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The Best Vegan Burger

Could it be the best vegan burger ever? I think so. Juiciness is key. I do love bean burgers and other veggie burgers but they are never JUICY. Sometimes, you just want a meaty burger that gushes flavour with every bite. And you want that burger to fully satisfy and keep you full. We’re not after something that tastes like meat. It doesn’t taste like meat; it tastes like savory aromatic mushroomy goodness! Try this juicy seitan burger and let me know your opinion!
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Two vegan Big Mac style burgers

Make the vegan burger patties thin to make fast-food style burgers like these Vegan Big Macs.

You can make them big and thick for a pub-style burger. Or make them thinner and smaller so you can stack them in fast food-style burgers. The burger patties are meant to be juicy blank canvases for your burger cravings. So add your favourite sauces or burger seasonings and fillings.

Video tutorial for The Best Vegan Burger | Seitan Burger

 
In this video, I share two ways I love these burgers: a great big juicy vegan cheeseburger and a vegan big mac as close to the original as I could get it. Luckily, vegan mac sauce is easy to make since the only non-vegan ingredient to swap out is the mayo.

Ingredients laid out for vegan big macs.

Special sauce, lettuce, ‘cheese’, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Just missing two ‘all wheat patties’.

The other reason I love these burgers is for practical reasons: the high protein burger keeps you full for longer. I enjoy bean burgers and other garden-style burgers and it’s not difficult to pick some up before heading to a work/social barbeque. But they digest fast! Meanwhile, everyone else is in a food coma and I’m standing there hungry again. With these juicy veggie burgers made with wheat protein, I stay satisfied, able to focus on friends and family without a growling belly.

Thick vegan burger patty on open faced bun.

The idea

The original inspiration for these burgers came from store-bought vegan burgers. One fine day, I was out with a couple vegan friends and we were nearby a local grocery store known for carrying specialty products. They had so many hard-to-find vegan products but, boy, were the prices $$$$. They had a hand-formed burger (the brand shall remain nameless) that I had never tried. It was on sale! Still pretty pricey (more than $3 per burger even after the discount) and my usual frugal-self balked a little. But since my friends told me it was the juiciest vegan burger and actually filling, I took the plunge. I took them home and was so excited to try them right away. The burgers were juicy alright. I thought I could tell from just the appearance how they were made. I was sure of the simmered seitan method. But I wasn’t a fan of the taste. Very wheaty, nutty, and grainy. I just don’t like getting things stuck in my teeth. And so my quest to create the best, most juicy vegan burger began. You may have seen one of the test results in a What I Ate video last year. I’ve been working on it on and off for so long! I’m so happy to be able to finally share this one with you.

Making the best vegan burgers

These juicy vegan burgers are made with vital wheat gluten. There is no substitute so embrace the wheat meat! If you’re avoiding gluten, hang in there. I have not given up on figuring out a GF juicy burger recipe. 

In this recipe, you’ll combine gluten with plant-based flavours like tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, and vegetable broth to form seitan dough. These ingredients are all high in glutamate which is responsible for giving delicious foods a mouthwatering quality. Balsamic vinegar is added to negate the wheaty flavour of the gluten. 

*TIP* Don’t over knead the seitan dough. If you knead too much, you risk making the burgers too tough. Just work the dough enough to mix everything together and the dough is a consistent quality without dry bits. After forming the burger shapes, just knead the outside edges in so there aren’t bits hanging around the edges. This will help with even cooking.

You’ll flatten the burgers then simmer in broth for an hour on the stove or in your oven. Simmering infuses the seitan with broth so the vegan ‘meat’ becomes juicy throughout. The trick is to keep that simmer low so that it doesn’t ever come to a rolling boil. When seitan dough is boiled, it tends to come apart and become a mushy mass. In the video, I used the stovetop method because it’s much easier for me to film. However, I usually use the oven method as it’s much easier. Simply place the burgers in a roasting pan or dutch oven, cover with vegetable broth, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for one hour, flipping the burgers at the 30-minute mark.

Make sure you use the cooled broth to cover the burgers before storing.

Afterwards, you can grill the burgers right away or store them. Store the burgers in broth in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. You can also freeze them and they should keep for up to two months.

When grilling the burgers, use an oil baste to ensure the burgers stay juicy inside. I love using olive oil infused with fresh crushed garlic and herbs. I don’t mind being pretty generous with the oil baste since the burgers are nearly fat-free without it. Season liberally with salt and pepper or any other seasoning mix you love for burgers. Salt is especially important to add to the surface of the burger to really bring out the flavours. I really hope you try this vegan burger recipe and let me know how it went! Enjoy!

Can you see that juiciness?

Printable recipe for The Best Vegan Burger | Seitan Burger

The Best Vegan Burger | Juicy Seitan Burger
Serves 6
This could be the best vegan burger ever. It's juicy and toothsome and ready to be finished on your outdoor grill or inside on the stove. Made with wheat protein and glutamate-rich natural plant ingredients, this is one veggie burger that will actually keep you full and satisfied.
This recipe will make 6 thick pub-style burgers or 12 thinner fast-food-style burgers.
Watch the video tutorial here. Pin this recipe.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten (300g)
  2. 1 cup water (237ml)
  3. 3/4 cup canned beets, drained (125g)
  4. 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons tomato juice (90ml)
  5. 1 tablespoon ground dried porcini mushroom
  6. 1 tablespoon concentrated vegetable base**
  7. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  8. 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  9. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  10. vegetable broth enough to cover burgers completely
  11. oil for basting
  12. salt and pepper (or your favourite burger seasonings)
Making the burger seitan dough
  1. Blend water, beets, tomato juice, mushroom powder, concentrated vegetable base, balsamic vinegar, paprika, and black pepper until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add about 75% of the vital wheat gluten. Mix well with clean hands until no dry flour remains. Depending on the wetness of the ingredients, you may or may not have to add the rest. You want the dough to be fairly dense without any dry bits. Do not over knead.
  2. Separate the dough into 6 for thick burgers or 12 for thinner burgers. Shape the burgers by kneading the rough edges into the middle. Use a rolling pin to flatten the burgers to your desired width/thickness. Keep in mind that the burgers will double in size after cooking. Next, you'll cook the burgers in the oven or on the stove.
Oven method (recommended)
  1. Place the burgers in a roasting pan or dutch oven. You may stack the burgers to fit. Cover completely with vegetable broth and cover with a lid. Bake in a oven preheated to 350°F for 1 hour, flipping the burgers 30 minutes into the cooking time.
Stove top method
  1. Place the burgers in a large pot. You may stack the burgers to fit. Cover completely with vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a low boil. Do not allow the broth to come to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low or medium low and cover. Allow the burgers to cook at a steady low simmer for one hour, flipping the burgers 30 minutes into the cooking time.
Storage
  1. When the burgers are cooked, you may grill them right away or store them. Store in broth to keep the burgers juicy. They keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Grilling (recommended)
  1. Baste the burgers on both sides with oil. I like using olive oil infused with fresh garlic. You may use other infused oils and liberally add seasonings of your choice. Grill at 450-500°F for about 4 minutes per side for thick burgers or until charred to your preference. Thin burgers take about 2 minutes per side. Keep basting the burgers during cooking to prevent moisture loss.
Pan-frying
  1. Baste the burgers on both sides with oil. I like using olive oil infused with fresh garlic. You may use other infused oils and liberally add seasonings of your choice. Cook on medium to medium high until both sides develop some colour.
  2. Serve immediately with your favourite burger fixings. Check out the video for ideas.
Notes
  1. Remember to add salt and pepper as you're finishing the burgers!
  2. *Porcini mushrooms add a rich meaty, nutty flavour. If you are unable to find dried porcini mushrooms, you can substitute shiitake. I used whole dried mushrooms and ground them to a powder.
  3. **Concentrated vegetable base is also known as bouillon paste or cubes. The amount may vary depending on the type you choose. Use the amount required to make 3 cups of broth.
Mary's Test Kitchen http://www.marystestkitchen.com/

Showing 8 comments
  • Dave
    Reply

    Thank you Mary!! I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time that’s straight forward and juicy! I’m going to try this right away. Dave

  • Aru
    Reply

    That looks amazing, though when I give it a shot I will be avoiding the shroom powder because I don’t feel like a fast trip to the hospital [sucks, I am allergic to shrooms and palm/coconut … *sigh*]

    Hm, favorite seasonings for burgers is salt, pepper and garlic. Soy sauce or tamari are nice also. Had a teriyaki burger that had a thick teriyaly glaze, lettuce, red onion and a thin slice of pineapple on a kings hawaiian bread bun, was very tasty, if I was making that I would shoot in some grated ginger.

  • Miki
    Reply

    That’s a lot of paprika! Are they spicy at all? Maybe your paprika is less sharp than mine?

    • Mary
      Reply

      It’s not Hot Paprika. I’m using regular paprika, AKA Sweet Paprika which is not spicy at all.

  • Rachel
    Reply

    Looks wonderful! I have a few quick questions…I don’t have tomato juice, but I do have canned tomato sauce or V8, which would you recommend? I have vegetable bullion cubes (salty) or better than beef bullion paste, if neither would be good should I use my homemade vegetable stock? Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Rachel, great questions. I’d choose canned tomato sauce over V8 but keep in mind the fiber in the tomato sauce will reduce the amount of vital wheat gluten needed slightly. Either vegetable bouillon cubes or the better than beef will work. Just choose whichever one you want your burgers to taste more like. There’s no additional salt in the recipe so it’s good that the paste/cubes are already salty. Have fun and good luck! – Mary

  • Michele
    Reply

    Mary,
    I am allergic to mushrooms, is there anything else that I could use instead to give the meaty nutty flavor?

    Thanks Michele

  • Lueni
    Reply

    Hi Mary,
    I made these burgers yesterday. They were perfect: juicy, tasty. With your easy vegan hamburger buns, we had amazing burgers! I’ll try grilling them on the bbq next time.
    Thank you for your recipes!

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