Guy Fieri's Go-To Base For Actually Satisfying Veggie Burgers

When thinking about who to turn to for tips on making great vegetarian food, Guy Fieri may not be the first chef you think of, but he definitely knows burgers, and it turns out he can take a veggie patty to Flavortown, too. It all starts with a good base, and for Fieri, that means augmenting the vegetables with some hearty grains. He particularly likes brown rice and quinoa for their nutty taste and hearty texture. He also suggests forgoing beans because of how gooey they can make the mixture. Roughly four parts vegetables to one part grains is a good starting point.

The secret is to highlight the vegetables themselves and use the grains to bolster and bind. If you want a meat-free patty that more closely imitates an animal protein, a Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods Burger may be a better choice. Lean into the textural, complex, and bright qualities of a plant-based patty, and you are in for a meat-free experience that can hold its own in a sesame seed bun.

How to make a Guy Fieri-approved veggie patty

The first step in the process is to cook a combination of vegetables so that extra moisture evaporates and the flavor deepens. Cut the veggies into small pieces and sauté or roast them. Guy Fieri even likes to grill or char vegetables first for smoky oomph. Then chop with a knife or pulse the veggies in the food processor. You want small pieces, but not a paste. Use a mix of flavors and textures with ingredients such as bell peppers, cauliflower, sweet potato, summer squash, mushrooms, corn, carrots, leafy greens, onions, and garlic.

Any grain cooked to al dente will work, but definitely don't skip these binders — they transform a veggie blob into an enticing burger. Grains provide a textural foil and something for the soft-cooked veggies to grab onto. If Fieri's blend of brown rice and quinoa doesn't do it for you, millet, bulgar, buckwheat, couscous, orzo, or white rice will all do the trick.

An additional binder can come in the form of eggs, or for a totally vegan option, flax eggs. Flax eggs are made by combining three parts water with one part ground flax meal. Once the mixture rests for a few minutes, it turns into a gel that acts as an excellent binder.

Don't forget to add spices, fresh herbs, and yummy things to make your veggie burgers interesting. Try a combination of dried oregano, fresh parsley, pine nuts, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or go for cilantro, chili powder, and cotija cheese.

What to do if the mixture is too wet or too dry

Veggie burgers take some flexibility to pull off, and they need to be the right texture to hold together as they are formed and cooked. The amount of moisture will vary based on the ingredients, so don't be afraid to trust your intuition. If the mixture is too wet and sticky, add a dry binder. Guy Fieri says that panko bread crumbs work well here. Almond meal, ground oats, cornmeal, cracker crumbs, or crushed tortilla chips could all stand in as well.

If you have the opposite problem and end up with a mixture that is dry and crumbly, you may need to judiciously reintroduce some moisture. While leaning on mashed legumes from the start can send you into mushy territory, they might be just what you need to fix a too-dry blend. A bit of vegetable stock, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, or nut butter could also be just what you need. Carefully add in any wet ingredients little by little.

No matter what, put the mix in the fridge before trying to form patties. If your base is cold, it will be much easier to work with. Keep in mind that even the most awesome veggie burger recipes tend to be on the delicate side, so handle them carefully. Also, searing them in a very hot pan will form a sturdy (and delicious!) crust that helps your veggie burgers keep their shape.