Plant-Based Ground Beef Recipe

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Get ready, because your life is about to change for the better. Once you make this vegan ground beef recipe, there’s no stopping you. The sky’s the limit! Just like that, you can swap in this quinoa “beef” for any recipe that calls for traditional ground beef. We’ll show you how in just a minute, but for now let’s just take a minute and really let it sink in.

Vegan ground beef. That sounds like endless possibilities to me!

First of all, let’s take a look at how we got here. I started my journey towards vegan ground beef like so many others: with meatless Monday. Because it was such a great challenge, it really helped to expand my cooking in such a great way. It was also a perfect way to fill at least one day of the week with lots of produce, and it made me feel better, too!

I started with tofu and tempeh (both being really natural meat replacements), and then I went from there. As I continued, I found myself wanting more, but most of all, I wanted something that had the texture of ground beef.

Then it hit me – quinoa has a delicate and crumbly texture, kind of similar to ground beef or turkey, so all I needed to do to transform it into a valid substitute was to make it a little bit stickier. I baked it with some chopped walnuts, tomato paste, and nutritional yeast and voila – vegan ground beef was born!

How to Use Vegan Ground Beef

You can use this ground beef substitute any way you use normally cooked ground beef or turkey. Just add it to your favorite casserole dishes, wrap it up in a tortilla to make tacos or burritos, or have some fun with Asian-style lettuce cups. It’s so versatile and neutral tasting, and it will pick up other spices and flavors really nicely.

All you need to do is change up the flavor profile a little bit to customize it to your needs. For example, we’ve suggested adding salsa, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin for Mexican dishes. This will give the vegan ground beef that taco-seasoning characteristic we all know and love, but that’s not all. We also suggested a way to make it taste more Italian-style by adding marinara, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. This is perfect for lasagna or pasta casserole dishes.

Really, all you need to do is put some thought into the flavor profile of the cuisine you’re cooking. Then, spice the vegan ground beef up appropriately, and then you can enjoy! Sesame oil, ginger, and green onion would be great additions to Asian cuisine, whereas coriander, cardamom, and turmeric would be perfect for Moroccan-style dishes.

If you can’t think of where to get started, let us help! Here are 10 ideas off the top of our head, but if nothing sounds like it will hit the spot, let us know in the comments and we’d love to give you more suggestions!

Vegan Meat Ideas:

  • Tacos
  • Spaghetti Vegan Meat Sauce
  • Enchiladas
  • Burritos
  • Taquitos
  • Lasagna Filling
  • Asian Lettuce Cups
  • Tortilla Wraps
  • Chili
  • Casseroles

And now, without further ado, the recipe itself. We can’t wait to hear how this turned out for you, so let us know below!

Plant-Based Ground Beef Recipe

Plant-Based Ground Beef Recipe

Meat Base- Yields: 5 cups | Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Calories: 91 | Total Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 163mg | Carbohydrates: 13g | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Protein: 4g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 2


    Vegan Meat Base
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
  • 1 cup finely diced raw walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
    Mexican Dishes
  • 1/2 cup salsa, no sugar added
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
    Italian Dishes
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian seasoning


  1. Add quinoa, broth, salt, and pepper to a medium pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low-boil and cook until broth is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Turn off burner, cover pot and allow to set 5 minutes.
  2. NOTE: Sprouted quinoa only takes 1 1/2 cups broth. Follow the directions on the package if unsure how much liquid to add or how long to cook.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Add all other ingredients to the quinoa, stir to combine. Evenly spread on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, stir, evenly spread on the sheet and continue baking 15 minutes.
  5. Remove sheet and enjoy in your favorite Mexican or Italian dishes. Vegan meat keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week or can be frozen for later use.

Are you as inspired as we are to cook great vegan food? We certainly hope so! By subscribing to our newsletter, you can have all these ideas emailed directly to your inbox. Or, follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get ideas added to your newsfeed.

18 Comments on "Plant-Based Ground Beef Recipe"

  1. Shari  March 8, 2018

    Thanks for the recipe! You mention adding 1/2 C Marinara sauce for Italian dishes before baking. If I want to use the “meat” for spaghetti is it okay to add more sauce after it’s baked? We like a really saucy topping over spaghetti.

    • Gale Compton  March 8, 2018

      Shari, Exactly right. Last night I made my vegan ground beef. I decided to halve the quinoa and walnut mixture, use half for Italian dishes and half for Mexican dishes. So, I only added half of the marinara before baking, as well as half the spices. Of course, first I made my base recipe. Then, when it was time to have spaghetti, I added the cooked vegan meat to a sauce pan alone with more marinara. Then, sprinkled with my recipe for 5-Minute Dairy free Parmesan.YUM! This recipe freezes great.

  2. Leigh  March 8, 2018

    Does it matter what kind of quinoa is used? I think I’ve seen white, red, and black quinoa in the grocery store.

  3. LaTricia  March 9, 2018

    Can I substitute the walnuts for almonds or cashews?

    • Gale Compton  March 10, 2018

      Yes, can use either of the nuts. Just be sure they are finely diced to have a touch of texture.

  4. Steff  March 10, 2018

    I think mushrooms would be a nice addition, what are your thoughts on how best to incorporate them?

    • Gale Compton  March 10, 2018

      Steff, To add mushrooms, add 1 cup diced mushrooms to the mixture before placing in the oven.

  5. Susan  October 9, 2018

    Hello Gale,

    Do you NEED the nutritional yeast? Or would the recipe work without it?

    • Gale Compton  October 11, 2018

      Susan, It would work without the nutritional yeast but so yummy with it. 🙂

      • Misfit66  November 21, 2019

        I have a pecan tree in my yard and am wondering if I can use that for a substitute for the walnuts

  6. Jen Bartels  January 2, 2019

    If you wanted to use this to make “meatballs”, would you roll them before they go in the oven, or after? I have a red curry meatball recipe I make a lot and would love to convert it and this seems like a great way to do it, I just want to make sure I do it right. Thank you so much!!!

    • Gale Compton  January 2, 2019

      Jen, I would roll before going in the oven. OMG, please let us know how it turns out. I would love to make a plant based “meatball” recipe. 🙂

  7. Tabitha  October 24, 2019

    My daughter is highly allergic to tree nuts. Is it ok to leave out the walnuts?

  8. Shanel  October 27, 2019

    Hi Gale,
    Have you tried this recipe for plant based burgers. Would it hold well in a patty?

    • Gale Compton  October 30, 2019

      I haven’t tried it yet as a burger. You’ll know by making patties. If they need more moisture, add a teaspoon of water at a time.

      Keep us posted! 🙂


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