This vegan Hamburger Helper will be your new favorite weeknight meal. Made with elbow macaroni in creamy sauce, it’s super comforting and cooks up in one pot!
This recipe goes many places I never thought I’d go.
First of all, there’s Hamburger Helper. This isn’t something I ever ate growing up, and to be honest, I kind of thought it sounded terrible.
Also, this is a one-pot pasta recipe. Conventional Hamburger Helper is a one-pot deal, but I was still reluctant to go there, because in the past I’ve tried and tried to create a good one-pot pasta recipe, but was just never happy with the results. The pasta was always undercooked, the sauce too starchy.
But in this case it seems like tiny little elbow macaroni cooks up just fine in sauce, and the starch actually helps thicken it up. Score!
What You’ll Need
- Soy milk
- Vegetable bouillon
- Elbow macaroni
- Chili powder
- Nutritional yeast
- Red wine vinegar
- Hot sauce (optional)
How to Make Vegan Hamburger Helper
The following is a detailed photo tutorial that you can follow for guidance, if you need it! Scroll all the way down if you prefer to go right to the full recipe.
The “meat” in this dish is ground seitan, which I was able to find at the store (Upton’s Naturals — Wegman’s carries it). But if you can’t find seitan in ground form, just use whatever seitan you can get your hands on (or make your own), and mince it up super finely, like I did to make these burritos.
Start by heating up your oil in a large skillet. Give it a minute to get hot, then add the onion. Cook it for about 5 minutes, until it just begins to soften up and become translucent. Add the garlic and cook everything for about a minute, until the garlic becomes very fragrant.
Now sprinkle in the flour. Stir everything up to coat your seitan with flour, and cook everything for about a minute more.
Start pouring in the milk, adding a bit at a time and stirring between each addition to work out any lumps.
Once all the milk has been added, stir in the bouillon and macaroni.
Bring the milk to a boil, lower the heat, and let it simmer until your macaroni softens up, about 13 or 14 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture from time to time. You can add a bit more milk if the sauce dries up too much, but go easy — you don’t want it to turn out runny.
Stir in some seasonings: nutritional yeast, paprika, chili powder and red wine vinegar. Continue cooking everything for a minute or so, then remove the skillet from heat.
Season the mixture with some salt, and optionally, some hot sauce.
Vegan Hamburger Helper Tips & FAQ
- Can I use a variety of non-dairy milk other than soy? You can! But I recommend using something that has a little bit of fat in it, in order to create a creamy sauce. You probably want to avoid rice milk, but cashew milk would work well. If you’re not opposed to a little bit of coconut flavor, try mixing canned coconut milk with something a little lighter, like almond milk.
- Can I use a variety of pasta other than elbow macaroni? Possibly, but I’d definitely stick with something on the small side. There’s not a whole lot of sauce for your pasta to cook in, so larger varieties might not cook all the way. Something like orzo or ditalini would probably be a good bet.
- Can this recipe be made gluten-free? I’m afraid I don’t know! You’d need to substitute something for the wheat flour (used for thickening) and the wheat pasta (which also helps thicken the sauce), and I’m not sure how the recipe would hold up if you messed with both of those variables.
- Feel free to stir in a few handfuls of your favorite shredded vegan cheese towards the end of cooking. I didn’t feel like it was necessary, but if you’re craving some extra cheesy goodness, go for it!
- Shelf life & storage: Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Vegan Hamburger Helper
This vegan Hamburger Helper will be your new favorite weeknight meal. Made with elbow macaroni in creamy sauce, it's super comforting and cooks up in one pot!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or high-heat oil of choice)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 16 ounces ground seitan*
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups unflavored and unsweetened soy milk, plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube, crushed
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Salt, to taste
- Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place it over medium heat.
Give the oil a minute to heat up, then add the onion. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook it with the onion for about 1 minute, until very fragrant.
Stir in the seitan and cook it with the garlic and onion for about 5 minutes, until it begins to brown in spots. Continue stirring everything occasionally as it cooks.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir until it coats the seitan. Cook the mixture for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Being adding the milk, a bit at a time, stirring between additions to work out any lumps.
When all of the milk has been added, stir in the pasta.
Raise the heat and bring the milk to a boil. Lower the heat and allow it to cook at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 13 to 15 minutes. You can add up to 1/2 cup more milk during cooking if the sauce becomes too dry.
Stir in the nutritional yeast, bouillon, paprika, chili powder, and red wine vinegar. Continue cooking everything for a minute or so, then remove the skillet from heat.
Season the mixture with salt to taste. Add hot sauce, if desired.
Divide onto plates and serve.
*If you can’t find ground seitan at the store, use whatever form is available and mince it finely before cooking.