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These Filipino-Inspired Adobo Burgers are the best thing to make when you’re craving some simple, Filipino comfort food. They’re entirely plant-based, filled with our favorite bold Filipino flavors, and just 10 ingredients!
The History of Adobo
Today, adobo is one of the most popular flavor profiles in Filipino cuisine. In fact, the national dish of the Philippines is adobo!
The dish can be traced back to the pre-colonial era when the Spanish colonizers arrived and introduced new ingredients such as soy sauce, garlic, and spices. These new ingredients were incorporated into the existing Filipino cooking techniques, including marinating meat in a tangy vinegar mixture to help prolong its shelf life.
Over time, it’s evolved from the Spanish adobo into a sweet, sour, and salty Filipino-inspired marinade or “seasoning” used to flavor proteins such as beef, chicken, or pork (or in this case vegan “beef”!)
If you love the bold flavor of adobo, you have to try our other adobo recipes next: Filipino Coconut Milk Adobo, Filipino Adobo Inspired Jerky, and this Vegan Filipino Chicken Adobo. Or, check out all of our Vegan Filipino Recipes!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Soy sauce: A splash of soy sauce adds a burst of umami-packed flavor and adds a saltiness to the patties. If you are gluten-free or simply prefer it, opt for tamari. Or, if you are sensitive to sodium, opt for coconut aminos.
- Apple cider vinegar: The subtle acidity of apple cider vinegar enhances the overall taste of the burger mix and makes them more savory. It also adds a tanginess that balances the sweetness.
- Flaxseed meal: Instead of eggs binding the mixture together, we opted for ground flaxseeds. When mixed with liquids it thickens and binds the mixture together in a very similar way.
- Aromatics: All you need is a simple blend of onion, garlic, bay leaves, and a teaspoon of ground ginger. These staples add additional umami flavor and depth without overpowering the other flavors in the mix.
- Brown sugar: A pinch of sweetness helps balance the tangy and savory flavors in the “beef” patties. If needed, you can replace the brown sugar with coconut sugar.
- Vegan “beef”: We recommend using either Beyond Meat ground “beef” or Impossible Burger “beef.” You can also use Beyond Meat burger patties if that’s all you have access to. 4 Beyond Meat patties is equivalent to 1 lb of ground beef.
- Panko breadcrumbs: Similar to eggs, bread crumbs help to bind the mixture together and absorb any excess moisture. We like to use panko breadcrumbs instead of traditional breadcrumbs because they are crispier and lighter. If you are gluten-free, opt for gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Bay leaves: Frying bay leaves in oil is a very common technique used in Filipino cooking. When the dried leaves are fried, they release their aromatic compounds and infuse the oil with their fragrance and distinct flavor. This simple step adds so much bold, intense flavor to the burger patties and is highly recommended!
How to Make Filipino-Inspired Adobo Burgers
- Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and flaxseed meal. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, and ground flaxseed meal. Set aside to allow the mixture to thicken.
- Prep the onion. Cut the onion in half width-wise so the rings are still intact (not through the root!). Finely chop 1/2 of the onion and slice the other half into thin rings.
- Make the burger patty mixture. Into the large bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar, and flaxseed meal, add the diced onions, garlic, brown sugar, black pepper, ginger powder, and ground “beef.” Mix until well combined, then add the breadcrumbs and mix once more until uniform.
- Cover and chill. Place the mixture into the fridge and chill for at least 15 minutes.
- Form the burger patties. Scoop the mixture into individual-sized burgers (we used about 1/2 cup of the mixture in each of our “beef” patties. Adjust the size of your burger patties to fit the width of the buns you are using.
- Fry the bay leaves. Heat a medium skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in 3 bay leaves and fry until golden then remove and discard the leaves.
- Cook the burgers. Add the burger patties to the pan, leaving enough room between each to flip them comfortably (we were able to fit 3 burgers). Season each side of the “beef” patties with black pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes, or until golden, then flip and cook until the second side is cooked through, about 3 minutes.
- Repeat until all burgers are cooked. If the pan needs additional oil between batches, add about 1 tablespoon of additional oil and fry the bay leaves in the oil until fragrant and golden before adding additional patties to the pan.
- Cook the onions. Using the same pan and leftover cooking oil, add in the thinly sliced onions and cook until golden and soft.
- Serve. Once the onions are ready, assemble the burgers on your hamburger buns of choice and desired toppings!
We love serving these Filipino-Inspired Adobo Burgers on Vegan Pandensal (Filipino Bread Rolls) or Ube Buns. They’re sweet, fluffy rolls that are the perfect Filipino substitution for American burger buns. Or, if gluten-free, swap out the bun or pandesal and serve these Filipino burgers on a bed of fluffy white rice or garlic rice instead.
These Filipino burgers are also delicious topped with your favorite vegan cheese, a vegan egg, and classic toppings like romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, coleslaw, and condiments like mayonnaise, banana ketchup, or hot sauce.
Prep Ahead Options
If you’re making these adobo burgers for your family and friends and would like to prep the burger mix in advance, you can!
Follow the recipe steps through step 5 and place the formed patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Then, once ready, remove the patties from the refrigerator and resume with recipe step 6.
Cooked adobo burgers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Store leftover adobo burgers separately from the buns or toppings for best results.
Both the Beyond Meat Impossible burger products do not recommend refreezing their products once cooked. Refreezing these plant-based products will degrade the texture of the “meat” and can cause unsafe bacterial growth.
More Vegan Filipino Food Ideas You May Enjoy:
- Filipino Coconut Milk Adobo – a warm and cozy classic dish that’s easy to prepare.
- Filipino Adobo Inspired Jerky – making vegan jerky at home is easier than you think and bursts with flavor!
- Vegan Filipino Chicken Adobo – a plant-based spin that’s spot on to the classic meat-based recipe.
- Vegan Filipino Spring Rolls (Lumpiang Shanghai) – these spring rolls taste just like the authentic lumpia I grew up with!
- Vegan Siopao Asado (Filipino Steamed Buns) – swap the pork and make these vegan steamed buns with a mushroom filling instead!