Teriyaki Veggie Burgers
The availability of plant-based meat has been a real game changer for my Meatwaves. Where once my vegetarian constituency were required to partake in completely different dishes than the omnivores, I often find myself able to now make something almost the same, or very close, in both meat and non-meat options. Doing duel recipes has been my go-to strategy, but these teriyaki veggie burgers represented something wholly new at a cookout this past summer—a vegetarian burger where I served no meat-based alternative.
A large part of why that was is thanks to the use of teriyaki sauce. My objective was to inject so much sweet and savory flavor into the Impossible patties that even a meat eater wouldn't miss the beef all that much. I think starting by making my own teriyaki sauce was key to this success since homemade afforded me the opportunity to pack the sauce with a lot more flavor than teriyaki sauces you pull off grocery shelves. It's common for each chef to customize their teriyaki sauce, also known as yakitori tare, and while that gave me a freedom to do what I wanted, I still kept things pretty traditional and simple with the additions of garlic, scallions, and white pepper to the base sauce comprised of soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, and sake that's boiled down into a medium-thick syrup.
I was serving these teriyaki burgers at a tiki-inspired event, so I went pretty traditional with the toppings as well by using pineapple and sweet onions. I'll always take an excuse to utilize the grill to the max in my recipes, so I took those pineapple slices to the flames to get some nice grill marks and caramelization, which only enhanced their flavor.
I did the same with the onions, which I had cut into roughly three-quarter inch rounds and skewered so they would hold together on the grill. I cooked these until the exteriors were well charred, at which point the center of the onion slices were crisp-tender and the flavor gained an even more pronounced sweetness.
I've been cooking with plant-based meat for a few years now, but it still always surprises me how much they feel and cook up like real ground beef. Over direct high heat, it didn't take long for the patties to develop an attractive deep brown hue with strong grill marks that made them look very akin to a beef patty.
Once they were almost done grilling, I brushed on the teriyaki sauce, which due to its thickness and heavy sugar content, set on the patties very quickly. It was actually faster than I was even expecting and when I started to smell burnt sugar, I got nervous that I had overdone them, but the those odors ended up being emitted from sauce that had dripped down onto the coals and not what was now well adhered to the burgers.
To go all in on the tiki-theme, I decided to serve these on King's Hawaiian sweet buns, which ended up being a little smaller than the standard burger bun, resulting in the patty overflowing past the edges a bit. To finish up the burgers before serving, I topped each with a slice of grilled pineapple, some rings of sweet onion, a sprinkling of scallions, and a finishing drizzle of more teriyaki sauce.
If one thing worries me about using plant-based meat, it's that it could be too close to actual meat and turn off some of my vegetarian friends, but luckily that fear was unfounded as these burgers went quick and were well received. As I had set out to do, they had an incredibly deep sweet and savory flavor with a tiki feel that was cemented by the pineapple and onion toppers. I ended up having to cook up another couple because they went so fast and I'm not totally sure, but I suspect some of the meat eaters grabbed them and enjoyed them just as much as a regular burger, making it my first veggie burger option that did not require a meaty companion for everyone to enjoy it.
Teriyaki Veggie Burgers
- Yield 8 servings
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Inactive 30 Minutes
- Cook 20 Minutes
- Total 1 Hour
- For the Teriyaki Sauce
- 1 cup Japanese shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1 cup mirin
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sake
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4 scallions, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoon white peppercorns
- For the Burgers
- 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 large sweet onion, cut into 3/4-inch slices and skewered horizontally so the rings lie flat on the grill
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil, for brushing
- 8 plant-based or veggie burger patties
- 8 hamburger buns, preferably Hawaiian sweet buns
- 1/2 cup finely sliced freshly scallions
- To make the teriyaki sauce: Combine soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, sake, garlic, scallions, and white peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium, whisk to combine, and cook until mixture is thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Set aside or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the burgers: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals evenly across charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean grilling grate. Brush onions with oil, place on grill, and cook until softened and well charred on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer onions to a cutting board or plate.
- Place pineapple slices on the grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until well browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer pineapple to a cutting board or plate with onions.
- Place veggie burgers on grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until well browned and warmed through. Brush burgers with teriyaki sauce all over and continue to cook until sauce has set, about 30 seconds per side.
- Transfer each veggie burger to the bottom half of each bun. Remove skewers from onions and separate into individual rings. Top each burger with pineapple slices and onions to taste, drizzle with additional teriyaki sauce, and sprinkle on scallions. Set top halves of buns in place and serve immediately.
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Kristen Clement Made these last night - delicious! I regret not adding the pineapple - it would have added that sweetness accent. We used Beyond Burgers and they're great.