How to Make a Tofu Burger

When I first became vegan back in September of 2010 (5 months ago already!), I was kind of addicted to the veggie tofu burgers from Trader Joe’s. Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious. BUT, they are also loaded with sodium as are most prepared veggie burgers. What’s wrong with sodium? It is a major contributor to high blood pressure and other serious problems like dementia and kidney disease. Click here to read an article written by Dr. Fuhrman on the dangers of sodium that was published in the Huffington Post last week.

Since late last year, I’ve eliminated most of the added sodium from my diet. Sometimes, I’ll still discover sodium in foods I never thought would have it including most boxed nut milks. I should also note that while humans do need sodium in our diets to survive, plant foods contain a natural amount of sodium in the general amount of .5 mg/kcal of food (about 1,000 mg per 2,000 kcal of food). The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans that were released earlier this year recommend that people consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. People older than 51, children and those who have certain diseases should consume less than 1,500 mg per day. Many medical professionals think that the 1,500 mg maximum daily guideline should extend to everyone.

But, I digress. The point is that I have started making my own tofu burgers without any added sodium and they are really easy and delicious. Here’s a general guide. I’ve updated an older recipe here that can be made without any sodium. I also now bake my burgers instead of pan-frying them to reduce the fat content.

Start with some tofu, preferably firm or extra-firm. You’ll need about a pound for 4-6 burgers. Press the tofu to get rid of any excess water. The last think you want is a watery burger. I use my Tofu Xpress, but you can also press your tofu between two plates with cans stacked on top. You’re going to need a food processor to mix the burgers well.

You can get creative with what you put in the burger mixture. I start with the tofu and usually add some shredded vegetables like carrots or zucchini and some chopped mushrooms. Chopped onions are a nice addition as well. I also like to add about a 1/4 cup of some kind of nut or seed like walnuts or sunflower seeds. Using about 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxmeal is also a good idea because it helps bind the burgers. The tofu is usually still moist enough even after pressing that it provides enough moisture for the burger. If not, feel free to add a tablespoon of water.

Combine all of your ingredients in your food processor:

It’s also a good idea to add some dried herbs at this point because there won’t be any salt. I usually add a few teaspoons of ground cumin, some dill and maybe a teeny bit of cayenne pepper for a kick. Process the mixture until it is all mixed together. Then, use your hands to form the burgers and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet:

Bake at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, flipping once. I like to serve mine on lettuce with some grilled onions, a side salad and/or steamed vegetables on the side:

If you need more flavor with your burger, pour a little balsamic vinegar on top. If needed, freeze the uncooked patties to cook at a later date. These burgers taste so moist and delicious that you’ll never have to buy the pre-made ones again!

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  1. says

    Your tofu burgers look phenomenal! My biggest problem with veggie burgers is that they fall apart when I try to cook them, and these seem to hold together nicely. Probably could stand less sodium in my diet too 🙂

  2. says

    Tofu, in burgers?! Amazing!

    My problem with burgers is that I just kind of throw stuff in and totally forget to formulate any recipe… so they’re unique creations each time and if they’re incredible I get a little annoyed at myself for being so disorganised!

    My current trick to help them bind is to use a handful of sprouted beans and seeds along with a tablespoon of flaxseed soaked in a tablespoon or water, all thrown in the blender with the veggies and pulses (or tofu!). It sticks really well then. Hope that helps Helen!

    Did you use any flour at all Carrie? I usually roll mine in a little soy flour simply to stop my hands and everything in the kitchen getting super-sticky!

    Tofu was on sale at the store so tofu-burgers are on the menu this weekend, thanks for the idea Carrie. And congrats on the 5month anniversary!

    • says

      Hi Leigh, thanks for the tips! I usually find that the flaxmeal works well enough for binding and my burgers are too sticky that I need flour. But, that’s a great idea in case of stickiness. 🙂

  3. says

    Your Trader Joes had vegan veggie burgers? Our TJ’s burgers have eggs in them 🙁

    I’ve been making simple burgers with 1 cup tofu, 1 cup wheat gluten, 1 cup whatever beans I have re-hydrated and cooked (garbanzo, pinto, etc) plus whichever seasonings I am craving (curry lately). I pan fry that. It comes out alright! I then douse it in Dinosaur Barbecue Sauce and voila! Tofu burger. Though I’ll have to try this recipe, though I have to admit… the fat makes it a burger 😉 The baking will be exciting.

    • says

      Hi Chris, now I’m not sure if the veggie burgers from TJ’s were even vegan. I haven’t bought them in a long time now that I’m making my own. Definitely try baking your burgers and see if that works for you! Your recipe sounds great, do you have any problem getting them to stick together?

  4. says

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the TJ burger recipe was changed. It can be hard to get veggie burgers to stay together.

    I don’t have problems with them sticking together, though I missed an important step – letting the dough sit. The gluten acts as a binding agent, and binds more when it has some time to rest 🙂

  5. says

    I own a gormet hot sauce company and one of my products has zero percent salt. It is called Mango Bango. It has a great sweet taste and then you get a kick. It is great for people with special diets. The best thing about it is that it goes with almost any food (veggie or not). Carrie if you would like a free bottle to try, just let me know

    • says

      Thanks for the kind offer, Roy! I’m so happy to hear you have a salt-free hot sauce available. Since I am traveling right now, I won’t take you up on your offer just yet, but I will check out your product. What’s your website?

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