Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni

by heidi on February 3, 2014

I’m not embarrassed to admit it. In our first days of being married—yep, that was just a feeeewww years ago—Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper was totally a favorite of my husband and mine.

Cheeseburger Macaroni

Maybe it’s because my mom rarely made dinner from the box that gave that dang Hamburger Helper version a secret appeal.

Or maybe it was just because it had the basic ingredients that make a comfort food dinner completely craveable: pasta, hamburger and cheese sauce.

We always doctored up the boxed version with sliced onion and mushrooms, it’s not like we could just eat it the cardboard cutout way.

Cheeseburger Macaroni

But when I started reading labels and trying to pronounce words in the ingredient list that I needed to pull out the dictionary for, the boxed version went by the wayside.

But that didn’t mean my craving went away.

Cheeseburger Macaroni

Cheeseburger Macaroni

The day I created this recipe for my partners at Go Bold With Butter, I had a house full of 9 year olds who had just come home from school and who, as 9 year olds will be, were STARVING!

Super cheese mom to the rescue.

4 girls. 4 bowls served. 8 thumbs up.

Cheeseburger Macaroni

That’s why I’m loving this homemade version so much, because it’s the base of my favorite comfort food flavor but is made with real ingredients.

About the recipe:

While it looks like a longer list of ingredients, this recipe comes together really quickly. It takes pretty much the same amount of time as using the packet version. But it’s SO. MUCH. BETTER!

Using a good quality cheese, that’s at least medium in flavor versus mild or a simple American, gives this dish its real cheese flavor.

Since I was keeping this simple and more true to the classic flavors I didn’t embellish the recipe by much. But, adding sliced cremini mushrooms and even some chopped red bell pepper to the sautéeing process would be a great addition.

I used rotini noodles but penne or another short tubed pasta would work well. Just be sure to choose a noodle where the cheese sauce and burger can hide in each bite.

Get my Cheeseburger Macaroni recipe and see the rest of my Go Bold with Butter recipes here.

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni

Yield: serves 6

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni


1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound ground 85 percent lean hamburger
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons garlic powder
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups macaroni, dry
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 cups medium Cheddar cheese, shredded
Fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat and add hamburger. Break into chunks with wooden spoon and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook for another 5 minutes or until hamburger is cooked through and onion is softened. Add broth, water, ketchup, tomato paste, garlic powder and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add macaroni and bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until macaroni is al dente and liquid has reduced.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in another pan over medium high heat. Add flour and whisk for 1-2 minutes or until flour is cooked through. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Cook until sauce begins to thicken, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
  3. Add cheese sauce to hamburger and noodle mixture and stir to combine. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

This recipe was created in partnership with Go Bold With Butter where I am a paid contributor to their website. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. 

Are you following me on InstagramTwitterFacebook and Pinterest? Thanks for reading and  subscribe to FoodieCrush to have each post delivered straight to your e-mail box.


Posted in: cheese,entrees,meat and seafood,noodles, rice and grains,recipes

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps February 3, 2014 at 11:50 pm

My hubs is still kind of obsessed with Hamburger Helper, and if I’m being totally honest, it’s one of my super secret guilty pleasures (along with those Lipton pasta sides). So everyyyy once in a while, I’ll pick up a box, but I have got to try this from-scratch version, still so cheesy and creamy!


Sarah | The Sugar Hit February 4, 2014 at 1:17 am

As a kid we NEVER had boxed mac and cheese. So obviously, as a teen I went ape for it. Now, I have a nostalgic fondness for it. And this looks right up my nostalgia-alley.


Liz @ The Lemon Bowl February 4, 2014 at 1:53 am

My cousins husband is obsessed with HH and always asks me for a homemade version!! Emailing this to her now!


Janet February 4, 2014 at 5:06 am

Honestly when you first get married who has any money?! A 99 cent box of hamburger Helper is wonderful but then you become educated as you mature. Hopefully you learn about creating homemade foods instead of buying processed foods. This looks delicious and oh so comforting. Thanks for the recipe.


Belinda@themoonblushbaker February 4, 2014 at 5:15 am

As terrible as it sounds my parents never had the time to cook me mac and cheese as a kid, so the box kind (chicken flavour) was the thing they prepared with questionable results. Who would think getting the right amount of water was so hard in mac and cheese?

I am simply in love with the cheese factor if this pasta; Friday night meal with great picking potential


Adrienne k February 4, 2014 at 5:22 am

I make something similar but with less cheese and I like to add bell peppers and peas! Yes to the onions and mushrooms.


steph@stephsbitebybite February 4, 2014 at 7:11 am

This is so incredible! I need to make this ASAP


cassie February 4, 2014 at 8:09 am

I grew up on Hamburger Helper. I adore this, Heidi!


Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough February 4, 2014 at 9:44 am

This brings back so many childhood memories of cheesy cheeseburger mac goodness. I’m getting all warm and fuzzy (and hungry) just thinking about it. What I’m trying to say is… this is so happening for dinner this week.


Christina Main // Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe February 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm

TOTALLY just pinned this. This was a total childhood staple growing up!


Kate February 4, 2014 at 4:53 pm

All I could think when I saw that second picture is “Dat. SAUCE.” Oh man. This looks amazing and totally boy-friendly. I made my fiance eat beets in a cupcake the other day. I owe him this dish.


Tieghan February 4, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Whenever my oldest brother is in town I make a a recipe so similar to this. It is his all time favorite! Homemade is always better! :)


Kathy @ Olives & Garlic February 5, 2014 at 10:23 am

Making this for my little one tonight. Looks great


Elise February 9, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Yum! Perfect for a cold, snowy winter night. Comfort food at its best. I added some diced celery and carrots for a bit of extra flavor and veggies. Yummy! Thanks for a great recipe!


Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl February 10, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Oh girl, just printed this, it’s on tonight!


Jamie February 21, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Great recipe! My cheese sauce turned out a little sticky. I think I let it cook too long. Great flavor and very easy. Will make again.


Barbara J March 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Simple, easy, & delicious! Even though I only had almond milk, it still turned out great!


Darcy March 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

I was looking for something that the whole family would like (including out two picky boys aged 8 & 12, and this recipe hit the mark! I already had all these ingredients on hand so it was pretty easy to throw together. It was really yummy! We our definitely going to add this our rotation! Yummy!


heidi March 20, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Darcy, I’m so glad you liked it! The girls I served it to were over the moon too. Easy, tasty, boom.


Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out April 1, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Steph from Girl Vs Dough posted that she was making this on IG today and I had to immediately come over and pin this – I can guarantee this will be dinner later this week! Craving!


Christina April 20, 2014 at 7:19 am

This was DELICIOUS! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.


Kellie April 26, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I made this today. It was very easy. It was very good and my husband loved it. I liked the taste, however mine seemed to taste really sweet. Anyone have any thoughts? I am thinking it was the ketchup (not a fan of ketchup). Any other suggestions besides ketchup?
Thanks for sharing your recipe. It’s nice to have options besides boxed food :)


Mia April 26, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Kellie, I had the same problem. I think next time I make it I will try just plain tomato sauce from a can so there’s no added sugar.


Amanda Wilson April 29, 2014 at 5:35 pm

I’ll admit to having a soft spot for Hamburger Helper. Childhood nostalgia, for sure, because my mother made it fairly frequently when I was growing up. This version tastes like the boxed stuff, but in a good way, and it’s better! Thanks for sharing the recipe!


Sam May 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Made this twice already! My husband loves it. I add a little bit more seasoning to my taste, but it’s perfect other than that. I’m going to experiment next time and try to reduce the calories.


Lydia June 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Brilliant!! The cheese sauce is amazing – other homemade recipes just tell you to toss the cheese in. Many thanks!!!!!!!


Kelli June 25, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Silly question but can I just use a pound of pasta or do I need to measure out 2 1/2 cups of dry pasta?


Bella September 28, 2014 at 11:23 am

Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely
wel written article. I will make sur to bookmark it and
come back to read more off your useful info. Thanks for the post.
I will definitely return.


Farah.F September 30, 2014 at 9:04 am

Found this recipe and blog on pinterest. And this sounds soooo delicious im already salivating. Going to make this tomm.


Jenna October 2, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Just made this for supper and it’s good but I definitely will reduce or eliminate the ketchup next time.


Sheri willoughby October 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm

This recipe was spot on. My husband hates onions, mushrooms, peppers, casseroles, etc. He loves this. I changed nothing!
Thanks :)


heidi October 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm

So glad you liked it!


Brandon Palmer October 22, 2014 at 9:47 am

I made this for dinner last night and we really enjoyed. My personal liking would be for a little lest ketchup so next time I make this (which will be in the coming weeks) I plan to cut that down some.

But just wanted to say thanks for this great recipe!


heidi October 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Thank you for letting me know! If you feel like it, post a photo to Instagram or Twitter and tag it #foodiecrush :)


Marnie @ SuperSmartMama October 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm

I just want to say thank you for posting this recipe. I googled “homemade hamburger helper” and found your recipe. I made it with ground turkey and mini penne for my three year old and everyone loved it, including my husband!


Leave a Comment

Current ye@r *

{ 8 trackbacks }