A bean burger from the cans at the back of the press

If you are missing some ingredients, you may still be able to improvise with what you have

I intended writing about bean burgers this week, even before the coronavirus hit. Little did I know how much we would be thinking about what we stock in our pantries. That tin of beans at the back of the larder might be called into action sooner than expected.

If you are stuck at home with no access to some of these ingredients, fret not, you may still be able to create a delicious bean burger with what you have. Versatility is one of the best assets to have when it comes to cooking. You can create a whole new version of a recipe by changing some of the ingredients.

In this instance, any type of crackers will work, and kidney beans or cannellini can replace the black beans. Dried beans are a fantastic pantry staple as they’re low bulk and store very well. Simply soak them overnight and cook them the next day low and slow for an hour or two. If you don’t soak them, they will take longer to cook.

The fresh coriander works really well with the black beans but parsley, oregano or frozen basil leaves can replace it. You can also use a little freshly snipped rosemary or thyme, lemon zest and black pepper with the cannellini beans, if you have it.


If you’re running low on eggs, use a tablespoon of ground linseed or chia seeds as an egg replacer. Soak the ground seeds in two tablespoons of water and leave to swell for 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe as normal.

The beauty of these burgers is that they’re almost like falafel. You can sandwich them between a bread bun or warm pitta, or crumble them into a wrap, but they’re equally good served alongside salad.

I’ve been making these bean burgers for years. I developed the recipe for my second book, Dream Deli, as a vegetarian main course that is filling and wholesome. Lately I’ve been serving it with a generous dollop of Ballymaloe jalapeño relish to give a spicy kick, or melting some sharp Cheddar on top just before serving.

They freeze well, too, with a sheet of greaseproof paper between each burger.


Makes six

460g cooked black beans (2 x 400g tins, drained)
200g sweetcorn
2 cloves garlic
1tsp smoked paprika
¼tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp smoked or regular sea salt
20g fresh coriander (stalks and leaves finely chopped)
1 egg (whisked)
180g cream crackers (crushed)

1. Place the garlic in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.

2. Add the beans, sweetcorn, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and coriander.

3. Pulse until the mixture has been combined and some of the corn and beans puréed. You need to avoid the entire mixture becoming a wet mush, so only blitz a little.

4. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the egg and cracker crumbs. The mixture should combine nicely into a workable “dough”. This whole process can easily be done in a bowl with a potato masher or fork.

5. Using wet hands, shape into six equal-sized patties. Place on a plate and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rest in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

6. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add a little olive oil and fry the burgers for about four minutes on each side until golden.

7. Serve in warmed bread rolls with sweet potato wedges, salad, sour cream and guacamole.