Bento no. 49: Vegan rice burger bento


Bento contents:

  • Rice Burger patties made of approx. 1 1/2 cups sprouted brown rice + 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, 350 cal
  • Mediterranean flavored green vegan burger using about 1/5th of the recipe, 120 cal
  • Cherry tomatoes, arugula, berries, 50 cal

Total calories (approx): 520 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 20-25 minutes in the morning if making from scratch; much less if using pre-made/pre-frozen components

Type: Bread-free, vegan

I’ve been thinking a bit about healthy bentos that you could make with the minimal equipment available in a college dorm room. This is one that could be made if you have a rice cooker, microwave and plug-in grill device like the George Foreman grill. It features a rice burger: two grilled or panfried rice patties with a Mediterranean flavored green vegan burger that’s been glazed with some ketchup (you could also use barbeque sauce), plus a few leaves of arugula, in between. I’ve wrapped it up in kitchen parchment paper in the bento box, but here’s how it looks:


The kitchen parchment paper is really helpful when you are ready to eat the burger, since it keeps the fillings from dripping all over you. Here I am just about to take a bite:


I’ve just thrown in some cherry tomatoes and berries in the side. The burger itself has a lot of greens in it, so I’m happy that this lunch has enough vegetables, but you could add some carrot sticks and so on for even more.

The rice patties and the vegan burger can both be cooked in the grill (blanch the greens in boiling water). Both can be made and frozen, and defrosted in the morning for quick assembly! If the vegan burger is too much work to make, substitute a readymade vegan burger or cutlet instead.

A bit about rice burgers

If you go to Japan, you will encounter a fast food chain called MOS Burger. Their speciality is something called a MOS rice burger - a warm sandwich made of two pressed rice patties with fillings. They are a tasty alternative to a regular bun burger, especially if you are gluten-intolerant. Plus you can put a whole more more filling in between the patties than in an onigiri.

Making rice burger patties is even easier than making onigiri. All you need to do is to press a round of rice about 1/2 inch / 1cm thick firmly, using plastic wrap. (The rice should be Japanese-style medium grain rice or similar, the same as you would use to make onigiri (rice balls), or it will not stick together properly; long-grains rices like jasmine rice, basmati rice, Uncle Ben’s Carolina Rice, etc. will not work without a binding agent. In other words, just think of the burger patties as flat onigiri. See the exhaustive Onigiri FAQ page.)


Then, cook the patties on each side in a lightly oiled frying pan or grill - I use olive oil, or sesame oil for additional flavor - until a light golden brown. (If you are fat-paranoid, use a non-stick spray on a non-stick pan.) The patties are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and a great match for all kinds of fillings. Here’s another one I made some time ago for a warm late-night snack - cheese, a couple of slices of salami, and a thin large slice of tomato, all pressed together until the cheese melted. Delicious!


Ahead-of-time note: The uncooked patties can be frozen, well wrapped in cling film. They should be fine for a month or so (beyond that and like all cooked and frozen rice, it may start to get freezer burn). Defrost them in the microwave or overnight in the refrigerator, then cook in the frying pan.

And coincidentally, Bentoist has a rice burger bento using a chicken tsukune burger as the filling, which looks great! One of MOS Burger’s popular rice burgers is a all-veggie kinpira burger - you can sort of replicate it by using carrot kinpira as the filling.

The one drawback of rice burgers for me is that you need to use quite a bit of rice to make reasonably sturdy patties. In this case, I have about 1.5 cups of sprouted brown rice; add the oil needed to cook it, and the calories add up. You could make the patties smaller in diameter (mine are about 4.5inches / 11.5cm) and use less rice, but I do like my burgers to be two-fisted. The filling here is quite low in calories though, so that helps to balance things out. As I’ve noted, the total calories for the rice burger in this bento is around 350 calories, which is not bad I think. Watch out when you use higher-calorie fillings like beef burgers though if you’re watching your waistline!

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I just saw this sort of

I just saw this sort of thing in a book called ‘Washoku’. I thought it looked like a fun thing to try. I might have to give this a go! Thanks for posting.

What a nice alternative to

What a nice alternative to burgers!

This does sound like a great

This does sound like a great midnight snack. Thank for reminding me of MOS burger. I had the kinpira burger there about 10 years ago…genius! What kind of pan did you use? Doesn’t the rice stick to the pan?

I used a plain old non-stick

I used a plain old non-stick frying pan for this one, but i’ve also made them in a cheap Tefal sandwich maker/grill/waffle iron thing, similar to the George Foreman grill (clamshell type that cooks from both sides) and it worked great. As long as you oil the pan and (preferably) use non-stick or a well seasoned pan, the rice doesn’t stick.

Just out of curiosity, why

Just out of curiosity, why sprouted brown rice? Is there a benefit to it, or does it make the rice stick together better? And do you sprout it yourself, or buy it that way?


There’s an article on on how to make your own sprouted brown rice or germinated brown rice (GBR)

It takes time but it’s worth it for the nutritional benefits of GBR. I do it about once a week, and freeze the cooked rice following Maki’s instructions!

Thank you for yet another great recipe Maki!! Love this blog so much.

great link - thanks anon

great link - thanks anon person :)

sprouted (germinated) brown rice

The main reason I use sprouted brown rice is for the nutritional benefit, since with a vegan meal you need to draw your protein and things from more than one source as you can’t rely on a hunk o’ meat. It also cooks as fast as white rice, and has a pleasant nutty taste especially when it’s fried as a burger ‘bun’ or made into a yakionigiri (grilled onigiri). I do sprout my own, since I haven’t found a source for it here yet - the Instructables tutorial ms. or mr. anon posted is great! It does take some time, though not active work time - just soaking for about 2-3 days. I have a bit more about sprouted brown rice in Looking at rice.

Great bun idea!

I love the rice “bun” for the veggie burger! I didn’t know MosBurger had a rice burger- but I guess, since I don’t eat meat and they probably put soy sauce in there somewhere, it’s probably still off limits- but I can make it at home. Yay! I just might have to adopt you next month and have an excuse to make these recipes! ;)


PS Oops, except how do you sprout brown rice? Are there some genius instructions somewhere on your blog?

Re: Great bun idea!

Soy sauce is vegan... It's made from soy beans.

How I miss MOS Burger!

How I miss MOS Burger! Yet I never thought of making the rice burger myself. Great idea!


Hi maki

Your lunch looks really pretty. I’ve thought of using brown rice before but never germinated brown rice. Looking at your lunch, I was thinking about what a great idea the kitchen parchment paper is. The rice burgers I made last Friday were a little too hot to pick up after microwaving and I was just thinking that I need paper to hold the rice.


This is so impressive…I never would have thought to use rice as the bun. Looks even better that way! Very creative.


wow! excellent…. this is added to the list of things to try

I LOVE MOS, but it always

I LOVE MOS, but it always gets messy when I eat the terriyaki beef rice burger.

The burger on this page looks delicious and simple. I’m definitely gonna try to make this at home. Thanks!

Thank you for this site

I tried this today with what I had on hand used a falafel patty for my vegan burger. It’s really good! I can’t wait to try this with other fillings, too. Thank you for the recipe, and the tips on freezing rice. I won’t have to make rice for a few weeks now!

Sprouted brown rice

I’m in the business of sprouted brown rice, also known as germinated brown rice.

I stumbled across this great recipe while doing a search on sprouted brown rice, and I think it’s great! If you’re wondering where you can get some sprouted brown rice visit my website at You can learn about the health benefits of this great type of rice and check out some other recipes.


Binding Agent

I did a quick search of what I could use to bind long grain rice together, what kind of binding agents do you use, if at all? Thanks. :]

Fresh or Night Before?

To make the rice buns do you need to use fresh, right out of the cooker rice or can you use rice you cooked the night before?

Re: Fresh or Night Before?

If you cook rice the night before, make sure to wrap it up well and then heat it in the microwave for a minute in the morning - the rice needs to be hot to stick together properly. Or, you could form it from freshly cooked rice the night before, keep it wrapped up in plastic, and then just panfry it in the morning. (panfrying it the night before may work too but the surface of the rice may get dried out a bit.)

Re: Bento no. 49: Vegan rice burger bento

What are the storage options for these "buns"? Do they freeze well?

Re: Bento no. 49: Vegan rice burger bento

They freeze very well. I've edited the article to include instructions.

Re: Bento no. 49: Vegan rice burger bento

I made a rice burger last week using your instructions for the rice patties and I put a variety of veggies between them (like some cucumber and carrot kinpira and a slice of onion). It was fantastic - definitely one of my favorite recipes. It was a little hard to get the rice to stick together at first, but I got the hang of it and I plan to make this many more times.
Thanks for the fantastic recipe, Maki!

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