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:
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!
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!
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!
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 homemade 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.
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.
Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 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
- 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.
- 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. Cover with lid and sauté for 12 to 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked, 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!
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