Sneak some veggies into mac and cheese with this Sneaky Vegan Hamburger Helper recipe! You’ll also love how fast this creamy macaroni bake comes together for a perfect weeknight dinner. The vegan cheesy sauce is blended together in minutes and folded into tender macaroni along with convenient frozen greens and veggie ground, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and baked for an easy, hearty vegan meal. Click here for the printable recipe.
How Potato and Carrot Vegan Cheese Sauce Works
When I first tried the now-very-well-known potato and carrot cheese sauce, I was less than impressed. It was nice looking but tasted like potatoes and carrots. It wasn’t until I tried Lauren Toyota’s nacho cheese sauce for a batch of tater tot nachos, that I was convinced the flavour of carrots and potatoes could be successfully masked and worth the experimentation.
The starches in potatoes act similar to tapioca starch and corn starch, helping to thicken sauces and giving them a smooth, slightly stretchy texture. The carrot adds orange colour and sweetness. But it tastes like carrots. And the potatoes taste like potatoes. So don’t skimp on flavouring ingredients.
For making vegan cheesy things, I generally turn to nutritional yeast, tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder, and lemon for acidity. I also love adding hiding tofu in sauces to add thickness and protein. When I made this particular sauce, I also had some super sour kimchi in the fridge. I don’t make kimchi often, but when I do, I make a LOT. Kimchi is full of lactic acid, one of the flavours that make things taste cheesy, so I added it just to use the kimchi up. It was the best decision I made all year.
After mixing up the vegan cheese sauce and macaroni together, I could have stopped there. In fact, I did stop and have a few spoonfuls. But these days, I don’t want to make additional sides to round out my meals, so I dumped frozen greens and veggie ground in as well. After topping with panko and baking, I had a week’s supply of the best vegan Hamburger Helper ever. I hope you give it a try and tell me what you think!
JUICY SEITAN BURGER + CREAMY MAC BAKE // WHAT I ATE VEGAN #88 (video)
Watch me make this recipe at 4:20.
Printable Recipe for Sneaky Vegan Hamburger Helper
Cheesy Sauce (Makes 5 cups, use 4 cups for pasta, save 1 cup for something else)
- 2 carrots, boiled until easily pierced with fork
- 1 yellow potato, boiled until easily pierced with fork
- 1.5 cups water reserved from cooking potato + carrots
- 1 12.3oz (350g) box extra firm tofu
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup aged kimchi (the more sour the better)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon each: mustard powder, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder
- big pinch black pepper
- + more hot water/ potato water if sauce is too thick
- 13oz dry macaroni, cooked
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
Mix-ins, toppings, and seasonings
- 2 - 3 cups frozen greens
- 12oz veggie ground ( I used Yves original veggie ground) (340g)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Blend all the Cheesy Sauce ingredients together. Taste and adjust salt and acidity (add more lemon juice or kimchi water to your taste).
- In a large baking dish, combine cooked macaroni, cheesy sauce, frozen greens and veggie ground. Add onion powder, cayenne, white pepper and salt to taste. Top with panko (or your choice of breadcrumbs). Bake at 400°F for 35 minutes or until the dish is heated through and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.
- I do not preheat my oven when I make this. Everything comes together so quickly that I don't wait. If you preheat your oven, check on the macaroni early.
- I never peel the potato but I always peel the carrots. Sometimes one and/or the other will impart an earthy flavour if you don't peel so make your decision based on what you have.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 540Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 1265mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 19gSugar: 7gProtein: 27g
Nutritional Information automatically calculated by a plugin and may not be correct.