Vegan Hamburger HelperThis post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure.
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!
Hamburger helper, Kraft macaroni, and cosmic brownies are classic childhood staples. 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.
For this vegan cheeseburger pasta, 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!
Latest Recipe Video!
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.
- Oil: To sauté the onions and garlic until fragrant. You can use vegetable oil, vegan butter, coconut oil, or olive oil for this vegan meal.
- 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 hamburger helper no meat 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. We also used fresh parsley as a garnish for some brightness!
- 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: Unsweetened 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 for this hamburger helper without hamburger!
- 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, and gives this hamburger helper recipe with no cheese a super cheesy flavor!
- Milk: I used soy milk for this dairy free hamburger helper, 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.
- Vegan Meat Substitute: I like Beyond Meat the best because of its texture, flavor, and clean ingredients, but you can also use Impossible Meat, soy curls, or Gardein Plant Based Ground Beef. Don’t want to use a meat substitute? Brown lentils will also work in this cheeseburger macaroni vegan 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.
🔪 How To Make Vegan Hamburger Helper
This homemade 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.
Add Vegan Ground Beef: Add the vegan meat alternative and cook for 5 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks.
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.
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.
Add Yeast: Once the pasta is al dente, stir in the nutritional yeast and serve this non dairy hamburger helper warm, topped with parsley!
💭 Expert Tips
- Choose the right plant-based ground meat. Opt for a high-quality plant-based ground meat substitute that closely mimics the texture and flavor of real ground meat. There are many options available, such as soy-based crumbles, lentil-based ground meat, or even homemade seitan crumbles.
- Don’t overcook your pasta. Since you’re cooking everything in one pot, the pasta could get overcooked if you let it sit too long! Stir it occasionally, and stop cooking as soon as the pasta is al dente.
- Add more meaty flavor with additional spices. Since you won’t have the natural fat and umami flavors from animal meat, you’ll want to add extra seasonings and spices to enhance the taste of your one pot vegan hamburger helper. Common flavor boosters include onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce (vegan version), and extra nutritional yeast.
- To cut down on prep time, purchase pre-diced onion and pre-minced garlic.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Plant based hamburger helper is filling on its own but also pairs well with a variety of sides! Here’s what we love to serve it with:
- Vegan garlic bread
- Tomato avocado cucumber salad or a simple mixed green salad
- Roasted green beans and potatoes or a mix of grilled vegetables
- Corn on the cob or corn fries
- A side of rice or pressure cooker quinoa
📖 Recipe 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.
- Make It Cheeseier: For even more cheesy goodness, top with vegan cheddar cheese or vegan parmesan cheese. To make the homemade cheese sauce creamier, sir in a scoop of vegan sour cream.
- Gluten Free Cheeseburger Macaroni: You can easily make this recipe into GF hamburger helper by using a gluten free pasta, and making sure the vegan meat substitute you use is gluten free as well! Using Beyond Meat for this hamburger helper would make it gluten free.
- Make It Spicy: For a spicy kick, stir in hot sauce to this vegetarian hamburger helper recipe.
This easy vegan hamburger helper recipe tastes even better as leftovers, because the flavors have more time to meld together! Here’s how to store it:
In The Fridge: Store leftover hamburger helper without meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until warmed throughout.
To Freeze: You can freeze this meatless hamburger helper 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.
❓ Recipe FAQs
Unfortunately no, Hamburger Helper, in its traditional form, is a packaged convenience food that typically contains pasta, a powdered seasoning mix, and often requires the addition of ground meat and milk or butter. It tends to be high in sodium, saturated fat, and processed ingredients. While it may provide a quick and filling meal, it is not generally considered a healthy option.
But you can make healthier hamburger helper by using whole food ingredients and making some healthy swaps. This homemade vegan hamburger helper recipe is made with whole foods like veggies, whole grain pasta, plant-milk, and nutritional yeast. It has no processed ingredients or additives, it’s dairy-free and vegan, making it a much healthier option!
Hamburger Helper was created by General Mills, and it was called “Hamburger Helper” because it was designed as a meal solution to help stretch ground meat, particularly hamburger, into a more substantial and flavorful dish.
When Hamburger Helper was introduced in the 1970s, ground meat, particularly hamburger, was a popular and affordable choice for many households. But it can be challenging to create variety and flavor with just a basic pound of ground meat.
The concept behind Hamburger Helper was to provide a convenient package that included pasta and a seasoning mix, which, when combined with ground meat, could transform it into a more complete and flavorful meal.
The original Hamburger Helper mixes are not vegan as they typically contain ingredients like powdered dairy, such as milk or cheese.
🍲 More Vegan Recipes!
- Vegan Sweet Potato Enchiladas
- Vegan Mexican Rice
- Tofu Meatballs
- Vegan Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
- Vegan Rasta Pasta
- Vegan Paella
- Tofu Pasta
- Vegan Turkey
- Vegan Schnitzel
- Vegan Moussaka
- Vegan Empanadas With Black Beans
- Vegan Enchilada Casserole
- Vegan Egg Rolls
Love this vegan entree recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page!
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🎥 Watch How to Make It
Vegan Hamburger Helper
- 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
- 1½ cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup marinara sauce
- 1½ cups unsweetened soy milk
- 2 cups dry whole wheat elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- chopped parsley
- 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.
- 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.