Monday, July 29, 2013

Homemade Vegetarian Hamburger Helper

When I first moved out on my own, I had plenty of cooking experience with rice, pasta, vegetables, and cookies. But cooking meat? The best I could do was microwave sausage links or heat up chicken nuggets in my toaster oven. I've never liked the look or feel of raw meat (especially anything with a bone or a shell, because it reminded me that whatever I was holding used to be alive). So I just avoided it. 

The one exception? I'd buy ground beef and use it to make Hamburger Helper. My favorites were the regular Cheeseburger Macaroni and Crunchy Taco. Of course, when I started paying more attention to the foods I was eating, Hamburger Helper hit the chopping block. But I missed the ease and comfort-food-ness of the cheesy dish. So I jumped on this recipe over at Iowa Girl Eats and modified it a bit to be vegetarian. 

Homemade Vegetarian Hamburger Helper

• 1 pound ground beef, soy crumbles, or chopped vegetables (or a combo)
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1 - 2 teaspoons pepper

• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 cup hot water

• 2 cups milk
• 2 cups pasta

• 1 - 2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

If you're using ground beef or soy crumbles, brown or heat throughly in a skillet and drain. Return to pan. Add cornstarch, spices, water, milk, pasta and vegetables (if using). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 10 - 12 minutes (or follow your pasta's suggested cooking time). Turn off heat, and slowly add cheese. Stir until melted. Serve and enjoy!

This was our first experience with soy crumbles (aka fake ground beef). The crumbles were pretty good. It had the texture of ground beef, but not quite the right taste. However, considering it has some questionable ingredients and goes for $5 a pound, I'd rather use veggies in the future. So I made this recipe again with an Asian vegetable medley right from the frozen food aisle:
Delicious! I hope you'll try it!

linking up here and here and here


  1. Looks just like the traditional version! Love the addition of the veggies in the 2nd photo.

    Grace @

    1. The veggies do liven it up a bit, don't they? :)

  2. Your veggie one looks fantastic! I will try it. I used to make Hamburger Helper all the time in my non-veggie days, and I had a recipe to make one from scratch as well. I agree with you on the soy crumbles; I feel that it's a highly processed food and I try to eat mostly natural foods, but I do crumble sometimes, ha!

    1. Thank you! Yeah, I'm glad I tried it again with just the veggies - it was really that cheesy sauce I was missing, not the hamburger part. But I know my husband will appreciate it if we break out the soy crumbles every once in a while ;)

  3. Nice to create your own version, your own healthier version I might add, of favorites. Good job.

  4. Replies
    1. It was good and there were plenty of leftovers!

  5. Great idea to use the vegetarian meat! WE will sometimes use turkey, but I like this option to make it more vegetarian.

  6. This looks so much healthier than the box mix. Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks for linking up with us on Good Tastes Tuesdays. We hope you will come back next week and join in on the fun.

    1. Definitely! All the ingredients are easy to read at least ;)


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