My Homemade Hamburger Helper is easy to make, requires no fancy ingredients, is ready in 30 minutes, and is a meal the whole family will love. Learn how to make hamburger helper at home for an easy weeknight dinner idea!
Homemade Hamburger Helper
If you’ve been wondering how to make hamburger helper, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know!
This is probably one of my kid’s favorite meals. I mean, they could eat my hamburger helper recipe for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner — along with pancakes, pizza, and pb&j. My kids are normal, right??
Full of tender ground beef, cheddar cheese, tomato sauce, and pasta, I’m happy to introduce my hamburger helper homemade edition! Not only do my kids love it, but it’s also a reader favorite and is one of the top recipes here on Countryside Cravings.
One reader, Michelle, says “I had my doubts as I was making this, but it was a big hit with my picky husband and toddler. This is going in the weekly rotation.”
Another reader, Rob says “Whole family loved this meal. It was so quick and easy to make and even my fussiest eater cleared his plate!”
Some other reader favorites are these Homemade Chewy Brownies, Crispy Oven Fried Chicken Thighs, and Irish Soda Bread.
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe
- Ready in 30 minutes
- Homemade so you control what goes into it
- Uses easy-to-find ingredients you probably already have on hand
- Will take you back to your childhood!
- Can add in additional veggies for extra nutrition
- It’s a true one-pot meal which means easy clean up
Key Ingredients to Make My Hamburger Helper Recipe
- GROUND BEEF – You can also substitute with ground turkey if you’d like.
- ONION – Sauté it up along with the beef and spices for maximum flavor.
- SPICES – I swear by paprika, parsley, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper for this hamburger helper recipe!
- MILK – Feel free to use broth if you don’t have milk on hand.
- BEEF BROTH – You can also use chicken broth if you prefer.
- ELBOW MACARONI – For the ultimate hamburger helper homemade recipe that will take you back to your childhood! You can also use a similar pasta shape instead.
- TOMATO SAUCE – For added savory flavor.
- CHEDDAR CHEESE – It’s always best to grate your own cheese. The pre-shredded kind is coated in anti-caking agents and doesn’t melt as well. I’m a Tillamook cheese fan, and it’s perfect for this dish!
How To Make Hamburger Helper
COOK THE GROUND BEEF: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef, onion, paprika, parsley, garlic powder, cayenne powder, salt, and pepper.
If using ground beef with higher fat content, add in the seasonings after draining the grease.
INCORPORATE THE OTHER INGREDIENTS: Stir in the milk, broth, macaroni, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.
ALLOW IT TO COOK: Cook your homemade hamburger helper for 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
ADD THE CHEESE: Stir in cheddar cheese until melted.
Substitutions and Variations for Making Hamburger Helper Homemade
- Feel free to add in extra vegetables! Grated zucchini, grated carrot, peas, spinach, and tomatoes are all great options for this hamburger helper recipe.
- Change up the flavor using different spices or add more. Also, if you don’t like some of the spices listed in the ingredients, feel free to leave them out.
- Don’t like cheddar cheese? No problem — this recipe works great with Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, or any easy-to-melt cheese.
- Readers have used other shapes of pasta without needing to change the liquids.
- This recipe also works great with ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. One reader even used lentils for a unique plant-based hamburger helper homemade version.
No, it is not recommended to freeze this dish as the pasta gets too mushy.
Store cooled hamburger helper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
While this tastes best fresh, reheat on the stovetop and add a little broth. Reheat over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. You can also reheat this in a microwave if preferred.
A traditional homemade hamburger helper recipe will call for ground beef, but as you discovered above, that’s not the only option! You could also use ground turkey, ground chicken, or even a plant-based protein like lentils.
What to Serve With Homemade Hamburger Helper
My homemade hamburger helper recipe is a great stand alone dish, especially if you have added in extra vegetables. However, it is great with a simple side salad and these Buttermilk Biscuits too!
I have also served it with these Simple Roasted Green Beans which are one of my kid’s favorite vegetables.
And if you are looking for something sweet to add alongside this retro dish, this Creamy Key Lime Fruit Salad is perfect.
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This Homemade Hamburger Helper is just as easy as the store bought stuff but a whole lot healthier! An easy ground beef recipe that both adults and kids love!
- 1 pound (500g) lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- pinch to ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1½ cups (355ml) milk
- 1½ cups (355ml) beef broth
- 2 cups (260g) elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 1 (8oz) (227g) can tomato sauce
- 2 cups (225g) shredded cheddar cheese
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef, onion, paprika, parsley, garlic powder, cayenne powder, salt and pepper. If using a ground beef with a higher fat content add in the seasonings after draining the grease.
Stir in the milk, broth, macaroni and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Stir in cheddar cheese until melted.
- If using whole wheat elbow pasta you may need to add more liquid while cooking.
- STORAGE: Store cooled hamburger helper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Nutrition Facts: Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate.
What to serve with this Homemade Hamburger Helper:
- Steamed vegetable of choice
- Simple side salad
- Fresh fruit of choice
- Or buttered bread
468 thoughts on “Homemade Hamburger Helper”
I’ve made the a few times now following the recipe and love it! I use smoked paprika, marble cheese & tonight I added a half teaspoon of cummin we will see how it turns out this time 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing! I love the idea of using smoked paprika to change it up!!
I live in the UK and Hamburger Helper is not a product that is sold here but I was keen to try it. I scroll through lots of comfort food recipes looking for ideas and came across this one. Followed it to the letter. Wish I had someone to share it with cos there’s a good chance I’m going to eat the lot! I thought ‘why not just make spag bol?’, it’s basically the same…Oh but it is not! I love this. I made it in an amazing non-stick/ceramic casserole dish on the hob and it was all I could have wanted, more a beef sauce than tomato sauce like you get with spag bol (gravy in the UK is not the same as gravy in the US) and the meat was soft and juicy. The herbs were spot on. The only thing I added after serving was a bit more cracked black pepper. Delicious. Thank you.
Thank you so much for sharing Megan!! I love hearing about other people’s experience with recipes that are outside of the US. Thanks again and so glad you enjoyed it!
Can I make this in the instapot?
I haven’t tried making this in the instant pot so I can’t say for sure how it would turn out.
I’ve made this recipe numerous times. We absolutely love it. My twist is adding a splash of Worcestershire sauce.
Thank you so much for sharing and so glad you like it!
Tastes great and use 12 real ingredients unlike boxed dinner meals. I always add vegetables to my dinner helpers and will do so with this recipe. Serve with a salad and a healthy, filling dinner is done! Thank you!
Thank you so much! I too like to add in extra veggies!
Using different vegetables, different shaped pasta, different seasonings, switching up your meat/protein choices each time you make this recipe keeps it from being the same old dinner. This is a fun recipe!
That’s a wonderful idea!! Thanks for sharing Susan!!
Awesome recipe, this recipe is definitely a keeper. I was worried the liquid would be thin but by the time it simmered it’s nice and thick. The way I like it.
I added parmesan on top when serving, very good.
Thank you very much!
This was delicious and easy to adapt to my kids low sodium diet.
Thank you very much! So glad you liked it!
This was delicious and easy and my family loved it. Better than any boxed dinner, for sure. This goes into my rotation.
Thank you very much Dawn!!
Fantastic recipe! I used ground turkey. I used a mix of sharp cheddar, smoked gouda, cream cheese and colby jack cheeses. I used tomato paste instead of tomato sauce so I increased the amount of homemade beef stock. My wife and her best friend can’t wait for me to make it again!
That sounds amazing with the different cheeses!! Thanks for sharing!!
Whole family loved this meal. It was so quick and easy to make and even my fussiest eater cleared his plate!
Thank you very much!! So glad everyone liked it!
My family absolutely LOVED this meal!! I was looking for a “better than the box” hamburger helper and this is a winner for sure! I was pleasantly surprised! I did tweak a bit with what I had on hand, but the base recipe is a great guide
Thank you so much and so glad you made it your own with what you had on hand!!
This is the favorite dinner of most of my household. I made it 2-3 times a month, and it’s always a hit.
It’s one of our favorites too!!
This is a great nostalgic Hamburger Helper meal! Takes me back to when we were kids! It’s so quick and easy to make and very yummy! Definitely gotta have the cheese!
Thank you very much! And I don’t think there is ever too much cheese, lol!
We love this recipe so much this our 3rd time having it.. this time with bison tasted delicious the fresh shredded cheese is key and such a hearty meal also throws us back to the 90s!! Thank you so much!
So glad you love it as much as we do!!