One pot and under 30 minutes? Yes! This homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is a fast dinner option that’s satisfying, comforting, and so darn delicious.

hamburger helper in various bowls and pan.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

It’s easier than I realized to recreate Hamburger Helper at home, or to just try a homemade version of this popular option if you’ve not had it before. This skillet meal is great for those nights when you want fewer pots to wash in an easy weeknight dinner—and also want a crowd-pleaser.

This pasta recipe for kids has it all: protein, comfort, cheesiness, and an easy method. You can add veggies if you want, you can swap in vegetarian ingredients to make this without meat, and you can make it ahead to serve it up at a later time.

(You may also like my Cheeseburger Pasta, which is also made in one-pot, and my Ground Beef Pasta, Chicken Cooked in Tomato Sauce, and this easy Pasta Salad with Chicken.)

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Ingredients You Need

Here’s a look at the ingredients you need to make this recipe so you know what to have on hand or pick up from the store.

Ingredients for hamburger helper.
  • Olive oil: I like to sauté ground beef in a little olive oil (or you can use butter) to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Ground beef: You can use any type of ground beef you prefer. The only difference will be a potential need to drain the pan if you use a ground beef with a higher percentage of fat.
  • Onion: I like to grate a small onion into the mixture to add flavor without having tiny pieces of onion in the mixture, which can be off putting to some kids.
  • Tomato paste: This concentrated paste adds rich tomato flavor and helps the result taste like the classic Hamburger Helper recipe.
  • Garlic powder and chili powder: A combination of these spices adds flavor (without heat) to the pasta and beef mixutre.
  • Elbow macaroni: I love using this classic pasta shape in this dish so it looks like it always has and because this type of pasta cooks through really quickly.
  • Beef broth: You can use regular or reduced-sodium beef broth to complement the flavor of the beef. This is what the pasta cooks in, so it adds a lot of flavor. Feel free to use chicken stock if that’s what you have.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese: Shredded cheddar cheese is stirred into the pan towards the end of the process and helps the mixture be cheesy and delicious. You can use white or yellow cheddar, sharp or mild, according to what your family prefers.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Below is an overview of how to make this recipe so you know what to expect from the process. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full information, including amounts of ingredients and the timing.

how to make hamburger helper in grid of images.
  1. Set a large pot over medium heat. Cook the beef and onions.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic powder, chili powder, and salt. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender.
  3. Once the liquid is absorbed, remove the pot from the heat.
  4. Stir in the cheese to melt. Serve.

How to Store

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat, sprinkle with water and cover with a plate or wax paper and warm for 30-60 seconds, stirring halfway through.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this with a simple side of fruit or try my Cinnamon ApplesFruit Cup, or Easy Roasted Broccoli.

hamburger helper in pan with spoon.

Best Tips for Success

  • Use lean ground beef if desired, or drain off any excess fat once the meat is done cooking.
  • Add 8 ounces tomato sauce at the end of cooking for a more robust tomato flavor.
  • Top with minced fresh parsley if desired.
  • Use a favorite gluten-free pasta: the one from Barilla works particularly well in this recipe.
  • Omit the beef to make this vegetarian and sub fully cooked brown lentils or a plant-based meat substitute.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe, so please comment below to share.

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Hamburger helper in pan and bowls.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

This one-pot homemade Hamburger Helper is nutritious, delicious, and so easy to make. It's a 30-minute way to make quick work of dinner!
5 from 88 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 508kcal
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion (peeled and grated)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pasta, such as elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart beef broth (reduced sodium if desired)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
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Instructions

  • Set a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil to warm. Then, add the beef and onions and cook until the beef has browned, about 8-10 minutes, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Drain any excess fat from the pot.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, garlic powder, chili powder, and salt.
  • Add the beef broth and turn the heat to high. When it boils, reduce to medium so the liquid simmers with steady but calm bubbles. (So just not vigorously.)
  • Add the pasta to the pot and stir gently.
  • Cook until the pasta is just tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, or for about 14-16 minutes. It's OK if there's some liquid remaining, as it will be absorbed as the pasta sits.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheese to melt.

Video

Notes

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat, sprinkle with water and cover with a plate or wax paper and warm for 30-60 seconds, stirring halfway through.
  • Use lean ground beef if desired, or drain off any excess fat once the meat is done cooking.
  • Add 1 cup finely diced mushrooms to the pan with the onion and beef to easily add a veggie.
  • Add 8 ounces tomato sauce at the end of cooking for a more robust tomato flavor.
  • Top with minced fresh parsley if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 508kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 32g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 87mg, Sodium: 1147mg, Potassium: 578mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 549IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 303mg, Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for my family for the first time tonight – it is immediately going in our regular dinner rotation! Absolutely delicious and so simple.

  2. 5 stars
    This is a really good & easy recipe. My husband doesn’t like tomato-y sauces so next time I will skip the tomato paste & add sour cream and worchestershire at the end for a stroganoff. I personally didn’t think it was tomato-y at all, but then I love heavy marinara type sauces.

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