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Homemade, Veggie-Full Ground “Meat” [V, GF]

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”

This Recipe is :

Dairy FreeGluten FreeVegan


  • 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.


Plant-based Meat



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20 comments on “Homemade, Veggie-Full Ground “Meat” [V, GF]”

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3 Months Ago

This looks fantastic. I don't seem to see the recipe posted anymore. Is there somewhere I can get it?

09 Jan 2014

Hi Cristin, I'm not sure why it's not being shown any more! But you can still find the recipe on my blog, at rickiheller.com. Just search for meaty lasagna. :)

10 Months Ago

Hi there, first, thanks for the recipe! I am in the middle of making this right now. I doubled the recipe, so I can freeze and use as needed. Here are some changes I made. I used 2 cups of walnuts plus two cups of shelled hemp seeds, because I only had two cups of walnuts. I put the walnuts in the vitamix first, dumped into bowl. Then added the hemp seeds to the bowl (no need to process them), then I used my kitchen scale to weigh out the cauliflower, and processed that (took a few times in the vitamix to get it all done). I premixed the wet ingredients and spices, adding a 1 tsp of onion powder for the double batch. I totally forgot to add the sage :( I then poured the spice mixture over the mixed up cauliflower, walnuts and hemp seeds and kneaded that by hand. VERY messy BTW. It has been in the oven for 45 min so far. Just had to take a taste...SOOOO good! I am making tacos tonight.

1 Years Ago

Great recipe. Have created meatballs out of it and it was fantastic. I'm making this again this weekend for friends coming over for dinner.

Lisa N
1 Years Ago

Making this tomorrow. I hope this works for me. I have been doing the seitan thing (after giving up meat nearly two years ago), but that does not work well as crumbles unless you put it in at last minute, because it goes to mush. I am a chili lover, and this is the one area where I break down for the frozen crumbles, but that messes with my DIY ideology!!

1 Years Ago

hello there!! I made this recipe just a while ago!! I was looking for a new "fake meat" recipe to make at home instead to buy those so expensive brands at the store.. It is pretty good, although it did not yield as much as I thought...I almost doubled it the cauliflower, and the result was like a pound...is there another "healthy" filler ingredient to make this recipe yield a little bit more? thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 Years Ago

Thanks for this! I am so happy that I don't have to by the process stuff at the grocery anymore!

2 Years Ago

Hi Ricki, I am sooo going to try this recipe. i have been looking for a a good non soy gluten free recipe for so long. I don't use the veggie ground round anymore because of all the funky things it has in it and all the info coming out about soy these days how bad it is for you (estrogen) unless it is fermented not good for you and nato is nasty texture and taste! How is this recipe for tacos I miss my tacos so much! Do you use it the same way you would use veggie ground round I use to do my tacos by sauteing my onions and garlic then add my veggie meat and sauce and spices and let it simmer till the spices get into the meat and the sauce thickens. Sounds like it would be good for shepherds pie too. Does it freeze well? Would be great to just pull out of the freeze one pound at a time. Thanks for sharing...Liz

2 Years Ago

Hi Ricki, I am so going to so try this recipe. i have been looking for a non soy non gluten recipe for so long. I stopped using the veggie ground round you get in the grocery store because it has some funky looking things in it and all the info coming out about soy products (estrogen) being really bad. I so miss my tacos..lol How is it for tacos? Do you just add in the mixture at the end after you saute your onions and garlic with the spice and water/sauce. Use it like you would the veggie ground round meat you get from the grocery store? I'm thinking it would be really good for shepards pie too. Does it freeze well be great to just pull out a pound when I need it. Thanks again Ricki..Liz

Gina @ Oats and Beans and Baby Grow
2 Years Ago

This is great! I skip the store bought crumbles because I don't really want my son to eat them. And I figure, if I don't want him to eat it, I probably shouldn't be eating it either. We are definitely going to try this!

Cheryl Harris
2 Years Ago

So delightful to see more of Ricki's amazing recipes! Love that it's soy free, too.


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