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How to Make Soy-Free Meat Crumbles [Vegan]

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This faux “ground beef” (or “meaty crumbles”) is a delicious alternative to the store-bought processed soy products. The mixture conveys the idea of meat without using any artificial ingredients or soy.

You can use this “meat” as a base for lasagna or as the main ingredient in a wonderful tortière (meat pie) that’s impressive served as the main dish at a holiday meal. Alternatively, simply sprinkle some over your spaghetti and marinara sauce (I wouldn’t recommend cooking it in the sauce, as it will simply dissolve right in — though the flavors will still be delicious!). I’ve also used this “meat” as a topper over pizza, added it to wraps, and sprinkled my chili with it.

Smoky, meaty, all natural, a good source of protein — and entirely plant-based. What better reason do you need to give up that meat?

Homemade, Veggie-Full Ground “Meat”


  • 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and washed, broken into florets (about 1 pound/450 g after trimming)
  • 2 cups (250 g) raw walnut halves
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1tsp (5 ml) garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) liquid smoke
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp (2.5-3.5 ml) fine sea salt, to taste
  • 2  Tbsp (30 ml) Bragg’s liquid aminos, soy sauce, or tamari (omit for an entirely soy-free “meat”)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180C).  Line a large rimmed cookie sheet or rectangular pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a food processor, blend the cauliflower and nuts to a fine meal.  Depending on how grainy you like your “meat,” it can be more or less fine; I made mine like a coarse cornmeal.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients.
  4. Using your (clean) hands, knead everything together thoroughly, until the grounds are uniformly coated.
  5. Turn the mixture into the pan and spread out evenly.  Bake for 45 minutes and up to 1 hour 15 minutes (it will depend on the size of the pan and how thick the mixture is when you first begin to bake it), stirring after 30 minutes and then every 15 minutes after that, until the meat is dry and brown (if the layer underneath comes up looking wet and white–as cauliflower tends to do–then you need to keep baking).  The grounds will begin to separate and intensify in color as they roast.
  6. Once the meat is cooked, you can cool, package, and freeze it for later use, or use it right away.  Will keep, up to 3 days, covered in the refrigerator.  May be frozen.





Ricki Heller is the author of Sweet Freedom: Desserts You’ll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar (one of only three cookbooks endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres on her website) as well as three e-cookbooks. She writes the popular food blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, where, for the past two years, she has chronicled her journey with candida and posted almost 500 sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, whole-foods recipes.



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99 comments on “How to Make Soy-Free Meat Crumbles [Vegan]”

Click to add comment
Gretchen Baer
1 Years Ago

Anyone have a good idea on how to add extra protein to this?? Or could I throw in some Vital wheat gluten for the extra protein?

Cele Sterling
1 Years Ago

New to meatless meals and wondering how everyone uses these crumbles. Appreciate any help I can get!!

Dorothy Torrey
3 Years Ago

I would like the recipe for the Lasagna Dish that is pictured above using the "homemade veggie-full ground meat" recipe that is presented here.

Mary Ann Donnarumma
3 Years Ago

I can not wait to try this!! Yum!

Francesca Le Cornec
3 Years Ago

Tom Bellamy

Angel Jackson
3 Years Ago

Soy free? Recipe calls for soy sauce. What am I missing?

Michelle Betty
07 Dec 2014

The part that says "leave this part out to make it entirely soy-free".

Derrick Sly
21 Dec 2014

I would also bet that you could substitute coconut aminos as that is a common soy sauce substitute.

Si Clark
3 Years Ago

Jessica Gooch

Mario Dorizas
3 Years Ago

Looks amazing !!!

Amanda Schulte
3 Years Ago

Goddamn hippies

gail lee
03 Jan 2015

As if that would be an insult, Fashion Hippies ,that is sad! Real food eaters, non violent eating as in the factory farming of sentient beings! Wow what an insult! good luck idiot! As we try and save the planet you kill everyday! Eating a plant based diet is intelligent not just a thoughtless act, It is all thinking! And takes unselfish effort! far from some Dumb hippie!

Porsche Bizzell
3 Years Ago


Michelle Betty
07 Dec 2014

Because we can. Why not? "Milk" can come from a cow or goat or coconut - "meat" can come from different places too.

Porsche Bizzell
07 Dec 2014

Calm down! I'm vegan as well I just never understood that part. Ugh.

Porsche Bizzell
07 Dec 2014

Smart ass!

03 Jan 2015

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29

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