Vegan Hamburger Helper is a one-pot, super easy, 25 minute recipe that the whole family will love. It's "meaty", cheesy, saucy and SO good!
Quick, easy, one-pot, family-friendly...Is there anything not to love about this Vegan Hamburger Helper recipe? My love for it is out of control.
We're talking a great big pot of "meaty", saucy, cheesy macaroni . It's like the classic boxed hamburger helper without the ground beef, and taken up a very big notch. As in it tastes really, really good (and you know what's in it!)
In this post - Everything you need to make Vegan Hamburger Helper:
One extra thing to love in this age of ridiculously priced groceries, is that when making hamburger helper without meat, you have the choice of using either a vegan ground "beef" substitute or lentils.
I'm not going to lie, it's best with vegan ground beef, but lentils make a more than adequate alternative and are much cheaper, and healthier to boot.
Here is what you need to make One-Pot Vegan Hamburger Helper:
And a few important ingredient/substitution notes:
- Macaroni - I have only tested this recipe with elbow macaroni but any smaller short cut pasta shapes should work out ok. Possibly even broken up spaghetti? Use gluten-free pasta if necessary.
- Vegan ground beef - I used Beyond Meat but any ground vegan beef style substitute will work in this recipe. The quantity doesn't have to be exact if your pack size varies a little. Just keep it roughly the same. For a budget-friendly and healthier alternative use cooked green or brown lentils. You could even use half vegan ground beef and half lentils for an in between option, saving the rest for another meal.
- Chili powder - This should be American style chili powder. If you are in the UK/Europe be sure to check the recipe notes. Your chili powder is not the same!
- Vegan cheese - Any vegan cheese shreds that will melt nicely into the sauce. The recipe is still really good without the cheese so if you're looking to save a few dollars or want a healthier casserole feel free to omit it. You could even add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast for a savoury cheesy flavour instead.
- Plant milk - This is for added creaminess and any dairy-free variety such as cashew milk, soy milk or almond milk will do. It must however be unfavoured and unsweetened. Double check it hasn't got sugar or vanilla in it (the fastest way to ruin a savoury dish!), and I don't recommend using homemade oat milk because it doesn't heat well.
- Olive oil - You can easily omit the olive oil and saute in a little water if you eat oil-free.
Tip - It's perfect just as it is but feel free to add up to 2 cups of chopped easy cook vegetables such as bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, peas or corn for even more flavour and texture.
How To Make Vegan Hamburger Helper
You wont believe how quick and easy this one-pot meal is to make. You don't even need to boil the macaroni in water!
Here's a quick summary of how it's done (for the full and detailed recipe see the recipe card):
- Cook the onion, garlic and vegan ground beef/lentils together in a large pot or skillet until browned.
- Add everything else except the cheese and stir.
- Simmer until the macaroni is just tender.
- Add the cheese, stir in and allow to melt before serving.
Vegan Hamburger Helper is perfect served alongside a crisp green salad, vegan broccoli salad, steamed veggies, air fried zucchini, garlic bread, or fresh crusty bread. My No Knead Focaccia or sourdough would be perfect!
Tip - Turn into cheeseburger hamburger helper by topping with diced fresh tomatoes, diced pickles, chopped iceberg lettuce, and a drizzle of burger sauce or hot sauce!
Storing Leftovers & Reheating
Store leftover hamburger helper in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. I haven't tried freezing it but I would think it should be ok.
Reheat leftovers in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop. The macaroni has a habit of sucking up all of the moisture while it's in the fridge so I add a little water before reheating to moisten it up.
Use 1½ to 2 cups of cooked green or brown lentils to replace the vegan ground beef in this recipe. 1 cup of dried lentils equals about 2 cups when cooked. Simply put the dried lentils in a pan with at least double the volume of water or stock and simmer until just tender. They should take approximately 35 to 40 minutes. (Note that I do not recommend using red lentils in this recipe).
More "Meaty" Vegan Recipes
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
Vegan Hamburger HelperAuthor:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil , or a little water for oil-free
- 1 pack vegan ground beef , pack sizes of vegan ground beef vary. Anything between 12 - 16 oz is fine (Or use 1½ to 2 cups (300-400g) of cooked green or brown lentils)
- 1 medium onion , diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 2½ cups (600 mls) vegetable stock
- 1½ cups (360 mls) plant milk , unsweetened and unflavoured
- 1½ cups (360 mls) canned crushed tomatoes , or passata
- 2 teaspoons American style chili powder , see recipe notes if in Europe/UK
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- 1lb (453 grams) macaroni , uncooked (use gluten-free if necessary)
- 1 to 1½ cups (120-180 grams) shredded vegan cheese , optional. It's still good without
- Warm the oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat then add the vegan ground beef/lentils, onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until the "beef" is browned and the onions are translucent.
- To the pot add the stock, milk, crushed tomatoes, chili powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and stir to combine, then drop in the macaroni.
- Stir well to break up any clumps of macaroni, then bring to a simmer and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the macaroni is just tender with a little bite and the sauce has thickened.
- Turn off the heat and add the cheese. Stir it in then cover with a lid or upturned baking tray and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
I am eating this as I write this, its very good! I was a little freaked out by the process of adding so much liquid to the vegan meat but it thickened up nicely and is so tasty! Im thankful for the comment about the chili powder because I live in Spain and its super hot and spicey here, I ended up adding 1/2 tsp, yum.
It was a very easy recipe to follow and it was delicious to eat! Yummy!!!!
This was delicious, reminds me of a meal my mum would make when I was young.
I got your cookbook at Christmas and have already made several dishes.
Melanie McDonald says
Thank you for your review Cathie. I'm really pleased you enjoyed it!