My 4th of July bell pepper & black bean burger topping: fast to make and easy on the eye – and wallet!

I came up with this burger topping idea almost by accident. We used to love eating chutneys when we lived in the UK, and so I was looking for a burger topping similar to a chutney yet faster and easier to make. I also wanted the topping to have a good consistency and to be able to hold up beautifully when served on a burger. Last but not least, I wanted a relatively inexpensive burger topping, with ingredients that were easy to find and affordable.

Since we love peppers, bell peppers were a “must” from the start. I knew I needed a starchy element for my dish, and initially I didn’t know what that element would be. However, I did have a lot of canned beans in my pantry, so on a whim I decided to experiment with them – hence the “almost by accident” part. πŸ™‚ After several rounds of “bean testing,” my conclusion was that canned black beans worked the best, especially in terms of texture.

To make your dish spicier, add red pepper flakes to the topping or spicy kosher dill pickles to your burger.


1 medium red bell pepper and 1 medium yellow bell pepper, both sliced lengthwise

1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise

1/2 15oz can black beans

1/3 cup vegetable oil + extra, if needed

Salt and pepper (to taste)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

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Heat up the oil in a pan. Add the peppers and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally.

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Add the onion about 4-5 minutes later, and stir gently until the onion and peppers are combined. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.

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What I really like about this stage is that as it cooks and softens, the onion also takes on some of the color of the peppers. What an exciting mix of summer colors!

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Add the black beans and salt & pepper (and the red pepper flakes, if you want a spicy topping) and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. The goal here is to allow the beans to break down and thus to provide the starchiness which holds this topping together. You can apply pressure on the beans with your stirring spatula to aid this disintegration process.

You can also add extra vegetable oil if the mixture is becoming too dry at this stage.

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The topping has been cooking for about 25 minutes in total, and it’s time to take it out of the pan and let it “rest” a bit – while your other half is done flipping the burgers on the grill outside! At this point you can also taste the topping and add extra salt and pepper, if needed.

When it comes to serving the burger, the possibilities are endless. I started off with lightly toasted sesame buns, on which I applied a thick layer of French mustard. I used green salad, a few slices of cucumber, crispy bacon, the burger with cheese melting on top, a generous serving of the warm pepper & bean topping, and finished off with a slice of tomato.

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While this burger can indeed be served in various ways, the addition of the warm pepper & black bean topping makes it truly stand out both flavor- and appearance-wise, in my view. The sweetness of the bell peppers and onions coupled with the starchiness of the black beans provides a comforting and reliable mix of flavors and a sturdy-enough texture, likely to satisfy burger aficionados. If you like hot foods, the red pepper flakes can be used to provide a spicy kick and a lot of personality to the topping – and to the burger on the whole.

I predict this topping is going to feature on our “burger menu” for many years to come πŸ™‚

*Check out my posts here and here for additional 4th of July menu ideas.

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