How to Make Incredibly Inexpensive Lentil Burgers

Grocery prices soaring, leaving families searching for new ways to stretch their food dollars. This is a great time to turn to and old favorite, beans. Not only are they incredibly cheap, the fiber will fill you up. The best part about beans is that they are incredibly shelf stable and are very versatile.

A few years ago, I created a lentil burger recipe which has become a family favorite. The texture is firm, but not crumbly. They also freeze very well, making them easy to grab for lunch on your way out the door to head to work.

If you’ve never tried a bean-based burger, let me give you my best pitch for why you should.  


Bean burgers:  

  • have no Cholesterol
  • are very low fat
  • contain lots of protein
  • are high fiber
  • are incredibly economical
  • taste fantastic

When I say “economical”, I really mean it! Two pounds of brown lentils cost less than $3.00 and, yet, will yield 28-30 burgers. That’s a lot of  bang for your buck! Seriously!

Even when you add the cost of the other ingredients you are looking at about 15¢ per burger!
Compare how many burgers you get from two pounds of hamburger.

I based the cost per burger for this recipe on purchasing 1-pound bag of lentils from Dollar Tree for $1.25 per bag. However, in reality, six months ago, I bought twenty-five pound bags of lentils in bulk for about 70¢ a pound. So, my current cost per burger rounds out to substantially less.

I allowed a generous $1.50 to account for the cost of the spices and other ingredients. I truly don’t believe that the cost will be that high, but since your cost will be different than mine, I wanted to err on the high side, rather than the low side of figuring the actual cost of these burgers.

Watch me make these burgers and give you step-by-step instructions and helpful hints.

What will this recipe cost you to make?

  • $2.50 – Lentils -(2 pounds)
  • $.75 – Spices
  • $.50 – Liquid smoke and Soy Sauce
  • $.25 – Flour (or gluten free substitute)

The total cost of the ingredients is $4.00.

Using 1/3 cup of the lentil burger mixture to create each burger, you can expect a yield of 28, making the 14¢ each.

For a larger burger, use 1/2 cup of the mixture. You’ll get a yield of 21-22 burgers, making the cost about 18¢ per burger.

Read these related recipe posts:

Why we love lentils

Lentils taste great and are incredibly versatile. We regularly make lentil taco filling, lentil soup, and lentil barbecue sandwiches.

From a nutritional perspective, one-cup of cooked lentils boasts just over 15 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein, with negligible naturally occurring fat and sodium.

However, the true glory of lentils comes from the fact that they cook in 15-20 minutes flat. No other dried bean offers you that amazing almost fast-food-like convenience.

The only disadvantage is that since they are small and grow close to the ground, packaged lentils notoriously tend to contain grit and bits of dirt and rock. Giving them a brisk rinse under running water is an absolute “must” before cooking.

Start by rinsing two pounds of brown lentils (about 4 1/2 cups of lentils) and then placing them in a large pot along with 7 1/2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.

At the end of the cooking time, the water should be absorbed into the lentils and the lentils should be tender, but not mushy. Remove from heat and add the remainder of the ingredients, except the flour.

After adding the seasoning, add 1/2 cup of flour and stir into mixture. Then, add flour 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture will just hold together.

Line two large baking trays with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. This will allow the bottom of the burgers to brown while cooking without any added oil. 

Additionally, parchment paper may be removed after use and thrown away, simplifying clean up significantly. 

Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, evenly space mounds of the burger mixture on the baking sheets and lightly pat them into a burger shape. I put fourteen to fifteen burgers on each, large baking sheet.

For a larger burger, use 1/2 cup of the mixture, which will yield 20-22 finished burgers.

The burgers won’t expand as they cook. So, unlike cookie dough, you don’t need to leave a lot of space between burgers.

Bake at 375 degrees.  After 15 minutes, carefully flip the burgers to insure even browning on both sides.  Bake an additional 15-20 minutes.  Do NOT overcook the burgers. They will dry out and break apart.

Burgers should be brown and slightly firm to the touch when done. They will get firmer as they cool.

Note: If you chose to use 1/2 cup of the lentil mixture for each burger, then you may need to add another 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.


These smoky traditional burgers, have a “meaty” taste, because of the chili seasoning and liquid smoke. 

Serve on a bun topped with traditional burger condiments.

Traditional Smoky Lentil Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds brown lentils (about 4.5 cups) washed well and sorted
  • 7 1/2 cups of water
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce (can sub Braggs aminos, if desired)
  • 1 Tbsp salt-free seasoning (I like Kirkland brand)
  • 2 Tbsp. liquid smoke
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning 
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup flour (can sub gluten free flour)

Yield: 28 – 30 burgers

Instructions:

Rinse 4 1/2 cups of lentils well and place in pan with 7 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.  The water should be absorbed and the lentils should be tender, but not mushy. Remove from heat and add the remainder of the ingredients except for flour.  Mix well. 

Add flour 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture will just hold together. Add the flour a little at a time until the mixture has the consistency to make into balls, which hold together.  The mixture should not be too dry or the finished burgers will fall apart.


Line a baking pan with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, place mounds of the burger mixture on the baking sheets. Pat each of the mounds and flatten slightly to form a burger shape.  The burgers will shrink slightly when cooked. This recipe will fill two, large baking trays with 12-15 burgers on each tray .


Bake for 30 minutes.  Carefully flip the burgers.  Bake an additional 15 minutes.  The burgers should be browned and firm to the touch.  


Serve fresh or cool completely and freeze for later use. Traditional Smoky Lentil Burgers will keep in the freezer for up to six months.   

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26 thoughts on “How to Make Incredibly Inexpensive Lentil Burgers”

  1. You said nothing about adding water in this recipe but on your show you added water. Do we add water? Thank you for all your help. I am looking forward to making the lentil burgers.

    Reply
  2. I made these and they did not stick together at all. I used oat flour so maybe that was the problem. I added 1 TBSP of Tex Mex seasoning (it is salty) and they are delicious. I ended up making chilli by adding tomatoes. Thank you for posting it and have a great day.

    Reply
    • Well, I’m glad you were still able to use the mixture to make something awesome for your family. You’re right. Using oat flour as the binder may have changed the texture.

      Reply
  3. Thank you Hope! These lentil burgers are delicious! I halved the recipe for the two of us and they came out perfectly. I made 10 lentil burgers using a half cup measure. I’m letting them cool before wrapping them up for the freezer. Thank you again!

    Reply
  4. Wow, if I could upload pictures to you I would. Just tried this (replacing the water with R.W. Knudsen Organic Beet Carrot Orange juice) and, man, is it good and virtually guilt-free. I did a nutrition comparison which I’ll share at the end of this. I think you need to update your list of why these are so good and beneficial by also adding: easy clean up, safe to lick the bowl, and filling on less the half the calories of a standard beef burger.

    Here’s the nutrition breakdown and mine include the Knudsen juice – note 188% less fat!!!

    Lentil 1/4 # Burger. 132 cals, 0.5g fat, 91 carbs, 2 fiber, 3 protein
    Beef 1/4# Burger, 228 cals, 16g fat, 1 carb, 0 fiber, 20 protein

    Thank you soooo much for sharing this recipe. Not only am I going to try some of your other recipes, I can’t wait to replace all my other beef recipes with brown lentils.

    Health and Peace to you both,
    Debra

    Reply
    • Debra, thanks for doing the math on the recipe. I’m honestly shocked at the difference between the traditional version and the plant-based version. You’re right. Those numbers are undeniably good. And the fact that you enjoy them so much makes it even better!

      Reply
  5. Silly me (I’m a lit major not math major). It’s 96% less fat not 188 – LOL. 96% wow and that it’s as tasty as the animal version win-win.

    Thanks again,
    Debra

    Reply
  6. So in watching your video you say bake them on one side for 15 minutes and then flip and bake for another 15 minutes. But in reading your recipe you say : “Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully flip the burgers. Bake an additional 15 minutes. The burgers should be browned and firm to the touch.” I did mine the last way and they turned out like hockey pucks. So really what is the time that they should be baked?

    Reply
    • Hey, thanks for pointing that out. I heard from so many people that they turned out perfectly that I didn’t catch the discrepancy between the video and the PDF. I generally say 15-20 minutes on the first side. In the video I had to bake them a little longer on the first side because they were thicker than I usually make them. Bake them for 15-20 minutes and check to see if they are lightly browned on the bottom. They should hold together when you flip them. If they are still too “squishy”, they aren’t ready to turn yet. Then, bake another 15 minutes on the second side. I’ll change the PDF time to say, “30 total minutes.” And explain the timing. Thanks for pointing out the error.

      Reply
  7. I never post comments, but in this cast I felt it necessary because I love these lentil burgers so much! I have used lentils for taco filling and usually use half and half with hamburger meat so whatever meal I’m cooking is healthier. But these burgers are so, so good I find myself making them all the time. Thank you very much for posting!!!

    Reply
  8. Game changer! I love lentils, and use them in everything including lentil burgers. I saw this video when it first came out, and made a batch of burgers that very day. This recipe instantly became my favorite way to prepare non meat burgers. I love love love that it is so easy, so inexpensive, and turns out every single time (made them a few times now). I use one lb, and scale back accordingly (kinda, I do love spices!). I formed 12 patties. Maybe 14. I dont recall now. I cooked half in the oven and half in a skillet. Either works, As you said just dont over cook. I think the aspect that blows my mind is how perfectly it all stays together and there is not an exact amount of anything required to make it work. Just go by feel. Results in a great burger taste, great mouth feel, and something I think anyone can enjoy. Reheats well, too. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Carey, you made my day! I’m so excited that you love the recipe as much as we do. I also appreciate that you are playing around with the spice combinations. That’s seriously part of the fun with this burger recipe.

      Reply
    • You can. I’m not sure how well the rice flour would hold them together. You may need to add a little tapioca or potato flour as a starch to help hold them together. I’ve made them with almond flour and they stick together pretty well. Let us know how they turn out with the rice flour.

      Reply
  9. I made these burgers for my burger loving kids and they were a hit! I used smoked paprika instead of liquid smoke and the flavor was amazing. I made 30 burgers for 13 cents each. Even my biggest 18 year old meat lover enjoyed them just as much as beef. Thank you so much. I have been picking up extra lentils for my pantry each time I go to the store now.

    Reply

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