This Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni is a great solution to busy evenings when you need something on the table fast. It’s so much better than the boxed version, but just as easy and a one-pot meal so fewer dishes!
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You will love this Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni Recipe
On a busy night, a fast and easy dinner is a must. It’s easy to turn to quick fixes like a boxed Hamburger Helper or a frozen meal.
Don’t get me wrong: Cooking shortcuts are a huge help.
But you’re not here because you want to pull out a box of good old Hamburger Helper. You’re here because you know homemade is just as easy as the boxed stuff, if not better tasting and better for you.
This vintage Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni is the best way to transform a pound of ground beef. You can make this comfort food in one pot, which means it’s easy to clean up, too. It will quickly become a new family favorite.
Why you’ll love this easy hamburger helper recipe
- It’s easy and affordable which is perfect for families
- This homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is one of those easy dinner recipes to have in regular rotation
- It’s all prepared in one pot so you have fewer dishes which is something we all love for busy weeknights.
- It’s the ultimate comfort food and it’s great for weeknight meals
- Being such a family-friendly meal, the whole family will love it, even picky eaters.
What is Hamburger Helper?
Made by Eagle Foods, Hamburger Helper is a packaged food product that usually consists of spices and some kind of pasta.
When the contents of the box are combined with browned ground meat (usually ground beef), water, or milk, it makes for a quick and easy meal.
Hamburger Helper was first introduced in the early 1970s in response to a meat shortage and rising meat prices. A lot of people will remember it as one of their childhood favorites.
Today, it is known by the name “Helper,” and there are also varieties to be used with other types of meat, like Tuna Helper and Chicken Helper.
Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper ingredients
To make this easy homemade Hamburger Helper recipe at home, you need a handful of pantry staples and a few other simple ingredients from the grocery store.
- ground beef – can also use ground turkey or ground chicken
- salt and pepper – I always recommend coarse kosher salt or coarse sea salt with ground black pepper
- cornstarch – this will help the sauce thicken as it cooks
- paprika – I like using both smoked paprika and regular paprika in this
- onion powder – this is a great way to cater to the picky eaters in your family
- garlic powder – be sure to check your expiration dates for the best results
- sugar – this will help offset the acidity of the tomato paste
- tomato paste – you’ll only need a couple tablespoons, but I recommend freezing the rest
- beef broth – you could also use chicken broth or vegetable broth
- elbow macaroni noodles – can also use shells or a similar shape of pasta
- heavy cream – half and half or whole milk will also work
- shredded cheese – sharp cheddar or any other cheese will work great. Mozzarella cheese is a great option. Be careful because milder cheeses will get lost in the sauce and you won’t be able to taste them
Substitute for milk or heavy cream in Hamburger Helper
Some types of Hamburger Helper call for milk or cream, which helps to create a creamy sauce.
You can use half-and-half or whole milk instead of heavy cream. You could also use skim, 1%, or 2% milk, but they will yield a thinner sauce.
How to make Homemade Hamburger Helper
Making homemade cheeseburger Hamburger Helper is super simple. Here’s what to do:
Add the cornstarch, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and sugar to the ground beef and mix to combine.
Add in the tomato paste and mix to combine.
Add the macaroni elbows (you’re adding in the dry pasta) and beef broth to the skillet, stir, and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, just until the pasta is al dente and the liquid is absorbed.
Remove the lid and stir. Add in heavy cream and cheddar cheese and mix to combine.
If you’d like to try another method, you can also use an electric pressure cooker. Try Instant Pot Hamburger Helper.
How to serve Home Made Hamburger Helper
Hamburger Helper is typically served in bowls and eaten with a spoon. You could even set the hot skillet right on a trivet on the table and let the family serve themselves.
To elevate the dish a little bit, sprinkle some extra cheese on top and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
If you’d like to add a veggie, you could stir in some frozen or oven-baked broccoli, or serve it alongside some green beans.
On the side, some yummy garlic bread is always a good idea.
You can also top it with sour cream, chopped fresh parsley, and hot sauce.
How to store Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper
If you wind up with leftovers, you can store it in a food-safe, airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Leftover hamburger helper also freezes really well. Place them into an airtight freezer-safe container. It will stay fresh for up to 6 months in the freezer when stored properly.
To reheat, I recommend either placing it in the microwave for about 1 ½ minutes, loosely covered, or reheating it in a pot on the stove.
The stovetop method is best, as it reinvigorates the flavor really well. If it has dried out, add a splash of water or broth.
Substitutions and alterations for this homemade version of hamburger helper
While this recipe will give you that classic hamburger helper taste, there are a few ways you can put your own twist on this easy one-pan dinner that doesn’t require a lot of extra steps. Here are some options:
If you like a stronger tomato flavor, you can add in tomato sauce as well.
For a salty, unique flavor, you can add a splash of Worcestershire sauce.
For a spicy kick, sprinkle in a little chili powder or red pepper flakes.
To make it extra creamy, melt in some cream cheese.
If your entire family likes onions, you could add fresh onion to the ground beef and let it saute and cook through while the ground beef cooks.
Mix in diced tomatoes to the finished dish.
Hamburger Helper Homemade FAQs
For a spicier Hamburger Helper, add some red chili flakes, a pinch of cayenne pepper, or chili crunch.
Hamburger Helper was invented in 1971 by Betty Crocker.
Milk makes for a creamier sauce, especially for cheesy varieties of Hamburger Helper, like cheeseburger helper.
More Quick Dinner Recipes
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DIY Hamburger Helper (Cheeseburger Macaroni)
- Add the ground beef to a deep skillet and season with salt and black pepper.
- Cook the ground beef until fully browned and cooked through. If needed, drain the grease and return it to the skillet.
- Add the cornstarch, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and sugar to the ground beef and mix to combine.
- Add in the tomato paste and mix to combine.
- Add the macaroni elbows and beef broth to the skillet, stir, and bring to a boil.
- Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, just until the pasta is al dente and the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove the lid and stir. Add in the heavy cream and cheddar cheese and mix to combine.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It should only be used for estimation purposes and is not a guarantee of any kind. Nutritional information varies widely between brands and types of ingredients used. It is recommended that you calculate the nutritional information based on your own ingredients and brands used. Sweetly Splendid, LLC makes no guarantees as to the exact nutrition information.