Homemade Hamburger Helper

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This 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!

A plate piled high with hamburger helper and garnished with parlsey.

This is probably one of my kid’s favorite meals. I mean they could eat this for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner.

Along with pancakes, pizza, and pb&j. My kids are normal right??

This is also a reader favorite! It’s one of the top recipes 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 Will Love It:

  • Only takes 30 minutes to make
  • Homemade so you control what goes into it
  • Budget friendly
  • 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 is great for clean up
Ingredients needed to make homemade hamburger helper.

Ingredients:

Ground beef: can also substitute with ground turkey

Onion

Spices: paprika, parsley, garlic powder, cayenne pepper

Milk: feel free to use broth if you don’t have milk on hand

Beef broth: can also use chicken broth if you prefer

Elbow macaroni: or substitute in a similar pasta.

Tomato sauce

Cheddar cheese: it’s best to grate your own cheese. The pre-shredded 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!

Pictures of browned ground beef and adding in the pasta.
Adding shredded cheddar.

How To Make Hamburger Helper:

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 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.

Top down view of Homemade Hamburger Helper in a cast iron skillet.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Feel free to add in extra vegetables! Grated zucchini, grated carrot, peas, spinach, and tomatoes are all great options.
  • 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 instead of beef. One reader even used lentils!
Holding a plate with hamburger helper.

FAQs

CAN I FREEZE HOMEMADE HAMBURGER HELPER?

No, it is not recommended to freeze this dish as the pasta gets too mushy.

HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER HAMBURGER HELPER?

Store cooled hamburger helper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

HOW TO REHEAT HAMBURGER HELPER?

While this tastes best fresh reheat on the stovetop and add a little broth. Reheat over low heat stirring constantly to prevent burning. Can also reheat in a microwave if preferred.

Close up of pasta in skillet.

What to serve with Homemade Hamburger Helper

This meal is a great stand alone 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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4.72 from 129 votes
A plate piled high with hamburger helper and garnished with parlsey.
Homemade Hamburger Helper
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

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!

Course: Main Dish, Pasta
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy hamburger helper, hamburger helper, healthier hamburger helper
Servings: 6
Calories: 479 kcal
Author: Malinda Linnebur
Ingredients
  • 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
  • cups (355ml) milk
  • cups (355ml) beef broth
  • 2 cups (260g) elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 (8oz) (227g) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups (225g) shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes
  1. If using whole wheat elbow pasta you may need to add more liquid while cooking.  
  2. STORAGE: Store cooled hamburger helper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  3. 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
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Hamburger Helper
Amount Per Serving (1.25 cup (about))
Calories 479 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 92mg31%
Sodium 538mg23%
Potassium 555mg16%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 640IU13%
Vitamin C 1.3mg2%
Calcium 365mg37%
Iron 2.9mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate.

448 thoughts on “Homemade Hamburger Helper”

  1. 5 stars
    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!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    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

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    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!

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    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!

    Reply

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