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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!
Click here for the printable recipe.
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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.  But in the meantime, have you tried nature’s perfect gluten-free burger? A whole portobello mushroom! Just trim the stem, marinate for 15 minutes (balsamic salad dressing works great), and throw it on a grill! So good!

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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Print
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 or it will be too tough to shape.
  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. *It will spring back as you shape it -- you will require a bit of elbow grease!* 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.
Troubleshooting Texture
  1. One common issue is the burgers coming out way too tough or way too soft. Be sure to double check your measurements and drain the beets well before you use them. Too much water to flour will result in dough that is too soft. See the video to see how your seitan dough compares to mine -- does it spring back? If not, add a little more vital wheat gluten OR knead it a little longer. However, over-kneading the dough will make your burgers too tough. If you suspect you went overboard with kneading, let the dough rest a while before shaping. After ten minutes of resting, the gluten will relax a bit and it will be easier to roll out.
  2. Another reason burgers can come out too soft is cooking at too rapid a boil. Make sure that simmer is super gentle. I found the oven method the easiest hands-off method but you might be boiling too high if your oven runs hot. So if you suspect this, try on stove top and babysit a bit to make sure it never gets up past a gentle simmer.
Mary's Test Kitchen http://www.marystestkitchen.com/

Showing 55 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.

    • Morgan
      Reply

      Mine was so chewy! Is it meant to be like that? What did I do wrong 🙁

      • Joe
        Reply

        Maybe over kneaded the seitan dough?

  • 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.

      • Dios
        Reply

        Paprika is dried red
        its
        A vegtable thats
        sweet or hot
        The lable will tell you..there simular to bell peppers but thinner and longer like cubenal also known as Italian frying
        The best is Hungarian or Spanish.
        From Spain
        there is also smoked paprika but only the Spanish Smoked paprika in little tins are good
        They smoke the naturally dried peppers over wood chips naturaly before grinding to a powder Comes hot or,sweet I wouldn’t say Real Hungarian or Spanish hot paprika is HOT spicey
        Its good in chili and where ever you want some subtal zing an marinades
        Not all peppers are spicy
        Lots of Mexican dried peppers aren’t hot spicy
        Heat in peppers is mostly in the seeds and
        which i always remove as there unpredictable
        Even the peppers used for crushed red peppers
        I buy them only in whole form
        to use I crack it
        I open shake out seeds and by pass rib part
        I always have several types of paprika on hand

  • 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!

  • N Lewis
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    These look great. If I want to freeze them, I guess I freeze them without the stock? I.e. just on their own?

    Thanks!

    • gerd
      Reply

      I’ve frozen them with their broth, worked very well

  • Raihan
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    I was wondering if I don’t have beets on hand can I sub it with something else?

  • Anca
    Reply

    Dodo store them in the freezer in broth or just on their own??
    Can’t wait to try the oven method!

  • Gina
    Reply

    Omg!! These are so bomb ? you need to have your name in lights!

  • Declan
    Reply

    Hi there, I don’t know what I can use on place of the tomato juice, could I use passata?

    • Dios
      Reply

      Definerly

  • Marc
    Reply

    Hi there, these look so awesome!
    Three questions:
    Do you think it would be a good idea to substitute some of the paprika with smoked paprika? Just for the extra bit of smokey bbq flavor?

    Can I use something else instead of beet? I really don’t like the taste of them – and I’ve tried them in every form.

    Can you say how far you’ve gotten with the cheddar recipe? I think it looks awesome as is – I’d really like to know how you made it like that.

    • Dios
      Reply

      I used smoked paprika
      I hate better too but used them but not canned there awful with salt
      I baked 3 small ones then cooled and peeled them I also
      added roasted garlic
      you don’t taste beets at all!
      Not that I could detect.try if not good next time use artichoke hearts
      not marinated in oil
      plain!
      Plain canned or better frozen or if you’ve made
      which is a project
      I made them today
      Again
      Worth trying the beets.
      Which as i said I don’t ever
      And I love vegetables like
      Not beets
      Avacadoes or radishes.not thrilled!

  • Kaylyn Taylor
    Reply

    I would recommend adding your additional, preferred burger seasonings to the actual dough instead of on the pressed patties like you do with real burgers. I just felt the flavor distribution wasnt equal until I made some with seasoning in the dough. Also, the method of cooking them in broth (oven or stove top) was best. I tried to be lazy and pan fried and I did not like the flavor at all as well as the texture. I cooked them in broth and they were way better!

  • Katrin Lausch
    Reply

    This is an absolutely stunning recipe. It was actually my first try to make seitan myself and you really helped me not only to cook tasty vegan patties but also showed me the biggest mistakes one could make. Thank you. Well let’s see what else can be found here😀. Kind regards from Berlin.

  • Evonne
    Reply

    I did not like this recipe. It did not taste like a burger. Although I love Mary Test Kitchen!

  • amy miller
    Reply

    how do you keep them stretched out to the round shape

    • Mary
      Reply

      Repeated force. Elbow grease.
      But remember they do expand while simmering.

  • Wendy Peck
    Reply

    Hi, I excited to try this recipe! I was wondering if you freeze these do you freeze them with the vegetable broth?

    • Mary
      Reply

      yes!

  • Richard Ponsford
    Reply

    Absolutely love the recipe. I’m not 100% vegan, more vegetarian.
    But I make your burgers/hot dogs every week!
    Great stuff Mary. Much love from Wales. U.K.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yay! That’s so great to hear, Richard. Thank you!

  • Alex
    Reply

    When freezing the burgers, do you freeze them in broth as well?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Alex,
      Yes, I do freeze them in a little broth. Not much is needed though. I’ll show how I usually freeze them in this week’s upcoming What I Ate Wednesday video actually so keep an eye out 🙂
      Cheers,

      Mary

  • Sara
    Reply

    Tried last night and I love it.
    Can you please write down the marcos? (aproximately)
    Love from Spain!!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks for trying it Sara and I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I recommend running the ingredients through a calculator like Chronometer or MyFitnessPal if you want the nutritional information. I don’t put them on my website because that can cause harm to some of my audience members. I hope you can understand.
      Much love,
      Mary

  • Declan
    Reply

    Hi Mary I would really like the burgers to be as beefy as possible so I was thinking of using a vegan beef stock and maybe just adding extra of it, what I’m unsure off is whether or not I should keep both the tomato juice and beetroot in it? Thanks in advance love all your stuff

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Declan,
      I’d just switch the veggie bouillon for vegan beef bouillon and keep everything else the same.
      Good luck!
      -Mary

  • Van
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    Love your recipes! You are so talented. I just wondered if I could substitute the beets for something else or leave it out?

    Lots of love from the Netherlands!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks for the kind words, Van. Cooked carrots or potatoes would work to replace the beets. The only trouble with omitting altogether is that the ratios of starch/gluten change and this affects the texture somewhat. Good luck! – Mary

      • Van
        Reply

        Thanks so much for your reply. I am super excited to make these. My aunt gave me a bag of vital wheat gluten and this was immediately the first recipe I thought of making then! I will let you know if it turns out well. Hopefully I won’t ruin it…

  • Ken
    Reply

    Everyone thought that they had a good flavor. One of my daughters is a vegetarian and the rest of us are not. My daughter that is the vegetarian is the main reason that I made these and though she liked the flavor, she thought that they were too soft. My other daughter, my wife, and I, also thought that they could be a bit firmer. I don’t know if I did something wrong. I will make them again but am going to play with the recipe in an effort to make them a little firmer – maybe more wheat gluten or less water. We all like the Field Roast field burgers and that is about the consistency I would like these to be. If you have any suggestions, let me know. I did (or at least I thought I did) follow the recipe exactly as written.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Ken,
      Next time, perhaps knead the dough a little longer. Compare yours to mine in the video — it should be a springy and a little tough to roll out. Adding a little extra vital wheat gluten is a good idea if your seitan dough seemed wetter than mine; perhaps your beets were more waterlogged than mine. The risk is going overboard and making the burgers super tough so keep that in mind. Lastly, simmering seitan can be a little tricky – I found the oven method the easiest hand-off method but you might be boiling too high if your oven runs hot. So if you suspect this, try on stove top and babysit a bit to make sure it never get up past a gentle simmer. Good luck! – Mary

      • Ken
        Reply

        Thank you for responding, Mary. I will try your suggestions next time I make these.

        I admit that I did not watch the tutorial video. I will also watch that before making again. In your instructions you stated to be sure to not over knead so perhaps I did not knead enough. Also, I saw where you stated “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.” I suspect that may have been part of my problem. My daughter that bakes a lot says that later batches of cookies or whatever take less time than earlier ones so I suspect that our oven may increase in temperature over time and not remain consistent.

        I’ll try again and let you know how it goes.

        • Mary
          Reply

          Thanks for the feedback, Ken. Good luck for next time! I’ve updated the recipe with directions to compare your seitan dough texture to the video.
          Cheers,
          Mary

  • Daon
    Reply

    Hey mary. Im allergic to beets (wow) can i just not put them in?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yes but the texture will be different and you’ll probably need to adjust the amount of vital wheat gluten. You can replace the beets with a cooked starchy veg of your choice to minimize the difference. Good luck!

  • Michelle
    Reply

    Hi Mary. Thanks for such a great recipe! I tried it last night and they turned out with a great taste. I added 1 tsp of onion and garlic powder, 1/4 tsp of cumin and a 1/2 tsp of liquid smoke. I used 75% of the vital wheat gluten and added a tiny bit more as needed. (As you suggested) They came out a tiny bit chewy and I was wondering what I may have done to make it that way. Did I over or under knead the dough?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Michelle,
      Chewy in a gummy way could be a little under-cooked. If you cook them on the grill/pan for longer, do you find the texture changes? Otherwise, if it’s a bit tough, it may be just a little over kneading. Seitan is a bit tricky so you kind of have to experiment. Good luck!
      -Mary

  • Joe
    Reply

    Oh my Mary this was really good. It seems to get even better after sitting in the fridge for a day or two. I’ve been trying recipe after recipe looking for The One and I think I’ve found it. Thanks!

  • Leo
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    Is it okay to steam these instead of cooking in simmering broth? I’m experimenting with steaming seitan at the moment, having made your paprika hot dogs recently – they came out awesome, btw! – so was just wondering if there’s a reason you’re not suggesting this method for the burgers. Is it just the juiciness factor?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Leo,
      Thanks for comment. So happy you enjoyed the paprika dogs! You guessed right. The texture and juiciness is completely different when using the simmering method. Steamed seitan just doesn’t come out juicy.
      Cheers,
      Mary

  • Denice
    Reply

    Well I just finished these burgers and they looked great but when we bit into them they were squishy in texture. I am not sure where I went wrong because they looked like yours. Maybe I didn’t knead them enough because I was afraid to do it too much. I baked them in the oven in a foil topped roaster so maybe they didn’t cook long enough? Any advice?

  • Carmen
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    I have a tomato allergy – do you have a recommendation to sub out the tomato juice?

  • Maren
    Reply

    Hey! Your vegan burger patties look so delicious 🙂 I’d love to try and grill them. But I did’nt get if I have to cook the patties first and then grill them or if I just grill the “uncooked” dough? Thank you for your answer 🙂

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Maren, Thank you so much! You still have to cook the burgers as directed in the recipe BEFORE grilling. Hope that answers your question.
      Cheers!

  • Jon
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    Do you have any link or instruction for the special sauce from the video?

    I’m getting all the stuff together for these burgers can’t wait to try! Thank you!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Jon,

      I don’t. It’s just vegan mayo, paprika, a little white vinegar, chopped pickles (or sweet relish), and garlic and onion powder. There might’ve been mustard and maybe there’s white pepper in there too but I forget. There’s a video on YouTube by McDonald’s that has a chef making a big mac from scratch if you want to see how they did it. Sorry, you’ll have to search; I didn’t save the link.

      Good luck! – Mary

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