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!

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! Some other reader favorites are these Homemade Chewy Brownies, Crispy Oven Fried Chicken Thighs, and Irish Soda Bread.

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

*Originally published January 2016. Photos and text updated.*

Quick and Easy Ground Beef Recipe

I love that this meal is ready in 30 minutes and only requires a few pantry staples. A few other favorites of ours are this Easy Ground Beef and Broccoli, Creamy Sausage Tortellini Soup, and One Pot Pizza Pasta.

I have never been a fan of the boxed stuff, it’s too salty and it’s full of ingredients I didn’t even know existed.

I hate buying things that have an ingredient list full of unpronounceables.

Honestly, this homemade version is just as easy and just as quick.  Sure you may have to open a few extra things or chop a few extra veggies.

But I’m telling you it’s worth it!


Perfect for picky eaters!

Have picky eaters that need to eat more vegetables?

Chop some zucchini up really small and add to the hamburger helper.  Or add in some frozen peas, finely chopped carrot, whatever you have on hand that you need to disguise.

I do this all the time with my kids and they hardly notice, especially if the veggies are the same color as the rest of the dish.

Complete camouflage and I love it!!

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

Ingredients for Hamburger Helper:

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

What to serve with Homemade Hamburger Helper

Holding a plate with hamburger helper.

My husband even loves this homemade hamburger helper!!  I love that I can sneak in some vegetables for him to eat as well.

Shhhh, don’t tell him! 😉  So, if you are in need of some dinner inspo…. you must give this recipe a try.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s a one-pot meal…..it doesn’t get much better than that!!

Close up of pasta in skillet.

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4.71 from 124 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
  • 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
  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 a whole wheat elbow pasta you may need to add in more liquid while cooking.  
  2. This recipe is for elbow pasta if using another type of pasta you may need to adjust liquids.
  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.

438 thoughts on “Homemade Hamburger Helper”

  1. 5 stars
    This was great – an easy meal on a busy day. I made it with ground turkey, which I happened to have on hand, and my own frozen roasted tomato puree from last summer. I also added a little frozen corn in the final cooking stages. Next time I will try adding some frozen crushed kale from the garden freezer bounty! It’s very easy to modify the recipe to include more veggies. Would be great with mushrooms too. As another person mentioned, the milk does separate (curdle) a bit when you add it (likely due to tomato and onion acidity), but this does not matter one bit. Once it cooks down to the point that the macaroni is done, and then you add the cheese, you would not know it. I also added a mix of half cheddar and half mozzarella.

    • It will bring up the print page where you can choose whether you want to include the recipe photo, nutrition, etc. Then you can click print. Hope that helps.

  2. 5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe and so does my family who constantly ask me to make it. I usually add spinach, 1 can of diced petite tomatoes, half paprika and half smoked and tiger seasoning. I always add fresh garlic and green peppers as well. I have not made the boxed stuff in years. It is really gross to me now that I have this.

  3. 5 stars
    I have to say, this was fabulous. My Wife and I do a lot of cooking and it was nice not to invent tonite. We used our own ground beef. I’m super impressed.

  4. 3 stars
    Hearty and delicious but I doubled the spices and added 2 cloves garlic and can of diced tomatoes
    Glad I did it would have been bland

  5. 5 stars
    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.

  6. 5 stars
    This is one of our go to meals, even our picky 5 year old loves it! I’ve recently gone gluten free, have you tried it with gluten free noodles?

    • Hi, Jennifer! I am so sorry no one has responded to your comments. I know some readers have used gluten free pasta with this recipe but they didn’t specify if they made any changes. I am sorry I couldn’t be of more help!!

  7. Like most recipes, prep time is much longer…. by the time I pull out all ingredients, chop, measure, etc. Much longer More like 15 minutes prep time.Also too much liquid. I even reduced by 1/4 cup for each

  8. Love hamburger helper but this is better for you. I use low salt to no salt ingredients and throw what vegetables I have. I so glad I stubble on this recipe


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