These roasted beet burgers are packed with smoky flavor and fortified with tofu to make them as filling as they are delicious. Vegan and gluten-free.
High Noon Café, the only vegetarian restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi, where I live, serves the most unusual beet burgers, bright red with beets and soft in texture from the tofu. The first time my husband recommended I try one, I was afraid to order it, but once his burger came, I couldn’t resist sampling it.
The beet burger comes piled with so many extras–vegan cheese, sun-dried tomato aioli, mushrooms– that it took some doing to scrape off a clean sample of the burger, but once I did, I was intrigued by its flavor, which was lightly smoky but in a natural-tasting way, not through the use of Liquid Smoke or hickory-flavored salt. I was sure that the source of the smokiness must be the beets and was determined to try to replicate the taste at home.
To pack in as much natural smoky flavor as I could, I decided to roast the beets as well as the onion and garlic. To avoid adding starch, I used ground flax seeds as a binder, so my burgers came out less stable and easier to fall apart than the restaurant version, but the flavor was very similar, with hints of earthiness and smoke.
Since the burgers had a tendency to fall apart, I didn’t flip them over halfway through cooking as I would have liked to do to aid in browning, so the next time I made them I added a thickener–either a couple of teaspoons of corn starch or a couple of tablespoons of oat flour (oatmeal pulverized in the blender). It made a big difference, but they’re still not super-firm, so don’t use this recipe if you care about firmness or want them to hold up on the grill.
Otherwise, these red-violet burgers were near-perfect to me. If you enjoy a spicier burger, feel free to add more roasted garlic and chipotle chile powder, but not so much as to drown out the beet. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the one pun!) They’re shown here served with chipotle aioli (pureed chipotles mixed with vegan mayo), which provided a nice spicy kick.
Roasted Beet-Tofu Burgers
- 2 medium beets
- 1 medium onion
- 6-10 garlic cloves or as many as you like
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu (not silken) lightly pressed
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
- 1/2-1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or smoked paprika optional, to taste
- 2 teaspoons corn starch or 2 tablespoons oat flour optional, for firmer burgers
- Preheat oven to 350F. Wash and trim the beets, and wrap each one in foil. Trim the onion and wrap it in foil. Wrap the unpeeled garlic in foil (or trim the top of an entire head of garlic and wrap it). Place all on a baking sheet and roast for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool until vegetables are easy to handle. (You can do this step ahead of time, if you wish; just keep the roasted vegetables in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the burgers.)
- While the vegetables are cooling, mash the tofu and stir in the remaining ingredients.
- When the onions and garlic are cool enough, peel the onion and chop finely (I used a food processor). Squeeze the garlic from the cloves. Add both to the tofu and mix well. Peel the skins from the beets under running water, and shred. Drain off any liquid from the beets and add them to the tofu, stirring until the mixture is a uniform, bright color.
- Shape into patties about 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand for a few minutes before removing with a spatula and serving.
Nutritional info is approximate.
JumperSeptember 23, 2009 at 9:50 pm
I made something similar to replace ham in a recipe. I mixed the pureed beet with pureed tofu then re-pressed it in the fridge until the tofu re-solidified the mix. I also flavored it with salt and maple syrup. It tasted more like bacon than ham but I take that as no problem! The beet adds a lot of water; one could press it out or dry it in a low oven before cooking in a regular manner.
couchSpudSeptember 23, 2009 at 10:25 pm
I love the fact that this burger is pink. Scrumptious AND cute! 😛
tracieMooSeptember 24, 2009 at 9:48 am
Striking Colour! What a brilliant idea.. replacing meet with beet and tofu.. thanks for sharing!
emigliaSeptember 24, 2009 at 6:20 pm
What a great color!
KelstonSeptember 25, 2009 at 7:47 am
Hi Susan, this recipe looks amazing and I can't wait to try it out. I might use Agar-Agar as a binding agent. What do you think? In the picture (top of the page) there is something right on top of the burger that resembles melted cheese, what is that? Thank you.
moonwatcherSeptember 25, 2009 at 2:58 pm
I made these last night, and they are truly, truly delicious. The roasted vegetables lend such a subtle, yet sweet and earthy flavor, going well with the flax and the nutritional yeast. . .I did add a couple teaspoons of cornstarch as you suggested, and this allowed me to flip them over during cooking time, though I had to be careful. Since I don't do hamburger buns because of the gluten, and gluten free breads are generally higher in fat than I want to be, I wrapped my burger up in kales leaves, with fresh tomato and dijon mustard. Yum! I just had another for lunch in a blue corn tortilla with kale and other veggies–I am a mustard lover, and they are good with mustard. 🙂 The flavor only improved overnight in the fridge, and they were wonderful cold and reheated (I was tempted to do that "different temperature" taste test we're so fond of !) I have some wrapped up to freeze, but I'm not sure how many of them will make it in there, though I hope a few will, because I'd like to see how they freeze, since you said they did well that way. Thanks for a truly beautiful AND truly delicious burger! Another favorite way to use beets. . .(I also just plain loved the taste of the roasted beet and roasted onion, and will now be thinking of what else I might do with those. Oh, and since I can't get smoked paprika up here in the sticks, I tried "toasting" some plain paprika in a little skillet. . .it turned darker and had a more earthy flavor that probably isn't as authentic as being it specially smoked, but it did lend a roasted though subtle flavor.)
eatme_deliciousSeptember 26, 2009 at 6:23 pm
These look awesome! I love beets.
MandaSeptember 27, 2009 at 12:49 am
I just tried making these tonight and they were delicious! The texture was a bit too squishy for what I like in my burger, so if you figure out a way to make it more firm let me know! I've got some in the freezer so they may work better when cooked
ilonaSeptember 27, 2009 at 2:57 am
Thanks for posting this recipe, Susan! I tried these a couple of days ago and they were excellent. Tasted very nice with ciabatta, next time will try with wholemeal buns.
MelissaSeptember 27, 2009 at 3:21 pm
Dear Susan, I am a huge fan of your site. Whenever I seek for inspiration I visit FatFreeVegan! I have just recently started my own food blog and would like to invite you to take a look at it:
kitchen tablesSeptember 27, 2009 at 9:32 pm
What a burger! Pink! haha.. love to try one and judge for myself if it really tastes good coz it looks like one!
stellatexSeptember 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm
Megan My DearSeptember 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm
I made these last night! Very delicious! I added some oat flour to help bind. They stayed together enough to flip halfway but totally fell apart while eating. It wasn't a big deal, just messy.
Megan My DearSeptember 30, 2009 at 7:27 pm
Leftover update: I had leftover burgers for lunch. I toasted them up in a pan on the stove with just a touch of earth balance (not fat free, but it only took a tiny bit). They toasted up so nicely. I ate them plain this way. This would make a great leftover dinner with mashed cauliflower or something. Really yummy.
SengOctober 1, 2009 at 4:43 am
They look absolutely gorgeous – Cant wait to try these! What does the nutritional yeast do? I live in England & its not always readily available? Thanks
AnonymousOctober 1, 2009 at 10:05 am
Thanks for this recipe. I made the burgers last night and they were wonderful. Pretty, too. Like others who have posted, I would like to find a way to make them a bit more firm.
Lacto Ovo VegetarianOctober 1, 2009 at 3:50 pm
Great recipe…looks so tasty…will try tonite. Btw check out a great site for men looking into becoming vegetarian
Andréa N.October 4, 2009 at 3:17 pm
OMG, it looks absolutely delicious!!
AnonymousOctober 6, 2009 at 12:40 pm
My family made these on vacation and tried to use canned beets and they were just too wet to mold into patties. Perhaps a note not to use canned beets? The flavor was wonderful, though! Great recipe!
Jess of Veg Out!October 6, 2009 at 1:06 pm
I had a beet burger in San Francisco once, and it was FABULOUS. Yours looks really tasty, too!
BertoOctober 6, 2009 at 8:48 pm
I am trying to make these beet burgers. However, I don't know how to squeeze the garlic (how does this work? do I shred?)and I only have corn starch (do I use 2 tablespoons?). Can you help? Please?
This cooking impaired vegan would really appreciate it, as these burgers look absolutely delicious.
LizOctober 6, 2009 at 11:04 pm
I wasn't sure if I'd like these or not, they're really different from what I normally make (and I couldn't remember ever eating a beet), but I couldn't resist trying them. A tip- don't hand grate beets with stainable stuff nearby, lol. I also had to squeeze A LOT of liquid out of each patty as I formed them. But in the end, mine were flippable (carefully). I also broiled them a bit at the end. I ate mine wrapped in flatbread, so I don't know if it held together then. But they were delicious! The texture took a bit of getting used to, but I was really surprised how yummy and smokey they tasted. The only thing I regret was not having smoked paprika, I think that would have put them over the top.
Still, I like instant gratification, so these will probably go on my special occasions list.
EmOctober 7, 2009 at 8:40 am
We LOVED these and plan on having them regularly.
I made them up in the morning and put them in the freezer. I cooked them(for 20 min) on cookie sheets that were sprayed with a bit of oil as I did not have parchement paper and them I moved them up under the broiler and broiled them on low for 10 min.
I let them rest for 5 min….meanwhile taking some of the tasty bits off as I could not wait -the smell of them was enticing.
YUM!!!!! The flavor of these is incredible!!!
Thank you so much for helping me feed my family such healthy and delicious food.
VegeOctober 9, 2009 at 5:02 am
That is one hell of a burger 🙂
Wonder only ho to eas burger when its height is so big 🙂
Though I don't see any "vege meat" inside this one – some fired tofu or anything of that sort what would be nice addition.
techkimOctober 10, 2009 at 11:19 pm
This looks great and beets are HIGH on my gall bladder diet. So I am always looking for new ways to use beets. Thanks
dianeOctober 12, 2009 at 9:29 am
A wonderful burger. I grated raw beets and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes and also used a bit of vegan Worcestershire sauce. a tablespoon of chickpea flour bound this well. Great burger and, perhaps even better the next day. Thank you.
AllisonOctober 29, 2009 at 11:55 am
awesome burger. the chipotle vegenaise helped too.
SusanNovember 3, 2009 at 2:07 pm
I made these and they were delicious. They smelled fabulous while in the oven too!
Addicted to VeggiesJanuary 31, 2010 at 7:17 pm
Hi Susan! I've followed your blog for a really long time and I love it! I hope it's okay with you, but I wanted to link to this post from my site. I made a vegan/raw beet burger and yours was the inspiration for it. Thanks so much!
SusanVJanuary 31, 2010 at 7:27 pm
Of course–link away! I'm looking forward to seeing your raw beet burger!
san diego screen printingMarch 30, 2010 at 6:30 pm
Yum! I am a vegetarian and tofu is one of my favorite substitute for meat. Tofu is very nutritional.
san diego screen printing
EllenMay 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm
Yum! DH is picking up the ingredients as we speak and I can’t wait to fix these for my family! It looks and sounds wonderful. Thank you for all of the hard work that you put into this blog. 🙂
Jason PereiraMay 20, 2010 at 5:08 am
I miss eating tofu burgers. I think my mom loves to make tofu burgers and now that I am leaving my own life I just miss her cooking for me. Thanks.
ollyMay 25, 2010 at 4:44 am
moonwatcherMay 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm
I made these again the other day, and a dear omnivorous friend of mine stopped by as they were cooling after coming out of the oven. “What are these?” she asked. They look good, and so purple! Can I try one?” After tasting them, she said, “Wow, these are really good, way better than those Boca Burgers I eat sometimes!” And she asked me for the link to the recipe, which I am about to send her now. 🙂 Thought you’d like to know.
Andrea BoddamJune 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm
It was my birthday over the weekend and my mom asked where I wanted to go for my ‘special b-day dinner’ but I had something else on my mind.
I gave her this recipe and oh boy were they delicious!
It was even better because they were followed up with your ‘Can’t Be Beet Chocolate Cake’
Best birthday food ever!
brownwithblondehighlightsJune 12, 2010 at 1:39 pm
We bought the ingredients the other day – but didn’t have a free afternoon until today. They are So flavorful. I made them a little bigger – I got 7 out of the batch instead of 9. I followed the recipe to a T, adding only 2 tsp cornstarch as mentioned above and they are perfect!
LaineAugust 6, 2010 at 10:04 pm
A HUGE thank you for this recipe!!! I made a few adjustments- I added extra nutritional yeast, a handful of sunflower seeds, and subbed chia seeds for the flax. I also chopped up a habenero pepper and added i to the mix. My boyfriend and I have thoroughly been enjoying these and made extras to freeze. Thanks again!