I absolutely loved tempeh the first time I ever tried it. But I quickly discovered that not everyone feels the same. In fact, in the world of vegetarian foods, tempeh is pretty darn dividing. That’s a bummer for someone like me who adores tempeh, because it’s such a good source of protein, and there’s so much you can do with it!
When I first met my husband, he was firmly seated in the tempeh-haters camp. I viewed that as a challenge, and I’m happy to say that by now I’ve managed to win him over on tempeh. I’m also extremely proud to say that he declared these tempeh burgers to be his favorite veggie burgers ever.
I’ve found there are a few tricks where tempeh is concerned. Most people’s big objection to tempeh is it’s bitterness, which can be taken away by steaming. I actually recommend steaming the tempeh for these burgers even if you don’t mind the bitter flavor, because it precooks the tempeh so you can taste test as you prepare the burger mixture (you should never eat raw tempeh).
The other trick is to add lots of additional flavors, which is why I went with spicy sriracha sauce, sweet maple syrup, and a nice hit of garlic to season up these burgers. Some black beans and oat flour help to bind the mixture while keeping the option for gluten-free burgers available, and carrots add an extra bit of texture and sweetness that goes really nicely with the heat from the sriracha. Because I like my food extra spicy, I topped my burger off with a mix of ketchup and some more sriracha, but feel free to go with plain old ketchup for a milder burger. Either way, you’ll end up with a hearty burger that’s loaded with flavor, carries a nice dose of protein, and is relatively low in calories. It might just make tempeh into your new favorite thing.
These tempeh burgers are flavored with spicy sriracha sauce and a touch of sweet maple syrup.
- 1 (8 ounce) package tempeh
- 1 cup rolled oats (optionally certified gluten-free)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
- 3/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- Oil or cooking spray, for grilling
- 4 to 6 burger buns
- Sriracha sauce
- Avocado slices
- Tomato slices
- Pour a few inches of water into a medium saucepan and fit it with a steamer basket. Break the tempeh into 5 or 6 chunks and place them in the basket. Set the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Lower heat so the water is at a simmer, cover, and allow the tempeh to steam for 10 minutes. Alternatively, if you don't have a steamer basket, you can place the tempeh pieces right into the water. After 10 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat, transfer the tempeh pieces to a plate, and allow them to cool a bit while you gather your other ingredients.
- Place the oats into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Blend to a powder, then add the steamed tempeh, onion, garlic, carrots, beans, sriracha sauce, soy sauce or tamari, maple syrup, and liquid smoke to the bowl. Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped and well mixed, scraping down the bowl between pulses as needed.
- Shape the tempeh mixture into 4 to 6 patties.
- Lightly oil a large skillet and place it over medium heat. Working in batches if needed, place the patties into the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.
- Stuff the patties into buns and top with ketchup, extra sriracha sauce, avocado, lettuce, and tomato slices. Serve.
For a lighter meal, skip the avocado and serve the patties wrapped in lettuce leaves, like we did with these millet burgers.