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Homemade Hamburger Helper is an easy and delicious dinner that tastes amazing and is just as fast to make as the boxed version…only made with real ingredients! This is one of my go-to, weeknight ground beef recipes that I just love. Ready in a flash and cooked in only one pan, too.
Homemade Hamburger Helper | The Easiest Dinner Ever
I really like having these fast “I don’t have to think about it” dinners in my back pocket. While I never really grew up eating the boxed Hamburger Helper, I certainly enjoyed my fair share in college. But now that I’m a mother, I definitely can appreciate the point of a fast dish like Hamburger Helper, but much prefer making it homemade. And, funny thing is it doesn’t take that much longer to make it from scratch and it tastes waaaayyy better.
What is Hamburger Helper?
Hamburger Helper is an easy boxed pasta dish that you can find in the grocery store next to the boxed mac and cheese. It usually comes with dry pasta and a seasoning packet which you then cook with meat (usually ground beef).
Main Ingredients Needed
Okay I admit, this list is long, but this recipe could not be any easier! Here’s everything you’ll need to make homemade Hamburger Helper:
- Olive Oil – this is used to cook the ground beef and onion.
- Ground Beef + Onion – I used a 93/7 blend of ground beef and yellow onion, but you could just as easily use a white onion or ground turkey.
- Elbow Macaroni – you can use whatever shape of pasta you’d like, I just kept it classic by using macaroni.
- Beef Broth – this helps cook the pasta while still providing flavor.
- Tomato Sauce – this is the base of the sauce.
- Milk – this also helps cook the pasta while keeping things creamy.
- Garlic Powder, Chili Powder + Ground Mustard – some seasonings to give it that classic Hamburger Helper taste.
- Worcestershire Sauce – another flavoring agent, a little goes a long way!
- Salt + Pepper – and don’t forget to season as you go, these make everything better.
- Cheddar Cheese – you can make this as cheesy (or not) as you’d like.
- Half & Half – or use heavy cream. This really makes the sauce creamy and dreamy.
- Parsley – this is a garnish and is optional.
Can You Make Hamburger Helper without Milk?
Yes, you sure can! While the milk adds a creamy flavor and I’d suggest using it, there are other ingredients you can add that could be considered good substitutes:
- canned evaporated milk
- nonfat dried milk whisked together with water, according to package directions
- almond milk
- coconut milk
- extra beef broth + 1-2 tablespoons butter
If you love Homemade Hamburger Helper, try these other ground beef + pasta recipes:
How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper
For full details on how to make Homemade Hamburger Helper, see the recipe card down below 🙂
Cook Ground Beef + Onions
In a large skillet with deep sides, heat olive oil over medium heat. Brown onions and ground beef, breaking apart as it cooks.
Create Sauce and Cook Pasta
After onions are tender and ground beef is completely cooked, add in macaroni, beef broth, tomato sauce and milk. Add in spices, Worcestershire sauce and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir well and cover. We are going to cook the pasta in the broth/sauce mix we just created. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer, stirring every 5 minutes or so to help prevent sticking and scorching. This should take 10-12 minutes total, depending on how long it takes for your pasta to cook.
Add Half & Half + Cheese
After your noodles are completely cooked through and sauce mostly absorbed. Stir in half & half and grated cheddar cheese. Taste, adjust seasonings, top with parsley and serve.
What to Serve with Homemade Hamburger Helper
An easy dinner needs an easy side dish or two! Here are some of my go-to’s. With pasta, I love adding salad or some kind of cooked veggie. And garlic bread is always delicious.
Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef 93/7
- 1 1/2 cups onion diced
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 cups beef broth
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 1 cup low fat milk
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese or more
- 3/4 cup fat free half and half or heavy cream
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- In a large skillet with deep sides, heat olive oil over medium heat. Brown onions and ground beef, breaking apart as it cooks.
- After onions are tender and ground beef is completely cooked, add in macaroni, beef broth, tomato sauce and milk.
- Add in spices, Worcestershire sauce and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir well and cover. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer, stirring every 5 minutes or so to help prevent sticking and scorching.
- After 12 minutes*, your noodles should be completely cooked through and sauce mostly absorbed.
- Stir in half & half and grated cheddar cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Top with parsley (optional) and serve hot.