Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burgers with Southwest Greek Dressing

Being a Midwestern – Nebraska – native I am under no illusion that a veggie burger will ever be a real burger. It just won’t. And I’m ok with that, because I think veggie burgers should be appreciated for what they are. I prefer to actually call them “cakes” because it gets the *idea* of a burger out of the way.  If you bite into a veggie burger expecting a burger, well, you’ll be disappointed. But not for lack of taste – but simply because it is not the same! Much like going to take a bite into a pizza, but it is actually a hamburger. Get what I’m saying?! Both great – but just not the same.

Anyway, if my logic is lost on you – don’t worry – I’m not here to argue anymore theories. I’m here to tell you why this sweet potato and black bean veggie burger / cake will have your taste buds squealing with excitement and why calling it a burger is perhaps a bit of disservice. You see, the flavors are uniquely their own.  Slightly southwestern, slightly sweet and the onions in the mix add a nice crunch.  You can pair with the classic hamburger accompaniments or create a southwest Greek yogurt dressing like I did. Anyway you make it; I promise you’ll enjoy these little morsels!

I adapted this recipe from the Cookie & Kate blog, which she adapted from a popular vegetarian restaurant in Seattle named Café Flora. These veggie-cakes are vegan (no eggs!) and gluten-free so if you’re a vegan and also don’t like gluten, you’re in for a treat! Or if you’re like me and just appreciate veggie based meals, you’re in for treat, too!

I didn’t do this in my recipe, but I recommend completely smashing the black beans so there are no “black bean” bites. I ground the oats into complete flour instead of leaving some chunks – therefore creating a very smooth textured patty to bring more focus on the crunchy onion and quinoa. I also added in some hot sauce because if I’m cooking something using Mexican spices and cilantro I’m going to use hot sauce! I also added onion powder and garlic powder because they are my two secret weapons.  I pan seared these babies in coconut oil. They have a sweet-heat flavor but are also savory. I opted to eat mine over a salad with a southwestern dressing, but no one is stopping you from eating it like a traditional burger on a toasted bun with a pickle on the side! Enjoy!

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • ⅓ cup uncooked millet or quinoa (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (not instant oats!)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A few shakes of Cholula or Tabasco to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (you can use any fat % you like)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • Dash of Sea Salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons diced green onions
(adapted from Cookie & Kate)
  1. Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke holes into the sweet potatoes and roast whole for about 1 hour. Set aside and let cool completely.
  2. Cook the quinoa: Mix 1/3 cup quinoa with 2/3 cups water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let the quinoa steam with the lid on for 5 minutes. Then drain off any excess water and set aside to cool.
  3. Grind the oats: Use a food processor or blender to grind the oats until the flakes are broken up- I blended mine into a fine flour.
  4. Mix the burgers: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled sweet potatoes and quinoa, black beans, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, hot sauce, cayenne, and salt. I mashed with a fork. I recommend mashing the black beans as smooth as possible.
  5. Mix in the oats: Sprinkle the ground oats over the mixture and mix well with a big spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty.
  6. Shape the burgers:  Gently shape it into a patty about 3½ inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers and smooth out any jagged edges. Repeat the process for each patty; you should end up with 8. Set burgers in refrigerator to chill for about an hour.
  7. Pan fry the burgers: Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, place several burgers in the pan, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook each patty until browned and heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet for each pan of burgers you fry.


  1. Measure 1 cup of Greek yogurt (I use Fage brand) into a mixing bowl
  2. Add in the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, garlic salt, onion powder, honey, and lime juice to the Greek yogurt.
  3. Chop up cilantro and dice green onions, add to spices and Greek yogurt mixture.
  4. Whisk the mixture with a fork until completely mixed.
  5. Place dressing in container to refrigerate for use on burgers during the week.

Serve Potato Cakes over Salad for a delicious lunch all week long! (And sneak a gummy bear or two, because life is all about balance……)



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