Black Bean Burger with Pepper Jack

black-bean-burger-pepper-jack-cheese-titleMashed black beans and cheese coated with panko breadcrumbs make for a perfect vegetarian alternative for a hamburger.  Don’t want spicy?  Just substitute your favorite cheese for the pepper jack.


I know that this will come as a surprise to a lot of people but I actually used to be a vegetarian.  I was vegetarian for about 2 years when I was in my mid-20’s and then off and on again a number of times after that.  When my blood sugar started getting really out of whack, my endocrinologist partly blamed my meat-free diet.  Since I wasn’t eating a lot of protein, I was filling up with carbs which are turned into sugars when you digest them.

At the time, I did not like beans in pretty much any form but, to be fair, my only exposure to beans were in prepackaged items.  My thought process was something along the lines of “If I don’t like frozen bean burrito, why should I go through the hassle of cooking beans to make them at home?”  This was true of other frozen bean-based items such as black bean burgers.


I would try bean-based items at restaurants every now and then and would be disappointed every time.  Black bean burgers always seemed to be flavorless mush that would squeeze of the bun like toothpaste when bitten into or would so dry and hard that there wasn’t enough ketchup in the world to save them.

After making slow cooker “refried” beans, though, I realized beans weren’t as bad as I thought they were.  In fact, when cooked properly, they were down right amazing which is why I started adding them into other recipes, like enchiladas.


Mr. O and I were out for lunch the other day and on the menu they had black burgers.  I’d had them there before and they fell into the flavorless bean mush category.  I commented that I could make them better.  He said, “Of course you could!”

So… I did! 🙂

I wanted to make a patty that was firm but not dry, moist but not mushy, and definitely flavorful.  I was scared that if I cooked the patties until the outside was crunchy, the patty would dry out.  But then I figured a coating of panko on the outside of the patty would help give it crunch without drying the patty out.


It worked!  Yay!

Black Bean Burger with Pepper Jack
Author: Sashi @
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 8 mins
Total time: 23 mins
Serves: 4 servings
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 c panko bread crumbs, divided
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 hamburgers buns
  1. In a medium bowl, mash the beans with a fork until mostly smooth.
  2. To the bowl, add 1/2 the pepper jack cheese, 1/4 cup of the panko, the garlic, salt, cumin and oregano. Use the fork to mix together well. Divide the mixture into 4 parts and form each portion into a 1/2″ patty, packing well to keep together. Place the patties on a plate.
  3. On another plate, stir together the remaining 3/4 cup of panko with the garlic powder.
  4. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg with the water.
  5. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of one patty thinly with the egg mixture. Place the patty egg-side down on the panko-garlic mixture. While the patty is still on the panko mixture, brush the plain side of the patty with egg wash and carefully flip the patty to coat with panko. Gently place the patty back on the plate and repeat with the remaining patties.
  6. Heat a nonstick pan over med-high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the patties and cook for 3 minutes. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and carefully flip the patties. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining pepper jack cheese. Cook for 2 minutes then cover the pan with a lid or, if using a griddle pan, cover with a large metal bowl. Cook for 2 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted.
  7. Serve on buns with your favorite burger toppings.




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