Easy Vegan Hamburger Helper Recipe
Easy Vegan Hamburger Helper- inspired by the beloved boxed meal, this plant-based version features meatless crumbles and a dairy-free cheese sauce that everyone will love. Each serving packs 28g of protein!
Many of us have fond memories of eating Hamburger Helper for dinner. I mean, it’s basically like eating a cheeseburger in pasta form. What could be better than that?
Even after nearly 19 years of not eating meat, I still find myself craving a warm bowl of Hamburger Helper. Turns out, making a vegan version is actually quite easy and just as good as the original.
Vegan Hamburger Helper Ingredients
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil- Olive oil is used to lightly sauté our onion and garlic and prevent them from burning. Feel free to use any kind of neutral flavored oil or make it oil-free by using a splash of broth instead.
- Yellow Onion + Garlic- A small onion (or several shallots) is best as we only need 1 cup. Sautéing this with garlic creates the savory flavor base.
- Tomato Paste- Tomato paste is essential for umami flavor. If you don’t have any on hand, you could use ketchup in a pinch.
- Reduced Sodium Tamari- Fermented soy sauce is another key player for umami in this dish. Tamari is gluten-free soy sauce but you can use regular soy sauce as well.
- Vegan Worcestershire- This is an ingredient that some of you may not have on hand and although I think it is worth using, you could substitute with extra soy sauce, if desired.
- Chili Powder + Smoked Paprika- Mild chili powder and smoked paprika impart a subtle smoky flavor.
- Vegetable Broth- If you’ve made any of my recipes that call for broth then you know I always recommend Better Than Bouillon. It is so simple to use (just add water) and the flavor can’t be matched. Please note it is MUCH cheaper to buy somewhere other than Amazon. I just link it for reference.
- Macaroni- I tend to use whole grain pasta for the extra protein but any kind you prefer will work here. Just be careful that some gluten-free macaronis have a hard time holding up in recipes like this.
- Raw Cashews- Soaked and blended, raw cashews create a creamy texture without any overwhelming flavor. They are perfect in this recipe so I don’t recommend substitutes here. You will need a high speed blender such as a NutriBullet to properly break them down.
- Nutritional Yeast- Nutrition yeast is used to help give the cashew cream a cheesy flavor.
- Vinegar- Regular white vinegar is ideal for a little tang in the cream.
- Meatless Crumbles- My favorite crumbles to use are Abbott’s Butcher because they are high in protein and taste incredible. If you have time to make your own crumbles, my easy tofu ground beef crumbles would be delicious here.
How to Make Vegan Hamburger Helper
- Soak your cashews in hot water for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic, crumbles, tomato paste, tamari, vegan Worcestershire, chili powder and smoked paprika. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add pasta and broth. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring intermittently.
- Add cashews to blender with nutritional yeast and vinegar. Blend until smooth.
- Pour cashew cream into pot with pasta. Cook for 5 minutes, until heated through.
- Serve and enjoy!
Can I make it gluten-free?
Yes, although I would be careful to choose a gluten-free pasta that will hold up well once cooked. Some brands can be very delicate and break apart easily.
How to Store Vegan Hamburger Helper
Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days when sealed and refrigerated. I haven’t tried freezing this recipe but it seems like it would hold up well with wheat pasta.
Want more easy dinner ideas?
- One-Pot Vegetable Tortellini Soup
- One-Pot Golden Lentil Soup
- One-Pot Garlicky Chard with Chickpeas
- One-Pot Coconut Mung Bean Stew
- One-Pot Vegan White Bean Shakshuka
- One-Pot Red Lentil Sweet Potato Stew
- One-Pot African Peanut Stew
- Quick and Easy Chana Masala
- One-Pot Vegan Jambalaya
Easy Vegan Hamburger Helper
For the Macaroni
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 ounces meatless ground beef crumbles
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari, or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire , or sub tamari/soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 8 ounces macaroni
- 2 cups vegetable broth
For the Cashew Cream
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 30 mins
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Add cashews to a bowl and cover with hot water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes.
- In a large pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Next add the minced garlic, meatless crumbles, tomato paste, tamari, vegan Worcestershire, chili powder and smoked paprika. Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes more.
- To the pot, add the pasta and 2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cover with the lid and cook of 15 minutes, stirring intermittently. Make sure the heat isn't too high or contents will stick to the bottom and burn.
- Discard the soaking water from the cashews then add to a high speed blender with vinegar, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Once the pasta is al dente (cooked through but firm to bite), stir in the cashew cream. Continue to cook for 5 minutes more, stirring intermittently. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Serve warm and enjoy!