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What are the ingredients in a sunshine burger?

A sunshine burger is a vegetarian or vegan burger made with brightly colored vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets. The vibrant orange, yellow, and red hues of these plant-based ingredients give the burger its name. Though recipes can vary, sunshine burgers typically contain a mix of grated or shredded vegetables held together with an egg or vegetable-based binder. They are a nutritious, meatless alternative to traditional hamburgers.

What vegetables are used in a sunshine burger?

The key vegetables that give the sunshine burger its colorful appearance are:

  • Carrots – Grated or shredded carrots add bright orange color. Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives them their pigment. They also provide fiber, vitamin K, potassium, and vitamin C.
  • Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potato adds both vibrant orange color and natural sweetness. Like carrots, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene. They also contain fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and vitamin B6.
  • Beets – Finely chopped or shredded beets infuse the patty with bright pink-red hues. Beets offer nitrates, pigments called betalains, and valuable nutrients like folate, manganese, and potassium.
  • Red Bell Peppers – Red bell peppers lend both flavor and red color. They’re high in vitamin C and other antioxidants like beta-carotene and lycopene.
  • Yellow Squash – Shredded yellow squash gives a pop of color and added moisture. It provides vitamin C, manganese and magnesium.

In addition to visual appeal and nutrients, these colorful vegetables add moisture and texture to help bind the burger together.

What other ingredients bind the burger?

A binder is used to hold the shredded vegetable mixture together and help it maintain a burger shape. Common binder options include:

  • Eggs – A whole egg or just the white can act as a binding agent. Eggs provide protein which helps adhesion.
  • Breadcrumbs or Crackers – Crushed crackers or breadcrumbs are a vegan binder alternative. They absorb moisture and add texture.
  • Oats – Rolled or quick oats can be used to bind the vegetables. Oats contain soluble fiber that provides starch to stick ingredients together.
  • Beans – Mashed or pureed beans like chickpeas, black beans, or kidney beans work as an egg substitute. Bean starches and gums create adhesion.
  • Tofu – Crumbled firm or silken tofu can bind the burger mixture. Tofu is a vegan protein source with gums that assist binding.
  • Nut Butter – Almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter help create cohesion through protein and healthy fats.

In addition to the binder, a small amount of flour, cornmeal, or breadcrumbs may be added to absorb excess moisture and keep the burger from falling apart during cooking.

What seasonings give sunshine burgers flavor?

Sunshine burgers are seasoned to enhance their flavor. Common seasonings include:

  • Onion Powder – Onion powder provides savory, aromatic notes.
  • Garlic Powder – Garlic powder gives sweet, pungent flavor.
  • Smoked Paprika – Smoked paprika contributes an earthy, smoky taste.
  • Chili Powder – Chili powder adds mild heat and robust spice flavor.
  • Cumin – Cumin offers a warm, nutty flavor.
  • Oregano – Oregano provides herbaceous notes.
  • Basil – Basil gives fresh, mildly peppery flavor.
  • Parsley – Parsley contributes bright, grassy flavor.
  • Thyme – Thyme lends woodsy, floral aroma.

Salt and black pepper are also commonly used to season the patties. Spices like curry powder or chipotle can be added for more flavor complexity.

What are some topping ideas for sunshine burgers?

Sunshine burgers can be finished with an array of colorful, nutritious toppings like:

  • Sliced Avocado – Creamy avocado provides healthy fats and bright green color.
  • Sprouts – Crunchy alfalfa or clover sprouts offer texture and living enzymes.
  • Leafy Greens – Crisp lettuce, spinach, kale, or cabbage leaves add fiber.
  • Tomato Slices – Tomatoes offer moisture, vitamin C and red hue.
  • Onion Slices – Red or yellow onion lend flavor, sulfur compounds and color.
  • Pickles – Pickles provide tangy flavor, probiotics and crunch.
  • Relish – Veggie relish contributes flavor, texture and color contrast.
  • Sauerkraut – Sauerkraut supplies probiotics, crisp texture and tang.
  • Guacamole – Smooth, creamy guacamole delivers flavor and nutrition.

Cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, provolone or goat cheese can be added as well. Condiments like yellow mustard, ketchup, vegan mayo or hummus also pair nicely.

How can you make sunshine burgers taste like beef?

To give sunshine burgers a meatier taste and texture similar to beef burgers, consider adding:

  • Mushrooms – Finely chopped mushrooms offer savory umami flavor and added moisture.
  • Walnuts – Walnuts give texture and nutty, meaty notes.
  • Liquid Smoke – A few drops of natural liquid smoke impart smoky barbecue flavor.
  • Soy Sauce – A small amount of soy sauce provides salty, savory taste.
  • Vegetable Broth Powder – Broth powder made from vegetables boosts umami flavors.
  • Nutritional Yeast – Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, savory flavor that adds richness.
  • Miso Paste – Mellow miso paste provides meaty, salty flavor.
  • Tomato Paste – Tomato paste gives sweet, tangy flavor and helps binding.

Spices like garlic, onion and paprika can also amplify the flavor. Marinating the vegetable mix or formed patties in brown rice vinegar, tamari or coconut aminos will further enhance savoriness.

What are some recipe tips for the best sunshine burgers?

Here are some helpful tips for making delicious, sturdy sunshine veggie burgers at home:

  • Drain excess moisture from grated vegetables by squeezing handfuls over a bowl. This prevents soggy burgers.
  • Refrigerate the mix for 30 minutes before forming patties to allow ingredients to bind together.
  • Handle patties gently when shaping them to avoid compressing the texture too much.
  • Chill formed patties in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Chilling helps them hold their shape better.
  • Use parchment paper when baking burgers in the oven. The patties won’t stick as easily.
  • Pan fry burgers over medium heat rather than high heat to prevent burning the outside before the inside cooks.
  • Allow burgers to rest for 5 minutes after cooking. This helps the interior fibers relax so they don’t fall apart.
  • Serve sunshine burgers fresh for best texture and flavor. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Taking these steps helps ensure your sunshine burgers come out with vivid color, tender vegetable texture, and robust flavor in every wholesome, nutritious bite. Have fun mixing and matching different vegetable combinations!

Sample sunshine burger recipe

Here is one recipe example for making flavorful sunshine veggie burgers at home:


  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded yellow squash
  • 1 cup shredded beet
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water, let sit 5 minutes)


  1. Mix together the shredded carrots, squash, beets, oats, almond flour, garlic and seasonings.
  2. In a small bowl, make the flax egg by mixing the ground flaxseeds and water. Let sit for 5 minutes until thickened.
  3. Add the flax egg and tamari to the vegetable mixture. Mix well until fully combined.
  4. Form mixture into 4 equal patties, each about 1/2 inch thick. Handle gently.
  5. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook patties for 4-5 minutes per side until browned. Or bake at 375°F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway.
  6. Serve sunshine burgers on buns with desired toppings and condiments.

Makes 4 servings. Nutrition per serving (without toppings): 140 calories, 5g protein, 21g carbs, 4g fat, 3g fiber

The benefits of choosing sunshine burgers

Sunshine burgers offer many benefits and advantages over traditional beef hamburgers:

  • More nutrition – Sunshine burgers provide a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber from all the colorful vegetables used to make them.
  • Lower in fat & calories – With no meat, sunshine burgers are much lower in saturated fat and calories compared to beef burgers.
  • Contain protein – The vegetables, eggs, cheese and other ingredients supply protein to support an active lifestyle.
  • High in fiber – The mix of vegetables gives sunshine burgers more satisfying dietary fiber than meat.
  • Meatless – Sunshine burgers are made without any meat, so they are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Environmentally friendly – Choosing plant-based sunshine burgers over beef reduces your carbon footprint and impact on the planet.
  • Fun to make – Kids can get involved mixing up the colors and textures when cooking sunshine burgers at home.

With their bright colors and awesome nutrition, sunshine burgers are a healthy, sustainable option that packs a nutritious punch in every flavorful bite.


Sunshine burgers get both their vibrant appearance and wholesome nutrition from a medley of shredded vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets. Binders such as mashed beans or eggs hold the patties together, while herbs and spices add flavor. Toppings like avocado, sprouts, tomato, and onion let the colors shine. Making sunshine burgers at home is easy, budget-friendly, and fun for the whole family. Choosing plant-based sunshine burgers over beef provides more nutrition, fiber and antioxidants with less saturated fat and calories. So bring on the sunshine and flavor by enjoying these colorful, feel-good veggie burgers today!