Bean burgers sounded like a bit of a stretch for me—I mean, how do you get them to stay together? And truth be told, I’m not a burger fan. (Shhhh! Don’t tell Mr. Squid, he makes great burgers, but for me it’s still always about getting great toppings that make a burger worth eating no matter if it’s ground sirloin or chuck.)

When I started looking through various black bean burger recipes I realized a couple of things—first that they were constructed a lot like meatballs with bread crumbs and an egg to hold them together and second that bean patties are common. Who knows, maybe falafels, those balls of ground, fried chickpeas often wrapped in a warm pita, were the inspiration for black bean burgers.

Here’s what I didn’t like about the recipes I came across—why no ‘bean fushion’? I like black beans but what about adding in a few red beans or pinto? The flavoring in black bean burgers seemed fairly expected too, garlic and onions, onions and garlic, sometimes sautéed and sometimes added raw. I figure if you’re already using beans for your burger you should make it a southwest burger with enough spice and heat to distinguish it from it’s beefy cousin.

No problem getting the kids to eat bean burgers!

So instead of bread crumbs as I binder, I used ground up tortilla chips and I didn’t even bother with onions and garlic, I spiced it as I might a burger with onion powder, garlic powder and then chili powder. I also tossed in a little mayo to hold it together; to brighten the flavor even more I added plenty of fresh chopped cilantro. As for the beans, I decided on a black-pinto combo.

The results? I really wasn’t expecting to like the bean burgers much (I mean, it is still a burger). But the crisped patties melded together with the vivid flavors of beans, cilantro, southwest spices and corn won me over. My kids too. My husband even had seconds, and said—I kid you not—“I like these better than regular burgers.”

Have you tried bean burgers?

Servings: 8, 3-inch burgers
Prep + Cooking time: About an hour

1 15.5 oz can black beans (drained)
2 15.5 oz cans pinto beans (drained; you’ll only use half of the second can)
1 cup corn chips, ground (measured after grinding)
1 egg
2 tablespoons mayo
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
Slices of cheese, optional


  1. In a food processor, grind the corn chips and then set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Drain all of the beans. Process 1 can of pinto beans until smooth. Add to the corn chips in the separate bowl.
  3. Again, in the food processor, pulse the remaining pinto beans (remember half of the can; the rest you can save for another recipe) and half of the black beans until chunky but NOT pureed. Two or three pulses should do it.
  4. Add the chunky pinto and black bean mixture to the corn and pureed bean mixture. Add the remaining ingredients (except the rest of the black beans) and stir.
  5. Add in the whole black beans to the rest of the bean mixture and stir gently. The mixture will be loose.
  6. On a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, form three inch in diameter, one-inch thick patties. Place on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  7. In a large skillet bring three tablespoons of oil to medium-high heat. Gently add the firmed patties to the oil and sauté on one side for about 4 minutes and then flip over gently and sauté the next side for 4 minutes or until crisped. You should be able to fit four patties into the pan at a time.
  8. Replace the parchment on the baking sheet and put the sautéed patties onto the sheet. Add a slice of cheese to the top (I used Monterrey Jack, but you can use whatever your family prefers). Melt the cheese in an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 7 to 10 minutes while you prep the rest of the burger ingredients.
  9. Serve the burgers on bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion. I also added a chipotle mayo to the bun top for some extra heat.
  10. Enjoy!
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