Upgrade family dinnertime with Homemade Hamburger Helper! Simple, real ingredients liven up this old childhood classic, and once you ditch the box, you’ll never go back again. Made with savory, seasoned ground beef, a creamy, homemade cheddar sauce, and macaroni, it’s like a chili cheeseburger but in pasta form. There’s a whole lot to love about that.
Quick cooking and with only 10 minutes prep time, this Homemade Hamburger Helper is your new go-to dinner for busy weeknights!
HOMEMADE HAMBURGER HELPER IS BETTER
Hamburger Helper was a dinnertime staple in many of our homes growing up, and it was an easy quick fix dinner that came to the rescue for busy moms.
Similar to its store-bought predecessor, Homemade Hamburger Helper is simple to make, yet exponentially better. Real ingredients make for real good food, and when we’re talking about a macaroni dish loaded with savory, spiced hamburger meat, smothered with a perfect cheesy sauce made with freshly grated cheese…really, really good food might be a more accurate description.
WHAT IS HAMBURGER HELPER MADE OF?
The boxed Hamburger Helper you’ll find on the grocery store shelves likely contains a medley of dry ingredients like pasta, modified whey, dried Cheddar Cheese, dried tomatoes, citric acid, yeast extract…and the list goes on.
In fact (as surprising as it may seem) when it comes to making Homemade Hamburger Helper from scratch, you’ll likely be cutting that ingredient list in half.
- Ground Beef — The ground beef is really the star of the show. Use 80/20 ground beef for this recipe.
- Spices — The spices are what give Homemade Hamburger Helper so much flavor. Chili powder, garlic powder, and mustard powder are a heavy-hitting trio when it comes to amping up the flavor of ground beef.
- Onion and Bell Pepper — Fresh vegetables not only add more flavor to your Homemade Hamburger Helper, but they’ll also up the total nutritional value of the dish. Plus, it’s an excellent way to sneak them into the kids’ diets. A mom win all the way around.
- Flour — Flour serves as a thickener for that cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper Sauce. Use only All-Purpose Flour for this application.
- Milk, Cheddar, and Cream — The sauce is made up of milk, freshly grated Cheddar cheese, and a little cream to make it extra irresistibly smooth.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE HAMBURGER HELPER
- Cook the noodles.
- Break apart the ground beef, season, and cook on the stovetop until browned. Transfer the beef to a colander to remove excess grease.
- Add onion and bell pepper to the pan and sauté until softened.
- Sprinkle the flour over softened vegetables, then add milk and simmer to thicken.
- Add the cheese and remaining seasoning and stir to combine. Add the beef and noodles to the mix and stir until coated in the sauce.
- Serve and enjoy!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH HAMBURGER HELPER
Homemade Hamburger Helper is a meal in itself and really doesn’t require much in the way of sides. However, if you’d like to add a little more green to the mix, consider serving it with a side salad, green beans, or steamed broccoli.
While Homemade Hamburger Helper does take a little extra effort than the box, it’s a guarantee you’ll find the expense well worth it. Let’s quickly compare the two: a creamy, homemade Cheddar sauce made with freshly grated cheese and flavorful vegetables …or a packet of spiced cheese powder? I think we all know the answer here.
5 MORE KID-FRIENDLY DINNER IDEAS
- Ground Turkey Casserole is a delicious Mexican-inspired casserole featuring taco-seasoned ground turkey, a quick-fix tomato sauce, pasta, and Monterrey Jack cheese.
- Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas feature corn tortillas rolled up with juicy, shredded chicken and melty cheese. They’re topped with a tangy, irresistibly creamy white sauce speckled with sauteéd jalapeños, and baked until bubbly in casserole form!
- Baked Meatballs are made with simple ingredients like ground beef and fresh breadcrumbs! Easy to make and perfect for topping off spaghetti!
- Beef Enchiladas come well equipped with a delicious and authentic enchilada gravy, flavorful ground beef filling, and melty cheese across the top!
- Mini Muffin Corn Dogs take less than 15 minutes to make and are made up of a quick-fix cornbread batter and stuffed with cut up hot dogs.
An easy recipe for homemade hamburger helper featuring a cheesy sauce made with real cheddar, ground beef, and macaroni!
- 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, separated
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard, separated
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 3/4 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 12 ounces elbow macaroni noodles
Cook the elbow noodles according to package directions, and set aside until ready to use.
Place a very large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and break apart. Sprinkle over 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons salt, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground mustard, and black pepper and continue to break up the meat, stirring it around every so often. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and there is no longer any pink showing.
Transfer the ground beef to a colander lined with paper towels, and set aside. Add the onion and red bell pepper to the skillet and sauté, stirring often, until softened, 5-7 minutes. If needed, you may add up to 2 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil to sauté the vegetables.
Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour, and stir to coat. Then, add the milk one generous splash at a time, stirring well after each addition. After about a cup or so, you may pour in the remaining milk all at once. Stir well and allow to simmer.
Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, and a 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder, and stir. Remove from the heat, add in the Cheddar cheese, and stir until melted. Stir in heavy cream, along with the cooked macaroni noodles, and the hamburger meat. Serve and enjoy!