Quinoa Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers (Gluten-free)

What is the biggest problem with veggie burgers? Texture, right? Achieving the perfect patty that is firm on the outside (and doesn’t fall apart!) and tender and juicy on the inside can be a dilemma.  A lot of times they have floury fillers and binders that may work, but don’t add much nutritional value and are a problems for those with gluten sensitivities. 

Believe me, I’ve tried almost all of them: bean burgers, lentil burgers, grain and mushroom burgers to name a few.  And if you know me at all, I use mushrooms very judiciously!  Just not a fan!  But I was willing to take one for the team!  Now, I know I don’t have to. 


Enter this quinoa, sweet potato burger. This gluten-free burger is held together with protein-rich quinoa, black beans and flaxmeal and mashed together with sweet potato, pumpkin seeds and nutmeal for a juicy flour-free burger that’s packed with great flavors!  Each burger is only 215 calories and has 8g of protein.  Of course, what you add to your burger is up to you and will definitely add to the calorie count, but with this flavorful burger, you can get away with minor toppings if you like. 

On this one we are going all out with a hot pepper mayo – totally optional – greens, tomato, avocado and thinly sliced onions.  Even on a whole grain bun, with all my toppings, it still registers under 450 calories!  Hmmm… I’m thinking carmelized onions would be a great way to go as well.  The world is your veggie burger!

The second day we had these as part of a salad.  Forgive my anemic “iceberg” lettuce… it’s what I got from Bountiful Baskets this week and all I had on hand.  Normally, I’d green it up a lot more!  The dressing is a simple buttermilk ranch… buttermilk, Greek yogurt, lemon, dill, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.  

Another plus… my 15-month old g-son loves them!  Just break them up in small pieces for the little ones. 

If you make this burger, please leave a comment… or even if you’d just like to make this burger!  I love hearing from you. Let’s me know I’m not all alone out here!.

Quinoa Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

Tried and true best veggie burger I've ever made. High-protein, juicy and tender burger that's packed with great flavor!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Chill time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: burgers, high-protein, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 8 burgers
Author: Kiki Simpson, Healthy Sexy Kitchen


  • 2 small sweet potatoes 1.5 - 2 cups once cooked and smashed
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked I used red quinoa, but any color will do
  • 1 cup black beans, cooked from can or dried
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) chopped, roughly
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts) chopped, fine
  • 1/3 cup onion grated or minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika can use chili powder instead
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup can use agave nectar instead
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (or sage - or both!) fresh or dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 large egg optional


  • 1 avocado sliced or smashed
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 1/2 sweet or red onion sliced thin
  • lettuce, or other greens, torn I used Swiss Chard

Pepper Mayo

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise or sour cream
  • 2 hot pickled cherry peppers stems removed


The Burgers

  • Scrub and cook the sweet potatoes. You can either bake them in the oven or the microwave and wait till cool and slip the skins off. Or you can peel and dice and boil them till tender.
  • Meanwhile, Bring 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, covered. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl to cool while sweet potatoes cool.
  • Add black beans and slightly cooled sweet potatoes to quinoa and using a potato masher, smash them together fairly well, but not smooth. Add flaxmeal, pumpkin seeds, pecans, minced onion, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, maple syrup, thyme, salt and black pepper and egg (if using) and stir until well incorporated (hands are best!). Cover and chill in fridge for 30 minutes (if you have time!). The chill time will help hold the burgers together.
  • Form into 8 patties. Place on lined and slightly oiled sheet pan and lightly brush (or spray) with heat tolerant oil (like avocado, peanut or coconut oil). Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, flip them and bake for 10-20 minutes more, depending on how crispy you want them. Alternatively, you can pan fry them over medium-high heat about 4-5 minutes per side.

The Pepper Mayo

  • Combine the mayo and the cherry peppers in a mini food processor or blender and puree until smooth. You can also just finely mince the peppers and stir into the mayo.

Other Toppings

  • Slice and prepare your toppings and place them on a platter for people to help themselves.
  • If serving on buns, you may want to grill them slightly over medium-high heat in a cast-iron or any other skillet. Serve alongside burgers and toppings.


Make it Vegan: Skip the egg and use vegan mayo.
To grill the burgers: It's best to pan fry for about 2 minutes a side before putting on the grill. Pre-cooking the burgers keeps them from falling apart or sticking to the grill as readily.

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