Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers and a 2 Year Old’s Run-In with a Hot Cherry Pepper

Final cooked veggie burger

I was a bean eatin’ kind of girl growing up. Beans, and pickles were basically my favorite snack when I was quite young. When I was older, my father recounted the tale (more than once) of how I used to sit in my highchair next to my father’s spot at the dining table and steal pieces of food from his plate. He thought it was so cute.  He’d even leave little pieces of food on the edge of his plate for me and watch how long it took me to take them AND how sneaky I was to do it when he wasn’t watching.

Photo of me at about 18 months
Such a cutie at that age!

A nasty turn with a randomly placed pepper

On one particular day though, this game took a nasty turn; one I’m sure my father never in the world expected, and one that stopped me stealing food forever! Picture this, innocent me sitting in the wooden high chair my father had built for me. It was rough, painted white, and then my mother got our her paints and placed Pennsylvania Dutch flowers and accents all over it. Quite the colorful piece of folk art, and it was used for at least one or two children after me! So I sat there, smiling and listening as my parents ate their dinner. And my father placed a piece of pickle there and watched out of the corner of his eye as I took it and placed it in my mouth.

I loved anything pickled P hoto by Ksenia Chernaya on

He feigned surprise and I’m sure I laughed along with the game. He then placed a piece of burger with a bit of mustard, maybe a small portion of baked beans, and with each “treat” I fell for the game, grabbed the snack and we all laughed.

You gave the baby what?!?!??!

Then my mother took a jar of hot cherry peppers out of the refrigerator. Without thinking, my father unscrewed the lid and placed two on his plate, carefully placing the full jar back into the center of the table. In that split second, I snuck my fat little hand over, grabbed a pepper and popped it into my mouth, biting into it with the few teeth I had and started howling immediately. My hands went to my mouth and the juices coming out burned my lips. My face was beet red and my mother expertly snuck a finger in to see what the fuss was about.

Baby with tears running down her cheeks
How could you do that to me Papa?? Photo by Pixabay on

When she pulled out a half-chewed pepper, she looked accusingly at my father. He looked down at his plate and realized, in the time it took to put the jar back, I’d grabbed a pepper. That was the last day I took anything off his plate! But it didn’t turn me off pickles, beans, pickled beans, vinegar, or anything else relating to vegetables. A few weeks ago I decided to experiment with a recipe I’d discovered for Black Bean burgers. We eat always keep veggie burgers in the freezer for “quick, what can we eat?” days. Being able to create my own version? Magic beans for sure!  

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers


  • 2 14-oz cans black beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1- 2 TB olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped portabello mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup chopped red and green bell peppers
  • ¾ cup diced tomatoes w/green pepper, celery & onion, drained and patted dry
  • 2 TB diced onions
  • 1/2 TB minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (your choice)
  • ¼ cup BBQ sauce (try my apple BBQ sauce!)
  • ¼ cup steel cut oats
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup steamed sweet potato, mashed
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt/pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spread beans evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes.
Tray of black beans
Make sure to rinse and dry them before putting them in the oven
  • While beans are drying, poured chopped walnuts into a frying pan over medium heat and stir them occasionally until toasted (not burned).
  • Sautee olive oil, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, garlic and sweet potato in a large pan until peppers and onions are soft, 5 – 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well, then pat dry.
  • Place nuts and all other ingredients (except the beans) in a large food processor bowl. Pulse until well blended.
  • Add the beans and pulse until most beans are mashed. It’s best to leave some beans whole to give texture to your burger. At this point you should have a mixture that easily forms into patties.
  • Increase oven heat to 375 degrees F.
  • Form patties using about 1/3 cup per patty. Larger burgers may take a bit longer to heat through. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes on each side.

If you’re using a grill, just place patties on foil. I tried cooking mine in a skillet on their own and they do blacken up quickly, but they still taste good.

Final cooked veggie burger
The texture and mix of vegetables mean you may not need to add anything else!

Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or you can form them, and place in individual sandwich bags to freeze.

The mashed sweet potato and eggs should work to bind these burgers together. If you find they’re a bit crumbly still, a friend suggested adding a bit of aquafaba (the beaten juice from a can of chickpeas).

In fact, if you want a vegan version:

  • Replace the eggs with beaten aquafaba
  • Use a cheese substitute
  • Skip the Worcestershire sauce entirely!

We loved these burgers, and my only two concerns with my first version of the recipe is they were a bit crumbly (but moist) and I wanted more walnuts. So, the above recipe takes those two facts into consideration by adding sweet potato (and possibly aquafaba) and more nuts. I hope you enjoy.

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