These savory lentil burgers are healthy, packed with flavor, and super easy to make! Pair them up with your favorite toppings for a scrumptious vegan meal that’s perfect for feeding a crowd, but also easy enough for a weeknight.
My kitchen has always been a bit out of control. I guess that happens when you like to cook. A mere weeks after I moved into my current house I can remember having a somewhat embarrassing conversation with coworkers about how badly overflowing my refrigerator was. Already.
“But overflowing with what?” They asked.
“I’m not really sure. I’ve got a lot of chutneys.” That was all I could come up with. But that was one of many examples of foods jamming up my fridge. And we didn’t even get started on the pantry. Ugh.
As you can imagine, the whole situation has gotten much, much worse since I started blogging.
Every now and then though, I make a point of developing some recipes backwards. Instead of starting with an idea and going out to buy ingredients (making the whole overflowing kitchen situation worse), I dive deep into the pantry for some inspiration.
Most recently I emerged with a bunch of treasures: lentils, oats, sunflower seeds. Hmmm…sounded like a burger in the making. And I could season it up with some hot sauce from the fridge and chives from the garden. This was sounding good.
How to Cook Lentils
Whenever I post a recipe that includes lentils people seem to get a little stuck on how to cook them properly. Do your lentils always come out mushy or undercooked? You are not alone!
Cooking perfect lentils is really easy though. Place your lentils into a saucepan and cover them with a few inches of water. Don’t add anything to your water at this point — certain ingredients, such as acidic ones, can prevent lentils from softening. Also, use more water than you think you’ll need — much of it cooks off or gets absorbed by the lentils.
Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Let your lentils cook at a moderate boil — not a low simmer or a roaring boil.
For this recipe I like to keep them a tad firm, so I cook the lentils for about 25 minutes, but you can use this technique for other recipes and let them cook for a bit longer you’d like them to be softer.
When the lentils are done, take the pot off of the heat and drain them into a fine mesh strainer.
How to Make Lentil Burgers
Now that your lentils are cooked, you’re ready to make the lentil burgers. Start by placing your oats and sunflower seeds into a food processor. Blend them to a powder.
Now add your lentils, some red onion, garlic, chives, cumin, soy sauce, and hot sauce.
Pulse the food processor once or twice. Don’t let it run and don’t pulse it too much! Your lentils might quickly turn to mush if you do. Open up the food processor and have a look. Can you get away with a couple more pulses? Then go to it! Also have a taste. Does anything need adjusting? Do you need to add some salt? Do it now.
Now it’s time to cook the burgers. Heat up some oil in a skillet.
Grab a handful of your lentil mixture and shape it into a patty. I like to use wet hands here to keep the mixture from sticking too much.
Form as many patties as you can fit into the skillet without crowding them. You can cook the rest later in a second batch.
Cook the patties for about 4 minutes on each side. I like to use my spatula to gently shape the patties as they cook.
Stuff your patties into buns along with your favorite toppings and serve!
Lentil Burger FAQ & Tips
- Can I substitute red or green lentils for brown? You could probably substitute green lentils, though I haven’t tested the recipe with them, so no guarantees! Red lentils cook up much softer than brown and probably wouldn’t work for this recipe.
- Is there a substitute for the oats? Panko breadcrumbs might work, though you might need to use a bit more than a cup. Try stirring them in until the mixture is thick enough that it can easily be shaped into patties.
- I followed your instructions above for cooking lentils and mine are hard as rocks. What gives? Usually when this happens it means your lentils are old. Have they been sitting in your pantry for a while? Or maybe on the store shelf? It might be time to start over with a new bag.
- Can these burgers be made gluten-free? Yup! Just use certified gluten-free oats and burger buns.
- How spicy are these burgers? It really depends on how much hot sauce you use and what brand. If you keep it at a tablespoon and use a brand like Cholula, Franks or Crystal, they’ll be pretty mild. Feel free to add as much as you like for extra kick, or for a heat-free burger, substitute a tablespoon of lemon juice for the hot sauce.
- What kind of cheese is that on your burgers in the photos/video? That’s Follow Your Heart American-Style Slices in the photos, and Chao Tomato Cayenne Slices in the video.
Need more guidance on how to make these burgers? Check out my video!
Zesty Lentil Burgers
These savory lentil burgers are healthy, packed with flavor, and super easy to make! Pair them up with your favorite toppings for a scrumptious vegan meal that's perfect for feeding a crowd, but also easy enough for a weeknight.
For the Patties
- 1 cup dried brown lentils
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion (or substitute yellow onion if you run out, like I did when I made the video. Oops!)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vinegar-based hot sauce (such as Cholula), plus more to taste (I use 2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, or high-heat oil of choice
- 4 burger buns
- Toppings of choice, such as vegan mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, vegan cheese, ketchup and mustard
Place the lentils into a medium saucepan and cover them with a few inches of water.
Place the saucepan over high heat and bring the water to a boil.
Lower the heat and allow the lentils to boil until they're still just a tiny bit firm, about 25 minutes.
Drain the lentils into a colander. Be sure to drain them well to avoid the burgers coming out soggy.
Place the oats and sunflower seeds into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade and blend them to a powder.
Add 2 cups of the cooked lentils (you should have a bit leftover — save them for another use), onion, garlic, soy sauce, hot sauce, cumin, and chives to the food processor.
Pulse the food processor once or twice.
Remove the lid from the food processor and take a look at the mixture to determine if it needs more blending. Also have a taste to see if any seasonings need adjusting. Add some salt and pepper if desired.
Pulse the mixture a few more times if desired, being careful to avoid overblending.
Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with oil and place it over medium heat.
Shape the lentil mixture into patties, and once the oil is hot, add as many as you can fit into the skillet without crowding. Cook the rest in a second batch.
Cook the patties for about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.
Stuff the patties into buns and top with toppings of choice. Serve.