Recipes, Lunch, Dinner

The Big Zac

The Big Zac

An iconic flavour combination, which I have veganised and bears absolutely no resemblance to a burger with a similar name. It’s all handily wrapped up in a bun so you can eat it on the go while avoiding a cease and desist from a multinational fast-food corporation.

The Big Zac

  • Servings: 4
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  • 20 g dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 400 g tin black beans, rinsed and drained, reserving 60 ml (¼ cup) aquafaba (see note)
  • 90 g (¾ cup) small chunk TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 135 g gluten flour, plus 2 tablespoons extra if needed
  • 1 tablespoon beef-style stock powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 8 slices dairy-free American-style cheese
  • 8 sesame-covered burger buns
  • 2 large handfuls of shredded iceberg lettuce
  • ½ white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sweet and spicy dill pickles (gherkins), sliced into rounds

Big Zac secret sauce

  • 135 g (½ cup) Mayonnaise (option to include mayo from the recipe below or say “store-bought vegan mayonnaise”)
  • 2 tablespoons gherkin relish
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon or American mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • up to ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. To make the Big Zac secret sauce, combine the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a food processor and blitz to a powder. Add the black beans and process until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the TVP, reserved aquafaba, ketchup, barbecue sauce and liquid smoke. Mix in the black bean mixture and set aside. In another large bowl, combine the gluten flour, stock powder, onion powder and pepper. Stir the prepared TVP mixture into the dry ingredients until the mixture comes together.
  4. Knead until everything is fully combined, adding the extra gluten flour if needed to bring it together into a ball. Divide into quarters and press each quarter into two patties.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the patties on top. Sprinkle over 125 ml (½ cup) of water.
  6. Cover the patties with another sheet of baking paper and bake for 1 hour, flipping at the halfway mark and sprinkling over another ½ cup water. Check every so often to ensure that the patties aren’t browning up too much – they should be mostly dry by the time the hour is up.
  7. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  8. Heat half the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add four of the patties and press with a spatula to flatten them slightly. Cook for 5 minutes, then flip and cook the other sides for 5 minutes. Flip again and place two cheese slices on top of each patty. Continue to cook until the cheese starts to melt, then remove from the pan.
  9. Heat the remaining oil and cook the remaining patties.
  10. While the patties are cooking, use a bread knife to halve the buns. Four of the top halves won’t be required, so set these away for later use. Lightly toast the buns.
  11. Spread a generous amount of Big Zac secret sauce over the bottom half of four burger buns. Scatter lettuce over the sauce and top with a cheesy burger patty, cheese side down. Add a little onion and place the remaining bottom bun halves on top.
  12. Continue to build the burgers with another round of sauce and lettuce and then top with the pickle and remaining patties. Scatter over the remaining onion and finish with the bun tops.


  • Aquafaba – Remarkably versatile, the brine in a tin of beans is a miracle egg replacer.


Mayonnaise – Makes 200 g (3/4 cup)

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) soy milk or 3 tablespoons aquafaba + 1 tablespoon tinned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon American or Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 185 ml (¾ cup) canola oil or other neutral-flavoured oil
  1. Place all the ingredients except the oil in the bowl of a stick blender or plastic jug. Blend with a stick blender for 20 seconds or so, until frothy.
  2. With the stick blender running, slowly pour in the oil in a steady stream for 1–2 minutes, until you have an emulsified and thick mayonnaise. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  3. The mayonnaise will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

Recipe Creator

Recipes extracted from Vegan Junk Food by Zacchary Bird, published by Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99. Photography © Pete Dillon, Food Stylist © Bridget Wald.

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