It is unbelievable how much this Vegan Hamburger Helper tastes just like the original! Cheesy pasta, plant based crumbles, and savory flavors come together in such an irresistible way. Take a stroll down memory lane with this comforting one-pot wonder!
I love to slide this easy meal into our rotation so that my kids can have a taste of a staple from my childhood. Of course, this version is veganized!
If you aren’t familiar with Hamburger Helper, it’s a pasta dish that was very popular in the late 80’s to early 90’s. It’s very similar to American Goulash. The company has a variety of meals, and this recipe is a vegan copycat of their Cheeseburger Macaroni.
The Hamburger Helper box came with macaroni noodles and a packet with seasoning and processed powdered cheese. On busy weeknights, parents would brown some ground beef, and add the contents of the box and milk. They let it simmer for a few minutes, and voila, dinner was done!
Whenever I make this saucy homemade pasta, I am instantly taken back to the days when we’d spend hours upon hours outdoors and iPhones were beyond our wildest dreams. Perhaps recipes like these are so special because of the nostalgia they bring about.
Impossible ground crumbles, nutritional yeast, vegan cheddar, and a few other simple ingredients help this dish taste spot on!
A surprising touch that I added after many trials was ketchup! It gives it a hint of tomato flavor to enhance the cheesy taste while also a bit of tang to balance everything out.
This pasta is totally customizable and can even be made healthier by adding vegetables to it. In fact, I'm pretty sure that my mom was a master at sneaking veggies into it.
Reasons To Love This Recipe
- No eggs, dairy-free, meatless
- Room to add in healthy veggies
- Quick and easy to make in one pan
- Can be gluten-free by swapping the pasta
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Olive Oil - Just a little to sauté the onions and crumbles. You can use a splash of water or veggie broth instead if you prefer.
- Onion - Sweet onion is flavorful yet mild, but any type of onion works.
- Ground Crumbles - Vegan ground “beef” such as the one made by Impossible is great here. Others can be used as well, but I find this one in particular to come the closest to the original Hamburger Helper flavor.
- Broth - Vegetable broth (low sodium) or Better Than Bouillon No Beef mixed with water keeps works.
- Plant Milk - Use a full-fat plant-based milk that is unsweetened and unflavored. Creamer can work as well for an extra creamy mixture.
- Ketchup - Adds a perfect tangy, tomato element. Use tomato paste, if needed.
- Seasoning - A blend of paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, oregano, and pepper help this meal taste just like the classic.
- Pasta - Macaroni is the traditional pasta here, but any other type can work. You can even use chickpea pasta or gluten-free.
- Vegan Cheese - Use your favorite vegan cheddar shreds, such as Violife, and some nutritional yeast for a cheesiness.
- Garnish - Garnish the cheeseburger pasta with fresh herbs such as parsley.
How to Make Vegan Hamburger Helper
Here are some quick visual steps. Find the full recipe with exact measurements on the recipe card below.
Heat a large pot that preferably has a fitted lid or a way to cover it.
Sauté the onions and vegan crumbles, breaking up larger clumps of crumbles during this time.
Stir in the veggie broth, plant milk, ketchup, and seasoning.
Once it comes to a boil, stir in the pasta. Turn the heat down and cover the pot.
Cook the macaroni until it’s al dente. Revisit the pot occasionally to stir the pasta and scrape the pot in case any bits are sticking.
If it seems too dry, add a little water or broth. Try not to add too much because we want this to be more of a casserole and not a soup.
The time and amount of liquid can vary depending on the type of pot and how secure the lid is.
Turn the heat off and stir in the vegan cheddar and nutritional yeast. Garnish the pasta with parsley and enjoy it while it’s still warm!
Recipe Variation Ideas
- Add veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots, or spinach.
- Swap the vegan ground meat with vegan sausage, vegan chicken, or mushrooms.
- Make Vegan Mac & Cheese, Vegan Tuna Pasta Salad, or Vegan Goulash with leftover macaroni noodles.
- Use remaining vegan cheddar and nutritional yeast for Vegan Egg Bites, Tofu Scramble, Cheesesteaks, or Rotel Dip.
Storage & Reheating
Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 5 days or the freezer for 3 months. Reheat it in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until it's heated through.
More Hearty Vegan Pastas
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Vegan Hamburger Helper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 12-16 ounces vegan ground "beef" such as Impossible
- 3 cups vegetable broth, or no-beef bouillon mixed with water
- 1 ½ cups plant milk, or creamer
- 3 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces macaroni (uncooked) ~2 cups
- 1 ½ cup vegan cheddar shreds
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- garnish with fresh parsley
- Heat a large pot or pan over medium-high heat. Select a pot that has a fitted lid, if possible.
- Add the olive oil to the hot pan. Once the oil is hot, add the diced onions and vegan crumbles. Sauté them until the onions are soft and translucent and the vegan meat has a few brown crispy edges (5-6 min). Break up larger clumps of crumbles during this time.
- Add a splash of broth and use it to deglaze the pan by scraping the food off the bottom. Stir in the broth, plant milk, ketchup, and seasoning.
- Bring this to a boil and then stir in the pasta. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot. Let the pasta cook for about 15-17 minutes until it’s al dente. Stir it occasionally and scrape the bottom and sides. Add a small amount of water or broth if needed. The time and amount of liquid can vary depending on types of pots and lids.
- Turn the heat off and stir in the vegan cheddar and nutritional yeast. Garnish the Vegan Hamburger Helper with parsley and enjoy!
The nutrition information is estimated and can vary depending on brands and measurements used.