By Catherine A. Hamilton on November 9, 2018. Contributor, 

Creating a meatless burger that pleases everyone who gathers around my family table can be a challenge. So, I went to the test kitchen with one goal in mind: to make a more savory, flavor-packed veggie burger.

I started with four key ingredients: sweet potatoes, black beans, brown rice, and blue-corn tortilla chips. The toothsome legumes and grains, mixed with mashed sweet potato, mimic the heft of meat and supply ample protein.

Why use sweet potato instead of another potato or starch? This relative of Morning Glory is a rich source of fiber, and it’s packed with vitamins and minerals, including C and B vitamins, iron, calcium, selenium, and the antioxidant beta-carotene. The sweet potato produces a perfect alchemy of creamy texture and taste when blended with pulsed grains. This healthy and delicious vegetable, used in combination with plant-based proteins, is what makes my Meatless Friday meal a great choice for moms. We want to serve nutritious, low-fat but high-protein food to our families, right? So, let’s do it!

Prized veggie protein sources like black beans contain 15 grams of protein per cup. The blue-corn tortillas deliver a whopping 20% more protein than white or yellow corns (and blue corn also has lower starch and a lower glycemic index or “GI,” which is good for people with diabetes or on a weight-loss diet). Brown rice, a gluten-free fiber, provides amino acids and five grams of protein. Red onion offers savory flavor with zero sodium. Add the nutritional benefits of an egg blended into the mix for binding.

When formed and cooked, place a slice of cheese on every burger. And Voila! Served with tomato and leafy green lettuce, these veggie burgers are a completely balanced meatless meal.

A final word on zesty touches: While we all love to use simple flavorings, like the freshly chopped red onions found in this recipe, I’ve enhanced the overall flavor of these meatless patties with a dash of Worcestershire and a tiny hint of the smoke flavor for those of us who crave the grilled flavor.

Delightfully hearty and healthy, this is my new favorite veggie cheeseburger.



1 large sweet potato (1 ½ cups cooked)

½ cup uncooked brown rice (1 ½ cups cooked)

1 cup canned black beans, drained

1 cup blue tortilla chips, crushed finely with a rolling pin

¼ red onion

1 egg

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

½ teaspoon chipotle hot sauce (Cholula brand)

1 drop liquid smoke (optional)

Sliced cheeses, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickles, burger buns, and your choice of condiments for serving.

  1. Add ½ cup dry brown rice and 1 ¼ cup hot water to your small sauce pan (1 ½ quart) and bring to full boil on high with lid off. Place lid on and turn heat to low, simmer for 25 minutes without removing lid. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. *See note below on cooking ahead.
  2. In the meantime, pierce sweet potato with a fork and wrap it in a clean cotton towel. Microwave for 3 minutes. Turn and microwave 3 more minutes. Turn and repeat. Remove and set aside to cool.
  3. While your potato and rice are cooking, preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (or brush sheet with oil) and set aside.
  4. When the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, peel back the skin on the top with your fingers (or a knife), and with a spoon, scoop out the creamy sweet potato flesh. Measure 1 ½ cups of sweet potato and place it in a food processor, along with the black beans, ¾ cup of cooked brown rice, crushed blue-corn tortilla chips, red onion, and seasonings. Pulse on medium-high until it looks like a thick burger mixture. Then add a second ¾ cup of rice and pulse on low, just until it has a coarse texture similar to ground beef. Transfer mixture to large mixing bowl.
  5. To the mixing bowl, add egg and mix thoroughly (by hand or with a wooden spoon). With clean hands, form 10 patties and arrange on prepared sheet pan.

  1. Bake 20 minutes, then flip the burgers and cook 15 minutes longer. Top with cheese during the last 2 minutes. Serve immediately with your favorite buns and condiments.

* For this recipe, I often cook the rice ahead of time—in the morning or the day before. Or I use leftover rice that I’ve stored in my freezer and thawed. That way the rice is cooked and I don’t have to wait for cooking and cooling. The sweet potato can be cooked ahead too. Doing so cuts total cook time in half. One of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten, says, “The most useful thing I learned by cooking professionally is that there are a million things that you can do in advance to make cooking less stressful.” That said, I have also cooked the rice and sweet potato on the spot and put it all together at one time, starting an hour before dinnertime. Do what works for you.