Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers


Adding to an ever-increasing number of bento-appropriate mini-burgers recipes here on Just Bento, here is one that turns out little green burgers that are as visually striking as they are tasty. What’s more, they are vegan, gluten-free and inexpensive. I always try to have a bag of frozen green peas stocked in the freezer, and they really come in handy in the winter months when locally (or even reasonably locally) grown fresh vegetables are rather scarce. Green peas are great just cooked as-is, or mixed into stir-fries, but they’re also very nice mashed up. The most famous example of this are that British staple, mushy peas. Green peas are also packed with protein and various vitamins.

These mini-burgers or nuggets have a Mediterranaan flavor from the addition of finely chopped black olives and rosemary, but the idea for the crusty coating came from the Everything Bagel, a type of bagel that is coated with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion and garlic flakes. The black poppy seeds form a nice color contrast with the green peas. The Dedicated Omnivore gives these a big thumbs up on taste and texture.

If you are using these as part of a totally vegan bento, pair them with a whole grain like brown rice, or a whole grain bread. (They’d be excellent as the filling in a rice burger.)

Recipe: Poppyseed encrusted green pea burgers.

Makes about 10 mini-burgers, about 40 calories each

The burger mixture:

  • 2 cups (440ml) frozen peas
  • 1 Tbs. tahini or unsweetened peanut butter (If you use regular sweetened peanut butter, the mixture will be a bit too sweet since the peas are naturally sweet)
  • 1 Tbs. rice flour (or if you don’t have a gluten intolerence problem, you can use wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp. black olive paste, or about 2-3 black olives finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper

The coating:

  • About 3 Tbs. black poppy seeds
  • About 2 tsp. dried onion flakes
  • About 1 tsp. dried garlic flakes

  • Olive oil for cooking

Put the peas in a small sauce pan, and barely cover with cold water. Add about a teaspoon of salt, and bring up to a boil. Lower the heat and put a lid on, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the peas are bright green and cooked through. Drain well.

If you have a food processor or mixer, put all the burger mixture ingredients in the bowl and process until smooth. Adjust the amount of salt to your taste. If you are doing this by hand, mash up the peas finely first, then mix well with the other ingredients.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan or griddle with a little olive oil on medium heat.

Mix the poppy seeds, onion and garlic flakes on a plate. Take heaped tablespoons of the pea burger mixture, flatten them a bit in your hands (it does get a bit messy) and coat them on both sides with the poppy seed mixture. Carefully put into the pan, and cook on both sides for about 4-5 minutes each until crispy but not burned.

Let cool before packing into bento boxes.

You can freeze these fairly successfully, though try to use them within 2 weeks. Just cook them up, let cool and freeze. You can defrost them in a microwave, but ideally you’d reheat them in a frying pan over low heat.


I tried making these with canned kidney beans, but they weren’t as good. The fresh flavor and sweetness of the green peas really makes a difference. I’ll try them with edamame sometime, which might be interesting.

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Pea burgers

Yum! I’ve never heard of making burgers out of peas. They sound really good. I’d like to try making those.

gluten free pea burgers

they look delicious! I wanted to say thank you for the ‘gluten-free notes’ you write on the recipes, they are really helpful :-)

These look so great,

These look so great, brilliant to brighten up a dull bento! I was wondering if you could use the very British storecupboard staple that is Marrowfat tinned peas (the large, mushy ones) or tinned garden peas?

I am not a fan of canned

I am not a fan of canned peas. I think you get the best results from good quality frozen peas, which I even prefer over fresh peas (unless the fresh peas are really freshly picked, rather than sitting in cold storage for a while as is the case with supermarket-sold ones usually)

I love the color!

These look fantastic! I’ve made vegetarian burgers out of just about everything but never peas.

I’ve used kidney beans with success before but I find it needs stronger flavors. Chipotle powder is really good.


I can’t wait to try these. What a great idea Maki!

i love green!

maki, you come up with the best ideas. :) i’ll try this with frozen edamame and sesame seeds. it is very tempting to buy those cute (and very convenient) pre-packed frozen bento food in the su-pa but so far, i have been cooking my own. your green pea burgers are way cuter. :D

Brilliant color!

Those are incredible! I know some people would be turned off by ‘green food’, but those are a winner.

olive aversion!

Maki, What if someone has an aversion/allergy to olives? Is there something else that could be substituted?

I think I would just add a

I think I would just add a bit more salt, and maybe some more herbs. It won’t taste the same but should still be good. If you’re not allergic to olives though, I hope you try it with the olives - they just add richness to the flavor. (And do use good oil-cured black olives, not that awful canned kind.)

Oh, wow! Green pea falafel!

Oh, wow! Green pea falafel!

Wow, those look so good and

Wow, those look so good and I love that they’re gluten and dairy-free!

Very green!

My goodness, I was not expecting anything that bright! They most definitely look different, that’s for sure.

Could we swap in miso for

Could we swap in miso for olive paste? I think my one-year-old would love these, but she’s not so much for the salty and hasn’t got experience with olives (olive oil, yes, olives, no). Well, she hasn’t had miso, either, but… Anyway, she loves hummus, and LOVES green peas, so this looks like the basis of a terrific finger food (for the whole family)!


I just made these today and they have a lovely delicate flavor. I think I will add more flour or oat flakes or ground flaxseed or breadcrumbs next time because they did not keep their shape very well and ended up looking pretty sad ! The mixture would make a nice dip too. Thank you.


Made these and served them warm as a starter to high acclaim. Had them on a bed of the carrot & sesame salad.

Mine were too soft?

I made these on saturday for a party, they were totally killer but the mix was a little too soft? They didn’t really retain their shape as well as this… why do you think that would be? i think maybe i put too much water.

but totally delicious even though they fell apart a little

Thanks for sharing. My son

Thanks for sharing. My son loved them.

Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

They taste great. However, when I tried to make them the kept falling apart.

If these don't hold their shape...

First off, they are very delicate. So you'll want to handle them carefully. Be sure that you have drained off all the moisture from the peas before you mash them. You can also try adding a bit more rice flour or wheat flour to them to make them a bit stiffer. But really, it comes back to just handling them with care (rather like the soft kind of gnocchi made with cheese and spinach).

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

oh this looks yummy! i have to try this!

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

I just made these and added a hit of wasabi to the mix - they are delicious! I didn't have any poppy seeds so I switched with sesame. Also my mix was a bit wet but it held together during cooking, and they've firmed up a bit on cooling. Thanks:)

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

I made these last night to bring for today's pot luck (st. joseph's table) at work (along with the carrot kinpira - which I will post about in the appropriate place), but also served them as part of dinner.

Sadly, they were rejected by the rents. :( But they're picky about new foods, so I always go into giving them new things rather pessimistically. I'm hoping I have better luck with the people at work, but if not, oh well. :3
I thought they were ok. Certainly a different flavor, but not bad. I wish I had added a bit more salt to them, though.

Oh well. Generally they like the stuff I make, but ya can't please em all the time. :)

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

These were a bigger hit at work! There are a fair few vegans and world food lovers here, so quite a few got snarfed up with pleasant comments. There are still some left over, but more than half of what I brought was eaten, so I consider that a big success!!

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Sile, I know these are a bit different, and I've had mixed reactions to them too, though most people like them! Now that it's nearly broad bean (fava bean) season I think I'll try making these with those soon.

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Yum! I hate olives, so I left those out, and searching my spice cabinet I found (to my HORROR!) that I was out of rosemary, so I used a bit of marjoram and thyme instead, and a bit of extra salt. I added an extra tablespoon of wheat flour to help them hold their shape--even then, I wound up making three-bite pea lumps rather than burgers, as it seemed every increase in diameter made them more prone to falling apart.

I also used a bit more garlic, a bit less poppy seed, and a bit of sesame seed for the coating. Crunchy, spicy, and yummy.

Alternative for peanut butter?

I would like to try this recipe! The only inconvenient is... I do not have peanut butter (I live in Italy!). Could you suggest me an alternative? Thanks so much!

Re: Alternative for peanut butter?

Tahini (ground sesame seed paste) would be even better than peanut butter. If you have an Arabic/North African/Jewish population where you live, you should find this at grocery stores that cater to them, or try a natural food store. Or, toast and then grind up some sesame seeds. Almond butter will work too.

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

These were a mess to make, but worth it. Didn't have any of the ingredients for the coating, so I just used some panko. They still fell apart a bit as I was cooking them, but they're delicious. I'm hoping once they've cooled down a bit and spent some time in the refrigerator they'll firm up. Maybe next time I'll cool down the mixture before I cook it.

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

They are indeed quite delicate and can fall apart...but worth the effort definitely ^_^

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Ever so yummy :)
I made these for lunch one day, and they got stolen by my so called "friends" so I only ended up with one burger.
So I am definitely making them again and i might save some for myself.

I've just made these, and

I've just made these, and they were lovely. I had to add more liquid because they wouldn't cohere at first, and then added too much (oops), but I handled them carefully and they wound up on our plates more or less intact despite my slip-up. I'm sure they'll be even better next time, when I'll be sure to actually have the fresh rosemary on hand!

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

This is an interesting recipe. I wonder if you could use dry split peas. Perhaps cook them until they're soft, at which time they are easily mashed. That would go along the same lines as falafel - a dry grain mixture that is spiced, then fried. Hmm...

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Hello Bento Man,
I just want to let you know that I tried your pea burgers this evening.
I also want you to know how great they were! You know, I have to be honest with you.
It wasn't entirely the taste that made it but rather the joy of making them.
They were incredibly easy, satisfying and delectable! You see, I recently started cooking...I don't take classes or anything so it's all a solo project. I don't know what lies ahead but i'm enjoying the process.
After having discovered your website, I was seduced. The way you prepare foods, the time, beauty and appreciation for it all took me aback! This is truly a form of art... anyway a long story short, thank you.
For some reason, food dosen't seem as intimidating with you, and it's taken to a whole other level. A level that can be applied to one's basic outlook on life.

I NEVER right comments on websites. haha i mean ever. But I felt so good tonight. yah, it had to be done.
peace and love from montreal

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Thank you so much for the nice comments ^_^

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Could you use mochiko (sweet rice flour) instead of regular rice flour? Or cake flour?

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Hi Maki,

Thanks so much for this awesomely green recipe! I love peas and I love poppy seed, and having made them tonight, I think I can safely add that I love these mini-burgers, too! Will make them again soon as bite sized crunchy-crusted balls and am already looking forward to it. ^.^

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Maki, these sound wonderful! I admit, I didn't read the recipe thoroughly, the first time I just skimmed it, so I'm going to attempt this with dried peas, cooked of course, and I think I'll try it with a bit of curry powder. I hope you are feeling better. I was sorry to read that you have been ill. Just know that there is a whole community of people, united in the art of bento because of you, and we are all hoping you feel better soon.

Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

Hi Maki,

Thank you for sharing all your recipes! I was just wondering if not only your pea mini burgers, but others as well are able to be baked instead. What kind of changes to the recipe would you anticipate?

Also what purpose do the rice flour/wheat flour/breadcrumbs serve in making the patty? Are there any healthier substitutions?


Re: Poppy seed encrusted green pea mini-burgers

The starchy elements act as a binder, without adding a protein binder like beaten egg. Without the binder the burgers would fall apart, due to the relatively high moisture content of the peas.

Baking them could be difficult - you'd have to handle them very carefully so they don't disintegrate, or add more binder.

Peanut Butter/Tahini

May I ask what the peanut butter/Tahini is needed for? Is there anything else we can use as a substitute?

Re: Peanut Butter/Tahini

They are added to add body to the mixture and hold it together, as well as add protein.

Peanut butter is a substitute for tahini, and vice versa. If neither works for you I'm afraid you may have to skip this recipe.

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