Unfussy Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

These are just what they sound like: unfussy, un-fancy sweet potato black bean burgers.

What makes them sort of remarkable is the fact that this is the first sweet potato black bean burger I’ve ever made! It’s difficult to wrap my mind around, since the sweet potato + black bean combination is a regular favorite in my recipes: I’ve featured it in bowls, enchiladas, salads, and more.

Since making these sliders, I’ve been on a somewhat uncharacteristic homemade burger kick. In that post, I mentioned that my favorite burger-making shortcut is to forgo sautéing any of the ingredients, onions and garlic included, and opting to use garlic and/or onion powder instead. I completely disregarded my own advice when I made these burgers, though, quickly sautéing some onion (along with the black beans and seasonings) before mixing the burgers.

It’s good to contradict oneself sometimes. The burgers would probably taste good with onion powder, but I do think that cooking fresh onion and allowing the spices to heat up a bit here adds flavor, along with texture.

Aside from that step, the rest of the recipe is as easy as can be. You can use baked sweet potato, but I microwaved mine because I was short on time, and I used canned beans. The binder here is rolled oats (some ground up in the food processor, some whole), which means that the burgers are naturally and easily gluten-free if you have a GF certified oat brand that you like. Pumpkin seeds help to bind them as well, too, and they add some healthful fat to the mix.

The burgers are wonderful served traditionally: on a toasted bun or roll with some ketchup. Since tomatoes are just about perfect in my neck of the woods right now, I’ve been adding thick slices to my burgers, along with a few pieces of butter lettuce. Along with a quick side salad or some steamed vegetables, the burgers make for a perfectly satisfying and flavorful meal. Unfussy, un-fancy, and no worse for it.

Here’s the recipe.


  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (substitute a few tablespoons vegetable broth or water)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes (to your taste)
  • 1 cup rolled oats, divided into 3/4 and 1/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds


  • First, cook your sweet potatoes. Prick them with a fork several times, then bake at 400F till fork tender or microwave the potatoes for 5-6 minutes each. Allow the potatoes to cool till they can be touched, and use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out of the potato skins. You should have about 2 cup of sweet potato to use in the burgers.
  • Either lower the oven heat to 375F (if you baked the potatoes) or preheat it to 375F (if you microwave cooked them). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Add the olive oil (or oil or water) to a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onion is clear and tender. Add the black beans and all of the spices. Stir and heat till the ingredients are warmed through.
  • Place 3/4 cup of the rolled oats and the pumpkin seeds into a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process for about 1 minute, until you have a relatively fine meal. Add the onion/bean/spice mix to the processor, along with the cooked sweet potato and the remaining 1/4 cup rolled oats. Pulse the mixture until everything is broken down and is starting to blend up evenly. Then turn the mixture out into a mixing bowl and use a fork to mix everything together thoroughly. This way the burgers will be blended but retain some texture!
  • Allow the burger mixture to sit for 5 minutes (it'll firm up like this). Shape it into 6-8 patties. Add them to the baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned, flipping once through.


Burgers can be frozen for up to 6 weeks. They will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

You can serve the burgers traditionally each and every time you enjoy them. But if you have a bunch leftover, as I do, they’re also great broken into pieces and served in a bowl (what you see above is cooked brown rice, cucumber, roasted peppers, the burger leftovers, and greens with tahini dressing). They’re also good stuffed into pitas, falafel-style.

The only big downside of these burgers is that they’re too tender, pre-cooking, to work on a grill or in a grill pan, so baking is the only option. The good news is that it’s a particularly healthful and hands-off option. If you make them, I hope you’ll enjoy their heartiness and lack of fussiness as much as I have.

Circling back to Sunday’s post, I’m still reentering work and life, still dealing with the ups and downs of adjustment, still feeling very inward. Letting it all be what it is. I’ll see you this weekend, for the usual roundup.

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