A few months ago I ate the best black bean burger I had ever tried.  It was thick and hearty, perfectly spiced, and not dry at all, served on a brioche bun (similar to the ones I make) and topped with havarti cheese and roasted bell peppers.  Really fantastic.  I’m guessing part of the reason it tasted so fabulous was that I was in the midst of a very busy night on call.  I ordered it from the restaurant across the street, practically inhaled it, and kept right on working.  Unfortunately this restaurant isn’t in the habit of giving out their recipes (I can’t blame them), but ever since that night I was dying to be able to make an equally good version at home.  I tried several recipes.  Some were complete disappointments, some were just so-so, but finally I found a version that I am satisfied with.

In addition to the fact that this is a tasty and healthy meatless meal, a bonus is that the patties can be made in advance, refrigerated, and cooked later.  I had some cooked patties leftover that I rewarmed for lunch the following day, and those were great too so I think you can do whichever method is most convenient for you.  Next time we host a cookout, I’ll be sure to have these available as a vegetarian entrée option.  Though the patties are probably a bit too soft to go straight onto the grill, you could cook them in a skillet and then put them on the grill for a minute or two before serving.

  • Yield 6 burgers


¾ cup panko
3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 shallot, minced


  • 01

    Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Combine the panko with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and mix with a fork to blend.  Add the mixture to the skillet and toast the panko, stirring frequently, until light golden brown.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

  • 02

    Place 2½ cups of the beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork until mostly smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, 1 tablespoon of the oil, cumin, salt and cayenne.  Whisk to blend.  Add the egg mixture, toasted panko, the remaining ½ cup beans, bell pepper, cilantro and shallot to the bowl with the mashed beans.  Stir together until evenly combined.

  • 03

    Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, about ½ cup each.  Lightly pack into 1-inch thick patties.  (At this point the patties can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before cooking.)  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Carefully lay half of the patties in the skillet and cook until well browned on both sides, about 8-10 minutes total.  Transfer the cooked burgers to a plate, tent with foil, and repeat with the remaining oil and bean patties.  Serve warm.