15 Underrated Plant-Based Toppings For Your Veggie Burger

The increasing number of people adopting a plant-based diet has prompted vegan culinary creativity to take off. No longer are plant-based eaters limited to salads and french fries when dining out, and the options at the grocery store are even more extensive. If you enjoy cooking and experimenting with plant-based recipes, the possibilities are endless — especially when it comes to veggie burgers. There are so many different types of patties under the "veggie burger" umbrella, including ones made with beans, grains, and vegetables. You'll also find several imitation meat brands available on the market that offer the same mouthfeel as a conventional burger. As a whole, these patties taste great with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and ketchup, but why not test the limits and explore some of the underrated, plant-based toppings for veggie burgers? 

When it comes to toppings, you should stick with ones that fit your patty's flavor profile and texture. Once you've selected your patty, toss your sliced onion and tomato aside and get ready to indulge in these toppings. 

Pickled beets

When selecting burger toppings, it's easy to fall into a rut and focus on those in our culinary wheelhouse or cuisine of expertise. Instead, let's take a trip and pull inspiration from burger toppings from around the world. Beets are a common ingredient used in other cultures and even find their way into and onto burgers. Australians, for example, have been adding beets to their burgers for almost a century, and it's not uncommon to see beetroot blended right into a veggie burger.

Beets are incredibly sweet with earthy notes. They can be added after they've been sliced and roasted. However, we recommend adding a few slices of pickled beets to your veggie burger instead to give it that fermented yet tangy and sweet flavor that pairs so well with the classic sandwich. The root vegetable adds juiciness and flavor, and its bright pink color is quite aesthetically pleasing. Luckily, this underrated topping complements any veggie burger, especially a bean or grain-based one. Try to balance the pickled beets with additional fatty toppings like avocado, vegan mayonnaise, or hash browns.

Hash browns

Comfort food alert! If you're in the mood for a heavier, greasier, and brunch-ier plant-based sandwich, consider adding a layer of hash browns to your veggie burger. This topping choice, of course, goes well with an imitation meat burger (like Beyond or Impossible) but can make any plant-based patty shine. Ideally, you should use a large hash brown patty, but don't be afraid to use what you have and throw on a few tater tots to give your burger that extra pizzazz. This creative way to use frozen hash browns is a surefire way to make anyone who's ever uttered the phrase "I would never eat a veggie burger" change their mind.

Stack your veggie burger base and hash browns with vegan eggs, ketchup, and plant-based cheese for the ultimate brunch sandwich. Or, if you're craving something towards the middle of the day, pair your hash brown-topped burger with fresh ingredients like crunchy red onion, tangy dill pickles, crispy arugula, and your favorite sauces.

Cashew queso

If you're wondering what vegans and lactose-intolerant folks turn to when they crave something creamy, look no further than cashews. Yes, we are talking about that little, smooth nut that makes for a delectable snack. But if you soak and blend the cashews, they can be transformed into a decadent cream sauce. There are endless ways to use cashew cream in your cooking, one of which is for a plant-based burger.

Although cashew cream can be a burger topping as is, you can also transform it into your own cashew queso. Spice it up with nutritional yeast for a cheezy bite, add a little turmeric for a yellow hue, and don't forget the chopped onion, chiles, or other veggies you would normally add to a cheese-based queso recipe. This is a great way to add saltiness and heat to your burger. 

Try pairing your bean and corn-based patty with your cashew queso, avocado, and other Southwestern-influenced ingredients. Pro tip: Remember to toast your bun so the drippy, gooey queso doesn't make it soggy.


Sauerkraut doesn't have to be used exclusively with corned beef and Swiss cheese. In fact, there are many uses for sauerkraut in your favorite dishes because of its robust, tart flavor. For a classic Reuben-style veggie burger, pair it with a sweet potato-based patty and a Russian-style dressing made with vegan mayonnaise. Try heating the sauerkraut slightly so it's room temperature or warmer, and layer it on thick. 

Even without Russian dressing, sauerkraut can elevate any veggie burger. Add it to a classic ketchup, lettuce, onion, and tomato plant-based burger. Or, pair it with a root vegetable burger or one loaded with crispy onions and barbecue sauce. You can treat sauerkraut like pickles, either as a substitute or in tandem. Sauerkraut balances nicely with sweet sauces but also is classically paired with salty foods like bratwurst and spicy mustard. You can certainly make your own, but if you spring for a store-bought one, there are plenty of ways to make canned sauerkraut taste even better.

Shaved zucchini

One of the biggest complaints about veggie burgers is that they can be soft and mushy, which leads to an overall soggy composition. Even if your patty is a bit softer than a typical burger, you can counteract that by using your toppings for structure and crunch. Enter zucchini. You can certainly utilize thinly sliced disks of zucchini for your sandwich, but there is a better way to prepare this squash that will improve the aesthetics of your sandwich, as well as its flavor.

Instead of slicing rounds, use a vegetable peeler to shave long, thin strands from the base to the tip of the fruit. These strands are thick enough to add crunch and can be loosely piled on the patty to create a beautiful, ribbon-like appearance. Consider a combination of yellow and green summer squash to get an even better color contrast. Zucchini ribbons can add a toothsome bite to a soft veggie patty or one that is slightly dry and crumbly. Don't forget them at your next summer barbecue; they're the ultimate in-season, fresh ingredient to take those burgers from bland to artisanal in seconds.

Rice paper bacon

How many times have you heard the phrase, "I would go vegan, but I love bacon too much?" We've all been there because, let's face it, bacon is delicious whether you choose to consume it or not. Luckily, there are some alternatives out there that can mimic the flavor and texture pretty closely — although you probably won't fool anyone into thinking it's meat. Carrots, tofu, tempeh, eggplant, and trumpet mushrooms have all been known to take on the flavors and shapes of bacon when prepared properly, but the crispiest of them all is a savory rice paper bacon. And you guessed it, this deliciously imposterous vegan bacon makes the perfect veggie burger topping.

Rice paper bacon doesn't stay crispy forever, so you should make it right before you plan on serving your burgers. Load that patty up with vegan bacon and the classic toppings, but be sure to place juicer ingredients like tomato and vegan mayo away from the bacon to avoid it getting soggy. Vegan bacon burgers pair well with garlic aioli, crunchy onion, and fresh arugula.


Italian sauces probably don't come to mind when you picture a hamburger or veggie burger. But thinking outside of the box is how great recipes are born. Picture this: A white bean or chickpea patty laced with garlic, onion, basil, parsley, and minced veggies like zucchini and mushrooms, cooked until golden brown in fresh olive oil. Now, doesn't that patty deserve to be paired with a herby Italian sauce as opposed to plain old ketchup and mustard? It's why you should consider blending your own bright and fresh pesto and slathering it on thick.

You can add extra nuts to make a creamier, denser, thicker sauce that reads more like a spread than a pasta sauce. Then, layer your burger with your pesto, sliced tomatoes, and plant-based mozzarella cheese or cashew cream. The pesto will steal the show, so refrain from loading your burger to the brim with flavorful ingredients to prevent overwhelming your tastebuds. When choosing toppings, think regionally in the Mediterranean, and don't forget to add a little crunch with kale chips, cucumber, or fresh onion.

Fried plantains

If you've ever indulged in an arepa, you may have tried the devilishly succulent trio of avocado, black beans, and fried plantains. If not, prepare for the South American-inspired fatty, sweet, and savory combination that will elevate your next veggie burger. Use a black-bean burger base with freshly sliced avocado, then top it off with the star of the show: fried plantains.

Simply fry ripe sliced plantains in a little bit of avocado or coconut oil and season them with salt, paprika, and a whisper of garlic and onion powder. It's best to use high heat for cooking so that the sides of the plantain become golden brown and crispy. The starch will offer a subtle sweetness and mild flavor similar to that of bananas. Moreover, the crispy texture is pleasing and pairs well with the fattiness of the avocado. 

Feel free to add vegan mayonnaise mixed with garlic or a chili-based hot sauce to your sandwich. Because the fried plantains are sweet, there is no need to load up on additional toppings unless you desire to.

‌Potato chips

Just because you don't eat meat doesn't mean you can indulge in the crunch burger and smash burger trends. Let's veganize these new favorites to make an irresistible plant-based burger that even your meat-loving friends can't resist. And what better way to make something irresistible than by adding deep-fried, crispy potato chips on top?

Make the ultimate plant-based crunch burger by adding the snack food that gives Bobby Flay's signature burger a serious crunch. An imitation meat patty like the Impossible burger creates the ultimate replica of this new-age classic. Creamy sauces like mayonnaise or vegan aioli belong on the lower bun, away from the chips, so that your potato chip burger can stay as dry and crisp as possible. Add pickles, sliced raw onion, ooey-gooey vegan cheese, and other classic toppings to round out the flavors. The crunch of the chips will mimic the chewy yet crispy edge of a burger that has been grilled to perfection. Plus, who doesn't love a little extra salt on their sandwich?

Maple-roasted butternut squash

There's a reason that chicken and waffles, barbecue sauce and ribs, and chutney and poultry are well-loved combinations. It's that salty-sweet duo that we just can't get enough of. You can mimic that same contrast by adding an underrated veggie topping, like roasted butternut squash, to your burger.

Simply slice disks of peeled butternut squash, then rub them with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Roast them until the edges become golden brown and the center is tender and soft. If you're new to the root vegetable party, use a maple-roasted butternut squash recipe to guide you through the process.

Butternut squash is sweet, juicy, and starchy, and it can add moisture to a drier patty. It pairs well with a rice, bean, or quinoa-based burger. To balance the sweetness and starchiness of the squash, add additional toppings like sweet red onion, arugula, crispy kale, and pickled produce.

Grilled pineapple

Grilled pineapple is a staple of the Hawaiian burger, alongside onions, barbecue sauce, and pickles. But it's not like you can slap any old slice of pineapple on a veggie burger and expect your taste buds to sing. You have to prepare the pineapple properly and pair it with the right type of veggie patty. Avoid layering pineapple on a sweet patty like one with a sweet potato or beet base. Instead, choose a bean-based or an imitation-meat burger with a mild or savory flavor.

You should choose fresh over canned pineapple for the best flavor. When you're ready to cook, heat up your grill and sear the pineapple rings until they caramelize. Sprinkle them with a dash of cayenne pepper for a little heat, or slather them with barbecue sauce before adding them to your burger straight from the fire. Omit vegan cheese or creamy sauces, and focus more on tangy notes like pickled vegetables and the very best smoky barbecue sauce you can find. Add a crunch with a plant-based coleslaw, and don't forget about topping your creation with deep-fried onion rings or thickly sliced sweet raw onion.

Nut butter

Can you guess the nutty addition will change your burger forever? Although it may seem a little out of left field, peanut butter makes for a fantastic burger spread. It adds a fatty and salty layer that can help enhance your burger by making it even richer and more savory. If peanuts aren't your thing, try almond butter or tahini as a spread on your toasted bun. 

Although it may seem like you have to be careful about choosing additional toppings that work well with peanut butter, you'll find it pairs well with many others. If your patty is starch-based, and as you know, peanut butter tends to stick to the roof of your mouth, choose some juicy additional toppings like freshly sliced tomatoes and pickles to balance everything out. Crispy onions and lettuce will help alleviate some of that sticky, lip-smacking texture, and a toasted bun never hurts to add a crispy crunch. This unexpected way to use tahini, peanut butter, and almond butter is wildly underrated and is not just for experimental eaters.

Sliced apples

Before you write apples off as an exclusively sweet snack, just think about that crave-worthy savory-sweet combination of cheddar cheese and apple slices that we can't seem to get enough of. Similarly, sliced apples can help add a hint of sweetness to your veggie burger without turning it into a full-blown dessert.

Choose Granny Smith apples or another tart and flavorful variety that isn't too sweet. Then, cut it into thin moon-shaped slices and add them to your patty. It's important to avoid thick chunks or stacking your layers too high. Otherwise, you risk overwhelming your sandwich with apple flavor and a mealy texture.

As long as it's properly placed, the fruit creates the perfect flavor and texture contrast for bean and grain-based burgers and plays nicely with potato chips, vegan bacon, onions, and plant-based cheddar cheese. Avoid adding other sweet ingredients like bread and butter pickles or roasted beets.

Roasted broccoli

Adding broccoli to a burger might seem odd, but you shouldn't knock it until you've tried it! Roasted broccoli makes a great meat substitute in sandwiches because its little leaf-like sprouts hold on to sauces and are easy to keep crunchy. Now that we agree that broccoli has a place between buns, let's talk burgers.

Roasted broccoli is an incredible topping on any type of veggie burger, including ones made with beans, grains, and sweet potatoes. You can also pair it with your imitation meat patties. Simply cut the florets into small slices, toss them with oil, and then roast them in the oven until they start to crisp up. Load your broc-burger with a creamy sauce like garlic aioli or a vegan Russian dressing and other favorites like pickles, onions, and avocado. Strong flavors and foods with fatty mouthfeels help counterbalance the broccoli's earthy flavor. Plus, the crunch of the stalks will give your burger some nice texture. Seriously, roasted broccoli is the flavorful, crunchy upgrade your sandwich needs, so let's get brockin'.

Savory sweet jam

There is a reason that chutneys are typically paired with savory cuts of meat. They help to break up the robust intensity of meat and reset the palate with a fresh, cold, and sweet cleanse. Veggie patties deserve a similar treatment, and the savory-sweet combination couldn't be more intriguing if it tried. Choose a bean, mushroom, or imitation meat base with plenty of umami ingredients like miso, mushroom powder, tomato paste, and soy sauce. Next, select a savory sweet jam or chutney that fits the flavor profile of the ingredients in your burger.

Try onion jam, peach habanero jam, or tomato jam to start. Around the holidays, create your own orange and cranberry chutney and pair it with a white-bean-based burger loaded with poultry seasoning. Or, in the summer, try cooking down fresh fruit with caramelized onions and hot peppers to create a dynamic flavor profile and mouthfeel that will tickle your tastebuds. Just be sure to use a small smear of jam on your toasted bun to avoid overpowering the burger with sugar. Pair this topping with complementary, simple ones so the jam and patty can dance together without being outshone.