Notes from My Attempt at Cloning Houston’s Veggie Burger
Back in days gone by we used to eat at Houston’s, a popular restaurant in Texas (and other places). I often ordered the Houston’s Veggie Burger — not because I was vegetarian, but because it was so good. At one point I came up with a similar version which I still make from time to time with little variations. Below is the base recipe along with some notes.
Some Recipe Notes
1. I’ve made these several times and I get different results based on how well I mash the beans and how much moisture the ingredients want to absorb on any given day. Sometimes the mixture comes out a bit gloppy, which I why I always make it ahead and chill it. Chilling firms up the patties a great deal.
2. Salt is variable. Start with about a ½ teaspoon of salt and then taste the mixture to see if it’s balanced. I used to use 1 teaspoon, but lately I’ve only needed ½ teaspoon.
3. Be careful what type of jalapenos you use in your Houston’s Veggie Burger copycat. Some brands (such as Old El Paso pickled nacho style) are milder than others. Today I used La Costena brand and had to throw out the whole first batch of burgers because that brand was just too spicy for me. But I have a low tolerance for fiery foods, so take that for what it’s worth.
4. Adjust the seasonings to your liking. It’s really important to taste, so make sure you try the mixture before frying up the burgers. If you’re scared of raw egg whites, just taste before you add it.
5. Speaking of egg. If you are vegan, you could try using a different binder. The old flax mixed with water trick might work, but you could even try apple sauce or something like that. I’ve always used the egg, but someone told me Houston’s was vegan
6. If you work for Houston’s, please, please, please build a restaurant near my house in South Austin. Never mind. We moved.
Houston’s Veggie Burger Copycat
(Mix ingredients a few hours before serving to allow for chill time)
4 tablespoons hickory barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained or ¾ cup freshly cooked
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon oat bran or 2 tablespoon oatmeal, ground
2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped canned beets
1 teaspoon beet juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
½ to 1 teaspoon salt (start with ½ and test)
1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno pepper, chopped ** — use a milder brand
1 egg white
2 teaspoons olive oil
Cheese slices (optional)
Stir together barbecue sauce and molasses. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mash beans. Alternatively, you may do this in the food processor. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the barbecue mixture (reserving remaining for brushing) and remaining ingredients — rice through egg white. Form into four large patties.
Heat olive oil in a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium. Grill burgers for 2 minutes on one side. Turn and brush with remaining barbecue/molasses mixture. Top with cheese slices (if desired) and grill for another 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
This is a picture of the ingredients. I used onion, but I forgot to put it in the ingredient group photo. Poor onion. It felt so left out. As for the jalapenos, the brand in the photo is really hot.
I don’t even know why I took this picture. It’s ingredients being mixed in the bowl.
Update: Here’s a chef’s variation on the Houston’s Veggie Burger. Interesting.
Followed the recipe, but added a half cup of chopped dried prunes as suggested on several other posts. Just had a veggie burger at Houston’s in Pasadena this past weekend and this version nails it! Next time the only things I would do differently would be to put the cooked rice in the food processor and give it just a few whirls before mixing it with the other ingredients and I would make six patties rather than four (they were so large they hung over the bun quite a bit.
Soy glaze, eh? I haven’t been to Houston’s in a while. Maybe they changed things up a little bit!
The menu was new this weekend and the veggie burger description said “soy glaze”.
Wow! I love your crazy substitutions and the fact they made the veggie burger even better.
I made this tonight. I added tart cherries(frozen) and raw cacao. I had no cumin so I omitted. I had to add a ton more oat bran and I also added mochiko flour. I used ground chia seeds as the binder. It was beyond amazing! I don’t really love veggie burgers but this is the exception. Thank you
For those of you interested in cloning, I found someone came up with a very similar recipe, but added sweet potato and tvp. Check it out!
Used to live in St. Helena, so I frequented the Hillstone branch in Rutherford: Rutherford Grill. I’m excited to create these, though I would use better ingredients (non store brand and definitely not kraft barbecue sauce, HFCS much?)
I’m also almost positive there were prunes or dates in it so I think I might add one of those.
I used to work at Houstons and make this!
First of all you’re missing PRUNEs! Yep.
Second of all there is no egg or chocolate (??).
Also, use fresh jalapeno, not pickled. And if you can, fresh cooked beets. No juice.
Oat bran is right not oatmeal.
The sauce is actually a thickened homemade worcestershire or sweet soy, hard to make at home but a salty teriyaki would be very similar.
via a worker: brown rice, oat bran, black beans, beets, prunes, jalepenos, onions…
I just came across this forum — I’m SO glad others are as obsessed with Houston’s veggie burger as I am!
I want to add some important ingredient information! I asked the waitress the last time I was there and one of the *KEY* ingredients is plum and plum sauce (plum puree is in the burger and the plum sauce is part of the glaze). I hope that helps in your future veggie burger making processes!
A friend pasted this on to me and I have yet tio try it. I live in Palm City, Fl and have to travel 60 miles to Boca Raton, Fl for my Houston’s Veggie Burger fix. I had met my friend there the one who forwarded this to me and we both had veggie burgers and their grilled artichokes which I have since done quite successfully. When I asked the server what is in the burger, as I do every time I am at Houston’s, he also told me beets, prunes and jalapeons which no one previously mentioned. I am really looking forward to trying this!!
Hmmm, I like the idea of adding prunes. I’ll bet they’d be a good binding agent.
Hi There! I am so excited to try this recipe! Thanks for posting it! I also wanted to add that the last time I went to Houston’s I asked our server what ingredients they put in the veggie burger. It looks like you have most of them and I did not write the recipe down–but I do specifically remember her telling me they add chopped prunes 🙂 I remember this because 1. I don’t like prunes and 2. I LOVE their Veggie burger 🙂
I’m finally going to attempt these tonight- and when I say “these”, I mean “one”, since my family and boyfriend will never go near anything but huge patties full of beef. Aw well, you can’t win them all!
I actually have heard of burgers made with cherries- and blueberries, and raspberries, too! Apparently they add much needed moisture to patties made with very lean beef, so are a healthy route.
Here’s an extremely interesting sounding recipe using cherries and cherry ketchup- it’s definitely on my “to cook” list!
Nope! I found out about the chocolate from an ex Houston’s employee who told me about it at a party. You’ll have to experiment 🙂
I know the veggie burger is an old post, but I see you mention chocolate as a recent addition to the recipe. Do you have a type of chocolate (cocoa?) or an amount?
Thanks–can’t wait to try it!
I’ve tried these two weekends in a row now. The recipe seems pretty solid. The first time I made them I had a difficult time keeping them together on the grill. The burgers were hard to handle because they kept falling apart. This weekend I used my “arepa maker” (i’m venezuelan) and the result was the perfect patty! It’s crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.
Ashley, wow! That’s crazy. Cherries???
Also, make it VEGAN by using egg replacer. I would use egg replacer and also flaxseed meal. We use when replacing an egg, 1/4 cup of water + 3 T. for each egg. whip it, even refrigerate for a little while it solidifies quickly. I can’t wait to try this!!! Thanks! Somewhere I read that a girl baked them at 350 for a little while b4 grilling.
I had a client who’s wife had several food allergies, so she had them send a list of ingredients. All of this was there I think, maybe bulgar too. But the one ingredient that stood out that I will always remember was in them… CHERRIES!
Sue, thanks again for trying the burgers.
Mine hold together better when I use my food processor to puree the beans. I think that makes a betteer “paste”. But I think there are other things that could be added. Oat brand and water could be mixed to make a gel, prune puree or baby food (small amount), pureed carrot, bread crumbs (though I don’t think Houston’s uses those.
For now, the best way to cook them is in the skillet with oil, but it would be fun to get them a little firmer and do them over the outdoor grill.
I made these and the flavor was excellent. I’ve never made homemade veggie burgers so I need to work on the texture a bit. We did them on the grill and fortunately had the wisdom to do them on foil over the grate. They pretty much fell apart, but tasted sooo good.
I did it the hard way. 🙂 If I was going to buy beets I wanted them unsalted so I can try the cake too. I couldn’t find unsalted beets so I bought fresh and cooked and pureed them. I wonder if baby food beets would work? I also cooked my own brown rice. I didn’t want to buy more bbq sauce so I just added a bit of liquid smoke to the bbq sauce I had on hand.
The flavor was excellent. I wonder if I could get them to firm up a bit if I added more ground oats? I chilled them for about 5 hours.
I will definitely make them again, and maybe next time I’ll do them in a pan on the stove instead of on the grill.
Thanks for a great recipe!!
This recipe looks great! I’ve never even eaten at Houston’s for some reason, I think because it was so awful when it first opened. I don’t like beets either, but I’ll trust you on this and keep them in. Thanks for another great recipe to try!
Ha Ha! I wonder how many of those reviewers are writers. They’re pretty funny. My favorite is by Johnny Nails.
For the best taste, get your beets from Schrute Farm.
I have followed your blog for some time and haven’t posted. Today I simply HAD to.
The Houston’s veggie burger is the single greatest veggie burger I have ever tasted. Due to the fact that Houston’s is across town and the burger is about $15, I don’t get it as often as I need to 🙁
I cannot wait to attempt this recipe and thank you so much for posting it! Also, just wanted to let you know that the double trouble potato chip cookies made me famous at work, and the lemon-blueberry bars are amazing.
Thanks so much for your blog and the hard work you put into it. It is so great and checking to see what you’ve “gotten into”; it is one of the highlights of my day!
Very interesting and I despise beets, too! As a vegetarian for 28 years now, I love veggie burgers and am always interested in a new recipe-I just have to get past the beets “issue”. lol
I have never tried a veggie burger, but I want to so bad:-)
I’m doing a big burger bash on Labor Day and I’m going to stir up a variation on this idea. It has to be a variation since I’m quite sure I won’t have beats of beet juice around. The glaze makes them look sooo good.
Lisa, I had no idea it was founded in Nashville. Interesting.
Katrina, I happen to love veggie burgers, but this recipe doesn’t taste like typical veggie burger at all. It tastes like beans & rice mashed into a patty and seasoned really well. The spicy slightly sweet sauce & flavoring is what makes it special. Feel free to embellish. If you like beans & rice, you’ll like this burger.
Maria, ditto on that. You might find it to be different than you expected.
Meredith, it’s cooled down now and VERY good. I will post it soon.
These look good…
but please, please post your beet cake recipe! We belong to a CSA and are getting a TON of beets. I can’t stand beets either, though hubby loves them when I roast them and toss w/ an orange glaze, or pickle them. I’ve actually been searching this week for a chocolate beet cake recipe, and think that I might try one of those on allrecipes.
I love love love veggie burgers. I can’t wait to try this recipe.
Looks really tasty to me! So it’s totally different and better than frozen veggie burgers, which I think are pretty gross? (I haven’t tried them all yet.)
Anna, I’ve saved your recipe since you told me about this last month. Seeing your actual photo adds to my motivation to try this myself.
The Houston’s chain was founded here in Nashville (of all places) and the original restaurant closed two years ago, sadly. Now I have to travel to eat at Houston’s, but this burger will be fun to make and eat!
Veggiegirl, I think all my photos are glistening today. @#%(@#% glare.
Sue, I had to go to the store to buy beets. I used the rest of the can for a beet cake, but I’m not sure it’s going to be very good. It’s still cooling. It seems extra moist.
I’m going to try these the next time my daughter the vegetarian is home. Gosh! If I had the beets, I’d be tempted to give them a go for supper tonight. Thanks for sharing this!
Oooh, the contents of the mixing bowl, in that last photograph, are glistening!