Why you’ll love this recipe
- This vegetarian hamburger helper recipes requires one dish and is ready in under 30 minutes.
- It reheats well and makes for a great meal prep recipe during the week.
- Bother kids and adults love this recipe!
- You can absolutely use ground beef, turkey or chicken in place of lentils but trust me and give it a try.
- Easily add vegetables like peas, carrots, green beans and corn
How to cook dry lentils
When shopping for this recipe buy a pack of dry lentils. Measure out 1 cup or 140 grams. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add the lentils. Reduce to simmer with the lid half on and cook for 20-25 minutes until they’re al dente and not too soft. Add them to the pot for the vegetarian hamburger helper. If you have a Trader Joe’s near, I do know they have pre cooked lentils.
Can I use meat instead of lentils?
Definitely! Lentils are easily substituted with ground beef, turkey or chicken. Directions stay the same but the nutrition facts will change for this vegetarian hamburger helper. Use 1 lbs. ground meat. You may need to add a little extra broth at the end to loosen up the pasta if you use a low fat meat.
What pasta should I use for this recipe?
Is this good for meal prep?
Great for meal prep! This dish reheats great in the microwave making it perfect for a on the go at work or school lunch. Put your vegetarian hamburger helper in individual serving dishes, store in the fridge and reheat when you’re ready to enjoy.
Can you make this recipe dairy free and gluten free?
Yes, simply use your favorite dairy free cheese, cream cheese and gluten free elbow noodles for this vegetarian hamburger helper recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutes:
These are the main ingredients and substitutions. See recipe card below for full ingredients list and instructions for Vegetarian Hamburger Helper.
Lentils: I used dry lentils for this recipe and cooked prior to making the dish. You can use pre cooked lentils, leftover lentils or substitute with your favorite ground meat or plant-based meat.
Onion and Garlic: you can omit if you’d like but both of these add great flavor to the dish.
Tomato Sauce: use a 8 oz. (the smaller one) can of tomato sauce. Any sauce will do.
Elbow Noodles: any elbows will work great for this recipe. You can use protein added like I have or your favorite brand.
Cheddar Cheese: I do recommend using full fat cheese for this recipe as it melts a lot better than lower fat options. You can use pre shredded of shred yourself.
Cream Cheese: I am using full fat cream cheese. You can substitute with a lower fat version but I think the full fat adds a lot of flavor.
Vegetable Broth: this recipes uses vegetable broth as this is a vegetarian dish but you can use beef as well.
How to make this Vegetarian Hamburger Helper
Step 1: Lentils
Bring water (3 cups) to a boil in a pot. Add 1 cup (140g) dry lentils and simmer with the lid half on for 20-25 minutes until cooked but not too soft. Once done, drain the excess water and add to the pan pre directions below.
In a deep pan over medium, add 1 tbsp. olive oil, garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, stirring often.
Boil a pot of water and cook your bowtie pasta according to the package. When draining the pasta I like to leave a little water in as I add it to the pasta sauce to keep the sauce creamy.
Add tomato sauce, noodles and vegetable broth to the pan and stir. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 7-9 minutes until the noodles are cooked. Stir often so the noodle do not stick to the pan.
Once the noodles are cooked mix in the cream cheese and cheddar cheese.
Top with parsley and enjoy your vegetarian hamburger helper.
What to serve with this dish
This vegetarian hamburger helper is terrific as a standalone dish. You can add in your favorite vegetables like peas, carrots, corn or green beans.
If you like this recipe be sure to check out some of our other easy meals!
- Pumpkin French Toast Casserole
- Air Fryer Smashed Potatoes
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta
- Hot Honey Lemon Pepper Wings
- Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta with Sausage
Vegetarian Hamburger Helper
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- 1 cup (140g dry) lentils
- 3 cups water (for cooking lentils)
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1 package (8 oz.) Banza Chickpea Elbow Noodles
- 1/2 cup (2 oz.) cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 oz cream cheese (full fat)
- 2.5 cups Vegetable broth
- Parsley for garnish
- Bring water (3 cups) to a boil in a pot. Add 1 cup (140g) dry lentils and simmer with the lid half on for 20-25 minutes until cooked but not too soft. Once done, drain the excess water and add to the pan pre directions below.
- In a deep pan over medium, add 1 tbsp. olive oil, garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, stirring often.
- Add cooked and drained lentils, salt, pepper, paprika and chili powder and stir together well.Add tomato sauce, noodles and vegetable broth to the pan and stir. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 7-9 minutes until the noodles are cooked. Stir often so the noodle do not stick to the pan.
- Once the noodles are cooked mix in the cream cheese and cheddar cheese.Top with parsley and enjoy your vegetarian hamburger helper.