No cooking involved for this delicious vegan ground beef recipe made with whole-food ingredients! High-protein, grain-free, soy-free, with a nut-free option!
🐄 Vegan minced meat
This recipe came about serendipitously last month as I was trying to make the perfect vegan kiymali pide (Turkish pizza, above) that anybody anywhere could make without special ingredients. Until then, spoiled me always bought Impossible or Beyond ground beef substitutes at the grocery store. I seriously didn't think something made at home could be as delicious as what food scientists come up with in a lab after years of research... I was wrong!
The store-bought meat substitutes are amazing and have their place (I still buy them often), but this homemade version is my new go-to. It comes together in less than half an hour and you don't need to cook anything.
Within a month I've tried it as taco meat, with pasta sauce, on rice, in gozleme—this stuff just works!
🥣 How to make vegan ground beef
Did I already mention how easy this is to make? Let's go over the ingredients:
Dried Mushrooms 🍄
Dried mushrooms are the superstar ingredient of many great meat analogs. They have umami through the roof as well as the perfect chewy and meaty texture to bite into. They are also super easy to work with.
My husband is half-Taiwanese, which is how I became so familiar with using dried mushrooms as a meat substitute. Our time in Taiwan was spent mostly trying out all the delicious delicacies of Buddhist cuisine—which contained a lot of fungus and mushrooms!
I buy dried shiitake mushrooms at Asian grocery stores where they tend to be the least expensive. The brand I like comes with whole mushrooms rather than slices, so the soaking time is a bit longer. Simply follow this guide to soak your dried mushrooms for the best texture and flavor:
- If using dried whole mushrooms: Soak them in hot water for at least 20 minutes before using. Rinse to eliminate any grit, remove the stems (as well as the part of the cap where it meets the stem), dice the remainder of the caps, and set aside.
- If using dried slices: Soak them in room-temperature water for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight. More of the flavor will stay inside the mushrooms this way! Rinse, dice, and set aside.
You can save the discarded stems to make a hearty vegetable stock later!
Don't have access to dried mushrooms? That's okay! Substitute with these fresh varieties and cook them before mixing with the rest of the ingredients for a meaty experience instead:
- Maitake: The mait-iest of mushrooms!!! They tend to be a bit on the expensive side, which is why I prefer using dried shiitake instead—but there's no denying that these guys take the cake when it comes to a meaty texture.
- Wood Ear Mushrooms: These fungi look like small, crinckled ears! Give them a try.👂
- Portobello: The hearty portobello doesn't disappoint. They contain a bit more water than the above varieties but will still work very well as long as you dice them finely and cook off their water.
- Other Mushrooms: If you can't find these varieties, it's still all good. Button mushrooms or any other kind will still work, albeit have less flavor than ideal.
Ah, my favorite type of nuts. Besides being a powerhouse when it comes to health benefits, it also is the best at mimicking meats! So much so, that traditional Turkish raw meatballs (cig kofte—an incidentally-vegan dish) are often made using walnuts!
The key is to dice them finely enough that their crunchy texture doesn't take away from the dish.
In order to make the best ground beef analog, we need to add in every umami-rich ingredient that makes sense to be in this recipe. Soy sauce is yet another of these savory-flavor bombs! It may look unassuming on grocery aisle shelves, but in reality, soy sauce is made through a quite lengthy fermentation and curing process!
If you're gluten-free, go for tamari sauce instead.
You could skip added oils if you'd like to keep this recipe whole-food plant-based, but I'd highly recommend it. Ground beef (chuck or round) is about 15% fat, and while the fat content of the walnuts more than makes up for it in our vegan mince recipe—the added olive oil still deepens the overall flavor and elevates the final dish.
🌶 Ways to customize plant-based mince meat
We have the basics (dried mushrooms, walnuts, soy sauce, and olive oil), so now all we have to do is decide which spices to add!
To clarify, you don't need to add any spices at all but it makes it so much better in my opinion. Here are some of my spice blends for it:
🇹🇷 My go-to seasoning: Aleppo pepper (pul biber), garlic powder, dried oregano, salt
🇲🇽 Taco seasoning: Cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, chili flakes, black pepper, salt
🇨🇳 Szechuan seasoning: Szechuan peppercorns, ginger powder, garlic powder, chili powder, salt
🇮🇹 Italian seasoning: Dried basil, dried oregano, dried rosemary, dried parsley, chili flakes, salt
... and many more!
🍽 How to use up vegan ground beef
You could make whatever dish you are used to making with regular ground beef! Here are a few suggestions:
- Pide — This is the best use for vegan ground beef in my world. Add diced shishito, tomatoes, and onions for the best plant-based "Turkish pizza".
- Stuffed bell peppers (Dolma) — spiced with cinnamon and enriched with pine nuts!
- Gozleme — Fill this easy peasy Turkish flatbread with mince and some vegan cheese.
- Vegan mapo tofu — This is one of my husband's go-to recipes. Made all the better with vegan ground beef!
- Taco Meat — We used to use the beefless beef crumbs by Trader Joe's in our tacos, but completely replaced that with this recipe.
- + Lasagna, spaghetti Bolognese, meatballs...
Depending on how well you flavor it, vegan minced meat tastes very similar to the real thing. The texture is different of course—that's why scientists are still at the forefront of a multi-billion dollar vegan food substitute industry after all!
But unless you're particularly sensitive to the crunchier texture of the nuts or the mild mushroom taste and chewiness, this recipe won't be found wanting.
Because they are so high in umami! Besides the umami/savory flavor, dried mushrooms have that chewy texture that resembles meat more closely than any other whole plant-based food (except yuba, maybe).
There's a reason why Buddhists following ahimsa (non-violence) principles have been using dried mushrooms to replace meat for centuries. The Buddhist cuisine came up with some of the best meat analogs throughout all this time and the usage of mushrooms is no exception.
It can be refrigerated for up to five days or may be frozen for up to three months! I'd recommend adding the spices right before consuming for a fresher taste.
Absolutely! One caveat is to mince the ingredients to an even finer consistency and to add more of the binding agent than you normally would. So double the amount of flaxseed meal or other vegan egg replacers you'd be using in a vegan burger.
I see a version of this question quite often on the internet. Simply put, animal food products tend to taste pretty good! That's one reason why many people may run into problems sticking to a plant-based diet even though they truly want to follow through with it.
Making homemade vegan alternatives taste great solves that problem and more—such as food shortages for certain meat items at times of crises. There are comments on this recipe written by people going through exactly that!
🌱 Other vegan recipes...
Looking for other vegan staple recipes? Try:
- Gozleme (flat-bread with fillings)
- Ispanakli borek (spanakopita / spinach pie)
- Stuffed bell peppers (dolma)
- Zucchini fritters (mucver)
Please do leave a comment & a rating if you make this vegan ground beef! I make sure to respond to each one and it helps a ton. Afiyet olsun (bon appétit)!Print
A delicious vegan ground beef recipe made with whole-food ingredients. No cooking or food processor is necessary. High-protein, grain-free, soy-free, with a nut-free option!
- 1.5 cups (150g) walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 cup (~10 individual) dried shiitake mushrooms (See Note 1)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or regular chili flakes, See Note 2)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp table salt
- Place the dried mushrooms into a bowl filled with hot water (if using whole mushrooms) or room-temperature water (if using sliced mushrooms) for at least 30 minutes to rehydrate.
- Rinse to eliminate any grit and remove the stems as well as the part of the cap where it meets the stem. Dice the remainder of the caps. If using sliced mushrooms, simply rinse and dice.
- Mix all the ingredients including the diced mushrooms in a bowl. Done!
- Vegan ground beef can be refrigerated for up to five days or may be frozen for up to three months. I'd recommend adding the spices right before consuming them for a fresher taste.
1. You can save the discarded mushroom stems to make a hearty vegetable stock later! Don't have access to dried mushrooms? Substitute with fresh varieties and cook them before mixing with the rest of the ingredients instead.
2. You don't need to add any spices at all but it makes it so much better in my opinion. Here are some spice blends for it: 🇹🇷 My go-to seasoning: Aleppo pepper (pul biber), garlic powder, dried oregano, salt 🇲🇽 Taco seasoning: Cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, chili flakes, black pepper, salt 🇨🇳 Szechuan seasoning: Szechuan peppercorns, ginger powder, garlic powder, chili powder, salt 🇮🇹 Italian seasoning: Dried basil, dried oregano, dried rosemary, dried parsley, chili flakes, salt