Homemade Hamburger Helper

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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!

a plate piled high with hamburger helper and garnished with parsley

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
  • 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 means easy clean up
ingredients needed to make homemade hamburger helper recipe

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!
making homemade hamburger helper recipe. Pictures of browned ground beef and adding in the pasta

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.

how to make hamburger helper in a cast iron skillet with cheddar cheese

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.

top down view of hamburger helper homemade in a cast iron skillet

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.
holding a plate with homemade hamburger helper


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. You can also reheat this in a microwave if preferred.

Do you need ground beef for hamburger helper?

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.

close up of homemade hamburger helper in a skillet

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

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Course: Main Dish, Pasta
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy hamburger helper, hamburger helper, healthier hamburger helper
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!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 479kcal
Author: Malinda Linnebur
Print Recipe Save Recipe


  • 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


  • 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.



  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


Serving: 1.25cup (about) | Calories: 479kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 538mg | Potassium: 555mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 640IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 365mg | Iron: 2.9mg

477 thoughts on “Homemade Hamburger Helper”

  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! It brings me back to my childhood of hamburger helper. Instead of ground beef I used lentils and it turned out really good! Definitely a fan favorite around here.

    • Thank you so much!! It was a childhood favorite of mine and I love how you used lentils!! Brilliant for a meat free version!

  2. 5 stars
    My whole family eats this as comfort food! It was a 10 year old’s birthday dinner request. Going to try it with gluten free pasta.

    • Hi Kristen, did you end up trying with gluten free pasta? Did you have to simmer longer? I’ve recently made the switch to gf but would love to still enjoy this meal.

  3. 5 stars
    Winner! My hubby and 16 year old son loved it! I’ve never had Hamburger Helper before, (my Mom largely made everything from scratch), but this was pretty much what I thought it would be without the processed taste it texture. I had to substitute the tomato sauce with marinara – used what I had – and squeezed about 1 TBS of ketchup, and 1 tsp each Worcestershire and Dijon mustard to Americanize the Italian flavor. One pot, super fast and tasty!

  4. 2 stars
    Skip the tomato sauce- and add cream. There’s another recipe out there I couldn’t find it and did this. It’s SO much better with cream (Half and half or heavy cream) in place of the tomato sauce.

  5. This some so delicious! I used half a zucchini and double the broth (so no milk) Im husband is lactose tolerance and gluten free, so I also used gluten free noodles. Still amazing recipe.

  6. You said you can use broth instead of milk, so would you just double the amount for the broth ? My son has a dairy allergy. Thank yoy

    • So sorry I didn’t reply to your comment sooner!! Yes, you can replace the milk with more broth. So that would be a total of 3 cups of broth for this recipe.

  7. 5 stars
    Best meal ever! Two kids, 3 & 12 years old plus my picky fiancé ALL love this meal. Easy to make, tasty, easy clean up! I’ll never make a boxed kind again ♥️


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