Protein Powerhouse Veggie Burgers


“You’re a vegetarian? How do you know you’re getting enough protein? I know someone who nearly died because they were a vegetarian and didn’t eat enough protein. Did you know soy can give you cancer? What do you even EAT?” I know it usually comes from a harmless place, but I’m continually amazed when people critique my diet, particularly the protein issue. You’d think more people would talk to me about Iron or B Vitamins, which could actually be a more interesting topic, but nope, it’s always just protein.

I understand where it comes from, as the generic American diet is MEAT-MEAT-MEAT focused, and meat is packed with protein. Boom, logic. However, I think I speak for the majority of vegetarians when I say that we know what we’re doing, we know what foods are rich in protein, and we’re often more focused on creating balanced meals than the average meat eater.


Take this burger for example, which has 11 grams of protein in every damn patty. Add a whole wheat burger bun, and your meal climbs up to about 17 grams of protein. The burger is hearty, rich, spicy, and downright irresistible when slathered in a smooth roasted red pepper Greek yogurt sauce.


Since vegans get even more grief about protein than I do, I decided to really drive home the plant-based protein point by making the patty completely vegan. Simply leave off the sauce (and top with avocado instead-yum!), for a vegan, high-protein meal. For gluten-free folks, put the patty between a gluten-free bun and you’re golden.


If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ve probably realized I’m not a judgmental vegetarian. I know there are all kinds of diets that can be healthy, energizing, and smart; it just seems that vegetarian and vegan foods are often overlooked by meat-eaters. However, I live with one of the biggest carnivores around, and that carnivore ate two of these protein-packed patties within 6 hours. If that’s not a stamp of approval for veggie burgers, I don’t know what is.

4.9 from 8 reviews
Protein Powerhouse Veggie Burgers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Hearty and delicious veggie burgers made with beluga lentils, black beans, and quinoa. Vegan, gluten free, and packed with 11 grams of protein in each patty!
Recipe type: Veggie Burger, Sandwich
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free
Serves: 11
Protein Powerhouse Burgers
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup beluga lentils, picked through and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup oats, processed into flour (gluten-free if desired)
  • ½ cup warm water mixed with 3 tablespoons ground flax
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ of a red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
Roasted Red Pepper Crema*
  • 10 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Do not add any salt.
  3. Add the beluga lentils to the boiling water, let cook for 5 minutes, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes. When the lentils are tender, drain the excess water and rinse the lentils until the water runs clear. Set aside.
  4. Combine the ground flax with the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Puree the lentils with 1 can of the black beans. Pour into a large bowl with the remaining black beans, quinoa, oat flour, garlic, red onion, red pepper, walnuts, flax egg, and spices. Taste the mixture and adjust the spices to your liking.
  6. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour. This isn't necessary, but will make your life a lot easier as you form the patties.
  7. To form the patties, grab a handful of the patty mixture and form it into a ball. It will be a bit sticky, but don't fret. Drop onto a parchment-lined sheet, and press down lightly with your fingers to flatten. Repeat with remaining mixture, to form a total of 11 patties. Bake for 12 minutes on one side, flip carefully with a spatula, and bake on the other side for another 12 minutes.
  8. Optional - pan fry each patty in a bit of oil to crispen the outside of the burger. I haven't tried this yet, because they're pretty great the way they are.
  9. While the patties are baking, combine the red peppers, sour cream, Greek yogurt, salt, and cayenne in a food processor. Pulse until smooth, then pour in the oil with the processor running. Set aside until the burgers are ready.
*Omit roasted red pepper sauce for vegan option.


74 Responses to “Protein Powerhouse Veggie Burgers”

  1. Rachel — February 19, 2013 @ 6:55 am (#)

    oh man, I want to get my chops round that burger!

    • Veggie — February 20, 2013 @ 11:39 am (#)

      I wish I could hand some over to you – the recipe makes 11 huge patties, and my boyfriend is gone for the week… it looks like I’ll need to freeze some for later!

  2. Lena — February 19, 2013 @ 2:05 pm (#)

    Oh I so can relate. The protein question just really bores me. And since I really do try to get enough protein through my diet, I probably should make those veggie burgers soon. I love that you mix different legumes and grains, and I generally need to make a veggie burger again. I don’t make them too often.

    • Veggie — February 20, 2013 @ 11:38 am (#)

      Thank you! Let me know what you think if you make them.

  3. Taylor @ greens & chocolate — February 19, 2013 @ 7:06 pm (#)

    I’m always on the lookout for meaty-looking veggie burgers and this one definitely looks like it would hit the spot! And that sauce – yum!!

    • Veggie — February 20, 2013 @ 11:42 am (#)

      The sauce is pretty addicting, but fortunately the recipe makes quite a bit! This week I’ve been using it as a dipping sauce for chips and veggies, and as a salad dressing.

  4. Cubicle — February 20, 2013 @ 1:03 pm (#)

    Wow that looks delish! I’ve been trying to eat more vegetarian and this is something I could definitely sink my teeth into!

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  9. Nora P — February 26, 2013 @ 3:30 pm (#)

    We made these over the weekend for our weekday dinners — delicious! They reheated beautifully on the grill, and we served them simply over greens, cherry tomatoes, and avocado. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Veggie — February 27, 2013 @ 8:41 am (#)

      Sounds wonderful! I’m glad you like them!

  10. Cee — April 29, 2013 @ 5:28 am (#)

    These sound delicious! Do you think it would it work with a normal egg?

    • Veggie — April 29, 2013 @ 8:56 am (#)

      Yes, a normal egg would definitely work!

  11. Janet Aldrich — June 24, 2013 @ 1:21 pm (#)

    They look wonderful, and I’m looking for alternative non-meat protein sources. I don’t (or my insides don’t) get along with spicy, though. Are they really hot?

    • Veggie — June 24, 2013 @ 1:26 pm (#)

      I don’t think they’re super hot, but I also like spice. Feel free to reduce or completely omit the cayenne and Sriracha – they’re only there for flavor, and aren’t necessary at all :)

  12. Jo — June 26, 2013 @ 12:44 am (#)

    SOY DOES NOT GIVE YOU CANCER. Holy cow don’t make such bold assumptions, and do a little research before saying something like that.

    “Even though animal studies have shown mixed effects on breast cancer with soy supplements, studies in humans have not shown harm from eating soy foods. Moderate consumption of soy foods appears safe for both breast cancer survivors and the general population, and may even lower breast cancer risk. Avoid soy supplements until more research is done. So, enjoy your occasional tofu stir-fry or tofu burger – they are unlikely to increase your risk of breast cancer and, on balance, are some of the healthier foods you can eat!”

    • Veggie — June 26, 2013 @ 9:00 am (#)

      Thank you for the information, Jo! Just to clarify, I wasn’t saying that I think soy gives you cancer; I was just giving an example of the dramatic reactions I’ve heard when I tell people I’m a vegetarian.

  13. Jo — June 26, 2013 @ 12:48 am (#)

    And I really doubt your friend almost died from a lack of protein. Even if you are a vegetarian, there is protein in a lot of things we eat without realizing. So I can see your friend having a degrading of health, but only if they were purposefully avoiding protein.

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  15. Erin — August 10, 2013 @ 10:15 pm (#)

    Can you use any type of lentils or do you have to use beluga?

    • Veggie — August 11, 2013 @ 9:28 pm (#)

      Yes, any kind of lentil should work!

  16. Erin — August 13, 2013 @ 7:09 pm (#)

    I have a lot of leftovers. Will they keep until the weekend when I am having guests over and can grill them or should I freeze them and take them out for weekend bbq?

    • Veggie — August 14, 2013 @ 8:49 am (#)

      Hi Erin! I recommend freezing them. They freeze really well, and they also should hold up better on the grill after being frozen for a few days. Enjoy!

  17. Eli — September 8, 2013 @ 9:31 am (#)

    I tried these today and they were delicious!

    I have two questions: is there any possible way to keep the patties intact? They seemed very soft and broke off quickly. & what are the nutritional facts other than the protein value? (Fat, calories, carbs, etc.) Thank you!

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  22. Jamie Beuthin — June 17, 2014 @ 10:16 pm (#)

    I tried these out, the mix tastes great, but the burgers still came out soft, and I left them in the oven for twice as long as the recipe called for. I made the burgers quite a bit bigger so I only had 6 burgers, that’s the only thing I could think of but I figured the extra time in the oven would compensate for that. Any suggestions?

    • Katie — June 21, 2014 @ 3:44 pm (#)

      They’re very soft when you form the patties, but they should firm up after being baked. I’m not sure what happened, but my best guess is that they were too big. If you make them that big, it might work better to use a chicken egg (if you’re not vegan) since it binds a little better, but I’m not sure that would fix the problem.

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  24. Leeanne Arrambide — July 12, 2014 @ 10:46 am (#)

    Being the only vegetarian in the house, that’s a lot of burger for just me. I was just wondering if could be cooked them frozen, for a quick meal. Or just keep them raw and freeze individually? What would you suggest?

    • Katie — July 12, 2014 @ 11:10 am (#)

      You can definitely cook and then freeze them- I did that and it worked great!

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  26. Amy — September 14, 2014 @ 9:08 pm (#)

    These look so good, can’t wait to make them. I have not been able to find beluga lentils, is it possible to use the brown/green lentils instead?

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  28. Issac A Greaves  (@MrIzakG) — November 2, 2014 @ 1:06 pm (#)

    Mine are in the oven as we speak! Mix smelled amazing! Thank you! I made 9 which equates to 15g of protein per burger #plantstrong !

    • Katie — November 2, 2014 @ 5:54 pm (#)

      Yay! Hope you love them!

  29. blueyedscrapper — November 22, 2014 @ 8:19 am (#)

    These look amazingly awesome!! My teen son has become vegetarian, and thanks to Pinterest, I came across your site for vegetarian recipes. Thank you! I plan on making these for my boy–whom I am sure will devour a couple burgers at a time. He’s a big boy, at over 6 feet tall, and over 130 lbs. I am so thankful for your site!

    • Katie — November 23, 2014 @ 8:54 am (#)

      Thank you for the comment! I’m glad you found my site, too!

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  31. Protein Deprived — February 10, 2015 @ 7:06 pm (#)

    Great recipe! Thank you so much for sharing. I am currently on a weight-loss diet of 1500 Calories per day. Could you help me estimate – how many calories would one such Powerhouse Burger contain?
    It would really help plan other calories consumed for the day, as I really want to include this in my meal plan!
    Thanks :)

  32. tommy — February 22, 2015 @ 7:53 am (#)

    This looks amazing — I will try it this week. Do you know by chance the grams of carbohydrates?

    I am working with a fitness trainer to burn fat better, and am trying not so much just to get
    more protein, but to improve the ratios, as I am eating a lot of carbs and therefore storing
    fat instead of buying it.  Any thoughts on this topic?

    • Katie — February 23, 2015 @ 9:47 am (#)

      Hi there! Including a whole wheat bun this recipe has 55.9g carbohydrates. Hope that helps!

  33. Cynthia B — March 7, 2015 @ 12:14 pm (#)

    You could do the red pepper sauce dairy free by using tahini. Cut the tahini with hot water and let cool – it will turn fluffy and won’t be so dense (plus you save on tahini). Do that ahead of time and then make the roasted red pepper sauce as directed except with the tahini instead of dairy. Yum! I loved these burgers!

  34. Cynthia B — March 7, 2015 @ 12:15 pm (#)

    Do you know the rest of the nutritional profile on these burgers?

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  36. Jennifer brim — April 25, 2015 @ 7:21 pm (#)

    Do you happen to know the nutritional facts per patty?

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  38. Katieh B — June 9, 2015 @ 8:27 am (#)

    I absolutely HAVE to make these!!  Thank you for sharing the recipe.  And the idea of putting avacado (vs the sause), sounds perfect for me!

  39. Noora — June 24, 2015 @ 6:42 pm (#)

    hi- do you think couscous is a good alternative for quinoa- when considering the texture and taste? thank you! 

  40. Chavah B — July 13, 2015 @ 5:37 pm (#)

    For those interested in the nutritional content, I figured it out, based on each patty.  I only calculated the patty and not the sauce.  By the way, the sodium that I calculated is based on canned reduced sodium black beans.  It cuts the sodium content from the beans in half this way.  If you used regular black beans, the sodium content is  523.72 mg/patty.

    Here is the break-down:
    Calories:  212.45
    Fat:  5.34g
    Carbs:  31.09g
    Protein:  11.84g
    Sodium:  355mg


  41. Cassie — August 15, 2015 @ 6:07 pm (#)

    I see egg in the directions and saw a comment about an egg but I don’t see egg anywhere in the ingredients (am I going crazy? :) ). Just making sure… I add an egg right? :) Making these right now, so excited!

    • Katie — August 16, 2015 @ 10:51 am (#)

      Hi there! If you want to use an egg vs a flax egg (the vegan equivalent of an egg), just replace the 1/2 cup water mixed with 3 tablespoons flax in the directions with two eggs. I haven’t tried it with a regular egg but I assume it would work the same. Hope that helps!

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  46. Liz — December 29, 2015 @ 1:23 pm (#)

    Do you have the nutritional info for these burgers? Calories, grams of fat, protein, carbs, etc.?


    • Katie — December 29, 2015 @ 1:33 pm (#)

      I do not, as this is a recipe that I posted before I started providing nutrition information. A commenter posted nutrition facts in July (look a few up from your comment). You could always go to and enter the ingredients as well – that’s what I use for my newer recipes.

  47. Nanci — January 6, 2016 @ 4:45 pm (#)

    We’re not vegetarian but do eat a lot of veggies and plants. The kids and i love veggie burgers, WILL be trying these.

  48. William — February 9, 2016 @ 1:56 am (#)

    Hello, my name is William and i am a beginner in my vegan journey. I find this recipe really delicious, however i am just wondering do you have the nutritional information of each patty? Thank you Katie, i really hope you have them as it might help for my fitness diet plan =)

  49. Micco — February 10, 2016 @ 12:28 am (#)

    Quick question: Assuming I don’t want to use the flax seeds as a binding agent, how many chicken eggs would I use for this recipe?

    • Katie — February 10, 2016 @ 12:37 pm (#)

      I’m not sure, since I haven’t made it with chicken eggs before. I’d say start with two, and if it looks dry add a third.

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  51. Emily — April 23, 2016 @ 4:59 am (#)

    The protein question might be coming from current dietary recommendations. In order to keep blood glucose levels stable, you need to balance protein and non-fiber carbs (I think the ration is actually is 1:2). This can affect your metabolism, weight loss, and energy level. So you can’t just look at the amount of protein in the meal–how many carbs are in there? For instance, I suspect that this recipe is overloaded with carbs, since beans are “neutral” (about equal amounts protein and carbs). I’ve found it really difficult to find the right ratio with vegetarian and vegan recipes. Anyway, the protein question is not a silly one. 

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  53. Tee — July 22, 2016 @ 1:10 pm (#)

    Is there a reason for the addition of lentils? Does it mellow the taste? Bind better? Nutrition? Looking tof eliminate a step. Lazy, I know.

    • Katie — July 22, 2016 @ 1:33 pm (#)

      I used black lentils because I like their flavor and they are high in protein. I haven’t tried it, but you could probably replace the lentils with 2 more cans of black beans. If you try it let me know how it goes!

  54. Clifford Tindall — August 15, 2016 @ 8:25 am (#)

    Hi there.
    Made this over the weekend but with regular lentils. Problem though. Couldnt get it to stay stuck together. Help please! Thanks.

  55. Sam — October 25, 2016 @ 5:07 pm (#)

    Do I use 1 cup of cooked or uncooked lentils? 

    • Katie — October 25, 2016 @ 10:36 pm (#)

      You use 1 cup uncooked. There are instructions for cooking them in the recipe.