My flavor-packed homemade Hamburger Helper recipe takes just 30 minutes to make, is made with fresh ingredients and is the perfect kid-friendly dinner recipe!

Serve this hamburger helper from scratch with a side of sweet boiled corn, peas, or buttered vegetables. Easy, 30 minute meals are a must! If you need more ideas, I suggest you make my favorite Homemade Sloppy Joes, Mexican Quinoa, or Baked Chicken Taquitos.

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

Why This Recipe Works

  • Forgot the mysterious ingredients in the boxed hamburger helper! With this recipe, you know exactly what you are putting into the dish.
  • The store-bought version is flat, a bit dull and BLAND. This recreated one pot hamburger helper recipe is everything the store-bought version isn’t: Creamy, flavorful and fresh!
  • With littles in the house, dinner has to be quick, easy and a winner for the kids. This recipe hits all those points! Plus, it’s all in one pot, reducing the amount of dirty dishes. Another big win there!

Ingredients

Ingredients used to make homemade hamburger helper.
  • Ground Beef: I like to use a lean ground beef, 96/4. You could also use ground turkey or ground chicken.
  • Tomato Paste: This adds more depth to the recipe.
  • 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.
  • Elbow Macaroni Pasta: Really any pasta will work, but I like regular macaroni or the large macaroni noodles for this recipe.
  • Cheese: You can use sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, Colby Jack cheese, or Monterey Jack.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. In a small bowl combine the dry seasonings.
A white bowl with dry seasonings in it.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  1. 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 the pasta is al dente.
Overhead photo of a cast iron skillet full of a red liquid, ground beef, and large macaroni noodles.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

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. OR up the cheese game by adding cheese on top and sticking the pan in the oven on broil for a minute.

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. I’d recommend elbow macaroni pasta or shell pasta work best for this recipe.

Looking for ways to incorporate more vegetables into your meals in ways your kids will eat them? This recipe is the perfect way to camouflage those veggies such as chopped zucchini, carrots or peas.

What to Serve with Homemade Hamburger Helper

Storing

Store any leftovers of the hamburger helper in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Reheating: Add a splash of broth or milk to keep the creaminess.

FAQs

Why is hamburger helper so bad for you?

Mostly it’s all the added preservatives and the high, high amount of sodium! By making hamburger helper at home, you are skipping all of that by using fresh ingredients with low-sodium broth and no added preservatives.

What is the original hamburger helper flavor?

The beef noodle hamburger helper flavor is the most traditional of the flavors.

Is hamburger helper good without the meat?

While the meat will add flavor, texture and protein to the dish, removing it will leave you with a simple noodle and sauce dish.

Overhead photo of a black skillet full of a cheesy macaroni and meat pasta.

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A close up photo of macaroni noodles, ground beef, and a cheesy sauce in a cast iron skillet.
Print Review
5 from 4 votes

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 pasta - uncooked
  • 2 cups cheese - shredded

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 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. OR up the cheese game by adding cheese on top and sticking the pan in the oven on broil for a minute.
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. I’d recommend elbow macaroni pasta or shell pasta work best for this recipe.
Want to add vegetables? Add chopped zucchini, carrots or peas to the dish!
Storing: Store any leftovers of the hamburger helper in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Reheating: Add a splash of broth or milk to keep the creaminess.

Nutrition

Calories: 1017kcal (51%)Carbohydrates: 98g (33%)Protein: 50g (100%)Fat: 48g (74%)Saturated Fat: 23g (115%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 149mg (50%)Sodium: 1081mg (45%)Potassium: 839mg (24%)Fiber: 3g (12%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 1713IU (34%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 544mg (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!

This recipe was originally published on Aug. 20, 2020. It was republished on Aug. 19, 2021 to include additional information and photos.