Suzanne’s Southwest Veggie Burgers with Chipotle Mayo


At restaurants, the go-to veggie burger seems to be a portobello mushroom on a bun. I understand why. They are easy to make and pretty darn good. My vegetarian friend Dale thinks they are a copout. She wants the chef to put a little effort into her entrées. Brushing olive oil on a mushroom and throwing it on the grill doesn’t cut it in her book.

At home, one option is store-bought frozen vegetarian burgers. There are many to choose from; some tolerable; some very processed with painted on grill marks. I admit that back when I still ate packaged food, I used to keep a box of these in my freezer for quick lunches. I’ve also brushed off the freezer burn and served them to my vegetarian friends while the rest of us ate freshly made beef burgers. My vegetarian aunt tells me that her ilk are used to slim pickings at cookouts and are usually delighted when there is an option besides potato salad and coleslaw, a little freezer burn or not.

Of course a homemade veggie burger is the way to go. In my circle of friends the best veggie burger recipe is called Suzanne’s Veggie Burgers or sometimes Suzanne’s Bean Burgers or Suzanne’s Southwest Veggie/Bean Burgers. These are legendary.  Suzanne, modestly, says that it isn’t her recipe, just one that she recognized years ago as a very good thing. In fact she thinks that it is such a good thing, that other than swapping out regular breadcrumbs with gluten-free breadcrumbs, she hasn’t tweaked it at all.

I, on the other hand, tweaked it. If you want Suzanne’s version, google:  Southwest Pinto Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise. It’s in a few places and is originally from Cooking Light magazine. Since I don’t cook light, I mucked about and came up with a version that satisfies my need for a healthy dose of fat.

And even though I threw in some mushrooms, I think I’ll still call them Suzanne’s Southwest Veggie Burgers. If it’s not her recipe, she certainly inspired it.

Vegetarian friends, take heart. I will do my best to keep these stocked in my freezer. I’ll even wrap them extra well to keep the freezer burn out. Dale, I have one with your name on it!

1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
1-2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained  (Substitute 1 can if you must use canned)
1 cup whole-kernel corn, drained

1 tablespoon Olive oil for cooking

6 whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted
Your favorite burger toppings.


  • In a large bowl, add everything but the beans and corn; mix well. Add beans and corn; partially mash with a fork or a potato masher.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. Divide bean mixture into 6 equal portions, shape into patties and place on baking sheet. Freeze for 15-20 minutes. If you want to make these ahead, freeze overnight (or longer, just be sure to wrap them well) and follow the directions for cooking frozen burgers.
  • Cooking these burgers is the challenging part. They tend to fall apart.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan, and cook 4-5 minutes, then carefully flip. If they start to separate, just push them back together. Cook for another 4-5 minutes or until heated through. Melt cheese on top, if you want (I always want cheese). Place directly on bun. Moving these too many times isn’t a good idea.

Alternative cooking methods

  • Heat oven to 375. Lightly brush baking sheet with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake another 10 minutes. This is a good option if you are feeding a crowd.

Cooking Frozen

  • If you are cooking frozen burgers in a skillet, add a lid so that the insides cook thoroughly. Cook for about 6-8 minutes each side. Frozen burgers work well in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes each side.

Fix your burger up with the chipotle mayo, guacamole, onions, lettuce and what ever you want. Eat on a bun or wrapped in a big piece of floppy lettuce.

Serves 6
Chipotle Mayo
I kind of think this mayo makes these burgers. I’m going to be slathering this on many things including the first fresh ear of corn I see this summer. Extra credit if you make the mayonnaise yourself.

1/4 cup mayonnaise, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon dried chipotle chile powder OR 1 teaspoon canned minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
couple squeezes of a lime


  • Mix it all together and let meld for about 10 minutes.