Vegan hamburger helper is what your life has been missing!
Both my parents were great cooks when I was a kid, but we had our fair share of quick boxed meals. One of my favorites was always Hamburger Helper. Well, this cheesy ranch vegan hamburger helper is so dang good, you’ll never miss the real thing. Also, it’s, ya know, healthier. If you want to use a vegan hamburger substitute, that will make this recipe even easier. However, I also made tofu “beef” crumbles, in case you can’t find a beef substitute or don’t want to use one.
The cheesy ranch sauce is the best thing ever! It is made from a combination of raw cashews and tofu, so it is definitely the perfect meal if you want some protein. It’s also the perfect meal if you want to please kids and adults alike. My kid loves when I make this vegan hamburger helper. She is a huge fan of the tofu “beef!” She is, however, the rare child who is obsessed with tofu.
The tofu crumbles are baked, while you simply need to boil the pasta and blend the sauce. Everything for the sauce is just added to a blender and it becomes smooth and creamy magic. Pasta, sauce and tofu “beef” is all tossed together in a pot. It is hard to explain how all of these things coming together make the most delicious thing ever, but they do!
Quick, easy, hearty, comforting, healthy and down-right delicious. This cheesy ranch vegan hamburger helper is a recipe we all need. It can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta, so this one can work for almost anyone! School is about to start back for my kid, and this weeknight meal is here to save me in a pinch! No one has to twist my arm to make it.
Tofu "beef" crumbles, the best cheesy ranch sauce and macaroni.
- 1 Block(15oz.) Extra firm tofu, pressed
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable broth
- 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons Soy sauce or Tamari for GF option
- 2 Tablespoons Liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Smoked paprika
- 1 Cup Raw cashews, soaked*
- 1 Block(15oz.) Firm tofu, not extra firm
- 1 Cup Non-dairy milk
- 1/4 Cup Nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon Lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Dried chives
- 1/4 teaspoon Dried dill
- 1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
- 16 oz. Macaroni, regular or gluten free
- Herbs for garnishing
Make sure to press your tofu for the "beef" crumbles first. If you need more information on pressing tofu, check out my TOFU COOKING GUIDE.
Once you have pressed your tofu, in a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, the olive oil, the soy sauce or tamari, the liquid smoke, the garlic and the paprika.
Then, crumble the block of tofu into small pieces and put them in the bowl with the liquid marinade.
Toss to coat all of the tofu, then let the tofu sit to marinate for at least an hour, but you can marinate it longer.
When the tofu is ready, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the tofu from the bowl, and spread it out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, toss the tofu crumbles and make another 10-15 minutes or until they are brown and firm.
While the tofu is baking, cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain when it's done.
Then make the sauce, drain the soaked cashews, then add them to a blender, then add the tofu, the non-dairy milk, the nutritional yeast, the lemon juice and all the spices to the blender as well.
Blend on high scraping down the sides as needed until the sauce is super smooth. If you are having a hard to getting it smooth, add a splash more non-dairy milk.
Once you have drained the macaroni, and the tofu crumbles are done, add the cheesy ranch sauce to the pot, and heat on medium low.
Then add the macaroni back to the pot, toss to combine. Then add the tofu "beef" crumbles to the pot. Toss to combine. Taste, and adjust seasoning, it may need more salt and pepper.
Serve with fresh herbs if desired.
*You can soak the cashews in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Or if you need something quicker, you can soak them in boiling water for 15-30 minutes.
If you want to use a packaged vegan beef substitute, you can skip making the tofu "beef" crumbles.