Plant-Based Ground Beef Recipe

4.83 from 23 votes

The sky's the limit with this totally vegan ground beef substitute!

Make tasty tacos with this vegan ground "beef"

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!

4.83 from 23 votes

Plant-Based Ground Beef Recipe

This healthy, tasty, and versatile Vegan Beef recipe is perfect for a plethora of dishes.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 10 people
Serving Size 0.5 cup
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American


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 walnuts raw, finely diced
  • 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


  • Add quinoa, broth, salt, and pepper to a medium pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low-boil and cook until the broth is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Turn off the burner, cover the pot and allow to set 5 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Please note that 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.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 91kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 163mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 2
Keywords dairy-free, Diabetic-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Plant-Based, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Gale Compton

Gale co-founded SkinnyMs. with a goal to provide women with delicious recipes, fitness routines, and ways to reach their ideal weight. Gale has been featured on the Today Show in which she won a cook off for the best Lasagna. Be sure to search for her winning recipe, Skinny Lasagna Rolls.

Guided by her firm belief in healthy eating and the power of exercise, Gale has written two cookbooks and several fitness ebooks. She earned her Fitness Training Certification from, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association. Gale loves to run with her dog Maggie and has completed numerous half-marathons.

More by Gale


  1. 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.

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

  3. 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!!!

    1. 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. 🙂

      1. Hi! I made the Mexican version, great flavor but very dry…I followed directions/recipe as printed…what might I do next time to make more moist?

    1. 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! 🙂

  4. This recipe was awesome, we made the taco version and it was so good. I will definitely be using this recipe for future vegan meals so thank you!!!

  5. I used this recipe to make sloppy joes and this was absolutely perfect!! I did add some garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme too. Wonderful!!5 stars

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