hamburger steak on a white plate with corn, broccoli and carrots

A plant based twist on the classic Japanese Hamburger Steak served with a sweet and savory red wine reduction sauce— tender, juicy and mega flavourful. This vegan hambagu steak easy and perfect for nights in!

hamburger steak on a white plate with a side of broccoli, carrots and corn

Hambagu has a special place in my heart. There was this hidden yoshoku restaurant (western-style restaurant) near my grandmas place and we would go there for dinner at least once during our last week in Japan before heading back to Canada. My mom would make this for dinner for special occasions and it was probably one of my favourite ‘special’ meals. I’ve missed it so much so I’m so excited to share this vegan version with you today!

What is Hambagu?

Hambāgu (ハンバーグ), or Japanese Hamburger Steak (ハンバーグステーキ) is a popular Yoshoku meal (western-influenced Japanese dish) that is made from ground meat and other ingredients like panko and tofu. These ingredients were added to bulk up the patties with cheaper ingredients.

At restaurants, you’ll find them served on hot cast iron plates with a side of vegetables and rice rather than buns. They’re tender, juicy and what makes them differ from hamburger steaks is the texture— it’s like a cross between a hamburger and a single serving meatloaf. I’ve read that it’s similar to Salisbury steak which is originated in the United States and served with a gravy.

ingredients for japanese hamburger steak in bowls on a grey blue back drop

How to Make Vegan Japanese Hamburger Steak

The Ingredients (& Substitutions)

I was easily able to veganize my moms recipe with a few substitutions. For the hamburger steaks, you’ll need:

  • Onions: get caramelized and adds both texture and flavour.
  • Vegan grounds: Originally, I thought of making a tofu or TVP version but I wanted to make these as close as possible to my moms recipe so decided to use vegan grounds instead which is much more widely available now.
  • Soft Tofu: Bulks the patties up and helps with that soft texture.
  • Panko: Absorbs excess liquid and also bulks them up.
  • Potato starch: Binds the steaks together.
  • Molasses: Deepens the flavour. You can also use Worcestershire sauce.
  • Seasonings: Nutmeg, ground pepper & salt

And for the sauce:

  • Vegan butter
  • Ketchup
  • Japanese Worcestershire sauce: Or tonkatsu sauce.
  • Red wine
  • Mirin
hambagu preparation in a pan and forming the patties

The Directions (& Tips)

  1. Prep: Caramelize the onions over high heat and microwave the tofu for 1 minute to remove excess liquid.
  2. Patties: Mix the hamburger steak ingredients together into a bowl until well combined. Portion them into 4 servings and then toss them between your hands to remove any air pockets. This prevents them from breaking while cooking. Shape them into ovals and flatten them about 3/4-1 inch thick.
  3. Cook: Add the patties to the pan and press the middle with your fingers to make a indent. This will prevent the patties from puffing up and will help cook more evenly. Cook the patties over medium high heat until both sides are browned. Then reduce the heat to low, add some red wine (or water) and cover to let them finish cooking.
  4. Sauce: Using the same pan, add the sauce ingredients and stir until thickened. Then drizzle over the hamburger steaks.
vegan hamburgers stacked with rice behind it

How to Serve Hambagu

Typically at restaurants, hamburger steaks are served with a side of steamed or pan fried vegetables and rice on the side. My mom would sometimes serve it with a fresh salad along with miso soup and rice. Sometimes we’d also have toasted baguette, too.

I hope you guys looooove this one!

close up shot of hamburger steak with red wine reduction sauce over it

More western-influenced vegan Japanese dishes to try:

fork going through a piece of japanese hamburger steak

If you recreate this Hambagu recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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close up shot of hamburger steak with red wine reduction sauce over it

Vegan Hamberger Steak (Hambagu)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 6 reviews

  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 hamburger steaks 1x


A plant based twist on the classic Japanese Hamburger Steak served with a sweet and savory red wine reduction sauce with — tender, juicy and mega flavourful. This vegan hambagu steak easy and perfect for nights in!


Units Scale

Hamburger Steaks

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced (150g)
  • 11.4 oz Vegan ground beef (320g)
  • 1/4 cup soft tofu (60g)
  • 1 oz panko (28g // gluten free as needed)
  • 1 tbsp potato starch (8g)
  • 1 tbsp molasses (17g)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red wine or water (30ml)

Hambagu Serving Sauce:


  1. Cook the onions over medium high heat until golden brown. Place the tofu in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute covered. Set on a lint-free kitchen towel to drain excess liquid. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the vegan grounds, cooled onions, tofu, panko, potato starch, nutmeg, ground pepper and salt. Use your hands to knead the mixture until well combined.
  3. Portion out 4 burgers and toss between your hands to remove excess air pockets (this prevents them from breaking after being cooked). Shape them into ovals and then slightly flatten them about 3/4-1 inch thick. 
  4. Heat a non-stick pan over high heat and grease with a little oil. Place the patties onto the pan and press the middle of the burgers slightly. Cook for 4 minutes, flip and then cook for another 3 minutes or until browned. Add the red wine (or water), cover and reduce the heat to low. Let the patties steam for about 4-6 minutes until cooked through. Remove the lid and increase heat to medium high. Once wine or water is evaporated, transfer the hambagu to serving plates along with your choice of sides (rice, vegetables… etc). 
  5. Without washing the pan, add all the sauce ingredients over medium heat and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and add sauce over the hamburger steaks. Serve and enjoy!


  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer). 
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, japanese


  • Serving Size: 1 hamburger steak
  • Calories: 263
  • Sugar: 3.1g
  • Sodium: 863mg
  • Fat: 13.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.9g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9.8g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 19.3g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Protein: 17.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0


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About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.

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  1. May I ask if it would work with tvp as that is what I have? Having never sampled the authentic Japanese version perhaps it wouldn’t make a huge difference. What would be your suggestion? I love your recipes to help me obtain Japanese umami after becoming a vegan.

  2. I regret how long it took me to comment on how AMAZING this recipe is! Tastes exactly like the original version. I’m Japanese-American, and when I went vegan, I thought I had to give up my childhood comfort foods until I found this blog! Thank you for doing what you do, Lisa!!!!

  3. So good! I realized after the fact that I forgot the molasses…oh well, guess I’ll have to make them again. Thank you for another lovely recipe.

  4. Hey! I am excited to make this, but I recently realized that Bulldog adds Sardine extract to their Worcestershire Sauce. Maybe its a new addition? 🙁

  5. Delicious and simple recipe. We had it with some mashed potatoes and boiled veg and it was delicious; the sauce went so well with the creamy potatoes. I used red wine and mirin, it made the sauce rich and flavorful.
    For mince, I used the Naked mince Without the Moo from Waitrose (I’m in the UK) and the flavor was pretty good, although I’ll be trying a different mince next time.

  6. It was so good and melting on your mouth !! The only vegan beef grounds I could find here were already arranged with a bolognaise kind of taste but it was really good with your wine sauce. I had leftovers and they were also delicious the next day. Will definitely do it again.

  7. Great recipe, there isn’t any metrics on the miso paste, I ended up adding 1tsp. It turned out great…had all the ingredients on hand 😊 I made asparagus in the air fryer and they were great together!