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Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Who doesn’t love a good recipe for homemade hamburger helper recipe made by mixing ground beef with onion, a special blend of dry seasonings, lots of extra sharp cheese, and your choice of protein and veggies? This is always a crowd pleaser in my home because it’s quick, delicious, and easy to prepare while being a nutritious meal for yourself or your family. It’s way better than that boxed stuff. I level the traditional recipe up by making it extra creamy and folding in my all-time favorite Tillamook extra sharp cheddar. Trust me, this is the best homemade hamburger helper there is. Period. Even better? You can use any type of meat you want. I prefer beef. You can even add vegetables, pasta, rice, beans, etc.

Today, I will share my favorite version of this classic boxed dish many of us grew up with. You can also head here for my baked pasta with feta. It’s really good. But I promise you will love this recipe for hamburger helper better than the boxed version. Watching your waistline? Not to worry. You can modify this recipe for hamburger helper to be even healthier by using lean proteins, whole wheat pasta, and less cream or butter for lower calories. What’s not to love about this homemade hamburger helper recipe?

IMG 9932

Want more modifications? Don’t forget that you can even serve this homemade hamburger helper recipe in many different ways. For example, you can put it on top of a salad, or mix it with mashed potatoes. I love to do this on a rainy day. So, try making this recipe! And remember, you don’t need to buy expensive ingredients to make a great-tasting meal. All you need are a few simple ingredients that are found commonly in most kitchens. Hungry? I am. Let’s start cooking now!

Hamburger Helper Prep Time:

  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Total: 25 min
  • Serves: 3-4

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe Ingredients:

1 pd ground beef 80/20
5 cloves garlic minced
2 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
10 oz Gemelli, corkscrew, shell, or penne pasta
2 cups Tillamook extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded
1 1/2 tbsp seasoned salt
1 whole red onion diced
2 tbsp paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, chili flakes
1 dash of dry mustard
4 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp Crystal hot sauce
1 cup milk
4 cups spinach optional
1/4 cup sour cream to garnish
1 sprig of thyme to garnish

How to Make Hamburger Helper:

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Let’s not make a mess. I love to keep my kitchen spotless. Not having kids makes this a lot easier. But for this homemade hamburger helper, you are going to use one pot. I use my favorite Le Creuset dutch over for its amazing heat distribution and easy to clean not stick surface. Plus it just reminds me of my grandma.

Brown the Protein

Then, place the ground beef (or ground turkey for a healthier option) inside your large pot or pan and brown the meat with salt and pepper. This should take about 5-7 minutes and just until the meat is no longer pink. As soon as you start to cook the meat, throw in the diced red onion. Once your meat has browned, go ahead and remove the grease from your pan with a strainer. Feel free to leave a little grease behind. I like the added flavor.

Lot of garlic

Next, add diced garlic, and another round of salt, and pepper.  Use this garlic chopper. It’s great to avoid garlic hands for the rest of the night. The aroma will be intoxicating at this point. Mix everything together until well combined. Don’t overwork the beef to keep it tender but do break it down as you stir to combine.

Add Dry Seasonins

Then, we add lots of flavor to the browned meat by sprinkling in the dry seasonings; Italian seasoning, Lawry’s season salt, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, chili flakes, and a dash of dry mustard. Trust me guys, this is a spice blend I have perfected over the course of many years and generations. Yes, generations. This blend of spices started with my grandmother and has been slowly curated, by my mother, and now me. Gosh, I miss my grandma! I adore this blend of spices because they pack a ton of flavor but don’t leave you needing a big glass of water afterward. Finish with a few dashes of Crystal hot sauce. This is how my mom does it because I like it spicy! But, you are more than welcome to leave it out.

homemade hamburger helper serving

Then add your uncooked medium shell pasta noodle of choice to your pot of meat, onions, garlic, and dry seasonings. Incorporate well, 1 minute. 

Add flavor with broth and liquids

Then quickly add a  beef broth. I prefer low sodium. But feel free to use chicken, or vegetable broth as well. Don’t skip this step. This rich and nourishing broth helps to heighten all the flavors and tie the dish together. 

Next pour in the milk. Also, squeeze in that ketchup. Don’t be scared, this adds a bit of sweetness and roundness to the dish. Bring everything to a quick boil and ensure all ingredients are covered in the broth liquid. Reduce to medium and simmer. This should take about 6-8 minutes. 

Secret ingredients

These steps are the secret that makes this dish stand head and shoulders above the rest. My grandma would be so proud. We aren’t done though. 

Don’t forget to stir vigorously, you don’t want to let anything sit too long once you start adding the broth, and avoid the bottom of the pan burning.You got this!

Add veggies of choice

Optional: At this point, if you would like to add some extra nutrition, fold in a bag of spinach. It cooks fast. Simply toss in  your spinach and watch it fold into the pot seamlessly. Don’t be alarmed if at first the spinach looks like it may be way too much. It shrinks up quickly and helps make the dish extra luxurious and velvety…

Pro tio: If you added vegetables like spinach they can release a bit of extra water into the dish. If you find your sauce to be a bit too watery, go ahead and just add some cornstarch to warm water – 1 1bsp should do it, and pour into the dish while simmering. Stir to combine and watch your dish thicken up in jiff!

Fold in the cheese

To finish, fold in your shredded extra sharp cheese and stir to incorporate. Once incorporated, remove the entire dish from your heat and add a dollop of sour cream. Stir to combine. Save a bit of cheese for the end to garnish! We love pretty presentations around here, now don’t we?

Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream, garnish of shredded cheese, diced thyme, or parsley and an additional sprinkling of pepper.

homemade hamburger helper pone pot meal

Commonly Asked Questions about Traditional Hamburger Helper

How do you make hamburger helper?

The boxed recipe that most of us are familiar with is made by Heating water until boiling. Cooking and draining the meat. Then combine on a simmer the seasonings, ketchup, macaroni, and broth or water in a pan. Heat. This simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender. If necessary, uncover and cook, while stirring, for an additional 1 to 3 minutes to desired consistency.

What seasoning can I add to hamburger helper to make it better?

Moreover, you can also combine two kinds of cheese and use them in this dish for extra richness and cheesiness. Spices and herbs: spices and herbs are the best way to improve the flavors of any dish. Add cumin, cayenne, paprika, or Italian herbs to the hamburger helper to make it taste better.

How much water and milk do you use for hamburger helper?

Stir in 1 pouch sauce mix, 3/4 cup hot water, 2-1/4 cups milk, and 1 pouch uncooked pasta. 3. Microwave uncovered on High for 12 to 18 minutes, stirring every 6 minutes, until pasta is tender (sauce will thicken). The dish will be hot.

What is the classic hamburger helper recipe?

The basic (and most popular) version of Hamburger Helper is a box of dried pasta with seasoning that is designed to be cooked with ground beef. Hamburger Helper offers a variety of flavors, including Lasagne, Cheeseburger Macaroni, Bacon Cheeseburger, Philly Cheesesteak, and others.

How do you make hamburger helper taste better?

I think the best way to make HH taste better is to use stock to prepare instead of water. Also enhance flavors by adding a little extra real cheese at the end, topping with an herb, and adding a dollop of sour cream.

What goes well in a homemade hamburger helper recipe?

  • Garden Salad
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Sauteed Mushrooms
  • Grilled Peppers
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Green Beans
homemade hamburger helper with cheese and veggies

How do I make hamburger helper thicker?

One reason why your homemade hamburger helper recipe may be too thin is that you haven’t cooked it for long enough or allowed it to rest for a few minutes after it’s done cooking. Once you have browned and drained any extra fat off your beef, add the pasta, the sauce, and the liquid.


Can I use cream cheese or sour cream instead of milk in my hamburger helper?

One reason why your homemade hamburger helper recipe may be too thin is that you haven’t cooked it for long enough or allowed it to rest for a few minutes after it’s done cooking. Once you have browned and drained any extra fat off your beef, add the pasta, the sauce, and the liquid.


Is hamburger helper healthy?

Hamburger helper isn’t terrible for you, but it is loaded with sodium. One serving of hamburger helper has over 650 mg of sodium which is about 1/3 of the daily value. Hamburger helper also has many preservatives, which can be avoided by 

What seasonings are in hamburger helper?

Italian seasoning, Lawrey’s Season salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, and uncooked pasta, stirring to combine.

Conclusion

I love this homemade hamburger helper recipe dish so much. It’s always a meal that we make in large batches and save for leftovers. Can you believe that it’s even better the next day? This dish is quick, easy to make, and serves up tons of nostalgia. I just love that it’s affordable, and can fold in extra veggies when we need to get an extra dose of vitamins too. So give it a try. Let me know if you incorporate any of the modifications like adding spinach. If you can’t have dairy…leave the cheese and milk out, no problem. This dish is so adaptable, yet so delicious. Enjoy, and love y’all to pieces. xoxo

A plate of food on a table

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Here's the internet's best recipe for homemade hamburger helper with a special blend of seasonings, extra sharp cheese, and veggies.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pd ground beef 80/20
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • 10 oz gemelli, corkscrew, shell, or penne pasta
  • 2 cups tillamook extra shard cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 tbsp season salt
  • 1 whole red onion diced
  • 1 tbsp paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, chili flakes
  • 1 dash dry mustard
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups spinach optional
  • 1/4 cup sour cream to garnish
  • 1 sprig thyme to garnish

Instructions
 

  • place the ground beef (or ground turkey for a healthier option) inside your large pot or pan and brown the meat with salt and pepper. This should take about 5-7 minutes and just until the meat is no longer pink. 
  • As soon as you start to cook the meat, throw in the diced red onion. 
  • Once your meat has browned, go ahead and remove the grease from your pan with a strainer. Feel free to leave a little grease behind. I like the added flavor.
  • Add diced garlic and mix everything together until well combined. Don’t overwork the beef to keep it tender but do break it down as you stir to combine.
  • Add dry seasonings; Italian seasoning, Lawry’s season salt, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, chili flakes, and a dash of dry mustard.
  • Finish with a few dashes of Crystal hot sauce.
  • Add your uncooked medium shell pasta noodle of choice to your pot of meat, onions, garlic, and dry seasonings. Incorporate well, 1 minute. 
  • Then quickly add a  beef broth. I prefer low sodium. But feel free to use chicken, or vegetable broth as well. Don’t skip this step. This rich and nourishing broth helps to heighten all the flavors and tie the dish together. 
  • Pour in the milk. Also, squeeze in that ketchup.
  • Bring everything to a quick boil and ensure all ingredients are covered in the broth liquid. Reduce to medium and simmer. This should take about 6-8 minutes. 
  • Fold in a bag of spinach. It cooks fast. Simply toss in  your spinach and watch it fold into the pot seamlessly.
  • Fold in your shredded extra sharp cheese and stir to incorporate. Once incorporated, remove the entire dish from your heat and add a dollop of sour cream. Stir to combine. Save a bit of cheese for the end to garnish!
  • Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream, garnish of shredded cheese, diced thyme, or parsley and an additional sprinkling of pepper.
Keyword homemade hamburger helper, pasta

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