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Looking for the best and easiest vegan ground beef recipe? This meatless ground beef is the perfect swap for store-bought vegan beef or meatless ground. It's a basic meal planning recipe made with just a few healthy, simple ingredients you'll want to have on hand at all times for an easy, frugal dinner.

Vegan ground beef in a bowl with a gold spoon.

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When it comes to meal planning on a budget, skipping the convenient, yet crazy expensive store-bought vegan meat substitutes can save you hundreds of dollars. Especially if you're cooking with them on a regular basis.

While I love the taste of Beyond Meat and Beyond Sausage recipes, I personally only make them when I find Beyond Meat on super sale at my local discount grocery store, Grocery Outlet.

To save money, I highly recommend trying this ground beef recipe. It makes the equivalent of about 2 pounds of ground beef and costs just over $2 per pound. About 1/3 of the price of real beef and 1/5 of the price of vegan beef. It's even cheaper than Beyond Meat when I buy it on super sale for $3/pound!

Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • It's made with whole-food ingredients. Not only is it cheaper, it's better for you. This recipe is made primarily of soy curls and shiitake mushrooms – two great-for-you ingredients you can feel good about eating regularly. 
  • It's incredibly versatile. Below I've gone into depth into the many ways you can use this meatless ground beef recipe, but essentially use it as a 1:1 swap in most recipe that calls for vegan or regular ground beef! Think vegan taco meat, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, high-protein lettuce wraps, vegan shepherd's pie, enchiladas, beef burrito bowls, and more! 
  • Much more convincing than lentils. When I first adopted a plant-based diet, I really struggled with the texture of lentils. Now, I love them and have tons of lentil recipes on the blog, like my Crockpot Taco Soup, Lentil Curry, Lentil Tacos, etc.

    But I will be the first to tell you that lentils taste nothing like beef and learning to love them was a slow journey. The texture is wildly different and will not convince a meat eater that it's the real thing. Instead, this vegan beef recipe uses soy curls and is a texture even the biggest carnivore can quickly get on board with.

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients measured and labeled to make the vegan ground beef recipe.
  • Soy curls: If you've made my Spicy Vegan Peanut Noodle Stir Fry or Vegan Carne Asada Tacos, you already know how good of a meat substitute soy curls are. They have a great meaty texture that is so much more convincing than lentils or beans. They're a lightly processed food made from just one ingredient: whole soybeans. 
  • Broth: Either vegetable broth or vegan beef broth work well. For the most authentic flavor, go for vegan beef broth. I've used Better than Bouillon No Beef Base and Edward & Sons Not Beef Bouillon Cubes and both are great. 
  • Oil: ​Even the leanest ground beef contains some fat, which keeps the beef moist and adds flavor. In order to replicate this, you'll need to add a bit of oil. I recommend something really neutral like vegetable oil, avocado oil, or olive oil. 
  • Shiitake mushrooms: Mushrooms can be a bit of a splurge, but their meaty texture and fantastic nutrition can't be beat. For this recipe, I recommend shiitake mushrooms. They've got a great, chewy texture that is a great texture for replicating beef. If you have any leftover, use them to make my Egg Roll in a Bowl or this Vegan Tofu Quiche filling
  • Flavoring: In addition to broth, you'll need tomato paste, soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce, cumin, and paprika. These ingredients add tons of flavor while keeping the vegan beef neutral enough to use in any type of cuisine desired. 

How to Make Vegan Ground Beef

Step by step instructions showing how to rehydrate soy curls, make "beef" sauce, and sauté the mushrooms.
  1. Rehydrate the soy curls. ​Place the dehydrated soy curls in a large bowl and cover with 2 cups of hot broth. Make sure the soy curls are fully submerged and let soak to rehydrate for at least 10 minutes. 
  2. Make the sauce. ​While the soy curls rehydrate, prepare the “sauce.” In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, tomato paste, vegan Worcestershire sauce, cumin, and paprika. 
  3. Drain the soy curls. Once the soy curls have doubled or tripled in size, remove 1/2 cup of broth and transfer the reserved broth to the sauce ingredients and whisk well to combine. Then, drain the remaining broth from the soy curls using a fine mesh sieve. Squeeze out any excess moisture to make the soy curls as dry as possible. I find this easiest to do by transferring the soy curls to a clean tea towel, wrapping tightly, and squeezing as much excess liquid out over the sink.
  4. Brown the mushrooms. ​Place a large skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add the oil and heat through for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are browned, about 6-8 minutes. 
  5. Add the soy curls and garlic. ​Sauté the mixture until the soy curls are lightly browned and crispy, adding more oil as necessary to prevent burning. 
Ground beef ingredients pulsed together in a food processor.
  1. Pulse in a food processor. ​Transfer the soy curl and mushroom mixture to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles the consistency of ground “beef.” 
  2. Cook with the “sauce.” Add the vegan beef mixture back to the pan over medium or medium-high heat. Add the sauce and stir until well combined. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the vegan ground beef absorbs the sauce and has deepened in color. 
  3. Serve. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, then serve immediately as desired or add to a recipe that calls for vegan beef. 
Vegan beef after combining with sauce and sautéing until browned.

Serving Suggestions

This vegan beef works in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef (vegan or regular). The only exception being recipes such as vegan meatloaf, vegan meatballs, or recipes that need to hold together. 

Here are a few of my favorite recipes to use this vegan beef recipe in, but don't be afraid to experiment with your favorite ground beef recipes! 

Want to eat this vegan ground beef for breakfast? Toss it in with Silken Tofu Scrambled Eggs, chopped peppers, and baby spinach for a southwest style scramble. Serve up with a side of Hash Browns in Air Fryer from Scratch – it's the dream breakfast!

Vegan beef in serving bowl on wooden platter.

Storage Instructions

Leftover vegan ground beef will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. I like to double or triple the recipe and freeze in individual portions using Souper Cubes or FoodSaver vacuum sealer bags (best for long term storage!). 

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Souper Cubes

My favorite way to freeze individual portions and meals. Use code HOMECOOKEDROOTS10 for 10% off.

​Make this Recipe Cheaper

  • Buy soy curls in bulk. ​The cheapest way to buy soy curls is to purchase their 12 pound bulk box. It's quite a lot of food, so if you don't have the storage space, I recommend going in on a box with a friend or two (I usually split one with my mom who also eats a plant-based diet). 
  • Use vegetable broth. ​Vegan beef broth is always more expensive than vegetable broth. If I'm trying to cut costs as much as possible, I skip vegan beef broth and use the vegetable broth bouillon paste I buy at Costco. 
  • Buy canned tomato paste, not tomato paste in a tube. The tubed versions are always sold at a premium for their convenience. At my local Walmart in 2024, 6 ounces of the Great Value Tomato Paste costs $0.94. The tubed Tomato Paste costs $2.97 for just 4.56 ounces. Almost 5x more expensive!!! Instead, go for canned and freeze the excess tomato paste in 1-tablespoon scoops so it doesn't go to waste. 
Closeup of texture of vegan beef recipe with wooden serving spoon.
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Vegan Ground Beef Recipe

5 from 1 vote

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cost: $4.08 per recipe / $1.02 per serving
Looking for the best and easiest vegan ground beef recipe? This meatless ground beef is the perfect swap for store-bought vegan beef or meatless ground. It's a basic recipe made with just a few healthy, simple ingredients you'll want to have on hand at all times for an easy, frugal dinner.

Ingredients
 

  • 4 oz dry soy curls ($1.48)
  • 2 cups hot vegan “beef” broth or vegetable broth ($0.24)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil ($0.06)
  • 5 oz shiitake mushrooms roughly chopped ($1.42)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced ($0.24)

Sauce

  • ½ cup reserved broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce ($0.13)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste ($0.12)
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce ($0.21)
  • 1 tsp cumin ($0.12)
  • ½ tsp paprika ($0.06)

Instructions

  • Add the soy curls and broth to a large bowl. Make sure the soy curls are submerged and let soak to rehydrate for at least 10 minutes.
  • Reserve ½ cup of the broth and set aside. Drain the soy curls and squeeze out any excess moisture. I find this easiest to do by transferring the soy curls to a clean tea towel, wrapping tightly, and squeezing as much excess liquid out over the sink.
  • Make the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the reserved broth and remaining sauce ingredients. Mix together.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, 6-8 minutes.
  • Add the soy curls and garlic. Sauté until the soy curls are lightly browned, adding more oil as necessary to avoid burning.
  • Add the mixture to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles the consistency of ground “beef.” Alternatively, you can chop the mixture on a cutting board.
  • Add the mixture back to the pan over medium heat. Add the sauce and stir together. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture absorbs the sauce. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Enjoy!
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  • Make it gluten-free: ​Swap the soy sauce for tamari or another gluten-free soy sauce of choice. Avoid coconut aminos – it is too sweet and not salty enough to work as a 1:1 swap. 
  • Add nutritional yeast: Use 1-2 tablespoons. This will add additional umami flavor that works well in Italian and Mexican cuisines.
  • Add your favorite seasonings: Just like you would add to a regular ground beef, feel free to add additional seasonings depending on the recipe you're using this plant-based ground beef in. For example, if you're making vegan beef tacos, add taco seasonings. If you're making a simple pasta sauce, add Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and/or crushed red pepper flakes.  

Notes

​Make this Recipe Cheaper
  • Buy soy curls in bulk. ​The cheapest way to buy soy curls is to purchase their 12 pound bulk box. It's quite a lot of food, so if you don't have the storage space, I recommend going in on a box with a friend or two (I usually split one with my mom who also eats a plant-based diet). 
  • Use vegetable broth. ​Vegan beef broth is always more expensive than vegetable broth. If I'm trying to cut costs as much as possible, I skip vegan beef broth and use the vegetable broth bouillon paste I buy at Costco. 
  • Buy canned tomato paste, not tomato paste in a tube. The tubed versions are always sold at a premium for their convenience. At my local Walmart in 2024, 6 ounces of the Great Value Tomato Paste costs $0.94. The tubed Tomato Paste costs $2.97 for just 4.56 ounces. Almost 5x more expensive!!! Instead, go for canned and freeze the excess tomato paste in 1-tablespoon scoops so it doesn't go to waste. 

Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Did You Love This Recipe?

Rate the recipe here and make sure to leave a comment below!

5 from 1 vote

Substitutions

  • Make it gluten-free: ​Swap the soy sauce for tamari or another gluten-free soy sauce of choice. Avoid coconut aminos – it is too sweet and not salty enough to work as a 1:1 swap. 
  • Add nutritional yeast: Use 1-2 tablespoons. This will add additional umami flavor that works well in Italian and Mexican cuisines.
  • Add your favorite seasonings: Just like you would add to a regular ground beef, feel free to add additional seasonings depending on the recipe you're using this plant-based ground beef in. For example, if you're making vegan beef tacos, add taco seasonings. If you're making a simple pasta sauce, add Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and/or crushed red pepper flakes.  

Recipe FAQs

Does vegan beef tastes like beef?

It's close, especially when compared to a beefless crumble or tofu crumbles. As someone who follows an overwhelmingly plant-based diet but occasionally eats real beef, I don't mind this version made with plant-based ingredients at all. Especially when added to recipes like a crockpot soup or burritos, this vegan ground beef recipe is quite similar to ground meat in both flavor and texture!

How much should I use in place of 1 pound of beef?

Once cooked, regular beef shrinks down to about 2 cups. To use in a recipe that calls for a pound of ground beef, I recommend using 2-2.5 cups of this vegan ground beef substitute! 

Can I replace the soy curls with tofu?

Although both are made from whole soybeans, tofu and soy curls are two very different plant-based foods. Tofu can make a great vegan beef substitute in recipes like this Vegan Tofu Bolognese Sauce, but it will not work in this vegan beef recipe. 

Where can I find soy curls?

​Soy curls are very difficult to find in-stores, and even if you do, they're most likely wildly overpriced. Instead, I highly recommend buying soy curls directly from the Butler Foods website (they are the only and original brand of soy curls). 

Photography by: Your Home, Made Healthy

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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5 Comments

  1. The recipe was very good… unfortunately where I am I am unable to order soy curls in bulk and the bags are quite expensive….what do you think would make a better substitute….lentils or tbsp? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi! I am so glad you enjoyed it! I hear you on soy curls being expensive. I am going to test a version using TVP. Stay tuned! 🙂

  2. Carol Bradstreet says:

    For the vegan ground beef recipe, I already have some organic TVP in granules. Can I sub that for the soy curls? How much would you recommend in subbing?

    1. For the vegan ground beef recipe, I already have some organic TVP in granules. Can I sub that for the soy curls? How much would you recommend in subbing?

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