These red lentil burgers are lightly spicy, veggie-packed, and freezable. They are easy to make and vegetarian, vegan-optional, and ready in just about 30 minutes.
Homemade veggie burgers are a staple recipe for plant-based eaters. There are classic black bean burgers and sweet potato burgers, but sometimes you might want something a little different.
That’s where these gently spicy, flavor-packed red lentil patties come in. They feature cooked red lentils, garlic chili sauce, and fresh vegetables.
This recipe is vegetarian but can easily be modified to be egg-free and vegan.
- Flavors: Cumin and garlic chili sauce lend a lightly spicy, warming flavor inspired by lentil curries.
- Simple and budget-friendly: This recipe relies on a combination of pantry staples and fresh but inexpensive vegetables.
- Versatile: While the recipe is written for red lentil burgers, the patties also work well in bowls, on salads, or as smaller fritters. The patties also freeze well and can be pan-fried or baked.
- Dietary features: These red lentil patties are vegetarian, vegan optional, soy-free, and nut-free. Simply use certified gluten-free rolled oats to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Red lentils: Not to be confused with green or brown lentils, these cook much more quickly and are less firm. Orange lentils also work.
- Chili garlic sauce: Garlicky, spicy and the flavor backbone of this recipe. I use Huy Fong foods brand, which is available in the international aisle of most grocery stores and is mildly spicy. Garlic chili sauce has a wide variety of spice level, with some being quite spicy. Adjust accordingly.
- Vegetables: Sauté matchstick carrots, green bell peppers, and green onions (AKA scallions) until softened.
- Rolled oats (old-fashioned oats): This is what holds the patties together. I have not tested this recipe with instant or 1-minute oats, but they should work.
- Eggs: I tested this recipe with an egg and a flax egg. Both work, though patties with eggs do hold together better.
Not sure where to use extra ingredients? Red lentils go well in red lentil pasta sauce and red lentil stew. Chili garlic sauce is one of the main ingredients in peanut sauce.
Step by step instructions
Cook the red lentils until softened. Cover one cup of red lentils with two cups water to make two cups of cooked lentils.
Simmer the lentils until just softened, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the cooked lentils to a fine mesh sieve to drain. Lightly pat with a paper towel to remove moisture, but not hard enough to push the lentils through the colander.
Don't have a sieve? Line a regular pasta strainer with paper towels. Add the drained lentils and pat gently with more paper towels to remove excess moisture without pushing the lentils through the strainer holes.
Step three. While the lentils are cooking, sauté the peppers, carrots, and green onions until softened.
Stir all of the ingredients together to form a cohesive mixture.
Testing note: I tested patties using both chilled and unchilled batter. Chilling the red lentil mixture for 30 minutes improves the texture only slightly. I don't find the difference significant enough to recommend chilling the red lentil patty mixture before cooking it.
Use a ½ cup measure to form six patties. Gently press down with the back of a spatula to flatten the patties to about ½ inch thickness. This allows the inside to cook more evenly.
Cook on a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden.
How to bake the patties
These burgers can be baked instead of pan-fried, but this method does yield slightly drier patties. Place patties on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (parchment is optional, otherwise just lightly oil the pan) and bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes.
I tested this recipe with both eggs and a flax egg. Flax egg patties don't hold together as well as egg patties, but they do still work.
To make vegan, make a flaxseed egg by combining 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes before using.
How to make fritters
This recipe makes 12 smaller "fritters" similar to these curry chickpea fritters. These are great on greens in salads, in grain bowls, or as an appetizer.
To make fritters, simply form patties from ¼ cup of the mixture instead of ½ cup. Cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
To make in advance: The patty mixture can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Leftovers: Keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. I prefer to cook all of the patties at once and then reheat them on the stove, but you can also store them uncooked.
How to freeze: I recommend forming individual patties and cooking them on the stove before freezing. This way you can take them out of the freezer and thaw on the stove instead of having to thaw them overnight in the fridge.
Store patties between layers of wax paper to prevent them from sticking together. Store in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
More easy vegetarian dinners
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Red Lentil Veggie Burgers
- 1 cup dry red lentils rinsed and sorted
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon table salt divided
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or other neutral oil
- 1 medium green bell pepper diced
- ½ cup matchstick carrots
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- ¾ cup rolled oats AKA old-fashioned oats
- ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
- 1 and ½ tablespoons chili garlic sauce see note #1
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes optional, see note #1
- 1 large egg whisked until smooth; see note #2
- For serving: burger buns, spinach, guacamole
- Combine lentils, water, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small pot. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and simmer for 7-8 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
- Transfer the cooked lentils to a fine mesh sieve to drain. Gently pat with a paper towel enough to remove excess moisture, but not hard enough to push the lentils through the sieve.
- While the lentils are cooking, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Once hot, add the diced peppers, carrots, and green onions. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Sauté until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- Transfer all ingredients to a large mixing bowl: cooked red lentils, cooked bell pepper, carrots, green onion, rolled oats, cilantro, chili garlic sauce, cumin, optional red pepper flakes, and whisked egg. Stir to combine.
- Use a ½ cup measure to form six patties about the width of your palm. For best results, make sure the burger is no more than ½ inch thick.
- Cook on a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden.
- Serve on burger buns with your favorite fixings, such as spinach, tomatoes, and guacamole. Enjoy!
- Chili garlic sauce: I use Huy Fong brand, which is found in the international aisle at most major grocery stores. It is gently spicy, whereas other brands can be very spicy. If using another brand I recommend adjusting this ingredient to taste. Add an extra pinch of red chili flakes for a spicier patty.
- Egg: One large egg can be replaced with one flax egg to make this recipe vegan. To make a flax egg, combine 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons warm water in a small bowl. Let rest for 5 minutes before using. The vegan patties hold together, but not as well as egg-based patties.
- Leftovers and reheating: Keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for up to 3-4 days. Cook per recipe instructions.
- Freezing patties: Freeze individual cooked or uncooked patties for up to 3 months. Reheat on the stove or let thaw completely in the fridge overnight.
- Oven instructions: Line patties on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (optional) and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Flip halfway through. This method will yield slightly dryer patties.
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The flavor was great but I couldn’t get them to stay together. I tried frying. And I tried baking.
I'm curious if you used the egg or flax egg? It sounds like the lentils may have been too wet. But thank you for trying the recipe!
If anyone has this issue in the future, I recommend adding extra oats to help bind the patties.