The Unexpected Ingredient To Keep Veggie Burgers From Falling Apart

It might seem like a redundant idea to offer an unexpected veggie burger ingredient. After all, as the name suggests, aside from a whole spate of various veggies that might show up, plant-filled patties often have the kitchen sink thrown at them in an attempt to replicate the taste and texture of a "real" burger. We hold them to near impossible standards and then we're low-key annoyed that they try so hard. (Maybe because the clean-up can be grueling — a three-ingredient recipe they are not).

In addition to the main components that contribute flavor, there should be at least one binder because — with the exception of avocado (technically fruit) and soybeans — members of the vegetable kingdom lack a fatty richness that helps burgers stay moist and intact. Many recipes overcompensate for that and you end up with a mushy mess rather than a solid, meaty sandwich. Eggs are a reliable binder, but not available to those observing a vegan diet. One Green Planet recommends chia seeds and arrowroot powder as egg replacements, as well as nut butter, mustard, and dry oats, among other things, to imitate what they call the "sticky" saturated fats that keep burgers together. 

This is perhaps one of the most pressing challenges because once you've crafted a delicious burger, it needs to make it to your mouth before falling from the bun in clumps. Luckily, America's Test Kitchen claims they've found yet another solution.

Carrots are good for your burger

America's Test Kitchen sneaks an uncommon ingredient into their vegan Pinto Bean-Beet Burgers (via Telegram & Gazette): carrot baby food. Known for repetitive and laborious experimentation in their recipes, ATK says a combination of pureed carrots and panko breadcrumbs creates an ideal burger binder. The carrots provided a wholesome glue while adding a sweet note just right in the beet-based patty.

It turns out, they're not the only ones to have the bright idea of using vegetable and fruit purees as an ingredient in regular, adult food, for lack of a better term. According to Kitchn, eggs can be swapped one for one with a mashed banana or tablespoon of applesauce in baking; It's fairly commonly found in plant-based adaptations and as a substitute for oil in low-calorie recipes. But those are grocery list staples. 

For something different, Bon Appétit expounds on the value of pureed peaches for an easy and spontaneous (if you have a baby) Bellini. Per The Bump, there are also fruit popsicles, crepes, soups, and donuts to use up the extra jars and pouches the littles don't like or have outgrown.