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.

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.

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    • Veggie says

      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!

  1. says

    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 says

      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.

  2. Nora P says

    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!

  3. Janet Aldrich says

    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 says

      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 :)

  4. Jo says

    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 says

      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.

  5. Jo says

    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.

  6. Erin says

    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 says

      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!

  7. Eli says

    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!

  8. says

    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 says

      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.

  9. says

    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?

  10. Amy says

    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?

  11. says

    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!


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