Chili Lime Black Bean Burgers and a Photo Experiment

Recently returned back from Food Blog Forum at Walt Disney World. At the conference, we had an informative lecture from professional food photographers Diane Cu and Todd Porter. In their discussion, they talked about how the angle of the light source can affect the tone and mood of the photo.

I wanted to experiment with this a bit. The photo above was taken with light coming in from the left side (9:00) and the photo below was taken with back lighting (12:00). What do you think of each? I definitely enjoyed their photography tips and look forward to experimenting more!

Do you practice Meatless Mondays? If so, this is a great idea for dinner next week!

If I didn’t tell you these were made with black beans in the title, I could have fooled you, huh? They look just like meat! They are quite filling too without making you feel as though you just ate a bowling ball!

I have made this recipe several times before. Sometimes I use canned beans, but this time I found some fresh black beans from the farmers market that I wanted to try. I have given measurements and instructions for both canned and dried beans. I made extra black beans and then measured out the amount for the burgers after they were cooked. I love having extra beans in the refrigerator for a quick lunch or snack.

Chili Lime Black Bean Burger Recipe


  • 2/3 cup dried black beans (or substitute one 15 ounce can of black beans). If using canned, you will not use the below onion
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 whole wheat hamburger bun
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest (about 2 small limes)
  • Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • For serving: red onion slices, lettuce leaves, pickle spears, mayonnaise and/or your favorite burger toppings


  1. If you are using dried beans, cover them with water and soak overnight. The next morning, strain and rinse beans. Place them in a saucepan and cover them with fresh water, add in 1 onion, chopped. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 hour until tender. Strain and let cool. If using canned, strain and rinse the beans.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor with a blade attachment, grind the hamburger bun until finely ground into bread crumbs. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same food processor bowl, add in the garlic cloves and cilantro. Pulse a few times until minced. Add in the beans and puree until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the chili powder, lime zest, and bread crumbs. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. (Taste mixture to make sure seasonings are to your preference before adding in the egg). Add in the egg and mix until incorporated. Divide mixture into 4 equal pieces and shape into round patties.
  4. In a grill pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Grill the patties on one side, for about 3-4 minutes until brown. Flip over and add cheese. Cook for about another 3-4 minutes, until cheese has melted.
  5. Serve patties on the hamburger buns with you favorite burger toppings.

Serves 4

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25 Responses to Chili Lime Black Bean Burgers and a Photo Experiment

  1. Samantha says:

    You could have fooled me, they look just like beef! All of your photos are beautiful!

  2. priscilla says:

    All your pictures are great! I guess it just depends on what makes the food look great. I love black beans and will enjoy making these burgers. What happened to Rosie?

  3. Yes! I could eat black beans all day long. And good job experimenting with what you learned!

  4. I love black beans, but haven’t tried them in making patties..the burger looks fantastic!

  5. Definitely coulda fooled me. These look so delicious. And good food photography tins, I need all the tips I can get! haha

    • Sage Recipes says:

      Thanks Kammie! Yes, Diane and Todd from White on Rice are amazing food photographers! I learned so much from them!
      ~ Emily

  6. Sandra says:

    Great photos! I believe I need to invest in some lighting, and keep practicing :) Yes, Meatless Monday is definitely on my menu. I plan on cooking batch of black beans, so perfect timing to try your burger recipe.

    • Sage Recipes says:

      Thanks Sandra! I actually just use daylight for my photos ~ no fancy lighting equipment! Just set up a little studio by a bright window to practice! Enjoy the burgers next Meatless Monday!
      ~ Emily

  7. KC says:

    Both photos are great. But there seems to be something about the 9am photo that I like better.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Looks delicious! I’ve been looking for a great black bean burger recipe so I’m adding this to my list to try next week. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sage Recipes says:

      I love this recipe ~ something about the chili and lime together makes for the perfect bean burger! Enjoy!
      ~ Emily

  9. Jeanette says:

    Love how you’re practicing what you learned from Food Blog Forum! Your burgers look fantastic!

  10. I adore Diane and Todd! I did a very small photo workshop at their studio in LA and learned so much! I wanted to go to the FBF so bad, although I couldn’t since I’m already going to the Blogher conf in Seattle.

    These burgers look so good!!!

    • Sage Recipes says:

      Thanks Katie! I just heard about the Blogher conf in Seattle, I will have to look into attending that one as well!
      ~ Emily

  11. Renee says:

    If using canned beans, why no onion? I love onion and just wondered. TIA

    • Sage Recipes says:

      Hi! Great question! I like to cook raw beans with the onion to retain moisture in the beans and add flavor. The canned beans don’t need to be cooked so I omitted the onion. If you love onion flavor, sauté some onions and add them to the canned bean purée mixture.
      ~ Emily

  12. theresa roy says:

    These sound so good! Another recipe that’s on my list. I’m looking for clean meals…thank you!

  13. Kara says:

    Could I use olive oil instead of grapeseed? thanks! I also like 9:00 am :)

    • Sage Recipes says:

      Hi Kara,

      Yes, olive oil will work. I use grapeseed because it has a higher smoke point, but olive oil will work just fine! Enjoy!

      ~ Emily

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