Hamburger Helper

6 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Hamburger Helper is the family friendly dinner you love made from scratch! Quick and easy cheeseburger macaroni, better than the boxed stuff!

Just like Cheesy Taco Pasta, this homemade cheeseburger Hamburger Helper is one of those one-pot Dinner Recipes that even picky eaters love!

Hamburger Helper in bowl with macaroni

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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Hamburger Helper ingredients in pot

Frequently Asked Questions

What other meat can I use for Hamburger Helper?

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.

What seasonings go well in Hamburger Helper?

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.

How do I make Stroganoff Hamburger Helper?

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. 

How do I make Bacon Ranch Cheeseburger Pasta?

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.

What veggies can be added to Hamburger Helper?

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.
Hamburger Helper in pot with macaroni

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Homemade Hamburger Helper

Hamburger Helper is the family friendly dinner you love made from scratch! Quick and easy cheeseburger macaroni, better than the boxed stuff!
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 pound ground beef , 85/15
  • 1/2 yellow onion , diced
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni , uncooked
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese , shredded


  • 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.



Calories: 541kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1313mg | Potassium: 538mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 510IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 325mg | Iron: 3mg
Keyword: Homemade Hamburger Helper
Hamburger Helper Collage

Photo used in a previous version of this post.

Hamburger Helper Collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. I made this gluten free and it was great! I would maybe cut back on the broth to only 3 cups or possibly any half cup of evaporated milk (which I made myself because I was out) it was a little soupy but very good! Never buying spendy gluten free box meals again!! Thank you for the recipe!

  2. This recipe turned out fantastically! I followed the directions exactly, and it was still alittle soupy at the end of the cooking time, but after I turned off the heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes, it thickened up on its own. It was very easy to put together, and nice that the noodles cooked right along side everything else. I can’t imagine buying the boxed stuff anymore. Thanks, Sabrina!

    1. Not much at all. this recipe calls for one teaspoon of mustard. maybe try putting in the sauce that you would put on a regular hamburger.

  3. many years ago i made a soup with hamburger helper beef noodle,had mix vegtables,tomatoes.Can not find the recipe.hope you can help me

  4. This is definitely better than store-bought! It’s so quick and easy to make, it came out perfect.

  5. Well something is wrong because mine looks like soup. Is 3 and a half cups of chicken broth correct?

  6. Hi Sabrina,
    The IP and crockpot instructions mentioned sour cream, but I don’t see it listed in the ingredients. How much is needed? Thank you!

    1. So sorry about that. After retesting, I decided to go with evaporated milk and the text never got changed before posting. I just edited to read correctly now. Thanks for catching that.

  7. The instant pot recipe instructions say to add sour cream at the end yet it isn’t listed in the ingredients. Did I miss something? It looks like something we would really enjoy!

    1. Sorry about that. After retesting, the evaporated milk was the better choice but it seems that got missed. Thanks for letting me know! I hope you enjoy it!

      1. Is the stovetop recipe supposed to have the cheese and milk added after the noodles are cooked? When I added everything to the pot at once as written, the milk & cheese combo curdled.

        1. Yes, I’m so sorry. It looks like there was a glitch and it didn’t save correctly. I just edited it again so hopefully it sticks this time.