Hamburger Helper is the family friendly dinner you love made from scratch! Quick and easy cheeseburger macaroni, better than the boxed stuff!
Better-than-boxed homemade versions of classic store bought comfort food make weeknight meals easy and budget friendly. With most, if not all, the ingredients on hand, you get a healthier and tastier meal in the same total time, minus all the preservatives. After trying this recipe, you’ll never buy the boxed stuff again.
This Homemade Hamburger Helper is so easy and quick to make, it’s ready to serve in just 30 minutes. Plus you make it in one pot so there is minimal clean up! It’s great recipe for busy weeknights and a meal that the whole family loves, even your picky eater will be asking for seconds.
The ingredient list for Hamburger Helper may look a little longer, but it’s actually just seasonings you keep on hand and some condiments like ketchup and mustard. There’s nothing fancy or complicated needed, so it’s a budget friendly meal that costs less than the boxed version and just as easy (and quick!) to make.
If you want to make Hamburger Helper even easier, or you don’t feel like turning on the stove during the summer, make this recipe in the slow cooker or an Instant Pot. There are instructions below for both cooking variations.
Store items ahead of time for an easy dinner, just like a store bought package of Hamburger Helper. Swap out the onion and garlic for 1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder. Combine with seasoned salt, salt, and pepper in a sealed plastic bag. In a larger ziplock bag measure dry pasta and place seasonings bag inside. Write instructions on front and voila, a go-to Hamburger Helper meal.
Homemade Hamburger Helper is an easy weeknight meal that goes great with kid-friendly veggies like Roasted Broccoli and Sautéed Green Beans. Either side can be made in the same time as it takes to cook this Hamburger Helper recipe, so you’ll have a complete meal on the table in 30 minutes or less.
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Frequently Asked Questions
You can use ground turkey or ground chicken for a lighter homemade Hamburger Helper. Use leftover Grilled Chicken, instead of the ground beef, and toss in with the sauce ingredients.
Substitute garlic powder or onion powder for fresh ingredients, add red pepper flakes for a kick, or use Taco Seasoning for a south-of-the-border cheesy pasta dish.
To make Stroganoff Hamburger Helper, replace the ketchup and mustard with ½ cup half and half and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Brown 6 ounces sliced mushrooms with the ground beef.
For a Bacon Ranch Cheeseburger Macaroni, add 1 tablespoon homemade Ranch Dressing Mix (or 1 packet store bought) and 6-8 slices crumbled cooked bacon.
Make Hamburger Helper heartier and healthier with spinach, diced red peppers, mushrooms, carrots, or zucchini. Make this vegetarian Hamburger Helper by using beans, lentils, or vegan crumbles instead of ground beef.
Slow Cooker Hamburger Helper
- Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Drain grease.
- Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker except macaroni noodles, cheese and evaporated milk.
- Cover with lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
- Stir in dried noodles and cook covered on high for 15 minutes until pasta is tender.
- Add cheese and evaporated milk, stirring until cheese is melted.
Instant Pot Hamburger Helper
- Set Instant Pot to Sauté and brown ground beef for about 5 minutes. Drain grease.
- Add onions, sauté for another 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add 1 cup broth and deglaze Instant Pot, scraping off any browned meat bits from sides and bottom.
- Mix in remaining ingredients except evaporated milk and shredded cheese.
- Secure lid, seal valve, and cook on Manual High Pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release pressure.
- Gently stir in cheese and evaporated milk until cheese is melted.
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How to Store Hamburger Helper
- Serve: Homemade Hamburger Helper can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it needs to be cooled and stored.
- Store: Place cooled Hamburger Helper in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.
- Freeze: Once Hamburger Helper is cooled, transfer to a sealed container and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- To a large pot add the ground beef and onion, breaking it apart as it cooks, about 6-8 minutes, until browned.
- Add garlic and stir, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper, macaroni, and broth to the pan. Stir well to combine.
- Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until macaroni is cooked through and tender.
- Stir in evaporated milk and cheese until melted.
Photo used in a previous version of this post.