RECIPES:
Jan 4, 2024

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
I love an elevated nostalgic dish from childhood. 
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Hamburger helper is much better when it doesn’t come from a box! This is a great one-pot dish perfect for the whole family. The cheesy, ground beef-filled pasta is a comforting meal for bone chilling nights. For those unfamiliar, the recipe is basically a hamburger macaroni and cheese. It’s made with minimal ingredients so any additional trips out into the cold to the grocery store are limited. I turn to this as a clean out the pantry meal. It’s a great way to use up leftover ground beef! 

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Key Ingredients for This Recipe

  • Beef – I use a blend of 80% lean/ 20% fat ground beef.  The fat adds flavor though it can be swapped for a leaner cut. Fresh is best, try asking your butcher to grind it for you.
  • Tomato paste – Tomato paste is created from tomatoes that have been cooked down until they become a thick, dense paste. I try to buy tubes of tomato paste rather than small cans. The tubes allow you to reseal and keep the paste for later (they last a long time) resulting in less waste.
  • Spices – I season the mix with chili powder for a deep, earthy flavor and slight smokines, relying on sautéed onions and garlic for a base of flavor.
  • Beef stock – Beef stock is typically made from bones with the addition of aromatics and vegetables, while beef broth is made from the meat. Either can be used in this recipe but stock will have a stronger flavor. 
  • Cream – The cream can be omitted though I like the richness it adds.
  • Pasta – I use pipe rigate pasta for an elegant upgrade to the classic elbow macaroni used in the classic boxed version of hamburger helper, however, any favorite noodle shape can be used. Other favorites include shells or ditalini. The pasta is cooked in beef stock for added flavor and to create an easy one-pot meal. 
  • Cheese – For cooking, I favor sharp Cheddar, especially when I want the flavor to be prominent. If you use mild or medium Cheddar, the flavor will cook out, leaving the dish lacking in cheesy flavor.

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

Step 1: Cook aromatics. 

Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Step 2: Cook beef. 

Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until the meat is browned, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3: Add tomato paste. 

Stir in the tomato paste and chili powder.

Step 4: Cook pasta.  

Add the beef stock and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes (the cooking time may differ depending on the pasta shape).

Step 5: Finish with cheese. 

Remove from heat and stir in the cream, Cheddar cheese and half the chives, stirring until the cheese has melted.

Step 6: Serve. 

Ladle into bowls and serve topped with the remaining chives.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

Swaps and substitutions 
  • The ground beef can be replaced with another leaner ground meat like turkey or chicken. 
  • While this version is more kid-friendly without added spice, try adding a touch of cayenne or a bit of hot sauce for a bit of added flavor.
  • The beef broth can be swapped for chicken stock for a more mellow flavor. 
What to serve with hamburger helper

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this homemade hamburger helper recipe, give these a try: 

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound (80/20) ground beef
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • cups beef stock
  • ½ pound pipe rigate or elbow pasta
  • cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons diced chives, divided

Instructions:

  • Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until the meat is browned, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and chili powder.
  • Add the beef stock and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes (the cooking time may differ depending on the pasta shape).
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cream, Cheddar cheese and half the chives, stirring until the cheese has melted.
  • Ladle into bowls and serve topped with the remaining chives.

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  1. Loved this!!! I did a whole lb of pasta and added another cup of liquid. Turned out perfect. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough lol