Tabitha Brown Adds Pecans To Vegan Black Bean Burgers For An Unbeatable Texture

When black bean burgers are made well, they're savory and satisfying with a crisp outside and hearty inside. However, they often succumb to a mushy, soggy fate instead. If you skip out on adding various textural elements to your recipe for black bean burgers, your patties will probably end up pasty. That is why vegan cook, actress, and television personality Tabitha Brown uses pecans in the mix. 

Brown told Food Republic that when she's making bean burgers, "Pecans are my favorite meat replacements [...] You can always layer it with flavor". The firm texture and nutty taste of pecans is a great addition to any dish that needs a vegan meat stand-in; think taco crumbles and vegetarian chili, in addition to burgers. You might be inclined to toast the nuts to boost their aroma, but Brown warns that this could make them too crunchy. She advises to "boil them and let the heat simmer, and drain them[,] they get a little soft in texture." 

This softer consistency helps you break the nuts down more easily, but the bits will still be pleasantly toothsome, like ground meat. Boiling pecans for about ten minutes or so should do the trick. Blitz the drained pecans in the food processor for a more uniform texture, or chop them with a knife if you prefer bigger pieces. If you don't have any pecans, walnuts or almonds will also work. For those with nut allergies, try sunflower seeds or pepitas.

How to season pecans for the best vegan burgers

As Tabitha Brown says, a great thing about pecans is that you can incorporate layers of flavor into them, making for a better black bean burger. While boiling pecans in water will do in a pinch, you can also add flavorings to the cooking liquid. Brown likes to use coconut aminos when she cooks pecans to make vegan chili. Sweet, savory, and umami-loaded, this liquid seasoning is made from fermented coconut palm sap. Coconut aminos taste similar to many types of soy sauce, which you can absolutely use instead. 

To up the savoriness in vegan dishes, Brown is also partial to liquid smoke (which is totally safe to consume, unlike actual smoke). She uses the ingredient in lots of different recipes to impart a meaty smokiness. For even more layers of flavor in her black bean burgers, she also includes fresh spinach, red bell peppers, and white button mushrooms (all finely chopped in a food processor).

It wouldn't be a Tabitha Brown recipe if she didn't season it up well. Many seasoning blends and spice mixes from the McCormick by Tabitha Brown collection would work great in a burger, but her Salt Free Burger Business By Tabitha Brown Seasoning Mix is tailored for it. Garlic, black pepper, basil, oregano, and onion go into this mix, and it even has dehydrated bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, and tomato powder to add vegetal goodness to your nutty, protein-packed, delicious bean patty.