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Nourishing plant-based meals + indulgent desserts

Smoky BBQ Black Bean Burgers

Smoky BBQ Black Bean Burgers

These burgers are the real deal. They are mildly spicy from the poblano pepper, smoky from the smoked paprika and complex in flavor thanks to the barbecue sauce and a dash of worcestershire. Most impressively, all of this big flavor comes from only 10 simple ingredients.

I’ve made them a few times since I created them a couple weeks ago. The first time I made the burgers, I used breadcrumbs as the binder and grilled them. The second time, I used masa harina as the binder and cooked them in a skillet on my stove top. While both the bread crumb and the masa harina work beautifully, and while these do grill up nicely without falling apart, I prefer them cooked in a skillet on the stove top because you get more pan contact and thus more caramelization. But do as you like.

If you do choose to use masa harina, DO NOT substitute corn meal. It is much too coarse for this purpose. You’ll want the masa harina that you would use to make homemade corn tortillas. Maseca is a well known brand and Bobs Red Mill also sells some!

The addition of poblano pepper in these burgers makes them mildly spicy. If thats not your jam, sub green or red bell pepper in the volume amount listed. Bell peppers tend to be larger than poblanos are, so you will likely not use the whole pepper.

I found a short rest time was essential to give the binder some time to soak up moisture. Its only 10 minutes so its the perfect time to get all of your toppings ready. I also found that a metal fish spatula was my favorite utensil to flip these burgers with. The big pancake kind are a little cumbersome for this purpose, but if that all you have, these burgers are sturdy enough to handle it.

I like to dress these burgers up with seared or grilled pineapple, barbecue sauce, and cilantro. The bright pineapple pairs really nicely with the smoky burger. But I’m not here to tell you how to dress your burger- just how to make it.

Smoky BBQ Black Bean Burgers

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Patties


  • 3 Cups Black Beans*
  • 1 Tbsp Oil plus more for cooking the finished burgers
  • 1 medium onion small dice (approx 1 1/4 Cups)
  • 1 medium poblano pepper small dice (approx 3/4 Cup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce Annies brand makes a great vegan one!
  • 1/4 Cup BBQ Sauce I use Stubbs Original
  • 1/3 Cup Bread Crumbs OR 3 Tbsp Masa Harina **


  • Saute the chopped onion and poblano in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add salt, garlic powder and paprika and saute for a minute longer. Next add the barbecue sauce and saute another minute. Remove from heat.
  • Mash the black beans with a potato masher in a large bowl. Reference the first picture for the texture you are looking for. Were not going for full smooth here. There should be some full beans left.
  • Add the onion and pepper mixture to the bowl of black beans and stir everything together with a spatula or large spoon until everything is well combined.
  • Add your binder- either bread crumb or masa harina and use your hands to combine to be sure everything gets thoroughly mixed. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes so the binder has some time to soak up some moisture. If after ten minutes your burger mixture is really wet, add a little more of the binder of your choice. It should be tacky and moist but you should be able to handle it without a huge mess.
  • Next take a 1/3 cup measure and portion out the burgers. I got exactly 8 burgers. Next use your hands to pat them into a burger shape. Don’t go too thin- about 1/2 inch thick is the sweet spot.
  • Next heat a pan over medium heat and add about 1 Tbsp of oil. Add the burgers- I cooked 4 at a time- and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side or until they are nice and brown. I found a wire fish spatula was the perfect utensil to flip with. Repeat the process with the remaining burgers.
  • Then dress them any way you like and enjoy!


*I used unsalted black beans so if yours contain sodium, reduce the salt by at least half.
**As I noted above, do not substitute corn meal for the masa harina. It will be much too coarse and this recipe won’t work properly.
Keyword black bean burgers, burgers, veggie burgers

Let me know how this recipe works for you and if there is anything else you’d like to see me create!

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