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This family-friendly vegan hamburger helper is saucy, deliciously creamy, and savory. Made with meaty chunks of soy curls, macaroni, and a variety of seasonings, this one-pot meal is hearty, comforting, and packs bold flavors. Plus, it’s easy to make and perfect for busy weeknights!

Close-up of vegan hamburger helper in a pot.

⭐️ Why You Should Try It

  • One-pot and simple ingredients. You can prepare this dish in one pot with simple pantry ingredients. Plus, it can be on the table in just about one hour, making it perfect for family weeknight dinners!
  • Crowd-pleasing and hearty. This vegan hamburger helper just hits the spot when it comes to comfort food. The combination of meaty soy curls, hearty macaroni, and a rich and smoky cheese sauce yields a delicious dish that will warm you up from the inside!
  • Customizable. You can easily customize this recipe to your liking by adding extra vegetables, using a different type of vegan meat, or experimenting with different seasonings. While this recipe can stand alone without any store-bought cheese, you can definitely incorporate a handful of grated vegan cheese for extra creaminess and cheesiness. However, remember this is optional. The recipe is still delicious without it!

📘 What Is Hamburger Helper

Hamburger Helper is a classic American packaged product that first appeared in 1971. It consists of dried pasta and seasonings in powdered form. It was designed to help create a complete meal in very little time in just one pot. Customers would sauté some ground meat, add the contents of the package, and cover it with water or milk.

This recipe skips the packaged seasonings for a healthier plant-based version!

🍅 Ingredient Notes

Here is what you will need to prepare this hamburger helper recipe:

  • Soy curls – To replace the ground meat used in the classic version, we will use soy curls, which produce an excellent, meat-like, chewy texture. You can get dehydrated soy curls online or use an alternative such as TVP chunks or vegan ground beef. Most of these are available online or in most supermarkets.
  • Soy sauce – For saltiness and umami.
  • Tomato paste – To add depth of flavor and a mild acidity.
  • Black pepper – Use freshly ground black pepper for optimal flavor. White pepper works as well.
  • Worcestershire sauce – Optional. A splash of Vegan Worcestershire sauce adds a hint of tanginess and a richer umami taste.
  • Sugar – To balance with the saltiness. You can use granulated sugar, maple syrup, or even coconut sugar.
  • Vegan butter – You can use store-bought or homemade vegan butter.
  • Onion – You can use either one onion or two shallots.
  • Spices – Smoked paprika and chili bring a smoky aroma and a touch of spiciness.
  • Macaroni – I used mini elbow pasta, but any short pasta will work. Be aware, though, that you might have to adjust the amount of liquid depending on the type of pasta used.
  • Vegetable broth – Remember to adjust the saltiness to your liking since not all vegetable broth brands contain the same amount of salt.
  • Milk – For creaminess. You can use any unsweetened plant-based milk, or coconut cream if you want a richer consistency.
  • Nutritional yeast – Since we won’t use store-bought cheese in the recipe, nutritional yeast brings a subtle cheesiness.
  • Vinegar – For tanginess. It helps recreate a cheesy flavor.
Ingredients like soy curls, macaroni, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, and parsley.

🥣 How to Make It

1. Rehydrate the soy curls

  1. Transfer to a bowl. Add the dry soy curls to a bowl and cover with hot water.
  2. Let it rehydrate. Let the soy curls rehydrate for about 5 minutes or until soft.
  3. Drain and rinse. Next, drain the soy curls and rinse them a couple of times under cold water.
  4. Squeeze. Using your hands, squeeze the soy curls to drain as much water as possible.

2. Marinate

  1. Combine with the marinade. Transfer the drained soy curls to a bowl and add the marinade ingredients: tomato paste, oil, soy sauce, sugar, dark soy sauce, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Toss to coat. Toss the soy curls with the marinade using a spoon or your hands.
  3. Marinate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the soy curls marinate for about 15 minutes.

3. Sauté

  1. Melt the butter. Heat the vegan butter to a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the onion. Once melted, add the diced onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Sauté the soy curls. Next, add the marinated soy curls and sauté for another 5 minutes or until they brown slightly.

4. Add the broth

  1. Pour in the broth. Add the vegetable broth, milk, nutritional yeast, vinegar, smoked paprika, and chili powder to the saucepan.

5. Cook the macaroni

  1. Add the macaroni. Next, add the dry macaroni and stir to combine.
  2. Bring to a simmer. Bring the broth to a simmer and cook uncovered for 7-8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom. If you are using a larger type of pasta, you might have to adjust the cooking time and amount of liquid.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Once the pasta is tender, remove the pot from heat and adjust the saltiness to your liking. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately!

📔 Tips

  • Adjust the cooking time. I used mini elbow pasta that only required 7-8 minutes of cooking, but depending on the type of pasta used, you might have to adjust both the cooking time and the amount of vegetable broth.
  • Add extra liquid. If the consistency is not creamy enough after cooking, feel free to add more milk or vegetable broth. Adjust the saltiness accordingly.
  • Keep stirring. Do not get away from the pot while cooking the pasta as it tends to stick to the bottom of the pot. Stir very regularly, at least every 2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately. As with any pasta dish, this is best served immediately for optimal flavor and texture. After a few minutes, the pasta tends to absorb the sauce.

🌶️ Variations

  • Use vegan ground meat. Instead of soy curls, you can use vegan ground meat, shredded vegan chicken, or even scrambled tofu!
  • Use different types of pasta. Fusilli, orecchiette, or penne will work great in this recipe.
  • Add vegetables. Add finely diced carrots, mushrooms, or bell peppers after cooking the onion and sauté for an extra 3-4 minutes.
  • Make it spicy. Looking for extra heat? Add a tablespoon of sriracha or an extra teaspoon of chili powder.
  • Stir in grated vegan cheese. To keep this recipe accessible, I chose not to add any vegan cheese. However, if you have access to grated vegan cheese, you can stir in about 3/4 cup at the end of cooking.

🥗 What to Serve It With

This hamburger helper can be served as a main meal or paired with various sides, such as:

❄️ Storing and Reheating

  • To store: While it tastes best served immediately, you can keep this hamburger helper for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
  • To reheat: Reheat for 8-10 minutes over medium heat with a splash of milk or vegetable broth.
Hamburger helper topped with parsley in a small bowl.

💬 FAQ

My hamburger helper is not saucy enough. What can I do?

If the consistency of your hamburger helper is not creamy enough, add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and 1/4 cup of milk. Stir to combine and adjust the saltiness and spiciness to taste by adding more salt, smoked paprika, and chili.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

I do not recommend making this dish ahead of time, as the pasta tends to absorb the sauce if left to sit for too long before serving.

Can I replace the milk with cashew cream?

Definitely! Cashew cream will bring even more creaminess and richness.

If you are looking for a satisfying meal that the whole family will adore, give this vegan hamburger helper a try! It’s simple to make, feeds a crowd, and is incredibly warming!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Hamburger helper in a Dutch oven topped with chopped parsley.
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Recipe

Vegan Hamburger Helper

5 from 3 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
This family-friendly vegan hamburger helper is saucy, deliciously creamy, and savory. Made with meaty chunks of soy curls, macaroni, and a variety of seasonings, this one-pot meal is hearty, comforting, and packs bold flavors. Plus, it's easy to make and perfect for busy weeknights!
Prep Time : 45 minutes
Cook Time : 10 minutes
Total Time : 55 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 347 kcal

Ingredients
 

Soy curls

The rest

Instructions
 

Soy curls

  • Rehydrate the soy curls. Add the dry soy curls to a bowl and cover with hot water. Let the soy curls rehydrate for about 5 minutes or until soft.
  • Drain and rinse. Next, drain the soy curls and rinse them a couple of times under cold water.
  • Squeeze. Using your hands, squeeze the soy curls to drain as much water as possible.
  • Make the marinade. In a small bowl, make the marinade by combining the tomato paste, oil, soy sauce, sugar, dark soy sauce, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce together. Transfer the drained soy curls to a bowl and add the marinade.
  • Toss to coat. Toss the soy curls with the marinade using a spoon or your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the soy curls marinate for about 15 minutes.

The rest

  • Sauté the onion. Heat the vegan butter to a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, add the diced onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Sauté the soy curls. Next, add the marinated soy curls and sauté for another 5 minutes or until they brown slightly.
  • Pour in the broth. Add the vegetable broth, milk, nutritional yeast, vinegar, smoked paprika, and chili powder to the saucepan.
  • Add the macaroni. Next, add the dry macaroni and stir to combine. Bring the broth to a simmer and cook uncovered for 7-8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom. If you are using a larger type of pasta, you might have to adjust the cooking time and amount of liquid.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings. Once the pasta is tender, remove the pot from heat and adjust the saltiness to your liking. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately!
  • You can keep this hamburger helper for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Adjust the cooking time. I used mini elbow pasta that only required 7-8 minutes of cooking, but depending on the type of pasta used, you might have to adjust both the cooking time and the amount of vegetable broth.
  • Add extra liquid. If the consistency is not creamy enough after cooking, feel free to add more milk or vegetable broth. Adjust the saltiness accordingly.
  • Keep stirring. Do not get away from the pot while cooking the pasta as it tends to stick to the bottom of the pot. Stir very regularly, at least every 2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately. As with any pasta dish, this is best served immediately for optimal flavor and texture. After a few minutes, the pasta tends to absorb the sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 347 kcal | Carbohydrates: 44.1 g | Protein: 15.6 g | Fat: 13.5 g | Saturated Fat: 4.1 g | Sodium: 370 mg | Potassium: 160 mg | Fiber: 6.7 g | Sugar: 6.1 g | Calcium: 142 mg | Iron: 3 mg
Course : Dinner, Entree
Cuisine : American
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

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5 stars
This is a very yummy recipe. Its bring a new taste to your daily meal. Thank you Thomas !

5 stars
This was excellent. I added extra broth because my macaroni wasn’t quite done and also some salt but those were the only changes. I loved it. Will definitely be going into the meal rotation.

5 stars
I made this for dinner yesterday. It was really good. Everyone, ages 73 – 9, had seconds, in this multigenerational fam of vegans and omnivores. Husband said this is a keeper. Great recipe and thanks you Thomas. I envision this could easily be modified to personal preferences by changing up the seasonings, herbs and spices. I will be making this again. Great recipe!