Ditch the boxed mix with this easy and healthier homemade Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni! Can be made whole wheat, gluten-free or with regular pasta.
I never had Hamburger Helper growing up. I didn’t even really know what it was until a college roommate introduced me to it. I protested, scoffed at her, told her that there was no way I would like it. But I did. I mean, it tastes so junky. How could I not love something so junky?! It’s awful, I know.
Needless to say, Hamburger Helper doesn’t exist in Germany (although there are tons of prepackaged meals here) but even if it did, I wouldn’t be buying it as the ingredient list is just too scary. This version is so easy and doesn’t contain any of the scary ingredients!
I haven’t had Hamburger Helper in years but this is how I remember it. Creamy, cheesy, carby goodness.
All you do is brown the meat, add pasta, milk, and some seasonings. It that’s easy. And you can use whole wheat, gluten-free, or regular pasta. Whatever you want. I’ve used all kinds and they all work just as well. The only thing is that you’ll need to adjust the simmering time to the exact type of noodles you use.
Homemade Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 4 - 6 servings
- 1 1/4 (565 grams) pounds ground beef
- 3 cups (710 milliliters) milk
- 1 3/4 cups (4 dl) macaroni (whole wheat, gluten-free or regular all work)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons hot paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt (I like things on the salty side and use 1 teaspoon)
- 1 1/4 cup (141 grams) cheddar cheese, shredded
- In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook the meat until almost browned. A little pink is okay as it'll be simmering for a while later on. If there's a lot of liquid, feel free to drain it (though not necessary).
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan, except for the cheddar cheese, and stir until well combined. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whole wheat pasta takes about 20 minutes but regular and gluten-free pasta will take closer to 10 (the exact time depends on the shape of the pasta). If using whole wheat, you may need to add a little more water or milk to the pan if you see that it's sucking up too much liquid.
- Stir in the cheese until well mixed in. If you like the consistency, serve immediately. If you want it to be a little thicker, wait about 5 minutes.
62 comments on “Homemade Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni” — Add one!
2 comments are awaiting moderation!
I used Barilla gluten free elbows and did half sweet paprika and half smoked paprika. I also added a quarter cup more of sharp cheddar and a 1/2 tsp of black peper. Delish!
Mmm! That sounds delicious! Thanks for your feedback. :) I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Since finding this recipe through Pinterest, I’ve made it several times. It’s one meal that the whole family likes!
Yay! So happy that everyone likes it. :) Thanks for your comment!
This was delicious! Made it last night and my whole family raved throughout the rest of the evening about how much they loved it. Thank you so much for the great recipe!
I’m so happy that everyone enjoyed it! Thanks for your comment. :)
Yum-Yum-Yum!! I made this for lunch today and it was a hit! Even with my very fussy hubby. This recipe is going in my “make it again (and again) file. :) I used Tinkyada brown rice pasta elbows and Cabot 50% reduced fat cheddar. So good!! Thanks for sharing this recipe!
So happy that you and your picky husband enjoyed it and that you’ll be making it again! Thanks for the tip on the pasta and thanks for your comment. :)
My boys absolutely LOVE this! And it’s so easy. Thank you!
I’m happy to hear that! Thanks a bunch for your feedback. :)
Absolutely delicious and so delighted to have discovered this yummy dish. Healthier than the processed box version. The only change I made was to use Dreamfield low carb pasta. I watch my carbs! This dish makes me feel as if I’m cheating! Lol♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️
That’s awesome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. And I didn’t even know low-carb pasta was a thing! Thanks for the tip and your feedback. :)
Yummmmm! So good and so much better than the Betty Crocker version! Thank you. Love it and don’t feel guilty feeding this to my kids. I cut back the cheese more than half and it was still delicious.
That’s great! I’m so happy you enjoyed it – and even more than the “real” thing. :) Thanks a bunch for your feedback!
This was great! I have celiac disease so I’m always gluten free and I wanted to share what I did. I added a 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I used Barilla gluten free elbow macaroni and cooked it separate, al dente. I only used 2 cups of milk and cooked that with all the seasonings/meat noted above for 12 minutes (after browning and draining my meat). Then I added the cheese and mixed well, lastly adding my drained/cooled pasta to the pan and letting is simmer for a minute or two. It was perfect! Thanks for this recipe!
Awesome! Thanks so much for the feedback and sharing how you made it. :) I’m happy you enjoyed it and that it came out well!
We only eat egg noodles. Can I use them and if so do I add them at the same time as you would the elbow noodles?
Hmm. I don’t think I’ve ever used egg noodles so I’m not sure. Do you normally cook them less time than elbow noodles? I’d just keep a close eye on it!
I made this the first time straight forward with normal noodles except half water half milk. Everyone loved it. This time I’m editing it with fresh garlic, onion, and peppers, half ground pork half hamburger, brown rice noodles, and the liquid (+ a bit) 1 can cheddar aoup, 1 water, 1 milk! And they still loved it!
I’m so happy that everyone enjoyed it! So have you already tried the version with brown rice noodles (gluten-free, right?) or you’re trying that right now? Thanks a bunch for your feedback!
This did not work so well with gluten free noodles for me. The whole thing turned into a mushy mess. I should have realized before wasting my ingredients, gluten free noodles often leave the water they’re cooked in really thick and sometimes frothy.
I would recommend a recipe or variation where the noodles are cooked in a separate pot and added.
Oh no. I’m sorry to hear that! I guess it depends on what brand and kind of noodles you use. I’ve never had mine leave behind thick and frothy water. I unfortunately live in Germany so my brand recommendation doesn’t help at all. Thanks for your feedback!
Has any one tried it with gluten free noodles?
I have! Works fine. You’ll just need to keep an eye on how quickly the noodles cook.
Question, just checking. Is the pasta – cooked then added or does it go in dry and cooks with the rest of the ingredients?
It goes in dry with the other ingredients. Hope you’ll like it! :)
I made it quinoa noodles and it needed about 20 minutes and about 1 1/2 cups more milk
I didn’t even know quinoa noodles were a thing! Thanks for the tip. :)
We liked it! Added extra pasta and spices. Was very yummy! Thanks Erin :D
Sorry for the slow reply, Cari! I’m happy that you all liked it. :) I bet extra spices was a great change! It’s kind of bland (like Hamburger Helper tends to be) so I’m sure it was an improvement. :) Thanks so much for the feedback!
I love this recipe, and so does my little boy–he ate four helpings the first night I made it! I was afraid he would pop! It is definitely kid friendly, and so easy–it will be on permanent supper rotation!
I’m so happy to hear that your little boy liked it! And wow, 4 servings? Impressive! I’m thrilled that you all liked it enough to put it on the regular rotation. :) Thanks a ton for the feedback and rating!
I loved Hamburger Helper when I was in my teens and I ate LOTS of it. I hadn’t had it in years and had some less than a year ago and thought it was gross. I thought it tasted sort of chemically. This however is delicious. I even used almond milk because I ran out of cow’s milk. This recipe appeals to me now like Hamburger Helper did all those years ago.
I haven't had hamburger helper since college. I used to love it though! I so want to make this – I think my guys would love it too!
I haven't had hamburger helper in years but I'm tempted to make this now. It looks wonderful!
Erin this looks DIVINE!!!! Comfort food at its finest :)
OMG I need some of this. I love that you said junky! We used to make Hamburger and Tuna helper alllll the time when I was in middle school. Ahh the memories – I would watch Swans Crossing and All My Children with my friend and we'd make this. Funny huh?
Swans Crossing! I loved that show. Forgot all about it :)
Erin- making the Cheeseburger Macaroni right now, I’ll report back how the family liked it. We stopped using Hamburger Helper about one year ago. Everyone loved the box stuff, but we are trying to eat cleaner.
I just made this for dinner and our family loved it :)
Thank you for sharing
Yay! I'm happy that they liked it. Thanks for the feedback. :)
I love whole wheat pasta. And I used to love hamburger helper as a kid (bad I know), but I love that this is just as easy! I am craving it now for lunch :D
I have never been attracted to this stuff :-) that comes on a can or container. I have seen the commercials about it before, and never knew what the heck it was because we don't have it in Spain. However, now that you have made this from scratch I could actually give this a go :-)
This looks great! I bet my kiddos would love it!
wow… Erin.. grew up eating this stuff.. but now I don't eat beef anymore. What a great version of Hamburger Helper. :)
Thanks for bringing me back my college days Erin! I never had this growing up because my mom always did homemade meals (now I know why), but in college I bought it a lot because I was lazy or something…
i love these kind of dinner meals for my hubby & kiddos…they always go over so well…meat & pasta how could it not. thanks for the homemade version…i've done away with almost all boxed meals :-)
My husband ate this all the time as a kid, and is always requesting it, but I hate the thought of all the preservatives in the boxed mix. Adding this to our meal plan next week for sure…thank you!
Yummy! This looks so delicious Erin… just the kind of kiddo-style comfort food I've been craving lately. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Erin! Nice to see savory food on your blog. I am sure it's delicious! It looks so yummy! You have given me an idea to complete my week's dinner menu! Hugs!
Oooh, it's Flavia! Hey. :D I'm happy this post provided you with some menu planning inspiration! And someone likes seeing savory food over here – YAY! Thank you. :)
This looks like some wonderful comfort food!
And that's exactly why I made it! I was looking for some comfort. And I found it.
I adore this, Erin! I grew up on hamburger helper but never buy it now. I love the idea of a homemade version!
Yeah, you can make the homemade version without shame! Not exactly gourmet, but still yummy. :)
I haven't tried a homemade hamburger helper recipe, but I want too! Looks good!
I hope you can give it a try! It's just as good as the boxed stuff. :)
Great looking hamburger helper!! I love the whole wheat pasta in this.
Thanks! You really can't tell the difference between the whole wheat and normal version. It's too cheesy. :D
I have never had Hamburger Helper, neither in Germany (haha) or Canada although I've seen it around. However, your pasta looks and sounds delicious.
I basically grew up on German pre-mixed spaghetti sauce seasoning (Knorr I think is most popular). It has molded my taste buds so much that I have never had any spaghetti sauce since that I liked any better (not even in Italy ;)
Have you tried it yet? I am curious how 'American taste buds' perceive it :)
Whaaat?! Pre-mixed spaghetti sauce?! I didn't know that this was a thing. I know about the carbonara ones and they sound okay, but spaghetti sauce?! See. This is me when I first had to try Hamburger Helper. "What?! What?! You want me to eat *that*?!" But really, how does it have texture? It's powder! If I work up the courage to buy it one day, I'll let you know what I think. :)
i have yet to find a hamburger helper copycat recipe that we love, Erin. I use ground turkey when I try to make something similar to this and I was just thinking about making it again this week. I think you read my mind – this version looks and sounds spectacular. Oh and so easy too. I always try to complicate things in the kitchen. Slow down Sally! :)
Oh! You know what, I have no idea what's going on in your kitchen other than loads of cookies and muffins. It would be so fun to see a savory Sally week or something! Although I realize people are there for the sweets. Anyway, I'd be interested! And yes, slow down, you! No need to make it fussy. :)