When I was 18 I worked in a health food store in western New York called Ye Olde Nut Tree.  They served something called Unburgers that Jean Young created when she worked there.  They were made daily for the snack bar.  (The “batter” kept in the frig. for a day or two.)  Hard-working, non-vegetarian, construction workers would come in just because they loved them.  They were served on buns with alfalfa sprouts, tomato, etc., or on split open pita bread with cream cheese, avocado, cucumbers, and alfalfa sprouts, topped with an oil and vinegar dressing.

I made Unburgers so many times that I had inadvertently memorized the recipe.  When I quit working there, I wrote my memorized recipe down and made it for my growing family.  Unfortunately, the original recipe contained 9 eggs!!  Needless to say, I had to turn them into a vegan version when we gave up eggs. 

The recipe makes 12-16 patties, but they freeze marvelously.

The Nut Tree (the shortened name) exchanged owners and names, moved, and eventually went out of business.  For any of you who used to go there to eat lunch, now you can make your own at home.


  • 1 pkg. extra firm Morniu silken tofu
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. Savorex, Vegex, or Marmite paste (from original recipe)
  •                OR (my preferred method)
  •                2 T. Brewer’s yeast flakes
  •                1 1/2 tsp. Spike seasoning
  •                1/2 capful Liquid Hickory Smoke
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 3 c. quick oats (you may use half rolled oats for a chewier texture ~ for gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats)
  • 1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds

Whiz in blender everything except walnuts, oats, and seeds until fairly smooth.  Add walnuts – allow blender to run until no large pieces remain.  Pour into large bowl and stir in oats and sunflower seeds.  Let stand for 5 or more minutes.

Preheat electric griddle to 250-275 degrees F.  (I suppose you could use a square stove-top griddle, but you couldn’t cook as many at a time on it.  Use medium-low heat.)  Drop large scoops of mix onto griddle and flatten into patties.  (Sometimes this isn’t a quick process – be patient.)  When browned (about 8-10 minutes), turn them over and continue cooking another 3-5 minutes.  If you flip them too soon, they will be gooey inside.

Serve with gravy, on sandwiches, or alone with guacamole and slices of tomato on top.  Try one crumbled onto a salad.

Makes 12 large patties, or 16 medium patties.  Freezes well with waxed paper between layers.


12 thoughts on “Unburgers

  1. Pingback: Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf | Cheerfully Vegan

  2. I used to go there all the time for their Unburgers. Have not tasted a better burger than this one, and I’ve been looking for over 30 years. In desperation, I just searched for Nut Tree Jamestown NY unburger recipe. I am eternally grateful!

    • I only remember squirt bottles with oil, but there must have been vinegar, too, if you remember it. We just quickly passed it over the sprouts in a zigzag pattern. That’s been so very many years ago…

  3. I’m so glad I found this recipe!! I went to The Nut Tree years ago and loved these burgers with the alfalfa sprouts on their whole wheat rolls. The original recipe called for eggs. How would you incorporate these into your recipe? Also, is it the uncooked mixture that you freeze on patties?

    • The original recipe called for 9 eggs. I have replaced these with tofu, olive oil, and water, which is way healthier. 🙂 I freeze the cooked patties. I don’t think the uncooked mixture would freeze well.

  4. I happened on to your site while looking for vegan scalloped potatoes and wandered around and found this recipe for un-burgers. I made them and they are dee-lish! This recipe is a definite keeper, thank you!

  5. Omg. Wonderful!

    I used to go there just for the unburgers! After dealing with a bunch of horrible veggie burgers here in TX and knowing the Nut Tree is no longer there I was very excited to find this!

    Thank GOD. !

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