One Pot Hamburger Helper

Skip the box and make this Homemade Hamburger Helper from scratch. A super creamy, cheesy, and easy dinner idea. Ready in less than 20 minutes, this one-pot meal is perfect for the whole family on busy weeknights.

easy homemade hamburger helper recipe

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

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.

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

simple ingredients that are easier than the store-bought version

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.

Spices – Garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

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

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

How to make Homemade Hamburger Helper

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.

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

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

homemade version of hamburger helper

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.

Serving Suggestions

LIke any other skillet meal, it’s a complete dish. But you can add some veggies on the side like some roasted veggies, green beans, or a salad.

eating hamburger helper is easier with a homemade version and better for you

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!

the entire family will love this dish!

Ground Beef Recipes

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.

homemade hamburger helper is easier than store bought and tastes better too

Tips for No Leftovers

  • Cook until the elbow pasta is tender (al dente) but not mushy.
  • Change the shape of pasta. Egg noodles work great in this recipe.
  • 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!
  • 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.

I know the family, especially the kids, will love it because I loved it as a kid and I was super picky. I even ate this leftover ham salad!

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!

homemade hamburger helper

This one skillet easy homemade hamburger helper is quick, affordable, and uses real ingredients. Quick and easy and ready in under 30 minutes, 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

Skip the box and make this homemade hamburger helper from scratch.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 350kcal
Author: Jennifer Stewart


  • 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


  • In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until almost translucent.
  • Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. *Drain fat if desired
  • Add the tomato paste, spices, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nutrition

    Serving: 1g | Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 696mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

    {Originally published 07/29/20 – photos and recipe notes updated 03/14/24 to improve reader experience.} 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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    1. JOSIE ANN Kenkel says:

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

    5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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