With a new school year just around the corner, I thought it would be helpful if I shared my flavor-packed Homemade Hamburger Helper recipe. It takes just 30 minutes to make (from start to finish) and is loved by all!

A close up photo of macaroni noodles, ground beef, and a cheesy sauce in a cast iron skillet.

I think my favorite part about this meal is knowing exactly what I’m putting into it. Store bought hamburger helper has never been a favorite of mine. I think I tried it once many moons ago and I never purchased it again. The store bought version was flat, a bit dull, and bland. However, I recently recreated the recipe. When approaching it I knew I wanted it to be everything the store bought version wasn’t. This recipe has a lot more depth and flavor. My husband and 2 boys gave it a big thumbs up!

Quick & Easy Dinner

With two littles in the house dinner has to be quick and easy, taste good, and be easy enough for a toddler to eat. This recipe is a winner in all of those areas! Not to mention it’s made in 1 skillet. Don’t you love one-pot meals? Honestly, they’re a lifesaver most days. Here’s what you need to make this recipe.

Ingredients

  • Ground beef – I like to use a lean ground beef, 96/4. You could also use ground turkey or ground chicken.
  • Tomato paste – this is one of the secret ingredients I use to add more depth to the recipe. The tomato paste really rounds out the whole dish.
  • Beef Broth – use low-sodium beef broth. If you don’t have beef broth you can use water, however the dish will lack some flavor.
  • Milk
  • Elbow macaroni pasta – really any pasta form will work, but I like regular macaroni or the large macaroni noodles for this recipe.
  • Cheese – can use sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, Colby Jack cheese, Monterey Jack.

Seasonings

For the seasonings you’ll need: cornstarch, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

A white bowl with dry seasonings in it.

How to make Homemade Hamburger Helper

In a small bowl combine the dry seasonings.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Use a wooden spoon to get the meat broken up into small pieces. Drain any excess fat.

Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the meat and add the tomato paste. Stir to combine.

A photo collage of a cast iron skillet full of ground beef and dry seasonings on the meat.

Stir in the beef broth, milk, and pasta. Bring to a boil, cover the pan with a lid, reduce to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.

Overhead photo of a cast iron skillet full of a red liquid, ground beef, and large macaroni noodles.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the pasta, stir to combine so that it gets all melty. Remove from the heat.

A 2 photo collage of a cast iron skillet full of a cheesy macaroni pasta and ground beef.

Let pasta stand for a minute or two to thicken slightly. Garnish with fresh parley and serve warm.

A large spoon in scooping up a homemade meat and cheese pasta.

Recipe Tips & Adaptations

For a healthier meat option you can substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef.

You can reduce the amount of cheese to 1 cup for a lower calorie meal, but keep in mind the pasta won’t be as cheesy.

Use a low-sodium beef broth however, if you use regular beef broth eliminate the salt in the recipe.

Can use regular or whole grain pasta.

More Easy Dinner Recipes

  • Easy Baked Ziti – another super delicious and easy meal. Really cheese and crazy good!
  • Mexican Lasagna – traditional lasagna noodles are replaced with tortillas. A protein loaded meal that will have everyone wanting seconds!
  • Italian Grilled Chicken – grab your grill, this flavorful chicken is marinated in a simple Italian dressing marinade.
  • Easy Kid Friendly Dinner Recipes – a list of approachable dinners that kids of all ages will not only eat, but devour!
Overhead photo of a black skillet full of a cheesy macaroni and meat pasta.
A close up photo of macaroni noodles, ground beef, and a cheesy sauce in a cast iron skillet.
Print Review
5 from 1 vote

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Once you make this homemade version, you'll never want to go back to eating sotre bought hamburger helper ever again.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni pastauncooked
  • 2 cups cheeseshredded

Seasonings

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl combine the seasoning ingredients. 
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain any excess fat. 
  • Sprinkle the seasoning mixture and the tomato paste. Stir in the beef broth, milk, and pasta. Bring to a boil, cover the pan with a lid, reduce to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. 
  • Sprinkle grated cheese over the pasta, stir to combine so that it gets all melty. Remove from heat. 
  • Let pasta stand for a few minutes to thicken. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm.

Notes

For healthier meat options replace the ground beef with ground turkey or chicken. 
Can reduce the cheese to just 1 cup, the dish won’t be as cheesy but it will reduce the amount of calories.
Can use regular or whole grain pasta.

Nutrition

Calories: 1017kcal (51%)Carbohydrates: 98g (33%)Protein: 50g (100%)Fat: 48g (74%)Saturated Fat: 23g (115%)Cholesterol: 149mg (50%)Sodium: 1081mg (45%)Potassium: 831mg (24%)Fiber: 3g (12%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 1711IU (34%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 539mg (54%)Iron: 5mg (28%)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?snap a photo and tag @saltandbaker in your posts and stories so I can see what you’re making!