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This one-pan Homemade Hamburger Helper features ground beef cooked with macaroni in a rich and creamy sauce with cheese. It’s scrumptious, simple, and cooks entirely in a single skillet, even the pasta!

Homemade hamburger helper in a skillet

Why You’ll Love This Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

  • SO Much Better Than the Box. If you didn’t grow up with the original Hamburger Helper, it’s a boxed mix that contains dry noodles, a spice packet, and a powdered packet for the “sauce.” For this homemade Hamburger Helper, I wanted to honor the original but using real ingredients (I did the same for this Ground Beef Stroganoff). It tastes rich and creamy, and it even has surprising notes of umami.
  • Perfect for the Entire Family. Comforting, cheesy, and hearty, this is the best homemade hamburger helper recipe for pleasing picky eaters and discerning palates alike.
  • Budget-Friendly. Like Hamburger Casserole, Hamburger Soup, and Ground Beef and Potatoes, this is an excellent dinner option when you’re trying to stretch your dollar on groceries. (Here are some more Ground Beef Dinner Ideas!)
  • One-Pan Dinner. The secret to keeping this recipe easy AND achieving maximum creaminess is to cook the noodles in the pan with the other ingredients (just like my Chili Mac and Cheese). As the pasta starches release, they thicken the Hamburger Helper sauce, making it ultra rich and creamy.
A spoon in a skillet of noodles and meat

5 Star Review

“This is the perfect recipe if you’re looking for simple and delicious. It’s a kid-approved, one pot meal that is just as good leftover as it is hot off the stove.”

— Libby —

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

The Ingredients

  • Lean Ground Beef. Ground beef gives this dish that classic Hamburger Helper flavor and adds lots of protein to your dinner. You can use ground turkey or ground chicken instead if you prefer.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta. Whole wheat pasta adds nutritional value to the dish and it holds up well during cooking. A short, sturdy noodle is best; I used elbow macaroni, but you could also try making this as a homemade Hamburger Helper with penne, rotini, or rigatoni.
  • Beef Broth. Using beef broth in this recipe is important for creating the rich, savory sauce flavors.
  • Carrots + Onion + Garlic. While some recipes call for onion powder and garlic powder, I found that a combination of fresh onion and garlic with carrots helps pack in added nutritional value and creates a deep base of flavor.
  • Nonfat Greek Yogurt. Instead of homemade Hamburger Helper with cream cheese or sour cream, Greek yogurt is my wholesome way of thickening the sauce and creating a creamy texture.
  • Cheddar Cheese. While cheddar is my preference for this recipe (it melts well and the lightly sharp flavor gives the sauce dimension), you can swap another melty cheese of your choice. Colby jack, Monetary Jack, or mozzarella will give you a mild flavor. For a spicy Hamburger Helper, try pepper jack.
  • Hot Sauce. A dash of hot sauce adds the perfect amount of dimension and interest. This recipe isn’t spicy, but if you’d like it to be, you can certainly add more.
  • Dijon Mustard. The thing that makes you stop and say, “Oooohh, that’s good!! What is that?” In other words, don’t skip it.
  • Smoked Paprika. It adds a subtly smoky note.

The Directions

Sauteed vegetables in a Dutch oven
  1. Sauté the Onion and Carrot. Stir in the garlic.
Hamburger helper ingredients in a pot
  1. Brown the Beef. Add the hot sauce, Dijon, and paprika. Stir in the beef broth and water. Bring to a boil.
Hamburger helper simmering in a pot
  1. Cook the Pasta. Stir frequently.
Cheese on top of ingredients in a Dutch oven
  1. Stir in the Yogurt and Cheese. Top with chives or fresh parsley, and ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm Hamburger Helper in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or gently in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Yes, you can freeze homemade Hamburger Helper! Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Plan Tip

Chop the onion, carrots, and garlic up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

Noodles, veggies, and meat in a skillet

What to Serve With Homemade Hamburger Helper

  • Dutch Oven. An investment piece that’s worth every penny.
  • Measuring Spoons. These are double-sided, which means fewer dishes to wash.
  • Spatula. This simple, heat-resistant spatula is one of my most-used items.
Healthy homemade hamburger helper in a skillet

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Build Big Flavor. Browning the vegetables helps build major flavor for this Hamburger Helper recipe, so don’t skip it! It only takes a few minutes and it’s well worth the extra step.
  • Don’t Use Egg Noodles. While making Hamburger Helper with egg noodles is traditional for some families, I am hesitant to recommend that shape here (same with homemade Hamburger Helper with spaghetti noodles). Since they are more delicate, I worry they would fall apart.
  • Grate Your Own Cheese. If possible, I highly recommend grating your own cheddar cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheese doesn’t melt as smoothly or taste as rich.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

4.82 from 97 votes
This easy homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is a one-skillet dinner with macaroni, ground beef and cheesy sauce. Kids love it and you will too!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 medium carrots scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 (14-ounce) can reduced sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups water plus additional as needed
  • 8 ounces whole wheat elbow pasta
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives divided (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Heat a Dutch oven or a large, deep 12-inch skillet with a sturdy bottom over medium-low heat. Add the oil onion, carrot, salt, and pepper. Let cook until the onion turns brown and soft, about 10 minutes (don't shortcut this step; it builds a lot of flavor).
  • Add the garlic and let cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add the ground beef. With the back of a large spoon or a sturdy spatula, break the meat into small pieces. Continue to brown, stirring periodically, until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes.
  • Remove pan from the heat and carefully drain off any excess fat, leaving just a little bit in the pan to keep the meat moist (if you are using meat that is 93% lean, you likely will not need to drain it).
  • Return the pan to medium-high heat. Stir in the hot sauce, Dijon, and smoked paprika. Add the beef broth. Scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan.
  • Add the water and stir to combine. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once the liquid is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions, stirring often and scraping a spoon along the bottom of the pan to keep it from sticking. If at any point the pasta becomes too dry, splash in a bit of water.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let cool 1 minute. Add the Greek yogurt and cheddar. Stir until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are well combined.
  • Stir in half of the chives, then sprinkle the remaining chives on top. Enjoy hot.

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm Hamburger Helper in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 709kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 47gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 119mgPotassium: 1047mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 8669IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 410mgIron: 5mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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Recipe Rating




228 Comments

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  1. What a fun and delicious recipe! We enjoyed it with the suggested ingredients, and it was equally yummy with dairy-free Greek yogurt and dairy-free cheese shreds. Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  2. Hi, Erin. I have made your Instapot Hamburger Helper and Beef Stew. Both have become staples in my repertoire. I am curious. In your nutrition facts you list potassium but not sodium. Why is that? I am on a very low sodium diet and can kind of figure the sodium myself, but it’s usually listed, not potassium.5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa! I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online (myfitnesspal.com is popular). I hope that helps!

  3. This was WONDERFUL! I didn’t have carrots, and I used Bison instead of hamburger, but it turned out delicious. Reminded me of cheeseburger hamburger helper, only MUCH BETTER! The Greek yogurt gave it a creamy zing. Definitely adding this to the rotation! Thank you!5 stars

  4. Erin – how will homemade pasta work in this dish? I make my own pasta and didn’t know if some of the cooking times would need to be adjusted. It sounds and looks so good, I’m prob gonna make it today. ❤️

    – Emily, NC

    1. Hi Emily, I haven’t tried it with homemade pasta but you wouldn’t need to make any adjustments until Step 7. You’ll need to watch for when your pasta becomes al dente, which I believe would happen quickly with homemade pasta. If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to know how it goes!

  5. You have a lot of great recipes on your site, but this one is by far our family’s favorite. It is so flavorful and creamy and comforting. My kids cheer when I tell them that it’s hamburger helper night. I’m not sure I’ve ever rated a recipe on your site, but I decided today is the day because this is so good.5 stars

  6. I love this recipe. I have made this recipe many times, It is easy to make and it qualifies as comfort food. I use brown rice pasta (for gluten free option) which works perfectly in the recipe.5 stars

  7. My family absolutely LOVED this meal!! I was looking for a “better than the box” hamburger helper and this is a winner for sure! I was pleasantly surprised! I did tweak a bit with what I had on hand, but the base recipe is a great guide.5 stars

  8. Absolutely perfect. I felt like a kid at the dinner table again, even served canned green beans with it like my dad did. It tasted exactly like I remember, but better. I only had egg noodles on hand and Colby Jack cheese, they worked out just fine. Thank you for this wonderful recipe, my family and I loved it and I’ll be making it again!5 stars

  9. I just made this for the first time. I wanted something simple, and I had been craving a hamburger helper. I made it with ground turkey, which I happened to have on hand. My kids and my husband love it, no leftovers. It was really good. Thanks so much for the recipe.5 stars

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