My first job out of college was yanking vegetables out of the ground on a little organic farm on the northern edge of Yamhill Valley. We grew a lot of beets, which are a regal vegetable in their own right, but even better when mixed with other things. Beet burgers, for example, combine shredded beets with cheese, nuts, and parsley, and as far as I’m concerned, are much tastier than regular burgers.
I first came across a beet burger recipe on the bookshelf of the couple who ran the farm. They owned many books on farming and homesteading, like The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing, and Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop. I can’t remember the name of the book which contained the beet burger recipe (maybe it was Farmer John’s Cookbook?), but I do remember that I copied it down onto a scrap of paper, now crumpled many times over and stained blood red from beet juice.
I made my first batch of beet burgers on that farm back in 2009 and have made them every year since. I made a batch for our wedding in 2013, and always make a few for our family camping trips in the summer. I just finished my most recent batch yesterday.
Enough history. Here’s the recipe, perfected over eleven years and at least 300 burgers.
- 4 cups (~ 600 grams) peeled grated beets
- 4 cups (~ 600 grams) peeled grated carrots
- 1 cup (~ 250 grams) grated onion
- 2 cup (~ 260 grams) cooked brown rice 1
- 2 cup (~ 230 grams) grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cup (~ 300 grams) toasted sunflower seeds
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup (~ 150 grams) toasted sesame seeds
- 1 cup (200 grams) vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons (45 grams) all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (20 grams) fresh chopped parsley
- 6 garlic cloves (14 grams), minced
- 4 tablespoons (45 grams) soy sauce
- Crushed red pepper to taste 2
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (it’s okay if the pan isn’t rimmed - they don’t tend to “leak” much while baking).
- Press into approximately 24 patties, squeezing out as much liquid as possible.
- Place on the parchment paper and make sure they’re circular (I find it easiest to squeeze them like a snowball in my hands and then to flatten them out onto the parchment paper, thickness should be about half an inch).
- They won’t expand or stick together, so it’s okay if the patties touch one another.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes at 350 degrees (no need to flip them, and you’ll know they’re done when the beets start to brown – the very edges might be blackened a bit).
- Eat right away or wrap in foil sprayed with cooking oil and freeze.
I always make these in bulk for camping food, hence the wrapping in foil at the end. To reheat, I just put over a campfire (or on a grill) until they’re steamy. The patties themselves tend to be pretty soft, so they pair nicely with crunchier fixings – think toasted bread, romaine lettuce, potato chips, etc. I like them with a bit of mustard, mayo, and ketchup. Haven’t tried them with kraut or kimchi but it’s on my list.
The veggie and seed ingredients are approximate – feel free to use more carrots, less beets, or a little more of both. It’s not an exact science.
If you’d like to try out a vegan version, have a look at this recipe. I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s on my to do list.