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Homemade Hamburger Helper

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Get ready for the best one-pot pasta dish! This cheesy, creamy, and easy recipe is ready in 30 minutes and tastes better than the box kind. Homemade Hamburger Helper will be your new go-to weeknight meal.

A skillet of hamburger helper with a serving spatula.


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I remember my mom making the boxed version of this recipe many times when I was growing up. It was easy and tasted decent, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the homemade version of Hamburger Helper. Now that was one of my childhood favorites. There’s just something so comforting about this recipe. Even picky eaters will agree that it’s delicious.

With my own family, I made this recipe often. It’s a family favorite that you can change up based on your family’s tastes and preferences. It’s the perfect recipe for busy weeknights because it only takes 30 minutes to make. This easy dinner idea will be one you’ll want to make again and again.

When you make this homemade one-pot meal, you can control all the ingredients. With the boxed stuff, you can’t really do that. Make it mild or spicy! Have fun playing around with the recipe to make it your own!

What You’ll Love About This Recipe


  • SIMPLE INGREDIENTS – All the ingredients are easy to find at the grocery store.
  • EASY CLEAN UP – You only need one pot to make this recipe. Less dishes = less mess!
  • COMFORT FOOD – This is a hearty and satisfying dish that is a big hit everytime I make it.
  • FAST – Get dinner on the table in 30 minutes. The ultimate busy day meal!

Ingredients

  • Ground beef
  • Garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder
  • Salt and pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano
  • Ketchup, beef broth
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Velveeta, milk

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

  • STEP ONE: In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook the ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain the fat.
  • STEP TWO: Add the garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and ketchup to the beef. Stir to combine.
Steps to make homemade hamburger helper.
  • STEP THREE: Pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the dry elbow macaroni and stir. Reduce heat to medium low heat and cover with a lid. Simmer for 8 minutes or until the macaroni is tender. Stir occasionally.
Steps to make homemade hamburger helper.
  • STEP FOUR: Add the Velveeta cheese and continue to cook, stirring often, until the cheese is melted. Stir in the milk. Serve hot.
Steps to make homemade hamburger helper.

Tools you’ll need

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What to Serve with Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper

  • Roasted veggies – Try these Roasted Rainbow Carrots or Garlic Green Beans.
  • Salad – A nice light salad can help balance out the richness. We love this 3 Pepper Kale Salad.
  • Garlic bread – Perfect for dipping into that cheesy sauce! Make your own garlic bread or buy it pre-made at the grocery store.
  • Potatoes – Potatoes pair well with just about everything! Try mashed potatoes or oven roasted potatoes.
A serving spoon in a pot of hamburger helper.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Use tomato sauce or tomato paste instead of ketchup.
  • Try ground turkey or ground chicken instead of lean ground beef.
  • Cook fresh onion with the ground beef instead of using onion powder.
  • Substitute chicken broth or vegetable broth for the beef broth.
  • Use egg noodles instead of macaroni noodles.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley for presentation.
  • Add some chopped bell peppers with the ground beef.
  • Use shredded cheese instead of Velveeta. We like it with plenty of cheddar cheese!
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of hot sauce or chili powder when you the add spices for an extra kick.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning instead of using the thyme and oregano.
  • Use 1 cup of sour cream instead of milk.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce to the ground beef mixture for a umami flavor.
  • Substitute 2 cloves of garlic for the garlic powder. Cook the minced garlic along with the meat mixture.
A skillet of hamburger helper with a white serving spoon.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover cheeseburger macaroni in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Can I Freeze?

Yes, you can freeze homemade hamburger helper. Make sure to let it cool first to room temperature. Then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag.

You can store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure to label and add the date to the freezer bag/container.

Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator when you are ready to eat. Then you can reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.

A plate of hamburger helper.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • As the dish cools or after being placed in the refrigerator, the noodles will absorb the extra liquid. Add 1 tablespoon of milk when reheating. Stir and then you can add more if you like until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • Use other types of noodles. I recommend sticking with a smaller noodle. If you want larger noodles, you will need to add more liquid to the recipe.
  • Don’t forget to drain the grease after you cook the meat. You don’t want a greasy dinner.
  • If you’re going to use shredded cheese instead of Velveeta, don’t use the pre-shredded variety. It doesn’t melt the same as cheese you shred yourself at home.

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper Creamier

  • Use heavy cream instead of milk to make the sauce even creamier.
  • Add a few tablespoons of sour cream or cream cheese during the last few minutes of cooking time.
  • Use more Velveeta to make it super cheesy and rich.
A bowl of hamburger helper.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Get ready for the best one-pot weeknight pasta dish! This cheesy, creamy, and easy recipe is ready in 30 minutes, tastes better than the box, and will be your new go-to weeknight meal.
4.50 from 4 votes
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Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:25 minutes
Total Time:30 minutes

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook the ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain the fat.
  • Add the garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and ketchup to the beef. Stir to combine.
  • Pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the dry elbow macaroni and stir. Reduce heat to medium low heat and cover with a lid. Simmer for 8 minutes or until the macaroni is tender. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the Velveeta cheese and continue to cook, stirring often, until the cheese is melted. Stir in the milk. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 36gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 1738mgPotassium: 716mgFiber: 2gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 843IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 420mgIron: 3mg
Servings: 6
Calories: 450kcal


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