Flavorful and tender, these vegan beet burgers are so delicious! Pickled beets, along with kidney beans, mushrooms, and onions lend a meaty taste and texture to these veggie burgers. This recipe was inspired by James May's vegan episode of Oh Cook! on Amazon Prime TV.
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Made during Episode 4 of Season 2 of Oh Cook!, an Amazon Prime series featuring James May, these vegan beet burgers looked so good! We had to make them for ourselves. They did not disappoint! They've become our family's new favorite veggie burgers.
While I couldn't find an official recipe online, we found James' vegan beet burger recipe with British ingredients and measurements. This recipe has been tested and adapted with American ingredients and measurements, for those of us across the pond.
The burger patties are vegan, vegetarian, whole food plant-based, oil-free (if no oil is used when searing them), dairy-free, and nut-free. If you're looking for other British-inspired fare, these Vegan Yorkshire Puddings look amazing.
🧄 Ingredient notes
- Pickled beets - Pickled beets are cooked beetroot that has been pickled in vinegar, salt, and sugar. They can be found in glass jars in the grocery store where pickled or canned vegetables are stored. Sometimes they will be available whole, sometimes sliced. Either will work. Pickled beets give the burgers more depth of flavor since the sweet vinegar flavor brightens the burgers. Pickled beets also retain their color longer, so you'll have the most vibrant patties with pickled beets.
- Mushrooms - Baby portobello or cremini mushrooms (pictured) work very well in this recipe, for their earthy taste and tenderness.
- Panko bread crumbs - Panko bread crumbs keep the burgers tender, while at the same time soaking up any residual liquid in the mixture. They also help bind the patties together.
- Nutritional yeast - Nutritional yeast, affectionately called nooch for short, is inactive yeast powder or flakes with a cheesy flavor. Find them on Amazon, at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or well-stocked grocery stores.
- Vegan mayo - Traditional mayo contains eggs and lots of oil. We prefer using homemade oil-free mayonnaise made of cashews and silken tofu. You can use whatever vegan mayo (even chipotle mayo) you'd prefer for assembling your burgers. I also have a recipe for virtually fat-free vegan mayo, with a Miracle Whip vibe on my website, if you wanna check that out.
- Hamburger buns - We like Dave's Killer Bread hamburger buns. But, if we're feeding a crowd, we usually opt for standard sesame seed hamburger buns, which are often cheaper. If you're doing sliders, look for small buns or rolls, such as ciabatta rolls, yeast rolls, dinner rolls, or slider buns.
📋 Substitutions and variations
Here are some suitable substitutions for the ingredients in this recipe:
- Pickled beets - instead of pickled beets, you could use cooked beets or roasted beets that have not been pickled. I have not tested these with raw beets yet, but that would possibly be an option, as well.
- Mushrooms - instead of baby portobello (cremini) mushrooms, you could use white button mushrooms, large portobello mushrooms, or another tender mushroom you enjoy.
- Onions - instead of minced yellow onion, you could use purple (red) onion or white onion.
- Panko bread crumbs - instead of panko bread crumbs, you could use whole wheat panko or standard breadcrumbs. We've used Italian-seasoned bread crumbs with this recipe and it's delicious, as well. Cooked brown rice, quick oats or oat flour could be used as a substitute, as well, though these options will change the texture.
- Apple - instead of grated apple, you could use extra pickled beets or a smaller amount of unsweetened apple sauce.
- Kidney beans - instead of red kidney beans, you could use black beans to turn these into black bean burgers. Or, you could use pinto beans, white kidney beans or navy beans. The red kidney beans contribute to the vibrant burger color, so if you substitute them, your patties will be a different color once mixed, so keep that in mind.
- Fresh parsley - instead of fresh parsley, you could use a smaller amount of dried parsley. Or, you could substitute with other fresh herbs, such as chives, cilantro, thyme, or basil. Garlic powder would also be delicious in these.
- Gluten-free - make this gluten-free by using gluten-free bread crumbs in the patties and serving with a gluten-free bun, wrap, or over a salad.
- WFPBNO - make this whole food plant-based no oil by searing the burgers without oil in a non-stick pan and using a wfpbno bun that contains no oil.
- SOS-free - make this SOS-free by omitting the salt, using cooked beets instead of pickled, and being selective with the buns and condiments you serve them with.
Switch things up with these variation ideas!
- Sliders - there are directions in the recipe card to make these into small slider-size burgers (pictured below). You can get 12 sliders out of one batch of burger patties. These are great for a party tray, game night, kids, or appetizers.
- Beet "Meatballs" - instead of burger patties, form these into small meatballs and serve them on a salad or with mashed potatoes
Step-by-step instructions for how to make these easy vegan beet burgers, a copycat recipe from James May's Oh Cook! cooking series on Amazon Prime TV.
Step 1 - Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushroom and onion.
Step 2 - Sauté mushrooms and onions until the onions are softened and the mushrooms have reduced, about 3-5 minutes.
Step 3 - In a large bowl, mash the kidney beans with a potato masher, fork, or your hands.
Step 4 - To the large bowl with the mashed kidney beans, add the rest of the ingredients for the patties (the grated pickled beets, parsley, grated apple, bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and black pepper).
Step 5 - Prepare a flat surface to lay your burger patties on. This could be a clean cutting board, baking tray lined with parchment (if baking your burgers) or a clean plate.
Remove any rings you're wearing, then wash and dry your hands. If you don't want the beetroot to temporarily stain your skin, then put food-safe gloves on. Using your hands, combine the veggie burger mixture, lightly kneading it to ensure everything is well-mixed and will hold together.
Step 6 - Form 6 large burger patties (or 12 small slider burger patties) from the mixture and place them on the flat surface you have prepared.
OVEN or AIR FRYER: Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake patties for 12 minutes at 400℉, or until heated through.
OUTDOOR GRILL: Refrigerate or freeze burger patties for 30 minutes prior to grilling to help them stay together on the grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side. This cooking method will give the homemade veggie burgers a smoky flavor.
STOVETOP SKILLET: Preheat a wide non-stick skillet over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. (If using the optional olive oil, add a little oil to the pan.) Place patties on the skillet in one layer, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook for 4-5 minutes over medium-low or medium heat on each side, until heated through.
ASSEMBLE: Toast the inside of hamburger buns in a toaster oven, on a skillet, or in an air fryer on the bagel setting.
Spread vegan mayonnaise, ketchup or mustard on the bun. Then, layer a burger patty, pickles, shredded lettuce, tomato and avocado. Enjoy!
🧯 Food safety
- Wash hands with soap and water before cooking
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
⭐️ Expert tips
- Mince all the ingredients very fine, so the burger patties stay together.
- If you want to grill these over an open flame, refrigerate or freeze the prepared patties for 30 minutes beforehand, so they will stay together better on the grill.
🥡 Make ahead and storage tips
Store the patties and various topping ingredients (lettuce, tomato, onion) separately from the dry ingredients (buns) in the fridge, and recombine when ready. Good for 3-5 days.
The prepared burger patties do stand up well to freezing in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
🚦 Calorie density score
🟡 This recipe gets a yellow light on the calorie density chart. Some of the ingredients (the bread crumbs in the patties, burger buns, avocado, and vegan mayonnaise) are usually higher than 600 calories per pound, so eating richer meals like this regularly may prevent you from losing body fat or may even cause you to gain weight. Learn more about calorie density from Jeff Novick, MS, RDN.
Get your own printable calorie density chart for your refrigerator and free ebook explaining calorie density in simple terms.
👨👩👦👦 Serving suggestions
What sides do these meatless burgers go well with?
I'd recommend serving these veggie burgers with a dill pickle spear, french fries, or potato wedges.
They'd also be delicious with potato salad, cole slaw, or kale salad.
☕️ Tea pairing
This recipe would be delicious paired with Southern Lipton iced tea or an equally vibrant-colored hibiscus iced tea.
🗺 Cultural influences
While the direct inspiration for this recipe comes from the TV cooking show Oh Cook! on Amazon Prime, featuring James May, there are many cultural traditions and variations of hamburgers in Texas and the United States as a whole.
According to PBS News, there are 50 billion burgers sold in the USA every year.
This recipe is inspired by my mixed ethnic background and heritage as a native of Houston, Texas, in the Southern United States, where hamburgers are considered a birthright. (I'm only partly kidding about that.) See About for more information on my cultural influences and how I attribute recipes.
💜 More recipes you'll love
If you love this good veggie burger recipe, check out these Southern and Texan plant-based recipes!
Vegan Beet Burger (James May Oh Cook! Copycat Recipe)
Beet Burger Patties
- 2 cups baby portobello mushrooms minced (150g)
- 2 cups yellow onion minced, about 1 medium onion (230g)
- 1 can kidney beans drained and rinsed (about 1 ½ cups or 400g)
- ¾ cup pickled beets drained and grated (160g)
- ½ bunch parsley minced (about ⅓ cup or 20g)
- ½ small apple cored and grated (about ½ cup or 65g)
- 1 ¼ cup panko bread crumbs (100g)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (11g)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil optional, omit for oil-free and use non-stick cookware instead
Toppings, for assembling and serving
- 6 hamburger buns (or 12 small slider buns)
- 4 cups iceberg lettuce shredded
- 2 large tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup pickles sliced
- 1 avocado pitted and sliced
- vegan mayonnaise
- yellow mustard
Make Burger Patties
- Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté mushrooms and onions until the onions are softened and the mushrooms have reduced, about 3-5 minutes.2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, 2 cups yellow onion
- In a large bowl, mash the kidney beans with a potato masher, fork, or your hands.1 can kidney beans
- To the large bowl with the mashed kidney beans, add the grated pickled beets, parsley, grated apple, bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and black pepper.¾ cup pickled beets, ½ bunch parsley, ½ small apple, 1 ¼ cup panko bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare a flat surface to lay your burger patties on. This could be a clean cutting board, baking tray lined with parchment (if baking your burgers) or a clean plate.
- Remove any rings you're wearing, then wash and dry your hands. If you don't want the beetroot to temporarily stain your skin, then put food-safe gloves on. Using your hands, combine the veggie burger mixture, lightly kneading it to ensure everything is well-mixed and will hold together.
- Form 6 large burger patties (or 12 small slider burger patties) from the mixture and place them on the flat surface you have prepared.
- STOVETOP SKILLET: Preheat a wide non-stick skillet over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. (If using the optional olive oil, add it to the pan.) Place patties on the skillet in one layer, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until heated through.1 tablespoon olive oil
- OVEN or AIR FRYER: Line baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake patties for 12 minutes at 400℉, or until heated through.
- OUTDOOR GRILL: Refrigerate or freeze burger patties for 30 minutes prior to grilling to help them stay together on the grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Toast inside of hamburger buns in the toaster, on a skillet, or in an air fryer on the bagel setting.6 hamburger buns
- Spread vegan mayonnaise, ketchup or mustard on the bun. Then, layer a burger patty, pickles, shredded lettuce, tomato and avocado. Enjoy!4 cups iceberg lettuce, 2 large tomatoes, ½ cup pickles, 1 avocado, vegan mayonnaise, ketchup, yellow mustard