This smoky aubergine burger is a game changing veggie burger. Melt in the mouth aubergine running through this makes it a textural sensation.
Burgers are the summer food. That’s a statement I strongly stand by.
I mean, burgers are great all year around, but in summer they’re really great. Having a good summer burger recipe can make all the difference.
Last year I shared my Classic Spicy Black Bean Burgers which were a total hit. This year it’s my smoky aubergine burgers. These are delicious and quite different from most vegetarian/vegan burgers you will ever have had before.
Smoky aubergine burger
This is without a doubt my new favourite burger recipe. It’s got great texture, great flavour and it’s super easy to prepare. As the name suggests, this burger is predominantly made from smoky aubergines.
The aubergines are charred or grilled till soft and smoky before they’re added into the burger mix. It’s a flavour profile that works beautifully in this burger.
Aubergines are not normally incorporated in burgers, and this is primarily due to their texture. They’re very soft and the way they melt in the mouth does not bode well for a burger.
A soft and overly squishy burger is never a good burger, and that is why this recipe is going to change the game. Not just for burgers, but also for aubergines.
Traditionally veggie burgers are often proclaimed for being dry, flavourless and lacking texture. I can confirm that these are neither dry, flavourless or texture-less.
The aubergines provide a great deal of moisture and the seasonings, though simple, provide the perfect kick of flavour that lifts the entire burger. There are several ingredients here which add texture, ensuring you get a good crunch which contrasts the melt-in-the-mouth aubergines.
All of these ingredients will be covered in more detail below.
There are key components here that truly make this burger one of the best vegetarian burgers around:
- Burger bun – a MAJOR factor here. A good bun can change everything. I recommend that you use my Homemade Burger Buns recipe which is exactly what I have done here. These buns resemble a cross between a potato roll and brioche in texture, they also have great structure
- Smoky aubergine patty – the real MVP of this recipe. This patty is what this recipe is about, it’s full of great flavour and texture!
- Cheese – a crucial part of any burger. Cheddar is the cheese that is used most often, however here we’ll be using halloumi. A Greek cheese that doesn’t melt, making it perfect for grilling. Once grilled this salty cheese adds a lovely bite and flavour which compliments the flavours of the smoky aubergine patty
- Mango salsa – the burger topping you never knew you needed. It’s sour, it’s sweet and there’s a little heat to it. It’s the perfect vibrant addition to this burger
This smoky aubergine burger is:
- Vegan (sub the halloumi for a vegan alternative or omit)
- Easy to make
- A total crowd pleaser
If that sounds like your type of burger, then carry on reading.
Burger texture matters
Gone are the days of the dry or mushy vegetable burgers. Texture can make or break a burger and hence it was imperative to make this smoky aubergine burger perfect.
It was essential for it to have varying degrees of texture running through each bite.
The danger with an aubergine burger is that is runs the risk of turning mushy or slimy. That’s a huge no-go for burgers and therefore other ingredients have been added in to provide the necessary bite.
The use of walnuts and sun dried tomatoes adds a subtle chew as well as a nutty bite that runs through the patty. This balances out the aubergine texture whilst also adding flavour.
They are two simple additions but they transform the burger completely.
Mango salsa on everything
This is one of the key layers and components of this burger. I’m a firm believer in balance and that concept applies to food too.
With the burger being rich, juicy, spicy and smoky, there has to be a component within there to balance it all out. But not just that, that component also has to cut through the spices and lift all the flavours.
The key to that is a mixture of sweetness and acidity.
Cue the mango salsa.
This mango salsa is sweet, it’s sour, it’s got subtle spices through the jalapenos and a great allium flavour from the red onions. The red onions also start to pickle within the salsa and take on a lovely sweetness themselves.
The type of mango itself is also very important as there are a huge variety available within the mango world. I use a Brazilian mango which tends to be the keitt or kent variety.
These have a combination of sweetness and tartness which I personally love. These varieties are more readily available than others such as alphonso and kesar mangos which in turn makes this salsa even easier to throw together.
On the note of alphonso and kesar mangos, I’d advise avoiding those for this salsa as they’re often too sweet and too soft. We really want that acidity here along with some bite from the mango.
This mango salsa is also perfect for any occasion and even go great with nachos or tacos.
What you’ll need
The full recipe can be found at the end of the blogpost
For this recipe you’ll need:
- Globe aubergines – these are the regular aubergine variety you’d find in the supermarket
- Potato – this helps with binding and texture
- Garlic – we must never question the garlic, it is always essential
- Red bird’s eye chilli – however omit for a totally mild burger
- White onion
- Walnuts – for texture! Sunflower seeds would also work well
- Sundried tomatoes – adds some acidity and texture, thus creating a better burger
- Tomato paste – adds umami
- Smoked paprika – extra smokiness!
- Coriander – parsley may also be used here
- Black pepper
- Plain flour – for binding
- Brazilian mango
- Pickled jalapenos – you could also use fresh but I find pickled to be far more readily available
- Red onion
- Coriander – or parsley
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Burger buns – I recommend my Homemade Burger Buns recipe as always!
How to make this smoky aubergine burger
Let’s start with the burger patty itself:
1+2) First start by piercing your aubergines all over with a fork, and then placing them over an open flame on high heat. Carefully turn the aubergines over throughout until it is evenly charred all over. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes and the aubergine will soften completely. You can check this by running a sharp knife through the aubergine.
This can also be done with a blowtorch, on a barbecue, or even roasted in the oven and then finished with a blowtorch.
3) Allow the aubergines to cool completely
4) Then remove the skin of the aubergines, this does not need to be perfect
5) Toast some walnuts on a low heat for 5 minutes. Then coarsely chop them and leave aside
6) Sauté the onion, garlic and chilli
7+8) Add the tomato paste and smoked paprika and mix
9) Place the aubergines in a mixing bowl
10) Add the salt, black pepper, sundried tomatoes, coriander, onion mixture and coarsely chopped walnuts
11) Add grated steamed potato
12) Mix together whilst lightly breaking down the aubergine pieces. Leave some chunks in there for texture
13+14) Add the flour and continue to mix
15 +16) Pan fry the burgers until browned and crispy, flipping over half way through. Use lightly oiled hands to shape the patties, as this will allow for easy and even burgers
Let’s not forget the mango salsa:
Mix all the ingredients together and set aside. Simple but incredibly flavourful!
Finally let’s assemble the burger:
1) Firstly toast your burger buns – worth it!
2) Then place some rocket on top
3) Add the smoked aubergine burger patty
4) Add some grilled halloumi on top. I’d say 3 pieces of halloumi is a good amount, but do you. Go for more or less
5) Add a good heap of the mango salsa on top. Be generous because it honestly is delicious!
6) Lastly place the burger lid on top and enjoy
Can the burgers be made in advance?
The burger mix can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for 2-3 days. The burgers themselves can be pan fried in advance and then reheated in a hot pan once again.
The burger patties (uncooked) can also be prepared and left on a tray lined with baking paper. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to pan fry them.
Can the burgers be air fried or baked? Or even cooked on a barbecue?
These burgers cannot be air fried or baked, it simply does not work. Hence please stick with pan frying for these.
These cannot be cooked from the raw mix on a barbecue because the mix is quite soft and will fall through. If intending to barbecue, pan fry first and then reheat on the barbecue.
How can the burgers be made nut-free?
Substitute the walnuts for sunflower seeds, this will also work fine. I definitely recommend having some sort of seed or nut because it provides necessary texture and bite.
Smoky Aubergine Burger
For the burger patties:
- 2 aubergines I use the globe variety
- 1 medium potato peeled, steamed and grated
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 red bird’s eye chillies minced
- 1 white onion finely chopped
- 80 g walnuts toasted and roughly chopped
- 10 sundried tomatoes roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste normally comes in a tube
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- Small handful of coriander finely chopped (or parsley)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 5 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for shallow frying
For the mango salsa:
- 1 mango cut into small cubes (I use the Brazilian varieties for more tartness)
- 10 pickled jalapeno slices or use 1-2 fresh jalapenos, finely sliced
- 1 red onion finely sliced
- Small handful of coriander finely chopped (or parsley)
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Buns and Toppings:
- 8 burger buns or use my homemade burger bun recipe on the site
- 450 g halloumi sliced and grilled
For the burger patties:
- First start by piercing your aubergines all over with a fork, and then placing them over an open flame on high heat. Carefully turn the aubergines over throughout evenly charred all over. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes and the aubergine will soften completely. You can check this by running a sharp knife through the aubergine. This can also be done with a blowtorch, on a barbecue, or even roasted in the oven and then finished with a blowtorch.
- Then allow the aubergines to cool completely, once cooled remove as much of the skin as possible
- Toast the walnuts in a dry pan on low heat for 5 minutes, then set aside and roughly chop
- In a pan sauté the onion, garlic, and chilli in the olive oil. Do this over a medium heat for several minutes until the onions are translucent
- Add the tomato paste and smoked paprika and continue to cook for a further minute
- Roughly chop the aubergines and add to a mixing bowl, then add the salt, black pepper, walnut mixture, onion mixture, sundried tomatoes, grated potato and coriander. Mix to combine. The mixture should be chunky and rough, we want pieces of aubergine and texture!
- Add the plain flour to the mixture and continue to mix. If the mixture is still too sticky, add an additional 1-2tbsp of flour
- Use lightly oiled hands to form burger patties and shallow fry on a medium low heat until browned on both sides. As the burger mix is sticky, shape them and immediately place in the pan to start cooking
For the mango salsa:
- Simply mix all ingredients together. For best results refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavours to mingle
Assembling the burger:
- Toast the inside of the burger buns until lightly browned
- Place rocket
- Then place the burger patty
- Follow this with some grilled halloumi
- Finally a generous spoon of the mango salsa
- Place the burger lid on and enjoy