These smoky vegan BBQ beet burgers are savory, hearty, protein-packed, satisfying, and offer a kick of slow-warming heat. Heaps of spices, minced chipotle peppers, and a generous pour of barbecue sauce send these burgers into blissed-out barbecue territory. These already irresistible beet patties are taken to swoon-worthy levels when they’re tucked into pillowy buns and topped with a generous mound of caramelized onions.
As I sat down to write this post, I immediately felt the heavy presence of a post-election elephant in the room. Coincidentally, the idiom holds true in more ways than one in this particular case.
For the sake of each of our worn-out hearts, I’m going to say just one thing: Let’s do our best to lead with love. Please. No matter which side of the vote we stood on, at our core, there is more that binds EVERY single one of us together than separates us. It’s tempting to cast judgment, especially when our hearts are feeling heavy, but it’s simply a means to more of the same. Let’s shine light into the darkness of our differences so that hate doesn’t tear us apart.
I gave it my all but there’s really no sleek way to transition between a somewhat “woo woo” call to action and BBQ Beet Burgers. I suppose the above photo (↑) will have to hold its own as the symbolic transition between these two disparate conversations. Bravo, photo. Bravo.
Alright, can we shake it off? These burgers deserve our full attention, because they are, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite things I’ve ever shared with you.
The BBQ beet patties are smoky, savory, hearty, protein-packed, satisfying, and offer a kick of slow-warming heat. The ingredient list starts off much like the carrot-lentil cakes I shared a couple weeks ago yet quickly diverges into blissed-out barbecue territory with heaps of spices, minced chipotle peppers, and a generous pour of barbecue sauce. The already irresistible beet patties are taken to swoon-worthy levels when they’re tucked into pillowy buns and topped with a generous mound of caramelized onions.
Can’t stop, won’t stop.
To make the patties, you’ll start by steaming up a few cups of diced fresh beets. While the beets steam, you’ll simmer a cup of split red lentils until tender.
Meanwhile, you’ll sauté an onion, shallot, and some garlic in an array of BBQ-esque spices until soft and translucent.
Once the beets and lentils are ready, add them to a food processor along with some rolled oats, barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Then, pulse until the ingredients are thoroughly combined yet the mixture retains quite a bit of texture. Transfer the beet mixture to a large bowl and add the sautéed onions, shallots, garlic, etc. Give everything a good stir, and transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill the mixture (this makes it easier to work with).
Once the mixture is chilled, scoop out 1/2-cup mounds of the dough, form into patties, and transfer to a lined baking tray. Once all the patties are formed, bake them for 25ish minutes, or until their exteriors feel gently set and their bottoms take on a light golden-brown hue.
While the patties bake, whip up a batch of caramelized onions. Simply slice an onion into rounds, toss it into a pan with a bit of oil and coconut sugar, and sauté for 15 minutes, or until caramelized.
To assemble, tuck each patty into a puffy burger bun, generously drizzle with BBQ sauce, and top with a mound of caramelized onions. Serve, savor, and repeat.
These burgers have single-handedly turned beet haters into beet lovers. Look at that. A prime example of a hate-to-love transformation. Albeit one small step for the beet-averse, let’s take it as a sign of hope for the possibility of bigger heart-led leaps to come.
SMOKY VEGAN BBQ BEET BURGERS
Smoky BBQ Beet Burgers
- 3 cups peeled and diced beets (about 4–5 medium beets)
- 1 cup split red lentils, thoroughly rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
- 1/3 cup finely diced shallot (about 1 medium shallot)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
- 3 tablespoons 10-Minute Sweet & Tangy Maple BBQ Sauce* (see note for recipe link) or barbecue sauce of choice
- 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce**
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
Caramelized Onions (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced into rounds
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
Burger Base and Toppings
- 8 burger buns of choice (e.g., sprouted, gluten-free, pretzel, etc.), toasted
- 10-Minute Sweet and Tangy Maple BBQ Sauce* or barbecue sauce of choice
For the BBQ Beet Burgers
- Steam the beets in a steamer or over the stove for 25 to 30 minutes, or until fork-tender.
- While the beets are steaming, add the lentils and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just tender, stirring occasionally. If needed, add more water to keep the lentils submerged. Strain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over low heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, shallot, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the coconut sugar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and allspice. Increase the heat to medium-low, and cook for 8 minutes or until the onions are soft and light golden brown, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly.
- Add the steamed beets, cooked lentils,1/2 cup of the rolled oats, BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, minced chipotle peppers, sea salt, and black pepper to a food processor. Pulse 20 to 25 times, or until the mixture the beets are roughly chopped and all ingredients are well incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides halfway through pulsing. You want a bit of chunky texture, so be careful not to over-process.
- Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, and add the reserved 3/4 cup rolled oats, the cooked onion mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut sugar, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds. Thoroughly stir to combine, ensuring all ingredients are evenly dispersed. The mixture should be quite damp but able to hold its shape.
- Chill the mixture for at least 30 minutes (to make it easier to handle).
- About 10 minutes before you're ready to form the patties, preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Use a 1/2-cup measuring cup to scoop out 1/2 cup of the mixture. Form the mixture into a patty that is 1-inch thick and about 3 inches in diameter, and transfer to the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture. You should have 8 patties.(Note: the uncooked mixture is damp and can be a bit challenging to form into patties, but I promise they're worth the effort.)
- For more tender burgers (this is how I prefer them): Bake the patties for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the bottoms are light golden-brown and they feel gently set but not firm. For firmer burgers: Bake the patties for 28 to 32 minutes, or until the bottoms are deep golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on the pan before moving. They'll continue to firm up as they cool.
For the Caramelized Onion (Optional)
- If you're making the caramelize onions, I recommend preparing them while the burger mixture is chilling. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions and coconut sugar and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until caramelized, stirring occasionally.
- Place each patty on a bun, slather with a bit of BBQ sauce, and top with the caramelized onions (if using). Serve immediately.