How Tabitha Brown Prevents Her Vegan Burgers From Falling Apart

Satisfying veggie burgers are a great thing to have on hand for anyone who has a plant-based diet — and even for those who don't! But anyone who's ever made them knows that, depending on the ingredients you use, you could end up with a crumbly mess if you're not careful. While the fats in meat naturally bind traditional beef burgers, other common binders like egg or mayo (which also includes eggs) might be used for vegetarian options.

But for vegan burgers (like these black bean burgers with tea basil aioli), you might want to listen to actress, Emmy-Award-winning host, and New York Times bestselling author Tabitha Brown, who has partnered with McCormick to create her salt-free seasoning line. "I'm really into panko breadcrumbs — gluten free are the ones I've been using a lot lately, and they're vegan," Brown told Food Republic. "Those make great thickening agents, and they bind really well without falling apart." Brown recommends throwing a little bit of vegan mayo in there too, for good measure, for the best fuss-free vegan burgers.

Smush your beans for better burgers

Another tip Brown recommends for vegan burgers that won't disintegrate the second you pick them up revolves around your primary protein, which is probably some kind of chickpea or black bean. "Make sure — let's say you're using chickpeas for example — [that] they're smashed really well, so they're mushy, and there aren't clumps," Brown suggests. "The more smooth the texture is — although there needs to be a little bit of texture — the better it is to bind without crumbling."

When the skins of beans are broken, their starchy interiors are free to bind with one another, and you can even add in a splash of aquafaba, or canned chickpea liquid, for an additional vegan binder. Just make sure your beans aren't squished into a paste — after all, you're making burgers, not hummus! Luckily, when using this technique, your panko does double duty, as it will add a wonderful crispiness that will balance out the smoother texture of the smashed beans.

Other vegan burger binders

There are many other things you can try to help your vegan burgers bind together. Flax eggs are one popular solution — simply add one tablespoon of flaxseed meal to two and a half tablespoons of water, and allow the powder to absorb the liquid. The result can be used in a one-to-one ratio with eggs for an easy vegan binder. Chia seeds can be used similarly as they will also soak up water and develop a gooey, bind-ready consistency. You can even use a scoop of peanut butter or almond butter thoroughly mixed into your other ingredients, or return to Brown's original vegan mayo suggestion with a homemade, aquafaba-based spread.

But whatever you do, Brown recommends throwing in some McCormick Burger Business and Like Sweet Like Smoky seasoning blends to kick things up a notch. You can also check out her favorite sauces to pair with black bean burgers if you're looking to be the most popular person at your next picnic.