Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potato Patties — Zippy Vegan Delight!

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After attending Vegetarian Summerfest and eating amazing food prepared under the expert eye of Mark Reinfield (of 30-Minute Vegan fame), I was understandably a bit spoiled.  I was also craving simple food seeing that I ate myself stupid three meals a day, every day while I was there, including more dessert than I usually eat in several months.  So when I got a chance to experiment in the kitchen last week, I took a crack at inventing my first-ever original veggie patty/veggie burger recipe.

(I’m planning to do a post about Summerfest, I swear–it was just so much to take in that I’m still sorting through it all even two weeks later!)

Black bean and sweet potato is one of my favorite combinations.  I like the way the earthy and sweet flavors complement each other, and adding a hint of spiciness rounds it out nicely.  It just so happened that I had a jar of chipotle garlic salsa in the refrigerator, thus these Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potato Patties were born.

vegan black bean sweet potato patties closeup
I owe much of the success of this recipe to Kathy over at the Healthy. Happy. Life. blog.  A few years ago, she did an amazing post called Veggie Burger Test Kitchen in which she offers a detailed breakdown of what makes a good veggie burger and how to achieve patties that don’t fall apart when they’re cooked.  I’ve had it bookmarked since then and went back to it when putting these patties together.

Following her suggestions, I started out with a base of black beans, added some shredded sweet potato for flavor as well as moisture and used a bit of vital wheat gluten to bind it all together.  To give these a spicy Mexican flair, I tossed in some chopped onion and bell pepper along with a bit of salsa, and ta daa!  Patties were born.

I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself.

One thing Kathy mentions that I hadn’t thought of before is the idea of letting the patties “rest” to become firmer before serving them.  Lo and behold, this really does work and helps to combat the problem of squishy burgers that splort out the opposite side of the bun when you bite into them.  Or, in this case, patties that go mush when you try to cut them.  It extends the preparation time a bit, but it’s worth it for the improvement in texture!

black bean patties meal

I kept the serving of these simple with a side of rice cooked in broth with a couple pinches of chili powder and cumin.  Since then I made another batch for my mom and I, served with Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s lovely Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale recipe from Appetite for Reduction and some roasted potatoes.  They’d also make great burgers or wraps.  No matter how you serve them, though, I highly suggest using salsa mayo as a condiment.

It’s just as easy as it sounds.  Take some of your favorite vegan mayo (I like the recipe in the Forks Over Knives cookbook), mix in the same kind of salsa you used to make the patties and stir it up.  It makes a really great spicy-yet-cool complement to any Mexican-themed burger or patty, if I do say so myself!

Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potato Patties
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2-4
  • 1½ cups cooked or 1 15.5oz can black beans, drained and rinsed if canned
  • 1 cup sweet potato, shredded
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup hot salsa, homemade or storebought,(chipotle garlic is a good choice!)
  • ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
  • chili powder, to taste
  • cumin, to taste
  1. Place the beans in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until no whole beans are left. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. (You can use your hands to really get everything incorporated!) Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary--the mixture should be nice and spicy.
  2. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Form the bean mixture into six or eight patties and place them in the pan. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5-10 minutes more, flipping often, until browned on both sides..
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the patties sit, covered, for about 5 minutes to finish firming up. Serve as is with seasoned rice and a green side or on buns like burgers.


About the Author:

Sam has been eating a plant-based diet since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of plant-based food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a former member of Toastmasters International and was awarded a Competent Communicator designation for public speaking. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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