This homemade vegan hamburger helper recipe is healthy and the perfect family friendly meal. Can be made gluten free too!
This post was sponsored by NOW Foods but the content and opinions expressed are fully my own.
This post was originally published on March 26, 2017.
Anyone else NOT grow up on hamburger helper? I never ate it as a kid because my mom was from Greece and made all the classic Greek dishes. But as an adult, I obviously needed to recreate this as a tad healthier version to stuff my face with!
Top reasons why this vegan hamburger helper is actually good for you:
- Protein packed with meaty chickpea crumble.
- A cheese sauce made primarily of veggies.
- A pasta made from naturally gluten free whole food ingredients.
- No processed trickery.
No boxed processed cheese food product here. Only real, wholesome ingredients! Here's what you need:
- Macaroni pasta
- Ultimate Cheese Sauce
- Sweet or yellow onion
- Veggie broth
- Diced roasted tomatoes
- Tomato paste
My favorite trick is using dried soaked chickpeas, then chopping them into a fine crumble and cooking them with broth and spices. The texture is awesome and the flavor is amazing.
Couple that with my Ultimate Cheese Sauce and a bowl full of pasta and it doesn't get much better. But here's the thing, I am a pasta snob. There is nothing worse than digging into noodles that plain suck.
So what kind of pasta do I like? This. Living Now Organic Quinoa Macaroni. If you're looking for a macaroni that looks like the real deal and tastes like the real deal, this is it.
No weird color. No weird texture. No weird flavor. Just the good stuff. When I found this stuff, I knew I'd hit the gluten free, whole food, full of nutrients jackpot.
How to Make Vegan Hamburger Helper
This recipe for homemade Vegan Hamburger Helper is seriously almost as easy as the box! Here's what to do:
- Crumble soaked chickpeas in a food processor.
- Sauté onion, then mix in the rest of the meaty crumble ingredients.
- Once cooked, add cheese sauce and mix well.
- Stir cooked pasta into the hamburger cheese mix.
Tips and tricks
These suggestions will come in handy when you're making your own healthy hamburger helper:
- The Cheese Sauce recipe makes 4 cups, but you'll only need about 2 cups. Save the rest for later! Make nachos, plain macaroni and cheese, a dip for veggies, cheese fries, and more. It also freezes well.
- If using canned chickpeas, skip the broth or water and just drain, rinse, and chop.
- Make sure to use gluten-free pasta if needed.
- The homemade cheese sauce actually is made from veggies, bu you can still mix in extra nutrition. Add finely diced mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, or spinach to the dish.
- Prepare this ahead of time by making the cheese sauce and soak the chickpeas.
- Save leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.
- You can also freeze for up to 3 months by sealing the cooked and cooled hamburger helper in an airtight freezer safe container.
Add in some onion and garlic and veggies along with more seasonings to your taste.
You sure can! Plant based meats, crumbled beans or lentils, or veggies work great as a vegan option.
Yes you can, just follow the directions and skip the meat.
Use a dairy free milk alternative or water, just know that the flavor and consistency will change a bit.
Serve hamburger helper with fresh sides. Crisp salads, or veggies like broccoli, green beans, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini make great options.
More Vegan Family Friendly Recipes
These plant based meals have something for everyone in the family, plus they're nutritious, and easy to make!
- Vegan Pigs in a Blanket
- Burrito Bowl
- Healthy Taco Salad
- Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Burrito
- Vegetable Bolognese
- Vegan BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
Healthy Vegan Hamburger Helper Recipe
- 16 ounces macaroni pasta , gluten free if needed
- 2 cups Ultimate Cheese Sauce , adjust this amount to make it as cheesy you prefer it
- ½ cup dried chickpeas , soaked overnight (see note for canned)
- ¼ cup sweet or yellow onion , finely chopped
- veggie broth or drizzle of oil to sauté
- 1 cup veggie broth , low sodium if needed
- ½ cup diced roasted tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- Chop soaked chickpeas in a food processor until you get a nice crumble.
- Saute onion with broth or oil until it gets translucent. Add the rest of the meaty crumble ingredients and mix well.
- Cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the beans are cooked, stirring often. Watch closely because the beans can stick, especially if not using oil. If they begin to stick, lower heat and continue to mix.
- Once done, add cheese sauce and mix well. You can add less or more cheese sauce to make it as cheesy as you prefer. I added 1 ½ cups
- Meanwhile, cook your favorite pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse, then add to the hamburger cheese mix. Stir to incorporate.
- The cheese sauce recipe makes 4 cups. Save the leftovers for another use, such as nachos, plain macaroni and cheese, a dip for veggies, cheese fries, etc. It also freezes well.
- If you use canned chickpeas, skip the broth/water and just drain and rinse about a can of chickpeas (you need around 1 ½ cups) and chop.
- Make cheese sauce. Soak chickpeas.
- Best kid food ever. Overcook pasta for young baby and mash well.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.
Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.
This has captured the classic flavors and textures perfectly! So excited to have another healthy family meal on hand.
Love this recipe and come back to it often.
I used canned chickpeas as my small rural town doesn't have dry chickpeas. Still tastes awesome!
I am so happy you like it Lyn!!
Rich. Savory. Satisfying. Another winner!
Yay! So glad you liked it Lue!
Alrighty then. Wow is how I'm going to start this off. I doubled the "meat" part and kept pasta the same. Hubby had 2 huge bowls and kept talking about the texture and flavor. This is really good!!
Estee! I just saw your post on IG!! Thank you so so much. I am so happy you love it! Cartwheel time (well, at least what a 40 year old can make of a cartwheel...LOL!).
I hear that sister!!
What should I make next?
Haha! Oh man, hmmmm. Have you tried the buffalo wing sliders? https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/vegan-buffalo-wing-sliders-ranch-dressing/ They are from my book. I also LOVE my lasagna, it's work but man oh man is it good. Do you have an oven? https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/vegan-creamy-pesto-tomato-sausage-lasagna/ For summer my macaroni salad is popular: https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/healthy-vegan-macaroni-salad/ and I make this dip for parties and people love it, have no idea it has no dairy: https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/baked-vegan-buffalo-cauliflower-dip/
I've never tried hamburger helper before it's not something you can buy in the UK but this recipe looks to die for! Considering the packaged stuff will no doubt contain nasty ingredients I think I'll just stick with your recipe.
Love this recipe!
This looks great, Sophia! It's a meal I'm sure my kids would eat (and that's now easy task!) Thanks for the inspiration!