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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegan Hamburger Helper

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Enjoy this childhood favorite with all the nostalgia, but none of the meat. Vegan hamburger helper is an easy one-pot dish that whips up in 25 minutes! This plant-based recipe is meatless and so much better than the boxed version. Perfect for busy nights or when you’re craving cheesy pasta!

healthy low calorie meatless vegan hamburger helper recipe on a white plate

Hamburger helper, Kraft macaroni, and cosmic brownies are the staples childhood dreams are made of. And although my taste buds have evolved beyond the box, I still love the concept of cooked pasta in a creamy sauce! This vegan version uses vegan ground meat in a homemade vegan cheese sauce.

You will love this healthy hamburger helper recipe! It’s kid-friendly (always a win!), easy to make, and has no questionable ingredients or preservatives. It’s a no-fuss meal perfect for a busy weeknight. You can feel good about eating this fun childhood staple.

Latest Recipe Video!

For this recipe, I’ve used nutritional yeast to achieve the cheesy flavor of traditional hamburger helper. I swapped vegan ground beef for regular beef, but brown lentils work great too!

👩‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • It beats Betty Crocker any day of the week!
  • Plant-based comfort food is the best kind of food.
  • Quick and easy meal made with whole foods
  • Substitute whichever pasta you like the best
  • Vegan & dairy-free!
  • Kid-friendly and healthy too!
  • Ready to eat in 25 minutes
  • Great for the whole family
  • Best vegan hamburger helper ever!

🥘 Ingredients

Vegan products are easy to find with plenty of options. You can find everything from vegan cream cheese to hamburger meat. Health food stores have a diverse selection, but you can find these key ingredients at most grocery stores.

ingredients for healthy low calorie meatless vegan hamburger helper recipe

Vegetable Oil: To sauté the onions and garlic until fragrant. Vegan butter, coconut oil, or olive oil work great too.

Onion & Garlic: Sweet, white, or yellow onions will all do. You can buy them pre-diced in the produce section to cut back on prep time. You can do the same with garlic. Pre-minced garlic can be found near the raw garlic in small jars.

Vegan Ground Beef: Use your favorite vegan meat brand for this recipe. Beyond Meat has a meaty texture which is why it’s one of my favorite meat substitutes.

Spices: Paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, and black pepper spice this dish up nicely. If you’re sensitive to heat, you can omit the cayenne. Feel free to add garlic powder and chili powder if you like.

Vegetable Broth: Vegetable broth packs in flavor with just one ingredient. It can be high in sodium though, so buy reduced sodium for a healthier option.

Marinara Sauce: Pasta sauce adds a sweet tomato flavor to the sauce. If you prefer not to use it, you can use tomato paste in its place. Start with two tablespoons and add more to taste.

Soy Milk: Soy milk has a mild and creamy flavor perfect for the base of the sauce.

Elbow Macaroni: Macaroni has a perfect sauce to pasta ratio! I used a whole wheat pasta for added fiber.

Nutritional Yeast: It’s packed with nutrients, nutty in flavor, and adds a cheesy quality to plant-based recipes. It can typically be found in the spice or health food aisle.

Fresh parsley: For a pop of green!

📖 Variations

  • Low Calorie Hamburger Helper with Veggies: Sauté finely chopped green pepper with the onion and garlic. Add chopped spinach and frozen mixed vegetables at the same time you add the pasta.
  • Vegan Hamburger Helper Lasagna: Replace the cayenne and paprika with Italian seasoning and use broken up lasagna pieces or Mafalda pasta in place of the elbow macaroni.
  • One-Pot Vegan Hamburger Helper Stroganoff: Replace the macaroni noodles with egg noodles.
  • Cheese: For even more cheesy goodness, top with vegan cheddar cheese or vegan parmesan cheese.
  • Milk: I used soy milk, but any neutral plant-based milk will work. Cashew milk, rice milk, or almond milk are great options. Coconut milk and oat milk have a strong flavor to them that may dominate the dish.
  • Pasta: Use whichever noodles you love the most! Rotini, penne, rigatoni, and fusilli are delicious options. The cooking time will depend on the type of pasta you use. Cook the pasta until al dente.
  • Gluten-Free: Swap the elbow macaroni for gluten-free pasta. Just be sure to check a minute or two early. Overcooked gluten-free pasta can get mushy. Check all the ingredient labels to make sure the ingredients are gluten-free.
  • Spicy: For a spicy kick, stir in hot sauce to this vegetarian hamburger helper recipe.

🔪 Instructions

This vegetarian hamburger helper is a breeze to make. Follow these simple instructions for best results.

Sauté Aromatics: Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.

onions sauteeing in a pan

Add Vegan Ground Beef: Add the vegan meat alternative and cook for 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks.

beyond meat added to pan

Stir in Spices, Add Sauce Ingredients: Add the spices and stir them into the mixture. Add 1 1/2 cups of veggie broth, marinara sauce, soy milk, and macaroni then stir until well combined.

sauce and spices added to pan

Let Simmer: Bring the mixture to a boil, cover it with a lid, and reduce the heat. Cook for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning.

macaroni added to pan

Add Yeast: Once the pasta is al dente, stir in the nutritional yeast and enjoy topped with parsley!

macaroni added to pan

❓ Recipe FAQs

Can I freeze meatless hamburger helper?

Yes! You can freeze it for up to 2 months. Freeze it in a large freezer-safe container or in smaller containers for individual servings. Reheat in a pot on the stove or in the microwave until heated through.

How should I store this healthy hamburger helper?

Store leftover hamburger helper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until warmed throughout.

What can I serve it with?

Plant based hamburger helper is filling on its own but tastes delicious with a side of garlic bread, corn on the cob, or a mixed green salad. It’s one of those dishes that tastes good with anything!

Is hamburger helper healthy?

The boxed version is filled with additives and preservatives, but this homemade vegan hamburger helper recipe is made with whole foods like veggies, pasta, plant-milk, and nutritional yeast. It’s also dairy-free and vegan!

💭 Expert Tips

  • This vegan hamburger helper recipe tastes even better as leftovers, because the flavors have more time to meld together!
  • You can double this recipe, but be sure to use a large pot.
  • To make the homemade cheese sauce creamier, sir in a scoop of vegan sour cream.
  • Be sure to check your pasta to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
  • To cut down on prep time, purchase pre-diced onion and pre-minced garlic.
healthy low calorie meatless vegan hamburger helper recipe on a white plate

🍲 More Vegan Recipes!

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📋 Recipe Card

healthy low calorie meatless vegan hamburger helper recipe on a white plate
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5 from 6 votes

Vegan Hamburger Helper

Enjoy this childhood favorite with all the nostalgia, but none of the meat. Vegan hamburger helper is an easy one-pot dish that whips up in 25 minutes! This plant-based recipe is meatless and worlds better than the boxed version. Perfect for busy nights or when you're craving cheesy pasta!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, mains
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 443kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 8 oz vegan ground beef alternative like beyond meat
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup marinara sauce
  • cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 cups dry whole wheat elbow macaroni pasta
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • chopped parsley

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a large pan and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.
  • Add the vegan ground beef alternative and cook for 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks.
  • Stir through the paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Add the vegetable broth, marinara sauce, soy milk and macaroni and stir until well combined. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and reduce heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from burning.
  • When the pasta is al dente, stir through the nutritional yeast and serve with chopped parsley.

Video

https://youtu.be/0glrFr6Ndjo

Notes

  • You can double this recipe, but be sure to use a large pot!
  • To make the homemade cheese sauce creamier, sir in a scoop of vegan sour cream.
  • Be sure to check your pasta to make sure it doesn’t overcook, I typically cook it for 1 minute under the time recommended on the box.
  • To cut down on prep time, purchase pre-diced onion and pre-minced garlic.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 1087mg | Potassium: 641mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g

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12 responses to “Vegan Hamburger Helper”

  1. This was such a unique and unexpected dish! Was quick, easy, and packed with flavor; definitely, a new favorite recipe!5 stars

  2. This would be perfect for my family’s meatless dinner. They love mac and cheese so I’ll trick them by adding vegan ground beef.5 stars

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