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!”
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.
Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 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.
- Steamed vegetable of choice
- Simple side salad
- Fresh fruit of choice
- Or buttered bread