Homemade Hamburger Helper

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
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This easy and extra cheesy homemade hamburger helper recipe is ready in just 30 minutes! Tender pasta and ground beef are coated in a creamy tomato and cheese sauce all cooked together in one-pot.

Why You Will Love This Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

This hamburger helper is so creamy, packed with beef-y flavor and filled with cheesy bites of pasta all mixed together. The list could go on and on, but here are my top 5 reasons:

  • So Creamy: Made fresh with heavy cream and real cheddar cheese, the lusciously creamy homemade cheese sauce is what sets this recipe apart.
  • Quick and Easy: Just like the boxed version, everything is cooked together in a single skillet and ready in 30 minutes. Yay for easy cleanup!
  • Affordable: Budget friendly dinners are becoming more and more important as grocery store prices keep rising! This recipe utilizes pantry staples and affordable ingredients to keep it easy on your wallet.
  • Hearty: This is one of those great stick-to-your-ribs dinner that is so good everyone wants seconds. My kids are always fighting over the last bites!
  • Customizable: You can easily change up the cheeses, type of ground meat and seasonings to fit your tastes or diet. You can even use gluten free pasta!

Watch How To Make It

Want to see how to make this easy homemade hamburger helper recipe from start to finish? Here’s a step-by-step video:

Prefer to use your instant pot? Check out my instant pot hamburger helper! You may also love my copycat hamburger helper stroganoff recipe!

Ingredients for homemade hamburger helper recipe arranged on a countertop in bowls with the ground beef in a skillet.

Recipe Ingredients

Hopefully you have most of these simple ingredients on hand! Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.

  • Ground Beef: I prefer lean ground beef, but any ground meat will work! If it’s a fattier cut, drain any excess grease.
  • Chopped Onion: I use a sweet yellow onion, but a white onion is a good swap.
  • Minced Garlic: For the best flavor use freshly minced, not the jarred stuff.
  • All Purpose Flour: See the ‘Cook’s Notes’ section below for a gluten free option.
  • Beef Broth: Chicken broth or vegetable broth will also work!
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Seasonings: I use a combination of Italian seasoning, seasoned salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Small Pasta Shells: This recipe also works well with elbow macaroni noodles.
  • Heavy Cream: Heavy cream will give you the creamiest results, however you can swap it for half and half or evaporated milk.
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese: While cheddar cheese is traditional, something like smoked gouda or a white cheddar is also delicious!
Homemade hamburger helper in a skillet with a wooden spoon adding servings to two bowls.

How to Make Hamburger Helper

This homemade version is ready in just a few quick steps! Have all your ingredients out and ready as this dish moves fast. For full detailed directions see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Beef: Brown the ground beef over medium high heat. Set cooked ground beef aside, reserving 2 tablespoons of grease in the skillet.
  • Sauté: Cook the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last 30 seconds.
  • Roux: Add the flour and stir to cook for about 1 minute to make the roux for the cheese sauce. Slowly stir in the beef broth and bring to a boil.
  • Pasta: Add the tomato sauce, seasonings and pasta, stirring to combine. Place the lid on top and simmer for 15 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
  • Cream: Add in the cream and cheese and stir until all the cheese is melted.
  • Finish: Add the ground beef back in and cook for 5 minutes until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately!
A skillet filled with homemade hamburger helper recipe with ground beef and tender noodles coated in a creamy cheese sauce.

Cook’s Notes

This hamburger helper cheeseburger macaroni is super simple, but here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Gluten Free: Use your favorite gluten free pasta and the flour for the cornstarch. Most gluten free pasta needs a little longer to cook with a little extra broth, so keep this in mind. Once the pasta is cooked, whisk 2 teaspoons cornstarch into 1 tablespoon of water and stir it into the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, until thickened and continue on with the recipe.
  • Make Double: Feeding a crowd or large family? Use a large deep sided pot (like a Dutch oven) to double, or even triple, this hamburger helper recipe.
  • Spicy: Add crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce for mild heat, or cayenne pepper for a good punch of heat. I also make a Tex-Mex version with an added can of the hot version of Rotel!
A bowl filled to the brim with a hearty serving of cheeseburger hamburger helper with an almost empty skillet in the background.

What to Serve with Hamburger Helper?

This hearty cheeseburger hamburger helper recipe doesn’t require sides, it’s filling enough on it’s own! However, I like to serve it with a side salad, like my favorite Greek salad or sautéed green beans. A slice of garlic bread is also great to soak up the sauce!

How to Store Leftover Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper

Since the noodles will soak up the broth once stored, this cheeseburger macaroni recipe is best served fresh. However, the leftovers are still tasty for lunch the next day.

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat on the stove or in the microwave. Add a splash of broth and/or heavy cream to bring back its creaminess.
A fork taking a cheesy bite of hamburger helper cheeseburger macaroni out of the skillet.
Add Extra Broth If Needed!

Depending on the type of noodles, the skillet and how high you turn up the heat, you may need to add a little extra broth. If your noodles are not cooked through and you’re running out of liquid, add an extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup broth as needed.

Close-Up View of Homemade Hamburger Helper
4.5 from 1041 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 4 servings

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Pasta and ground beef are sautéed and covered in a creamy tomato & cheese sauce for a satisfying version of Homemade Hamburger Helper! Made in one pot, in just 30 minutes, this just might be your new favorite family dinner!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef, or ground turkey
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth, or chicken broth
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 oz small pasta shells, or small elbow pasta (Keep in mind 8 oz is half of a normal 1lb box of pasta.)
  • ½ cup heavy cream, or half and half
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • In a large sauté pan with a lid, brown the ground beef over medium high heat. Remove cooked ground beef from pan and set aside, reserving 2 tablespoons of grease in the pan.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last 30 seconds.
  • Add the flour and stir to cook for about 1 minute, slowly stir in the beef broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Pour in the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, seasoned salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder and pasta, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover with lid and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the cream and cheese and stir until all the cheese melted. Add back in ground beef, cook for 2 to 3 minutes more to re-heat ground beef and serve immediately!

Video

Notes

Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat: Reheat on the stove or in the microwave. Add a splash of broth and/or heavy cream to bring back its creaminess.
Make Double: Feeding a crowd or large family? Use a large deep sided pot (like a Dutch oven) to double, or even triple, this hamburger helper recipe.
Pasta Shells: This recipe works with elbow pasta as well. You want to make sure you are using  a similar size for the liquid ratio to work out. If your noodles are not cooked through but your running out of liquid, you can always add a little more beef broth as they cook.
Gluten Free: Use your favorite gluten free pasta and the flour for the cornstarch. Most gluten free pasta needs a little longer to cook with a little extra broth, so keep this in mind. Once the pasta is cooked, whisk 2 teaspoons cornstarch into 1 tablespoon of water and stir it into the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, until thickened and continue on with the recipe.
Spicy: Want to add some heat? You can add some crushed red pepper flakes for mild heat, or cayenne pepper for a good punch of heat! I have also made a Tex-Mex version where I stir in a can of the Hot version of Rotel!

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 738kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 49g, Fat: 37g, Saturated Fat: 20g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 160mg, Sodium: 1261mg, Potassium: 910mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1137IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 461mg, Iron: 4mg

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.