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kimchi burger by food to glowAlong with the nut loaf and the veggie lasagne, veggie burgers have long been the butt of anti-vegetarian jokes. These have also been the claggy, yet somehow throat-stickingly dry, offerings of unimaginative restaurants attempting to cater for their non flesh-eating patrons.

For years vegetarians ate these sad excuses for meals: nut loaves that disintegrated on the fork, requiring mashing up with the ubiquitous side of peas in order to ‘catch’ it; the burger patties mimicking the shape of their meaty brethren but failing oh so miserably in the taste department – unless you like heavily-salted cardboard. Such nasty meals were penitence for shunning the norm. A hail Mary for the culinary sinner.

kimchi burger by food to glowWhile I can’t offer evidence that the nut loaf has been rehabilitated, I recently had a couple of separate conversations with clients and colleagues, and they were extolling the palate-pleasing pleasures of veggie lasagnes. Homemade ones. This recipe got a mention {it’s not a looker in the photos, but it is well-tasty}. We all thought that – whether one was vegetarian or not – a thoughtfully put together layering of slow-cooked tomato sauce, roasted and roughly mashed vegetables, silky pasta sheets and something like spinach or chard mixed with seasoned ricotta is a thing of loveliness. They all said they preferred a decent veggie lasagne to a meat one.

As someone who landed in Scotland in the late 1980s, and who quickly became vegetarian {that’s a story for another day}, I can chart the rehabilitation of the vegetarian. I can’t give an accurate time frame for this change, but from the very late 1990s our collective interest and knowledge of food, and its relationship to health, has without doubt filtered in to the kitchens of restaurants, both high and low of brow. It has become as easy to get a decent veggie burger in a small cafe whose clientele is more oldster than hipster, as it is to get a beautiful plate of foraged greens topped with spiced and sauced homemade tofu from the fancier joints. Maybe easier.

All of this is good news because we the home cook can benefit from others’ more public creativity. Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other social media also have a huge influence. As do our links with other cultures – either from visiting them and barely containing our glee when experiencing new and novel tastes, or from buying new-to-us ingredients that are staple foods elsewhere.dsc_0211

My biggest culinary discovery has been, as regular readers will know, kimchi. Again, I can’t quite remember when I first tasted it but I do know that I would have been holding back a serious puppy-wiggle of excitement on first taste. I might have had a little dance under the table. I do that. My Dad calls it ‘happy feet’. I love it not only for the intriguing almost indescribable taste, but also the health aspects of improved digestion and potentially immune function, too. But I really like it mainly for the taste.

I’ve blogged a few recipes using kimchi. All completely inauthentic uses, I should add. A Korean acquaintance told me that Westerners have really opened her eyes to the potential of kimchi beyond the traditional. I guess we could say that about any food that makes its way across national borders. We mix our new finds with old loves and techniques to create something unique. I think that’s what I have done here. I haven’t seen anything quite like it on the Internet. Maybe because other people think it’s gross, I don’t know!

Anyway, I am adding to the rehabilitation of the much-maligned vegetable burger with a judicious whack of tongue-tantalising kimchi. It is so quick and easy that it can be knocked up in almost the time it takes to bake a frost-coated veggie burger pulled from the freezer.

Edinburgh pubs, please take note.

kimchi burger by food to glow

Kimchi Quinoa Burgers with Avocado-Jalapeno ‘Mayo’ – Vegan/Gluten-free

  • Servings: 5-6 burgers
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

SO loving this burger! If you make your own kimchi this is incredibly cheap to prepare, but even with bought kimchi this burger is still pretty budget-minded fare – and full of digestion-friendly probiotics and fibre. Use any beans you fancy – not baked though! I used borlotti. The black and white sesame seeds add gorgeous crunch but substitute with panko crumbs, or even leave ‘naked’ – these burgers will still be incredibly tasty.

1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa, {here is how to cook quinoa if you are unsure, but leave out the flavourings of that recipe} – Note: 1 cup uncooked quinoa makes about 3 cups of cooked

1 ½ cup lightly mashed beans

¾ cup chopped cabbage or radish kimchi, drained {save any liquid to make up the chia egg,if using}

2 spring onions, sliced

1 chia egg* or medium hen’s egg

2 tsp Korean pepper flakes – optional

Oil for the sauté pan and tray – about 2 tbspDSC_0214

Avocado-Jalapeno ‘Mayo’

½ ripe avocado {or one small one}

1 tbsp lime juice, or good squeeze

1 spring onion, roughly chopped – optional

½ jalapeno pepper, deseeded OR use a few dashes of hot sauce {red sauces will ‘muddy’ the mayo}

2-inch piece peeled cucumber

Pinch salt

To serve: soft lettuce, sprouts of choice, wholemeal bread roll, cucumber slices

1. Pop all of the burger ingredients – minus the sesame seeds and spring onions – into a food processor or blender {I use my Froothie and it takes seconds}. Pulse until you get a half smooth and half chunky mix. Stir in the chopped onion. Or, you could blend half and mash in the remaining. Clean out the food processor bowl/blender.PicMonkey Collage

2. Sprinkle the seeds onto a plate and, with damp hands, divide the quinoa mixture into five or six balls; press into burger shapes.

3. Lightly coat the burgers in the seeds and place onto a plate or baking sheet, place in the fridge for 20 minutes – longer if where you are is hot. Lucky you.kimchi burger by food to glow

4. Now make the yummy green mayo by placing all of the ingredients into your blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Make double if you like, because it’s delicious and makes a great, quick, guacamole.

5. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

6. When the burgers are nice and chilled pop the burgers onto an oiled tray and into the preheated oven; bake for 15 minutes. Carefully flip the burgers and bake for a further 10 minutes.

7. When the burgers are about finished in the oven, heat the oil in a sauté pan – medium flame. Put the burgers into the hot pan and cook for 1 ½ minutes on each side. Any longer and the sesame seeds may burn. If you aren’t coating the burgers then you may wish to fry a little longer to get a nice crust.

Serve on soft lettuce leaves or in a wholemeal roll/bun, topping with the avocado-jalapeno mayo, cucumber slices and sprouts.

Btw, these are GORGEOUS with sweet potato wedges and extra kimchi!

* a chia egg is made by mixing 1 tbsp ground chia seeds and 3 tbsp water, or in this case kimchi liquid topped up with water. This is what I did, although I used whole chia seeds in this instance.

Soft food diets: ditch the seeds and blend all of the ingredients throughly before chilling and baking.
kimchi burger by food to glow




66 thoughts on “Kimchi Quinoa Burgers with Jalapeño-Avocado ‘Mayo’ {vegan and gluten-free}

  1. This looks totally amazing!!! The fact that I have no food in the house and this just pops up on my wordpress reader is highly upsetting…

  2. iscribbler says:

    I’m in love with kimchi, too and found it so easy to make. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Such a wonderfully flavored burger. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

  3. This is a fascinating looking recipe! I have been vegan for years now and would have never thought to use kimchi in this way! I lived in Korea for 18 months while I was in the Navy and have a real appreciation for the variety of flavor AND health benefit of this very unique food! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. A great veggie burger is so refreshing! With spectacular flavor and a slather of Jalapeno Avocado mayo this a a most irresistible dinner recipe.

  5. I need to try your recipe, it looks so delicious 😉

  6. This look delicious Kellie, and if it’s anywhere near as good as a butternut squash lasagna then I’m sold. I am going to have to try and make some of this kimchi stuff….you make it sound utterly irresistible 🙂

  7. lizzygoodthings says:

    Another lovely combination of flavours, Kellie… makes vegetarian dishes sound really good! Wish I liked quinoa!

    1. Rice works too!

  8. narf77 says:

    These look amazing and as a Korean-o-phile I think I might just have discovered a niche that hasn’t been met yet and you just filled it. Lovely share, gorgeous, healthy looking fare and happiness everywhere 🙂

    1. These are so up your street Fran that I’m surprised they aren’t waiting outside with a ribbon around them. 😉

      1. narf77 says:

        I just cleaned out the freezer to fit in a huge stash of dried beans that I cooked up (using the last of Brunhilda’s cooking power) to freeze and use over summer and discovered a stash of quinoa that I had put into the freezer to make sure it didn’t contain wiggly things (I always freeze my grains as wiggly things are not my friends) so methinks fortune is swinging in my general direction when it comes to making kimchi quinoa burgers. I have the jalapenos and just need to get hold of an avocado. I also noticed I have my very first artichokes starting to appear on my huge artichoke plant. I am MOST excited. I am going to have to trawl your back posts to see if I can’t find a way to use them 🙂

  9. Shannon says:

    I’m going to have a hard time giving up my frost-coated version. It only takes 1 minute per side in the microwave and I’m done. I do love me some kimchi (my sushi chef made a batch for me using home-grown mustard greens…ROCKED my face off), but haven’t made it in my own kitchen yet. I guess I’m stuck with the freezer version for the time-being. 🙁

    1. You have a sushi chef who makes stuff for you?! Using mustard greens (how I miss them)? How decadent! I want a piece of that action. Have him/her courier a wee cup of some over and use it here. Make up these burgers then do a taste test with your micro burgers. I am feeling very bossy all of a sudden. Sorry. 🙂 I’m sure you get good veggie burgers, not the salted cardboard of old.

      1. Shannon says:

        Everyone should be so jealous! No, we have a relationship with the folks who bring us our food, so it’s natural that our Korean sushi chefs are like family to us. It’s a once-per-week habit. I deliver “glut” from my garden when I have it and from Bubba’s farm (when he has it), they, in turn, make kimchi and veggie dumplings for me and my fam! Symbiosis at its best.

        Next time I get the kimchi, I will certainly know what to do with it — hide it in the veggie burger. I’m the only one who just eats it straight from the jar; hub’s and kids’ not a big fan. It’s certainly an acquired taste.

  10. Fantastic work rehabing the veg burger. I approve and of course love the addition of kimchi. Going on my to-make list!

    1. Thanks so much, Katie. I like having your seal of approval 😉

  11. FABULOUS!!!!
    I think it still is difficult to get a decent vegetarian meal in a restaurant unless you are in a city, there’s only 3 restaurants that I would go to where I live, the rest of them just offer the ubiquitous ‘pasta and sauce covered in cheese’!! I’d rather eat at home any day 🙂

    1. I know you must be right. I think we are well spoiled up here in Edinburgh, despite my cheeky sign off of the post. YOu could do a pop up, how about that?!

      1. Oh, the temptation!!! I think I’ll stick with my monthly lunches for now 🙂

  12. Deena Kakaya says:

    Not a looker, Keillie that’s a gorgeous, ‘lift me off the plate’ sort of picture and I just want to get my fingers straight inside. The burger itself looks impressively light given that it is made from quinoa. I am looking forward to your story about turning vegetarian after arriving in Scotland xx

    1. It’s a fairly gruesome story so it might not come out in the blog. Maybe if we meet up one day. We will get around to that, and the ‘meeting our partners’ stories!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Oooh yes please! That’s one rather mighty fine looking veggie burger! Love the idea of having it with avocado too

  14. I saw this on Stumble earlier and it looks amazing! I love veggie burgers but they can be a bit dry, looks like the topping on this would make it perfect.

    1. The quinoa this keeps the moisture in too. I’m glad you saw it on Stumbleupon as I wasn’t sure if anything of mine was visible! Thanks for dropping by Sarah.

  15. Lisa says:

    Love the Jalapeño-Avocado ‘Mayo’ on top of a burger! This recipe is so fresh and colorful – my favorite style of burgers.

  16. Susan says:

    Once again…perfection in a blog!

  17. spotdishblog says:

    I love the variety of flavors as well as texture, will definitely be giving this a try

  18. fabfood4all says:

    Gorgeous, your recipes are always so inspring Kellie! I haven’t tried Kimchi but my husband went to a Korean restaurant recently and came home raving about it, I’ve cooked quinoa recently and found it to be totally lush so looking at your burger I think you’d win over many meat eaters including me:-)

  19. platedujour says:

    Beautiful recipe! All the healthy and yummy things in one- my boyfriend asked me to make burgers this weekend and I think he will get the usual version but I will definitely try this one here 🙂 and I love that picture of avocado xx

  20. Sally says:

    I was big on Quorn burgers for a while for veggie teen until I twigged that they were actually quite processed and something I would never buy for the rest of the family. The problem is most veggie burgers from scratch take quite an effort. These look simply spectacular – inspired to make my own kimchi now too. PS This summer veggie teen was brought a real burger by mistake instead of her ordered Quorn burger – luckily she spotted the ragged edges. Another problem with meat-impersonating veggie foods. A narrow escape.
    P.P.S Really loved this phrase ‘A hail Mary for the culinary sinner.’ Brilliant

  21. These veggie burgers look so good Ive never had kimchi but intend to soon.

  22. thespicyrd says:

    Loving every single ingredient in these kimchi quinoa burgers! And, funny you should mention “veggie loaf” as I was recently discussing this topic w/ one of my fellow Camino Frances companions, and a vegetarian in the land of lots of meat! As I have no kimchi on hand, and just used up the last of the avocado, I am pinning this to make later. Can’t. Wait!!!

  23. rovinglights says:

    Ooh, these look delicious! I’ll definitely be trying this one.

  24. stateeats says:

    Very creative, love all these flavors and textures! – Kat

  25. Sophie33 says:

    I made this tasty completer veggie burger experience & the whole meal was superb,….really exciting & fun to make too,.’.fantastic flavours! Xx 😀😀😀

    1. Ah, thanks Sophie for the brill feedback. We like them too. Kimchi rocks 🙂

      1. Sophie33 says:

        I so agree here,..:) xxx

  26. Veggie burgers really have come a long way, haven’t they? Every time you post a kimchi recipe I’m reminded that I really must acquire some. I keep seeing it when I do my online grocery order but I’m not sure whether or not it’s vegetarian so keep hesitating. I really should just take myself shopping on the weekend to one of the proper Asian shops and get some of the stuff already. I just know I’ll like it, so really need to get into it.

    1. Once you get the right kimchi you will be hooked. I am sure of that, Katie. I get so much from my little kimchi habit. A quick and healthy way of jazzing up many savoury things.

  27. I love a good veggie burger. You will ave more luck in Edinburgh than here in Dundee. We are really lacking good quality veggie food, which is surprising since we have so many universities and colleges here. Your burger is calling to me. Coating it in seeds is an idea I may have to try.

  28. Shannon Lim says:

    Oh boy this makes me so hungry! It’s always fun to experiment with fusion ideas, and usually it turn out simply awesome. It’s time to make me some kimchi.

  29. Wow. Must try these.

  30. I am a fan of kimchi on meat or veggie patties. I discovered this whilst pregnant so I am totally digging these burgers.

    1. I didn’t know about kimchi when I was pregnant (admittedly, 19 years ago!) but feel sure that I would’ve craved it had I tried it previously. A good craving – anytime!

  31. Super Food QUINOA, me likie!

  32. Lynne Gill says:

    Hmmm, I’m well aware of the low regard that veggie-burgers and nut loaves were held in, but my own experience is different. I’m not a vegetarian but did the Vegetarian Society of UK foundation diploma oh! almost THIRTY YEARS ago, which introduced me to the delights of the nut oaf and the bean pattie. I can honestly say I’ve never eaten one that fell apart, nor eaten anything so dry it had to be mashed up. True, mine were home made, so I can’t speak for what went on in restaurants. One of the family favourites was mung bean patties, I even used to get these past my boys! So it wasn’t all gloom and doom you know……..

    1. I was taking a bit of ‘humorous’ license so I hope you weren’t too offended. But I do think that recipes these days have more global, and therefore more exciting, ingredients than when you and I were probably first dabbling in vegetarianism. I have eaten the dry vegan burgers and nut loaves back in the day, so you must’ve been luckier than I! That’s when a good veggie gravy came into its own. 😉

  33. Ann Robbin says:


    I did not add an egg or chia egg to my recipe…do you think that they will still turn out? Sitting in my refrigerator right now waiting until I get home. Thanks!

    1. Yes! I see it! Less saucy, but a cousin at least. I’ve already got 2 shakshukas here but I might consider it now stands a 2.5 😉

    2. I don’t know. It might not hold very well. But it will taste good!

  34. Ann Robbin says:

    Thank you!

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