Vegan Ground Beef Recipe – Healthy And Flavorful Delight!

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Savor the delicious nostalgia of a Homemade Classic Comfort Dish Recipe with a vegan twist in this Vegan Ground Beef Recipe. Made with plant-based protein crumbles, a medley of savory spices, and hearty beans, this recipe offers all the flavor and texture of traditional ground beef without the meat. Perfect for tacos, chili, or spaghetti, it’s a versatile, cruelty-free option that will leave taste buds dancing with delight.


  • This vegan ground beef recipe eliminates animal products, focusing on sustainability and health. 
  • Using staples like lentils and walnuts, it achieves a meaty texture. 
  • Tamari and smoked paprika mimic the umami and depth of beef, ensuring your dish is flavorful. 

Finding the perfect vegan ground beef recipe can seem daunting, especially when you’re craving the comfort of traditional dishes.

Remember, I’ve been there, scrolling through countless recipes, seeking that one that could truly stand in for the meaty classic without falling short on taste or texture. That’s when I stumbled upon a game-changer. 

vegan ground beef recipe

This recipe not only satisfies those hearty meal cravings but also aligns with a plant-based lifestyle. It’s a testament to how creativity in the kitchen can transform simple ingredients into something extraordinary.

With a blend of spices, legumes, and grains, I found a way to recreate ground beef’s beloved flavors and textures, making it a key to enjoyable and guilt-free cooking.

This discovery has been a cornerstone in my journey toward a more sustainable and compassionate diet. I’m eager to share this revelation with you.

What Is Vegan Ground Beef?

Vegan ground beef is a plant-based alternative to traditional ground beef, designed to mimic its meat counterpart’s texture, flavor, and versatility without using animal products.

Typically made from a blend of legumes, such as lentils or beans, grains like rice or quinoa, nuts, and various seasonings, this homemade option offers a cruelty-free way to enjoy your favorite dishes.

Rich in protein and other essential nutrients, vegan ground beef is a key component in making sustainable and health-conscious dietary choices, ensuring your meals are both delicious and ethically sound.

Quick Fact – Shiitake mushrooms are a great source of umami, the fifth basic taste. This flavor adds a depth of flavor to dishes, making them a key ingredient in vegan recipes.

vegan ground beef recipe

Recipe Directions

  • Prep The Lentils: Add 1 cup of uncooked lentils and 3 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes for al dente lentils. Lentils can be prepared up to 5 days in advance. For Instant Pot users, see the notes below for instructions.
  • Prep The Vegetables: Mince the onion, mushrooms, and walnuts. You can use a food processor for quicker preparation or a sharp knife and cutting board for a more hands-on approach.
  • Sauté The Vegetables: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water or vegetable broth to sauté the onions, mushrooms, and walnuts for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add Spices: Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the nutritional yeast, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper. Continue to mix until the spices are evenly distributed throughout the vegetables.
  • Create The Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari, tomato paste, and 2 tablespoons of water. Pour this mixture over the sautéed vegetables in the skillet and mix well.
  • Combine With Lentils: Stir in the cooked lentils and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes crumbly and resembles ground beef.
  • Serve: Let the vegan ground beef cool for about 5 minutes before serving. It’s ready to be used in tacos, spaghetti, best lasagna, or any dish that calls for ground beef.
vegan ground beef recipe

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings


  • Grains And Seeds: Incorporate quinoa, bulgur, or hemp seeds for added texture and nutritional value.
  • Beans: Mix black beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas for variety and textured vegetable protein.
  • Vegetables: Finely chopped carrots, celery, or bell peppers can add color, nutrition, and flavor.
  • Spices: To diversify the taste profile, experiment with different spices, such as coriander, chili powder, or fennel seeds.


  • Herbs: Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, or basil can freshen up the flavor.
  • Nuts: Crushed almonds or pecans offer a crunchy texture and rich flavor.
  • Soy Protein: Add textured vegetable protein (TVP) or tempeh for a firmer texture.
vegan ground beef recipe

Toppings For Dishes

  • Cheese: Sprinkle vegan cheese on top for a melty, comforting addition.
  • Sauces: Drizzle with homemade tomato sauce, vegan gravy, or a spicy vegan mayo.
  • Fresh Vegetables: Top with sun-dried tomatoes, lettuce, or avocado for freshness and a nutrient boost.
  • Crunch: Add crispy onions, jalapeño slices, or crushed tortilla chips for an extra crunch.
vegan ground beef recipe

Vegetable Substitutions 

  • Mushrooms – Great for beef due to their meaty texture, especially portobellos.
  • Jackfruit – Unripe jackfruit mimics pulled pork or chicken in savory dishes.
  • Eggplant – Offers a rich, meaty texture, perfect for lasagna or bolognese.
  • Cauliflower – Versatile, can substitute for chicken or beef, and works well as a base for vegan wings.
  • Lentils – A hearty, protein-rich substitute for ground meat in sauces, tacos, and more.
  • Chickpeas – Offer a satisfying bite, ideal for stews, curries, or as a tuna salad alternative.
  • Beets – Their earthy flavor and red color make them a good substitute for meat in burgers.
  • Carrots – Shredded, they can mimic the pulled pork or chicken texture in sandwiches.
  • Zucchini – Sliced or spiraled, it’s a fresh, light alternative to pasta.
  • Sweet Potatoes – Offer a sweet, dense texture, excellent in burgers or as a filling.

Quick Tip – Add a splash of tamari or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a richer umami flavor in vegan dishes. These ingredients can elevate the taste significantly.

vegan ground beef recipe

Best Side Dishes

  • Quinoa Salad A protein-rich, light side that adds freshness.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes Their natural sweetness contrasts nicely with the savory flavor of vegan beef.
  • Steamed Broccoli Or Green Beans Simple, healthy greens complement the richness.
  • Cauliflower Rice A low-carb option that soaks up flavors beautifully.
  • Sautéed Spinach Or Kale Adds a pop of color and iron-rich nutrition.
  • Homemade Cornbread Offers a comforting, slightly sweet accompaniment.
  • Cucumber Tomato Salad Provides a crisp, refreshing contrast.
  • Baked Beans A hearty, flavorful side that pairs well with vegan beef’s texture.
  • Creamy Polenta A soft, comforting base for saucier dishes.
  • Avocado Lime Salad Adds a creamy, zesty freshness that complements rich flavors.
vegan ground beef recipe

How To Serve?

  • Tacos Or Burritos: Use vegan ground beef as a filling for tacos or burritos, along with toppings like lettuce, tomato, tofu crumbles, avocado, salsa, and vegan cheese.
  • Spaghetti Sauce: Incorporate vegan ground beef into spaghetti sauce for a hearty and protein-packed pasta dish. Serve overcooked pasta with a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan cheese.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Stuff bell peppers with cooked rice, vegan ground beef, diced vegetables, and spices. Bake until the peppers are tender for a flavorful and nutritious meal.
  • Sloppy Joes: Make vegan sloppy joes by cooking vegan ground beef with onions, garlic, and a tangy sauce. Serve on burger buns or sandwich bread for a classic and comforting dish.
  • Stir-Fry Or Casserole: Use vegan ground beef in stir-fries or casseroles for added texture and protein. Pair with vegetables, rice or noodles, and your favorite Italian  seasoning or taco seasonings for a delicious one-pot meal.

Quick Tip – To deepen flavors in vegan dishes, roast your vegetables before adding them. This technique caramelizes the natural sugars, enhancing the overall taste and complexity.

vegan ground beef recipe

Storage & Make Ahead

  • Refrigeration: Store cooked vegan ground beef in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This makes it a convenient option for quick meals throughout the week.
  • Freezing: Freeze cooked vegan ground beef in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Make Ahead: Prepare a batch of vegan ground beef and portion it into meal-sized portions. Store these portions in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze for longer storage. This allows you to easily incorporate it into various recipes without the need to cook from scratch every time.
  • Reheating: Reheat vegan ground beef in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Add a splash of water or broth if it seems dry.
  • Versatile: Use vegan ground beef in tacos, pasta sauces, casseroles, or stuffed peppers for a quick and satisfying meal.

Recipe Fact – Beluga lentils, nicknamed “caviar of lentils,” are known for their striking black color and firm texture. These make them a perfect, nutrient-rich base for vegan ground beef recipes.

Time-Saving Tips 

  1. Batch-cook lentils: Cook a large batch of lentils in advance and store them in the fridge or freezer, ready to use whenever needed.
  2. Use A Food Processor: To minimize chopping time, use a food processor for onions, mushrooms, and walnuts.
  3. Prep In Advance: Dice vegetables and measure out spices ahead of time. Store them in separate containers in the fridge for quick assembly.
  4. Freeze In Portions: After cooking, divide the vegan ground beef into meal-sized portions and freeze. This allows easy thawing and use in future meals without cooking from scratch.
  5. Instant Pot For Lentils: Use an Instant Pot to cook lentils faster than traditional methods, saving time and effort.
  6. Sauté In Bulk: Double or triple the recipe when sautéing the vegan ground beef. It takes roughly the same time to cook larger quantities, which you can freeze later.
  7. One-Pan Dishes: Incorporate vegan ground beef into one-pan dishes like casseroles or skillets to reduce cleanup time.

Vegan Ground Beef Recipe

This Vegan Ground Beef Recipe offers a delicious and sustainable alternative to traditional meat, utilizing beluga lentils, shiitake mushrooms, and walnuts for a meaty texture and rich flavor. Perfect for tacos, lasagna, or any dish requiring ground beef, it's packed with plant-based protein and nutrients, ensuring a healthy and ethical meal choice.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Rest Time 5 mins
Servings 6
Calories 250 kcal


  • Food Processor
  • Large Skillet
  • Spatula
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Airtight Containers
  • Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker
  • Saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Freezer Bags
  • Kitchen Scale


  • 1 cup Dry beluga lentils
  • 1 Red onion, minced
  • 3.5 oz Shiitake mushrooms, minced
  • ¾ cup Minced walnuts
  • 1 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari
  • 2 tablespoon Water
  • 2 tablespoon Nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground black pepper


  • Prep The Lentils
    Combine 1 cup of dry lentils in a small saucepan with 3 cups of water.
    Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer.
    Leave uncovered, simmering for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are al dente.
    Note: Lentils can be cooked in advance and stored for up to 5 days. For Instant Pot cooking, see additional instructions below.
  • Prep The Vegetables
    Finely mince 1 red onion, 3.5 oz of shiitake mushrooms, and ¾ cup of walnuts.
    For efficiency, use a food processor; otherwise, a sharp knife and cutting board will suffice.
  • Sauté The Vegetables
    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
    Add 1-2 tablespoons of water or vegetable broth to the skillet.
    Add the minced onions, mushrooms, and walnuts, sautéing for about 5 minutes with occasional stirring.
  • Add Spices
    Reduce heat to medium-low.
    Incorporate 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper into the skillet.
    Stir well to ensure the spices are evenly distributed.
  • Create The Sauce
    Whisk together 1 tablespoon of tamari, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, and 2 tablespoons of water in a large bowl.
    Pour this mixture over the vegetables in the skillet, mixing thoroughly.
  • Combine With Lentils
    Add the cooked lentils to the skillet.
    Continue to cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until it becomes crumbly and resembles meatless ground beef.
  • Serve
    Allow the vegan ground beef to cool for approximately 5 minutes before serving.
    This vegan ground beef is ready to enhance vegan taco meat, spaghetti, lasagna, or any favorite dish traditionally made with ground beef.


  • Instant Pot Lentils: For quicker preparation, use the Instant Pot. Please set it to manual high pressure for 15 minutes with natural release. This method requires less monitoring.
  • Texture Matters: Aim for al dente lentils; they should be soft enough to maintain a meaty texture.
  • Adjust Spices: Feel free to modify the amount of spices based on personal preference.
  • Storage: Store leftover vegan ground beef in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Gently reheat on the stove or microwave, adding a little water or broth if it seems dry.
  • Versatility: Use this vegan ground beef in various dishes, from taco salad to pasta sauces, for a nutritious, plant-based protein source.
vegan ground beef recipe

Nutrition Table

vegan ground beef recipe

vegan ground beef recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Substitute Other Types Of Lentils For Beluga Lentils In This Recipe?

Yes, you can substitute other lentils, such as green or brown lentils, for beluga lentils. These varieties maintain their shape well after cooking, similar to beluga lentils. However, the cooking time may vary slightly, so it’s important to cook them until they are tender but not mushy to mimic the texture of ground beef.

Red lentils are not recommended as they become too soft and mushy when cooked.

Is It Possible To Make This Recipe Nut-Free?

Absolutely. For a nut-free version of this vegan ground beef, you can omit the walnuts and substitute with more mushrooms or add seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds for added texture. Remember, the goal is to achieve a meaty texture, so feel free to experiment with whole-food ingredients that meet your dietary needs.

How Can I Ensure The Vegan Ground Beef Has A Meaty Flavor?

The key to a meaty flavor lies in the umami-rich ingredients like tamari, tomato paste, and nutritional yeast. Tamari and tomato paste add depth and richness.

At the same time, nutritional yeast provides a cheesy, nutty flavor that enhances the overall umami. Consider adding a dash of liquid smoke or more smoked paprika to achieve a smokier, more complex flavor profile for an extra boost.

Can This Vegan Ground Beef Be Used For Meal Prep?

Yes, this vegan ground beef is excellent for meal prep. It stores well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and can be frozen for up to 3 months.

When meal prepping, store it in airtight containers or freezer bags in portioned amounts for easy use. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or gently reheat from frozen, adding water or vegetable broth to prevent drying.

How Can I Thicken The Vegan Ground Beef If It’s Too Watery?

If your vegan ground beef mixture is too watery, there are a few strategies for thickening it. First, allow it to cook uncovered on the stove for a few additional minutes; the excess liquid will evaporate, and the mixture will thicken.

Alternatively, stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste or a small amount of cornstarch or arrowroot powder dissolved in water. Add these thickening agents gradually until you reach the desired consistency, cooking for a few minutes to let the mixture thicken.

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Greetings from the heart of Vie De La Vegan, where each dish we share is a chapter in a larger story of discovery, wellness, and the transformative power of a plant-based diet. My name is Julia, and I am thrilled to be your guide on this delightful culinary adventure.

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