks!

Jul 2, 2014 | Registered Commenterkanem11

I'm allergic to gluten, so much so that I can't even eat gluten free oatmeal because the protein is so similar to the one in wheat. What could I use in place of the oatmeal to help bind the bean burgers together? Would quinoa work? Thanks so much for your newsletter and recipes. I love cooking and eating plant strong!

Apr 25, 2015 | Registered Commenterstan4d

Dear Stan4d -- Aren't we lucky to live in an age when so many food options are available, so we can choose ingredients that work for our bodies? I haven't tried quinoa but bet it would work. I'd start with 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa and for extra binding using an extra 1/2 tablespoon of ground flaxseed and 1/2 tablespoon of water. Add more cooked quinoa if the mixture is too soft to hold a patty shape.

Good for you for going plant strong and thanks for your kind words! Please let us know if you try this and how it turns out.

Apr 26, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson
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