This 1 Pot Vegan Hamburger Helper dish is inspired by the comfort classic boxed cheeseburger macaroni pasta by Betty Crocker. This homemade vegan version is equally as quick and cheesy, but without any meat or dairy! All you need is 11 ingredients and 30 minutes.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It is all cooked together in 1 pot, which means little to no dishes to clean!
- It’s ready in just over 30 minutes – great for busy weeknights when you need something quick and hearty.
- No meat hamburger helper but still 39 grams of protein per serving – great option to add for your Meatless Monday Ideas.
- It’s ultra creamy and cheesy without any dairy or cholesterol.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- vegan ground beef – I’ve used Beyond Meat burger patties, Beyond Meat ground beef, and Impossible ground beef. Any vegan ground beef will do – just be sure to use between 8-12 ounces.
- vegan beef broth – I use the vegan beef broth paste by Better Than Bouillon but there is also a vegan beef broth by Edward and Sons.
- unsweetened plant-based milk – Any unsweetened plant-based milk will work, just be sure it is truly unsweetened. Whole Foods generic 365 Brand and the Organics brand from Safeway both sell “unsweetened” milks that have some sort of weird vanilla tasting additives in them. Please do not buy these brands – they will ruin any savory dish you use them in. I like to use the unsweetened soy milk from Trader Joe’s as it’s only ingredients are soy beans and water. I also have started making a lot of my plant milks at home in my Almond Cow.
- uncooked pasta – I like to use either shells, elbow or rotini pasta in homemade vegan hamburger helper. If you use gluten free pasta, note that this can alter the cook time and I cannot advise on the results as it has not been tested.
- vegan cream cheese – I highly recommend using the vegan cream cheese by Kite Hill. It’s made from almonds and does not contain any added oils. Therefore it will make this dish extra creamy and cheesy tasting without making it oily.
- nutritional yeast – Gives this vegan hamburger helper a cheesy flavor without any dairy at all! It also gives this dish a great boost of B vitamins.
- Roma tomatoes – Diced fresh, Roma tomatoes are stirred in at the end to make this dish extra fresh tasting.
- spices – I use a mix of paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder. Feel free to substitute some of the paprika for smoked paprika if you want a spicier hamburger helper.
Step by Step Cooking Instructions
- Sauté the diced onion and spices together in a large pot (at least 5 quarts) until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Scoot the onion to one side of the pot, and add the vegan ground beef into the other. Use a spatula to break up the beef as needed and pan fry until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add the vegan beef broth, unsweetened plant-based milk, and uncooked pasta. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, lower the heat, add the lid and cook for 6 minutes.
- After 6 minutes, stir the pasta to ensure none has stuck to the bottom of the pot, then stir in the vegan cream cheese and nutritional yeast.
- Once the cream cheese has fully melted into the pasta, stir in the diced Roma tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
I have not tested a version of this recipe using gluten free pasta. It may work, however I cannot guarantee it and the cook time for the pasta will likely need adjusting.
Ground beef is an essential ingredient in hamburger helper. If you do not wish to use it, you can leave it out completely and make a plain, cheesy pasta. If you are looking for a healthier alternative to products like Beyond Meat, I’d recommend My Quiet Kitchen’s Vegan Ground Beef recipe made from soy curls, mushrooms and walnuts. You will need to prepare this separately ahead of time.
This vegan pasta is really best enjoyed fresh but leftovers will keep for up to three days.
- Use the recommended vegan Kite Hill cream cheese. It is one of (if not the only) vegan cream cheese that does not contain oil. Most of the other vegan cream cheeses on the market are oil based and will make this cheeseburger macaroni oily instead of thick and creamy.
- Try serving with my Instant Pot Vegan Collard Greens for a boost of nutrition!
- Serve this fresh! Cheesy pastas are the most creamy and delicious tasting when hot off the stove. As they cool, the creaminess really thickens and isn’t as satisfying.
More Vegan 30 Minute Meals To Try
- Vegan Thai Pumpkin Red Curry
- Vegan Tofu Bolognese Sauce
- Oven Fried Vegan Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa)
- Vegan Peanut Noodle Stir Fry
- Mixed Vegetable Curry with Coconut Milk
Vegan Hamburger Helper
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil - for sauteing (can substitute water or broth)
- 1 medium yellow onion - diced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 8 ounces vegan ground beef - **see notes for options
- 3 cups rotini pasta - uncooked
- 3 cups vegan beef broth - can substitute vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened plant-based milk
- 8 ounces vegan cream cheese
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 roma tomatoes - diced
- sea salt and black pepper - to taste
- In a large 5 qt. pot over medium-high heat, sauté the diced onion with chili powder, paprika and garlic powder for 3 minutes, or until soft and fragrant.
- Scoot the sautéed onion to one side of the pot and add the vegan ground beef to the other side. Brown the vegan ground beef until slightly crispy, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add the uncooked pasta, vegan beef broth, and unsweetened plant based milk. Stir well to fully combine and bring to a light simmer.
- Once simmering, reduce heat to medium heat, add the lid and cook the pasta for 6 minutes.
- After 6 minutes, mix in ½ cup nutritional yeast, 8 ounces of cream cheese and salt and pepper to taste (I typically add ¼ teaspoon each). Heat until cream cheese is warmed through and fully melted into pasta, about 2 minutes.
- Finally mix in the diced Roma tomatoes, garnish with fresh parsley as desired and serve immediately.
- Vegan Ground Beef Alternatives: Beyond Meat Ground Beef, Lightlife Smart Ground Crumbles, or Beyond Meat Burger Patties.
- Homemade vegan ground beef by My Quiet Kitchen.
- Vegan Beef Broth works really well for this recipe but you can also use Vegan Chicken Broth or just Vegetable Broth. I always use the Better than Bouillon Paste and just add water.
- I highly recommend Kite Hill vegan cream cheese. It is not oil based and therefore will not make your hamburger helper too oily.
- This recipe has not been tested with gluten free pasta.
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
- 1 5 Qt. Pot
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published on October 13, 2020 and was republished on January 14, 2022 to include new photos, ingredient notes, step by step photo instructions, and tips for success. The original nature of the recipe remains the same.