Allergen-Free Cooking

Dairy-free “Cheeseburger Mac”

I remember Hamburger Helper fondly.

Or, rather, I remember the ease of making dinner when Hamburger Helper was an option. Often I’ve wondered if the Universe is actually helping my family out by requiring me to eliminate many processed foods out of my family’s diet. The Universe seems to have forgotten that I’m busy and tired, and I have a lot of hungry people living at my house.

A lot of allergen-sensitive hungry people.

Copycat skillet dinners have always been an integral part of my meal plan repertoire, so once we went dairy-free I made it a priority to regain this ground. After weeks of throwing stuff into a skillet, tonight I took the time to measure everything out. Specialty ingredients needed in this recipe are non-dairy milk or soup base, egg-free elbow noodles, non-dairy cheddar shreds, and nutritional yeast flakes. It’s also important to note that while you may think that cheese is the single most important ingredient in this recipe, it seems that ketchup is just as important. If you leave it out, you will regret it. Ketchup enhances the cheesiness and gives it a slightly sweet tang, which is necessary in blending the flavors of our non-dairy cheese and nutritional yeast flakes.

 Let’s talk about these weird ingredients.

“Milk.” The non-dairy milk is the easiest thing to substitute out in this recipe. I almost always use coconut soup base, but coconut milk will yield exactly the same result. Other non-dairy milks will also achieve the same result.

Noodles. I have been really looking for an elbow macaroni that does not contain egg, and is not produced in a factory that processes food containing egg. I can’t stress enough how important it is to completely avoid any trace contamination with egg if you have that sensitivity. So far I’ve only found one brand that seems safe, and that’s Dreamfields brand. Always check the label, though, as recipes and factory information change.

“Cheese.” I’m pretty freaked out by non-dairy cheese. It seems okay when cold, but I’m not convinced the Food Gods have achieved cheese-like melting or taste. I usually use Daiya brand cheddar style shreds for this type of cheese need. It’s one of the few soy free options, and although it contains legumes, it is one of the lesser allergens, and we’ve never had a reaction.  I’ve found this at Kroger and also at several whole food/fresh market type of places.

Yeast flakes?! I know. It sounds freaky. I don’t know what to tell you about it, other than it’s been essential to achieving the right texture. The taste is a little too much for my kids. It’s slightly nutty, and though the package advertises that it goes well on popcorn, I assure you that it does not.

Okay. Now that we’ve covered the weird . . . let’s cook!

Dairy-free Cheeseburger Mac Copycat Recipe

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 1/2-3 c chicken broth*
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tb ketchup
  • 1 1/2 c egg-free noodles (I used this)**
  • 4 Tb nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 c non-dairy milk***
  • 3/4 c non-dairy cheddar-style shreds


  1. Brown the beef in a deep skillet and drain.
  2. Add the broth, onion powder, ketchup, and noodles. Mix well and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 8-10 minutes, or until noodles are done. Stir thoroughly every 2-3 minutes to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Add the nutritional yeast flakes and non-dairy milk. Bring to a low boil.
  5. Turn off heat and add the non-dairy cheese. Cover and allow to sit 2 minutes. Stir until cheese is melted and incorporated.
  6. Allow to cool slightly before serving

* Water and chicken bouillon is an acceptable substitute. 1 cube or 1 rounded tsp of powder + 1 cup of water = 1 cup broth

** Read the label carefully to avoid cross-contamination. If you are modifying this to be gluten-free, your noodles may take less time to cook.

*** Any non-dairy milk or soup base should work.

2 thoughts on “Dairy-free “Cheeseburger Mac”

  1. Thank you for this recipe. We frequently ate hamburger helper as a family and today I was really craving it. It has been 8 months since I have not had dairy and I was sceptical about trying this. I made only 1/4 recipe just in case I didn’t like it, but I was pleasantly surprised! I used rice milk and Follow Your Heart cheese slices since I’m also allergic to pea protein that is in Daiya brand. I will have to make the whole recipe next time so that I can have leftovers. Thanks!

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