It's picnic food season! I've already started posting pictures of our 'clean out the fridge' al-fresco picnics on Instagram and I'm loving the response! Basically what we do is pull out tons of veggies, fruit and pair it with some olives, pickles and cheese with a big mixed green salad and maybe a rotisserie chicken or left over steak if we happen to have it in the house (note...we rarely do!). It's the easiest dinner and a great way to keep the fridge tidy. But when it's time for picnic burgers, you've got to go big. And to be honest, finding a veggie burger is kind of hard. Unless you have lots and lots of them stored away in your freezer, like you will after this recipe!

The Cranberry Institute sent me some goodies to make this BBQ picnic burger happen. Although their original recipe to go with the sauce called for shredded chicken, I needed to make do with what I had in the kitchen and I didn't have time to find local, well loved and cared for chicken (I'm picky, okay?). With fruit based sauces, which we love and use for our vegan chili, the cool thing about cranberries in particular is they just might stave off that spring cold or flu! 

Black Bean Amaranth Burger with Cranberry BBQ 
Black Bean Amaranth Burger with Cranberry BBQ 
Black Bean Amaranth Burger with Cranberry BBQ 

Black Bean Amaranth Burger with Cranberry BBQ Sauce

Makes 8 burgers

/// Ingredients ///

For the Burgers:

  • 16 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 C amaranth (cooked)
  • 3/4 C steel cut oats
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 C cooking onion, chopped
  • 3/4 C corn kernels 
  • 5 drops of liquid smoke
  • 1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 C panko

For the BBQ Sauce: Recipe by the Cranberry Institute

  • 1 T oil
  • 1 C minced onions (super important- get them tiny!)
  • 1 t mustard powder
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 1/2 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 C cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 C cider vinegar
  • 1 T molasses
  • 1/4 cup water


  • Romaine lettuce
  • spicy brown mustard (if desired)
  • fresh tomatoes (if you can get your hands on them!)
  • bun of choice (this is a Vienna roll)

/// Burger directions///: Rinse beans, add all ingredients except panko to a cuisinart and chop/pulse until rough. Shape into rounds, place on a silpat and freeze 20 minutes. Remove, shape into more of a disk now that the burger is more hardened, and cover each side in panko, pressing panko into the surface. Place on silpat again and freeze. When all are frozen, store in a ziplock bag. To cook, drizzle with oil and bake at 400 for 25 minutes until the top is crisp and the patty is warmed through completely. Finish off under the broiler while you're watching. Note that these patties are soft even after they're cooked! They're not going to be a tough disk you buy at the store. However, it's important to get a nice crisp on the outside for a good texture.

/// Sauce directions ///: In a sauce pan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Mix in garlic, mustard and chili powder and continue cooking 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 more minute. Add cranberry sauce, vinegar and molasses and bring to a simmer, whisking often until mixture becomes smooth. Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens. Add water to mixture if it gets too thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Reheat before using.

Black Bean Amaranth Burger with Cranberry BBQ 

Disclosure: As a Cranberry Bog Blogger on behalf of the Cranberry Institute, they send me the latest news and studies about cranberries as well as the occasional recipe and cranberry products. I o to this relationship because I am one of those crazies who buys five pounds of cranberries at Costco without a second thought. 

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.