Call it what you want — cheeseburger macaroni, homemade Hamburger Helper, or hamburger mac and cheese. Whatever this recipe is, forget the box and make it from scratch, because it’s delicious.
Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe
I’m not embarrassed to admit it. In our first days of being married—yep, that was just a feeeewww years ago—mac and cheese and Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper™ were favorites of my husband and mine.
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. I mean, who doesn’t love mac and cheese?
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. 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.
The day I created this recipe 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.
That’s why I’m loving this homemade Hamburger Helper so much, because it’s the base of my favorite comfort food flavor but is made with real ingredients.
What’s in This Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper?
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!
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Olive oil
- Lean ground beef
- Chicken or beef broth
- Tomato paste
- Garlic powder
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Cheddar cheese
How to Make Hamburger Helper From Scratch
Call it what you want — cheeseburger macaroni, hamburger mac and cheese, or homemade Hamburger Helper. Whatever this recipe is, it’s delicious.
Here’s how to make cheeseburger macaroni:
- Brown the ground beef, then add in the onions and cook until softened.
- Add broth, water, ketchup, tomato paste, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Throw in the macaroni and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
- In a separate saucepan, make the cheese sauce using the milk, butter, flour, and shredded cheddar.
- Pour the cheese sauce into the hamburger mixture and stir to combine.
Can I Use Another Ground Meat?
It’s your kitchen, do what you want! Ground beef, ground turkey, or ground pork would all work in this homemade Hamburger Helper recipe.
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
You can use any short, sturdy pasta you have on hand. I don’t recommend using longer, thinner pastas like spaghetti since they don’t hold up well to the hearty sauce.
Tips for Making Homemade Hamburger Helper
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.
Sneak in a few veggies like frozen peas, corn, or carrots. Or dice cauliflower and sautée with the onion. They’ll never even know healthy is in there!
I used spiral rotini noodles, but penne, shells, ziti, rigatoni 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.
More Easy Mac and Cheese Recipes You’ll Love
- The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- Stovetop Pesto Macaroni and Cheese
- Skillet Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Chicken Divan Mac and Cheese
Homemade Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground 85 percent lean ground beef
- 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
- Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat and add ground beef. Break into chunks with a wooden spoon and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
- Add onion and cook for another 5 minutes or until beef 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.
- 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.
- Add cheese sauce to hamburger and noodle mixture and stir to combine. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
More Quick Dinner Recipes to Master
- One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
- 30-Minute Garlic and Herb Rub Pork Tenderloin
- Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce
- One-Pot Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe
- Baked Sausage and Cheese Rigatoni
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