Homemade Hamburger Helper

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Homemade Hamburger Helper is a 30-minute meal that’s packed with cheesy beef and pasta.

Skip the boxed mix; this homemade version is quick to make. Ground beef and pasta are simmered in rich cheesy sauce for an easy one-pan meal.

cooking Hamburger Helper in a pot

An Easy One-Pan Dish

  • One-pot hamburger helper is an easy recipe made with wholesome pantry ingredients.
  • Mix and match the macaroni shells, the cheese, or the meat to create a new recipe every time!
  • This budget-friendly recipe is a great way to use up leftovers or sneak in veggies for those picky eaters!
  • It’s easy to double up and enjoy the next day for lunch or dinner again!
  • Bulk it up even more and serve it over homemade mashed potatoes.
tomato sauce , pasta , milk , beef , broth , cheese , salt , onion powder and chili powder with labels to make Hamburger Helper

Ingredients in Hamburger Helper

This homemade hamburger helper recipe turns a childhood favorite into an easy homemade meal.

Ground Beef – Use lean ground beef (80/20) for the best flavor – be sure to drain any fat after cooking. You can use ground turkey or ground chicken; however, you might need to add additional seasoning.

Broth/Milk – The broth adds flavor, milk adds richness, while tomato paste adds flavor. Replace beef broth with chicken broth if needed.

Seasonings – The sauce is seasoned with chili powder and onion powder. Feel free to add some garlic powder or taco seasoning to make your own version of hamburger helper. Italian herbs are another great addition.

Pasta – Choose small to medium size pasta like shells, elbow macaroni, or penne. Depending on the type of pasta, you may need a little bit more or less broth and/or cooking time.

Cheese – Use sharp cheddar cheese for the best flavor (pre-shredded works just fine in this recipe).

Variations and Additions

  • Cook fresh onions and/or garlic when browning the beef.
  • Stir in fresh veggies like diced celery, chopped tomatoes, or sliced mushrooms.
  • Stir in ½ cup of heavy cream in place of some of the milk for added richness.
  • Stir in ½ cup of sour cream after removing from the heat for a little tang.
adding sauce and broth with seasonings to meat to make Hamburger Helper

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

  1. Brown the beef in a deep skillet or Dutch oven per the recipe below.
  2. Add the sauce ingredients and dry pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender.
  3. Stir in cheese cheese.
  • Stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Depending on the type of pasta, you may need extra broth or cooking time.
  • Remove from the heat before adding cheese.
  • The sauce will thicken as it rests.
plated Hamburger Helper

Leftover Hamburger Helper

  • Keep leftover hamburger helper in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  • Leftovers can be stored in the freezer for 4 months in an airtight container. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

One Pot Wonders

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cooking Hamburger Helper in a pot

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Hamburger Helper

This easy cheesy family favorite is a one-pot meal with tender pasta and ground beef in a rich zesty sauce.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 25 minutes

Total Time 35 minutes

Author Holly Nilsson

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces medium pasta such as shells or large elbows
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • In a 12-inch skillet, cook the ground beef over medium high heat until no pink remains while breaking up with a spoon. Drain any fat.

  • Add the 1 ¾ cups beef broth, milk, tomato sauce, onion powder, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil.

  • Add the pasta and cover. Reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until the pasta is tender, adding more liquid as needed.

  • Remove from the heat and rest uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

  • Stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Depending on the type of pasta, you may need extra broth or cooking time.
  • Remove from the heat before adding cheese.
  • The sauce will thicken as it rests.

Calories: 532 | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1096mg | Potassium: 1071mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 812IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 309mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Beef, Pasta

Cuisine American

© SpendWithPennies.com. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

cheesy Hamburger Helper in a bowl with a title
cooked Hamburger Helper in a pot with writing
close up of Hamburger Helper with a title
Hamburger Helper in the pot and plated with a title

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

See more posts by Holly

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