Homemade Hamburger Helper

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Homemade Hamburger Helper is a one pot wonder that’s ready in under 30 minutes! It contains minimal ingredients, it’s inexpensive, and a total comfort meal, making this the perfect weeknight dinner.

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Homemade Hamburger Helper

If you are a parent or child of the 80’s chances are hamburger helper was on the menu fairly often. It was beefy, creamy, cheesy, cheap, and quick! However, I promise you’ll love this version much better. I adored the boxed version as a kid, but there is no comparison to a meal that’s made from scratch.

Why you’ll love Homemade Hamburger Helper

  • It’s a one pot meal; easy clean up!
  • This dish is ready in under 30 minutes, perfect for a busy weeknight.
  • There’s just 5 main ingredients: ground beef, beef broth, macaroni, tomato paste, and cheddar cheese.
  • It’s flavorful! Hamburger Helper from scratch tastes so much better. We boost the spices to make this much more tasty than the boxed version.
  • You know what’s in it and control the ingredients.
  • It’s made with affordable pantry staples
  • It’s yummy comfort food-when you’re craving something warm and filling.
  • It’s adaptable to what you already have. Don’t have beef on hand? Ground turkey, chicken or sausage works! Don’t have cheddar cheese? Any cheese will do! Don’t happen to have elbow macaroni? Use any short cut pasta you have. Substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the beef broth.
ingredients for hamburger helper

What do I need?

You probably already have the ingredients on hand, which makes this recipe an easy go to dinner for those night you don’t know what to make for dinner.

  • A large pot-I love a Dutch Oven for this dish
  • Lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese– I recommend shredding the cheese yourself with this cheese grater, it will melt so much better. However if you only have bagged shredded cheese on hand, that will work too.
  • Tomato paste– to add to the flavor
  • Elbow macaroni– or any short pasta like bowties, cavatappi, and rotini
  • Seasonings-chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
  • Beef broth– a full carton

How to make Homemade Hamburger Helper

This is just an overview- full recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Brown you ground beef over medium heat in a large dutch oven until no longer pink, about 7- 10 minutes; drain grease if necessary.

Add in the seasonings, tomato paste and beef broth. Bring the beef mixture to a boil over high heat.

When the beef broth is boiling add in the uncooked macaroni.

Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking 10-13 minutes, until the pasta is al dente, stirring occasionally.

how to make hamburger helper

When the pasta is tender, sprinkle in the shredded cheese and stir together until melted.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Allow to cool and thicken. Dish it up and dig in!

Homemade Hamburger Helper

I like to serve homemade hamburger helper with a simple garden salad or veggies.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Add bacon for a meatier dinner
  2. If you don’t like chili power, use paprika instead. If you do like the heat, add crush red pepper flakes and hot sauce.
  3. Add in diced onions and/or bell peppers when browning the beef.
  4. Store leftovers in the fridge up to 3 days in an air tight container. If it’s too thick when you reheat add a splash of beef broth. Reheat on the stove top in a pot or in the microwave.
  5. Do not cook the macaroni separately and add it in, trust me on this one! It must be cooked in the pot with the beef broth in order to achieve the right creamy consistency.
  6. This dish does not freeze well, in my experience. Best to be enjoyed immediately.

If you like easy, no fuss dinner you might also like Ravioli Casserole, Tater Tot Casserole, Mini Cottage Pies in Crescent Rolls, or BLT Pasta with Chicken.

Check out my E-Cookbook available for purchase filled with 20 of our Family’s Favorite Recipes. Tried and true dishes even picky eaters will love!

For more video, kitchen hacks, recipes and ideas follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. Did you make this recipe? Share and tag me @StephGigliotti, I would love to see it!

Nostalgic Homemade Hamburger Helper StephRealLife.com

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Steph Gigliotti
Homemade Hamburger Helper is a one pot wonder that's ready in under 30 minutes! It's the perfect weeknight dinner.
4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 417 kcal



  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni half of a typical box
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
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  • In a large pot or dutch oven cook the ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink, drain grease if necessary.
  • Add in the seasonings, tomato paste and beef broth. Increase the heat to high and bring the beef mixture to a boil.
  • Add in the uncooked pasta and stir together.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking 10-13 minutes until the pasta is al dente, stirring occasionally.
  • When the pasta is tender sprinkle in the shredded cheese and stir together until melted.
  • Let sit 5 minutes to thicken before serving.



Calories: 417kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 32gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 1133mgPotassium: 529mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 509IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 295mgIron: 3mg
Keyword 5 ingredients, Beef Recipes, Family Friendly, Quick Dinner, Weeknight dinner
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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