Bacon Brown Sugar Hamburger Helper with a crispy, beefy, bacon filled pasta dish your kids will love!
Bacon Brown Sugar Hamburger Helper
Bacon and brown sugar are one of the major engines on which this site runs. We LOVE the flavors so much we use them on chicken, on pork, on tater tots and more (you can see all the recipes here).
So this pasta was only slightly a nutty idea when we started recipe testing it. First came the sloppy joes version which have been a huge hit. Then came the recipe testing for this pasta. We didn’t want anything too sweet so we cut way back on the brown sugar.
The salty hit of the bacon works great with the hint of the brown sugar and the tomato sauce adds enough body for the sauce without letting the brown sugar take over.
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For leftovers or meal prepping we leave the sauce less reduced and save the bacon crumbles on the side.
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Don’t want to use ground beef? You can certainly use ground chicken or ground turkey. Even ground pork would work great.
Want to skip the bacon? Cut back on the brown sugar by half because the salt content will be much lower, more similar to the flavors in this Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf.
Want to add in some vegetables?
- Red, orange or yellow bell peppers, diced which you can sauté with the onions until well cooked.
- Diced zucchini which you can sauté with the onions until well cooked.
CAN YOU FREEZE/REHEAT hamburger helper?
Yes, sort of. We tried this a couple of times and ended up with dry pasta. Then we tried something we’ve seen in frozen pastas and cooked the pasta, freezing it on a sheet in a single layer. Once frozen we made the recipe as directed.
Why freeze the pasta you ask? Pasta has this annoying quality where it sucks up all the liquids in a dish when there are leftovers. This means the next day your pasta is all dried out. By freezing the pasta before assembling we prevent the pasta from acting like a sponge.
- Cook the large elbow pasta according to the directions on the bag and drain (do not rinse).
- Add the bacon to a cast iron skillet, cook until crisp and remove from the pan and crumble.
- Add the ground beef to a large cast iron skillet (this browns very well) and brown until a deep brown crust appears before breaking the beef apart.
- Remove the beef (you can leave the fat) and add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring well.
- Mix the beef broth and the cornstarch until it is dissolved.
- Add the beef, tomato sauce, brown sugar, beef broth mixture, salt, and black pepper into the pan.
- Cook until the mixture is only slightly liquidy (about 75% of the mixture is above liquid), 3-5 minutes before adding the pasta and bacon back into the pan and mixing well.