Spicy Black Bean Burger with Cilantro and Yogurt Sauce

Spicy Black Bean Burger with Cilantro and Yogurt Sauce served on a plate with a wedge of lime
Photo: Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE

Crank up the flavor to a 10 with this vegan burger with a hint of spice and a surprisingly juicy taste Spicy Black Bean Burger with Cilantro and Yogurt Sauce - that will have the skeptics in your family coming back for seconds. Black beans are combined with powdered walnuts and sautéed onions, garlic, lime juice, cilantro and hot sauce to create a burger that looks and tastes as good as it is good for you!

A Registered Dietitian’s Tip

Beans are a powerhouse of nutrients, providing healthy carbohydrates, proteins and B vitamins, as well as potassium and magnesium. A 12 cup of cooked beans or lentils can pack anywhere from 6 to 10 grams of fiber. Talk about getting the biggest bang for your buck!

Underconsumed nutrient: Despite all the accumulating evidence touting the benefits of fiber, it sadly remains an “underconsumed” nutrient with most Americans consuming barely 15 grams per day. Less than 5 percent of most age and gender subgroups have usual intakes of fiber that meet the adequate intake (AI) level of 25 to 38 grams/day identified by the Institute of Medicine.

One of the easiest “no-cook” ways of adding fiber to your diet is to throw rinsed, canned beans into a salad, or blend canned beans with garlic and spices to make a delicious dip! Try roasting chickpeas with a hint of olive oil and your favorite spices to make a yummy, crunchy snack!

Spicy Black Bean Burger with Cilantro and Yogurt Sauce

Makes 4 burgers


  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 1 and 1/4 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 12 teaspoon chili powder
  • 12 teaspoon cumin powder or garam masala (available at any ethnic Indian grocery)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped, divided (plus extra for optional garnish)
  • 12 cup diced sweet bell peppers
  • 1 15-oz. can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14 cup walnuts
  • 1 slice day-old whole grain bread, toasted and broken into pieces
  • 5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 34 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 4 whole wheat buns
  • 1 thinly sliced small yellow (or red) onion
  • 1 cup raw, freshly shredded green and purple cabbage slaw with shredded carrots (I used the ready-made mix available in my local supermarket)

For the yogurt sauce

  • 3 tablespoons dairy-free yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a thick-bottomed, 6″ skillet. Add the freshly chopped garlic to the oil and saute on medium heat until golden brown. Watch for signs of burning and regulate heat accordingly.
  2. Add the chopped onions and saute until softened, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chopped bell peppers.
  4. Add the chili powder, cumin or garam masala and 1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro, stirring to combine. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a food processor.
  5. Powder the walnuts in a spice mill.
  6. Add the powdered walnuts, drained beans, lime juice, salt, hot sauce and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro to the vegetable mixture from step 5 in the food processor. Combine at high-speed to form a homogeneous mixture.
  7. Divide the bean mixture into 4 parts and shape into approximately 34 inch-thick patties. Transfer to a clean plate, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer for at least 45 minutes to an hour, or until the patties lose some of their “stickiness” and begin to look visibly dry and firmer.
  8. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a large non stick skillet to medium-high heat.
  9. Remove vegan patties from the freezer and gently transfer each one to the skillet. Allow to brown on each side for at least 4 to 5 minutes, or until well browned and crisp. Flip the burger as needed until cooked through. Adjust heat as needed.
  10. Lightly toast whole wheat buns in the same nonstick pan used to make burgers. Transfer to a warm plate.
  11. To prepare the yogurt sauce, simply combine the yogurt with the hot sauce.
  12. Spread a teaspoon of yogurt sauce on one half of the whole wheat bun. Layer the warm burger, onion slices and slaw on top of the sauce.
  13. Garnish with more slaw and freshly chopped cilantro as desired, and serve hot.
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Sangeeta Pradhan
Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE, is the diabetes program coordinator of Charles River Medical Associates in Massachusetts, chair of the Central Mass Dietetic Association and nutrition columnist for India New England News. Read her blog, Web Dietitian, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.