Living Vegan In Charlotte, NC – Easy Vegan Recipes – Vegan Restaurant, Product, and Cookbook Reviews

Beefless Burgers That Don’t Suck

Okay, I know there’s a ton of tasty veggie burgers out there – black bean burgers and the like – that taste wonderful on a bun and make absolutely no pretense to be meat.  You can find them in your grocery’s freezer.  Or at your favorite vegan deli (Zizi’s has about 5 creative varieties, including a “Veggie Soul Burger” made with black eye peas, yams, and collard greens).  And I’ve probably seen at least dozen very yummy sounding veggie burger recipes (like this one) since the start of Vegan Mofo!

But what if you’re wanting a burger that tastes more … you know, hamburgery?

I used to fool my meat-eating friends with Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime, but sadly that contains eggs.  Morningstar does make a Grillers Vegan Veggie Burger (harder to find), but it’s not the same in taste or texture.

Boca Original Vegan?  Excuse me while I barf.  I tried these, years and years and years ago, when I was first considering the veg lifestyle and was scared to try another veggie burger for quite a while. I recently tried these again and I still can’t choke those horrid things down.

There’s Amy’s All-American, California, and Texas Burgers … tasty with a nutty flavor, kind of a cross between a veggie burger and a “beefless” burger.  However, no one’s ever going to think it’s meat.

There’s Gardein Beefless Burgers, and these are very good indeed! Unfortunately, they are becoming very hard to find in Charlotte!  Harris Teeter has discontinued them and I haven’t been able to find them at my local Earthfare or Whole Foods.  Rumor has it the Beefless Burgers have only been temporarily removed to make room for seasonal holiday items from Gardein, and they may be back in early 2013.

Enter Harmony Valley Vegetarian Hamburger Mix.  (Don’t worry, despite the name it’s completely vegan.)

A jalapeno cheddar Harmony Valley burger from Bean. Photo Credit: Bean Vegan Cuisine

If you’ve eaten at Bean Vegan Cuisine, you’ve already tried Harmony Valley.  It’s what Bean uses to create their incredible hamburgers.  You just mix the contents of the bag with cold water, let sit 15 minutes in the refrigerator, and then use just like you would ground beef.  Shape it into patties or meatballs, break it up and fry it into crumbles.  It’s the only “beefy” burger substitute that’s good enough to eat on its own.

Here are some tips:

  • The package makes approximately 5 servings.  Don’t attempt to halve the package or take out just enough mix for one hamburger – it’s tricky to get the mix/water proportion right, and it comes out much better if the proportions are just so.  Instead, go ahead and mix up the entire packet, and store whatever you don’t use in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.  It might help to plan your menu in advance – for example, use enough for two hamburgers on Tuesday and then cook the remainder into crumbles for chili on Wednesday.
  • Although the package says you can bake in the oven or cook in the microwave, the taste and consistency are much, much better when you fry on stove top.
  • And, I’m sorry, but you will also need to use a little oil when you fry your patties.  I tried the low-fat way of a nonstick pan and a little cooking spray – not as good.  The patties didn’t brown well and the texture was different.

Where can you buy Harmony Valley Hamburger Mix?  In Charlotte, most of the larger Harris Teeters carry it, in the rice and grains aisle.  It’s also carried by Whole Foods and The Fresh Market.  I’ve also seen it at Eco-Licious.  If all else fails, you can order it from Amazon, which may actually be your cheapest option.

Harmony Valley has a number of recipes on their website.  Be aware many are vegetarian, not vegan, so many recipes call for dairy products.

Here’s an easy recipe of my own.


  • One package Harmony Valley Vegetarian Hamburger Mix
  • 1 1/4 cups cold Water
  • Finely chopped Green Chili Peppers (I usually use 2-3 peppers, but next time I think I’ll try more)
  • Indian Spice Blend.  Try 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Garam Masala.  Garam Masala is a strong spice blend, so it’s best to start with a small amount.  If you like it, you can always add a pinch more next time.  Or try the same amount of Chana Masala spice blend.  Or, if you have an Indian grocery in your area (in Charlotte I recommend India Grocers), try one of the many prepackaged spice mixes for minced meats.
  • Cooking Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Original Vegenaise
  • Indian Chutney (optional) – I use Nirav’s Deshi Chutney
  • Tomato, onion, lettuce
  • Hamburger Buns


Empty mix into a bowl.  Add the finely chopped green chili peppers and your Indian spice blend.  Add the cold water.  Mix well.

Place bowl inside refrigerator to chill, at least 15 minutes.  Longer won’t hurt but you want it to hydrate for at least that long.

Heat a little cooking oil in a frying pan on the stove.  Shape the mix into patties and place in heated oil.  Salt and pepper the side facing up.  Cook on medium to medium-high heat about 3 minutes; flip.  Salt and pepper that side.  Flip again after about 3 minutes.  (About 9 minutes total cook time – at least on my stove.)

Toast hamburger buns and spread with original Vegenaise and maybe a little Indian chutney.  You definitely do not want to combine the flavors of the patty with mustard, honey mustard, ranch dressing, etc.  The patty has a lot of spice so you want to keep the spread simple.

Add tomato, onion, lettuce.  Leave off “American” condiments like dill pickles or faux bacon bits.

Eat and enjoy!

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Categorised in: Product Reviews, Sandwiches & Sandwich Fillings, Vegan Recipes

14 Responses »

  1. Yay! Thanks for the linkage!

  2. I can’t seem to leave a comment in the appropriate space. Are the soybeans Non GMO? website does not say. thanks Maureen

    • Hi, Maureen!
      Yes, it says on the packet it is GMO free soy!

      • that is good to know! Which Harris Teeter did you find them at? Are they at Earth Fare? I enjoy your column!

      • Thanks for the kind words, Maureen! I’ve bought the mix at the Morrowcroft Harris Teeter and I think I’ve seen at the ones on Rea Road and at Quail Hollow. But the Carmel Road store doesn’t carry it, which makes me think that at this point it’s just the bigger Harris Teeters. You could always ask your local HT to special order it for you.

        I’m not sure if Earthfare carries it or not. I haven’t seen it there but I might not have been looking at the right place. I HAVE noticed, though, that Earthfare is starting to carry more items since Whole Foods opened!

  3. Again, please remember that, if one buys a “veggie burger” that sucks, like a Boca Burger, which one finds inedible and one feels like one has wasted money, that the Burger need not be a total waste of money. After all, it can be used as a hockey puck in the winter, a doorstop year-round, and a way to make one’s lips have that faddish Hollywood “bee-sting” look without plastic surgery.

  4. LightLife ( has several veggie burgers. However, the three that I have tried (BLACK BEAN – very good, contains egg whites and cheeses; GRILL’N BURGERS – very good – contains egg whites; VEGGIE BURGERS – suck stagnant lagoon water) are not vegan by ingredient definition. However, perhaps pressure could be put on the company to get away from egg whites ????

    They apparently, upon inspection of the following link –
    have other products which I have seen in stores. More specifically, I have seen
    their tempeh products at Harris Teeter. To date, I have found the aforementioned burgers in Food Lion and Walmart.

    • Thanks for the review! I will certainly avoid the Veggie Burgers that suck stagnant lagoon water! (I love the way you phrase things!)

      I’ve seen those burgers at Harris Teeter but had not tried them yet. Thanks for the info they contain egg whites – I would probably have assumed they didnt, since Lightlife does have a lot of vegan products – deli slices (the ham is good, I don’t care for the rest); vegan sausage; and several kinds of vegan crumbles.

      I don’t know why companies have to put egg whites in their products. Maybe we could start a petition on to persuade them to change?

  5. Gardein Beefless Burgers can be found at Target.


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