If you haven’t tried turning crumbled tofu into vegan ground beef, you are missing out, my friend! The flavor in this tofu beef recipe is just out of this world. It’s the perfect solution for those times when you want to make lasagna or tacos but don’t have time to run to the store for a package of Gardein or Beyond Meat. And it’s much more budget-friendly too! The recipe is super hands-off: Just add everything to your pan and let the plant-based magic do its thing!
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We talk a lot on this blog about tofu chicken, but have you ever made tofu beef?
I’ll be honest. Tofu beef eluded me for a while.
I have no problem replicating the flavor of chicken. That’s what our vegan bouillon powder is for!
But beef is a whole other story. How was I ever going to achieve that deep umami flavor in a way that hit all the right spots as the original?
Well, I’m happy to say that after much experimentation and research, I finally have a tofu beef recipe worth sharing with you!
You won’t believe the meaty texture and flavors you can get following this method. I’ve tested it in myriad scenarios (more on that later), and it’s been a winner every. single. time.
Why You’ll Love Tofu Beef Crumbles:
You’re going to be using this vegan ground beef for everything you make. Here’s why we know you’ll love it:
- It’s the perfect ground meat replacement for everything from pasta to tacos!
- This recipe is super budget-friendly and perfect for when you want to make tacos or lasagna but don’t have vegan ground beef in the house.
- The flavor is magical. Deeply savory with a nice fatty texture. I guarantee you’ll be eating it off the spoon!
- I bet your friends and family won’t even know it’s vegan (even if they’re not the biggest tofu fans!)
Tofu Ground Beef Recipe Ingredients
If you’ve ever wondered “How do you add meat flavor to tofu?”, this recipe for vegan tofu crumbles will answer all your questions. I did a lot of flavor research for this recipe, and this is the best combo of ingredients I found!
(Reminder: We’ll go over the ingredients with some notes to achieve the best results here, but the full recipe with ingredient amounts can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!)
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Extra firm tofu – You can press out the excess water from your block of tofu if you want, but I found the cooking time doesn’t change much either way. So, I prefer to just pop it straight in the pan!
- Extra virgin olive oil – Tofu is completely fat-free, so a decent amount of olive oil helps add that fatty texture and flavor!
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce – This is optional.
- Red miso paste – This is the most game-changing ingredient for making tofu taste like beef, so don’t skip this! It adds a deep caramelized meat flavor you have to taste to believe!
- Tomato paste – This ingredient can be adjusted based on how you’re using the vegan ground beef. Check out the section below for our ideas!
- Mushroom powder – This adds an incredible savory flavor!
- Beet powder – This is optional and adds that beautiful red color!
- Spice Cabinet: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and black pepper
Substitution Options for This Ground Tofu Recipe
This recipe is super versatile and can be used in a variety of ways! Here are our best substitution tips and variations for you.
For the tomato paste: This is the ingredient you can really have some fun with and swap it out for whatever you’re using the vegan beef for. You can sub tomato sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce, or pizza sauce! A curry sauce could also give a fun twist. And gochujang can create a great Korean ground beef tofu recipe.
For the tofu: I have not tried this with a soy-free tofu like chickpea tofu or hemp tofu, but if you do please let me know in the comments! If you’re looking for a TVP-based vegan beef recipe, check out our TVP Beef Recipe. Do not use silken or soft tofu for this recipe.
For the olive oil: You can sub avocado oil, refined coconut oil, or sunflower oil for this recipe. You can also use sesame oil if you’re making this for a stir fry. If you’re oil-free, you can skip the oil but this will yield different results in the flavor and texture of your final product.
For the beet powder: You can skip this or sub 1/2 – 1 Tbsp beet juice or beet puree.
For the vegan worcestershire: Sub more tomato paste or use any of the tomato paste subs listed above! You can also sub more red miso, browning sauce, liquid smoke, essential amino acids, or soy sauce.
For the spices: Feel free to play around with the spices based on what you have on-hand and the flavor vibe you’re going for.
How to Make Tofu Taste Like Beef
The key to making tofu taste like beef is to cook it low and slow to really get the water out and let those seasonings and other flavoring ingredients seep into every pore of the tofu.
It may sound fancy, but the cooking process is so incredibly simple!
Step 1: Combine the ingredients.
Use clean dry hands to crumble the extra-firm tofu into the large frying pan. Use a potato masher if needed to really break down those larger chunks into small pieces.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir everything together and use your spoon or rubber spatula to break up the larger chunks of tofu. You want everything to be a very ground meat texture.
Step 2: Cook the tofu beef.
Continue to stir until everything is well-incorporated.
Cook on medium heat (or medium-low if you notice the tofu becoming too crisp too fast) for 40-60 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.
You want to cook the water out of the tofu slowly so the outside doesn’t burn before the inside is nice and meaty.
How to Use This Vegan Ground Beef Recipe
Use this tofu ground beef in any recipe that calls for ground beef like tacos, lasagna, stir fry, bolognese, salads, and casseroles!
It’s fantastic for meal prep, since you can make a big batch and use it in a wide variety of dishes throughout the week.
But, can tofu really be used as meat? With this recipe, it can!
Here are a few of our favorite recipes to use it in:
- Vegan Zucchini Lasagna (or regular noodle lasagna!)
- Spicy Vegan Tater Tot Hotdish
- Homemade Vegan Ravioli
- Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
- Vegan Lettuce Wraps
- Vegan Stuffed Shells
- Use this tofu ground beef for spaghetti! Just mix it with your favorite pasta sauce to create a tofu bolognese.
- Use it in a tofu ground beef stir fry with your favorite veggies and rice. This is such a great addition to stir fry!
- Add taco seasonings to make tofu tacos, nachos, or taquitos! It’s also great in our Vegan Taco Dip.
How to Store Easy Tofu Ground Beef
This tofu meat recipe stores beautifully, so don’t worry if you have leftovers!
In the fridge: Store leftover tofu beef in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
In the freezer: Store leftover vegan ground beef in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 12 weeks. Defrost in the fridge overnight when ready to use it.
More Beefless Ground Beef Recipes:
There are myriad ways to make vegan ground beef! Aside from this recipe, here are some of our other favorites:
I hope you dig this recipe. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m so happy to have gotten it to a point where it was ready to share with you! We always want to provide you with the best possible recipes, so you have the best shot at success in the kitchen!
When you make it, please leave a star rating and review below! This helps more people like you find our vegan recipes, and we appreciate it so much. And we’d love to hear how you used it!
Enjoy and happy cooking!
Tofu Ground Beef
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir everything together and use your spoon or rubber spatula to break up the larger chunks of tofu. You want everything to be a very ground meat texture. Continue to stir until everything is well-incorporated.
- Cook on medium heat (or medium-low if you notice the tofu becoming too crisp too fast) for 40-60 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes. You want to cook the water out of the tofu slowly so the outside doesn’t burn before the inside is nice and meaty.
- Use this tofu ground beef in any recipe that calls for ground beef like tacos, lasagna, stir fry, bolognese, salads, and casseroles!