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One Pot Hamburger Helper

Skip the box and make this Homemade Hamburger Helper from scratch. Creamy, hearty, cheesy, and easy dinner. Ready in less than 20 minutes, this one-pot meal is perfect for a busy weeknights for the whole family!

hamburger helper in a bowl with a fork and parsley

The hamburger helper boxed stuff ain’t got nothing on homemade!

Growing up with my parents working at the restaurant a lot of the time, I was on my own during the week for dinner.

Ground beef was inexpensive and pasta was filling! A great combo when you have an empty stomach.

I would scrounge up all kinds of things for dinner but I loved hamburger helper the most. A box, a skillet, and easy to make.

Some other easy dinners from my childhood I love to make are Classic Hamburger Gravy over mashed potatoes, and Macaroni and Tomatoes.

What is Hamburger Helper?

Basically, a group of ingredients that you add to plain ground beef that transforms it into a meal.

Also known as cheeseburger pasta or cheeseburger macaroni skillet, whatever you call it, it is tasty!

Simply put, a one pot meal of cheesy comfort food that is an affordable way to feed your family a meal they will love. No boxes and no leftovers on this one, I assure you!

I love this as much as I love my skillet lasagna. Who doesn’t like a one one pot meal?!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.
labeled pic of cheeseburger skillet ingredients

Ingredients Needed

Ground beef – Use lean ground beef or ground turkey.

Onion – A medium sweet onion works best.

Tomato paste – I love to keep this in a tube in the fridge. Substitute a small amount of tomato sauce if needed.

Beef broth – You can use chicken broth or vegetable broth in a pinch.

Elbow macaroni – This is the most common pasta and gives that authentic look. But use your favorite.

Cheese – Cheddar cheese is the best but use your favorite flavor.

Pantry staples – yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce.

Spices – garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

Looking for more leftover worthy dishes? Follow LTB on Pinterest and pin to a board!

Making homemade Hamburger Helper is actually much easier than running to the store to buy the box.

How to make Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

First: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until almost translucent.

Second: Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the tomato paste, spices, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.

Third: Add in the macaroni and broth. Stir to keep the pasta from sticking in clumps. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Fourth: Remove from the burner, stir in the cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired.
Enjoy warm.

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

homemade hamburger helper in a skillet

The version most folks know and love uses elbow macaroni noodles like this one. Feel free to use a different shape if you have it on hand.

You can use spaghetti noodles, just break them into smaller pieces. And maybe adjust the simmering time a little. This meal is meant to be easy without all the fussy ingredients!

How do you make Hamburger Helper better?

It is great on it’s own but here are a few ways to make it even better.

Cheese: Switch up the cheddar for a sharper version or a spicy Pepper Jack.

Spices: Add a little taco seasoning, chipotle, or Greek seasoning to the meat for a different flavor profile. Or you can increase the amount of garlic powder and onion powder.

Veggies: Add in a can of peas, black beans, corn, green chilies, kidney beans, or green beans for some extra servings.

You can even switch up the whole flavor profile with just a few simple changes. That’s how versatile this homemade version is!

wood spoon with a scoop of hamburger helper over a skillet

This is a great recipe that uses a pound of ground beef.

Mine are never exactly 1 pound, but more like 1.17 or 1.36 pounds. Feel free to use these packages, that little bit of extra beef will be a bonus!

The added beef won’t change how the recipe turns out unless you get closer to 2 pounds.

Flavor Variations to Try

Southwest: add in southwest seasoning, chili powder, corn and black beans
Mexican: use taco seasoning and green chilies
Italian: add tomatoes and Italian seasoning
Stroganoff: try mushrooms and sour cream

two bowls of homemade hamburger helper on a white board with bunch of parsley

How long is it good for?

Store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. You can freeze it for up to 3 months.

Just know that the pasta gets a little mushy when thawing and reheating.

Tips for No Leftovers

side view of bowl of cheeseburger skillet

I know the family, especially the kids, will love it because I loved it as a kid and I was super picky.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

pinterest image of cheeseburger skillet with text "homemade hamburger helper"

This one skillet easy homemade hamburger helper is QUICK, AFFORDABLE, and uses real ingredients. It’s WAY better than the boxed version! Check out these other easy ground beef recipes for meal planning inspiration!

bowl of hamburger helper on a wood board

Hamburger Helper

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Skip the box and make this homemade hamburger helper from scratch.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 dashes hot sauce *optional


  1. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until almost translucent.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. *Drain fat if desired
  3. Add the tomato paste, spices, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
  4. Add in the macaroni and broth. Stir to keep the pasta from sticking in clumps. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until macaroni is tender.
  5. Remove from the burner, stir in the cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired. Enjoy warm.


  • Cook until the elbow pasta is tender (al dente) but not mushy.
  • Change the shape of pasta. Egg noodles work great in this recipe.
  • Switch out the ground beef for ground turkey if desired.
  • You can use water to cook it but beef broth makes it more flavorful.
  • Add in your favorite family spices and cheeses.
  • Recommended Products

    This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 350Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 696mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 25g

    This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

    Easy Weeknight Meals Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encourages and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

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    Kathleen Pope

    Tuesday 4th of August 2020

    So, so delicious!! Love how much healthier this is!

    JOSIE ANN Kenkel

    Monday 3rd of August 2020

    This is SO MUCH better than the box! Thanks!!

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