Homemade Hamburger Helper via FarmgirlGourmet.com

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper via FarmgirlGourmet.com

I would like to start this post by stating that I have never made or eaten (that I recall) Hamburger Helper.  Ever.  My husband, on the other hand adores his salty boxed 1st love and asks on occasion if I’d make it for him.  We’ve been married for over 12 years and tonight….he got his wish.  Well, sort of.  You know me, I hate boxes and processed food, so I made it from scratch-a-roo.  You know what, it takes just as long to make it from scratch as it does to make it from a processed box?  Yep, true stuff.  Best part….you get to control the amount of salt.  No vats of water will be required after consuming this meal and it will make your box loving husband a very happy boy.  Maybe now that I have him all greased up with his favorite meal, I should slip in the “I want new countertops in the kitchen” plug?  What do you think?  :)  Ok, you’re probably right…let’s go make some Triple H.

Homemade Hamburger Helper - farmgirlgourmet.com

Start off by adding a small amount of oil to your large hot skillet and add 1 lb of ground beef (see I didn’t say hamburger Nelly).  Brown it and scoop out any excess drippings before continuing.

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Toss in 2 cups of uncooked elbow macaroni.

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Add in 2 1/2 cups milk (I used fat free but feel free to fatten it up to your hearts content)

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Also add in 1 1/2 cups hot tap water.

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Mix together the spices.

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Add them to the ground beef and noodle mixture and give it a quick stir.

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Bring it to a boil then turn down the heat to simmer and cover.  Make sure to watch it to make sure it doesn’t get too dry.  Add a small amount of milk or water if you notice this happening.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.

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As soon as the pasta is done, toss in 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese.  Give it a good stir and ring the dinner bell.

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Simple – right?  Skip the box and make it from scratch next time.  You’ll be glad you did and the kids will clean the bowls with their fingers.  (yes that happened)

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Makes 4-6 Servings

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. Try it from scratch, you'll be glad you did.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • cooking spray
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the ground beef. Brown until cooked through and no longer pink. Discard any fat. Add the pasta, milk, water and spices and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to simmer. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Serve immediately
http://www.farmgirlgourmet.com/2012/12/homemade-hamburger-helper.html

Avid organic gardener, wannabe Chopped champion, delicious picture taker, best mom ever and wife to Prince Charming. I also co-founded http://www.spiceologist.com and make pretty graphics and websites on the side.

345 thoughts on “Homemade Hamburger Helper

  1. Perfect as is. Did not change a thing when making but my husband did add sriracha to it at the table. I am from Texas and I did not think it was spicy just thought it was a perfect blend of spice. Will continue to make recipes as is.

  2. I love this recipe. I’m from the South and I didn’t find it (that) spicy at all. Btw, paprika isn’t spicy…
    I would never have tried to pass this off as HH because that stuff just isn’t that good.

  3. I made this for my fiancé and mom tonight and they both loved it! I’m not a cook nor have I ever really made dinner so this was a big deal and a big success! I don’t like spicy ingredients so I left out the paprika, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes.

    Thanks for the recipe! :)

  4. I made this last night, omitting the cayenne and the red pepper flakes, and it was a big hit with family both big and little. This one is definitley a keeper.

  5. I’ve made this a few times now, and we always love it. The last time, my husband said he could “eat nothing but this for the rest of his life and be happy.” I’ve subbed 2 tbsp of flour for the corn starch when I’m out, and smoked paprika for the regular.

    As written, I don’t think it’s really spicy at all. My 19 month old loves it, too.

    I’ll be sharing this recipe at a from-scratch workshop I have coming up at work (with proper citation, of course!)

  6. This is a great receipe. Came in handy during the winter storm in NC. Only had ground beef and macroni and of course the spices required in this receipe. Thanks. And BTW my wife is like your husband too all about the box. Today her mind had changed :-)

  7. This is the second time I have made this and it is really good, First time I followed recipe exactly, And this time I used ground pork because it was what I had defrosted and added green peppers, Both were delicious, Thanks for a great recipe

  8. I had to laugh as I read, my husband loves Hamburger Helper and I do NOT for your same reason Salt. He’s been bringing his request for his favorite quick meal many times to no avail…. Until I found this. I can’t wait to try this now since he earned it today. Thank you for sharing!

  9. This recipe is great! I did not add paprika I do not like it, so I added the same amount of onion powder, I also did not add the sugar. I was out of cornstarch so I made a rue using warm water and the same amount of all purpose flour. It tasted wonderful! Will most certainly be a stable on our table!!

  10. This came out so well! My boyfriend loves HH, so I figured I would give this a go; his response was, “I’ll never need the box again if you keep making this!”. I added a whole jalapeno instead of the cayenne (just what I had on hand), and upped the amount of paprika and chili powder at the end to taste. Definitely a keeper!

  11. Very, very good! Used what I had: No elbows, used spirals. Cut the paprika in half because all I have is smoked. A bit more cheese because I had a bit more threaded. Thanks! I served it with cole slaw.

  12. I followed the directions except we use venison and added bacon because bacon is awesome. My family could have used a bit more spice. Very good! By the way, I am a “hubby”.

  13. We love this! Since my kids don’t like spicy I leave out the cayenne pepper and the red pepper flakes. I have made this with chicken and kielbasa. I haven’t done ground beef yet, but we eat this at least twice a month. I also use whole wheat macaroni.

  14. Tried to pawn this off to my kids as the real “Cheeseburger Macaroni” that they love. From the very first bite, they could tell it was different and not a good different. The more they ate the more they complained of how spicy it was. So unfortunately this will not be a recipe that I will be cooking in my home.

    1. You can change the spice mix around read the spice mix on the back of a box of Hamburger Helper and use that. If they don’t like the spice stick with onion powder, a little garlic powder, and the chilli powder. With a little effort you will have a recipe that your family will love without all the processed goop. Happy Cooking! :)

  15. very good recipe, I subbed the milk for butter milk which brought out the taste of the cheese and used lean ground turkey instead.

  16. This has been on rotation at my house for a couple of months now. I follow the instructions exactly every time and it’s always a hit. My son requested this dish for supper tonight, as it was over a week since the last time I made it. Thank you for the great and fast/easy recipe!! :)

  17. What temperatures are you using so the milk doesn’t curdle? I use organic milk and I’m wondering if that has anything to do with it.

  18. Made this tonight in a pinch for something quick and my husband likes hamburger helper. He didn’t even notice the difference! Came back for seconds! The only change I made was added a splash of red hot because I didn’t have cyanne added black pepper, didn’t have red pepper flakes that’s it. He thought it was from the box hehe fooled him. Definitely keeping this! Thanks for a great recipe that is much healthier, quick, and tasted great!

  19. Seriously delish! I even liked it. I halved some of the spicier ingredients and added minced garlic and onion to the browning ground beef as previously suggested. Was terrific. Kids loved it and adults did too. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  20. Made it and it was great! I’ve decided to pre-mix the spices and put in a small Tupperware container and then pre-measure the pasta into a jar with the spice mix in the jar. I printed instructions and taped to jar. This way it’s ready to go on a night we’re really busy. Just add meat, milk, water and cheese and BAM there’s dinner!

  21. I’m a “tweaker,” so here’s what I did:

    — 4 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. nutmeg (yes!), 1 tsp. minced dried garlic, 1 tsp. paprika
    — Finely chopped a medium onion and browned it with the beef.
    — Potato starch worked fine for me instead of cornstarch.
    — I used 2 cans evaporated milk (we only rarely keep fresh milk in the house). Using 2 cans kept
    things simple, instead of diluting it and having to measure, then having leftover evap. milk.
    I increased the water by 1/2 cup (so, total liquid = 2 cups water, 2 cans evap. milk).
    — I didn’t use hot water–I stirred the starch into “cold” tap water, then added that mixture
    to the skillet. Mixing the starch with unheated water eliminates possibility of starch clumping.
    — Added 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar for “brightness.” Lemon juice would do the trick, too, but
    add it “to taste,” since I didn’t test that.
    — Used one 12-oz bag of Heartland brand gluten-free penne pasta (available at Wal-Mart).
    It took a little longer for the pasta to soften up. I simmered for 20 minutes and it was fine.
    — 2 tsp. kosher salt seemed just right to us.
    — I left out the sugar and we didn’t even notice.

    The evaporated milk made the sauce seem rich and creamy, which hubby and I both liked. It seems like the liquid quantities were the hardest part to get right. I’m sure there are endless ways to tweak this recipe so that it suits one’s own personal tastes. Thumbs up!

  22. I, too, have used this recipe several times since stumbling across it. I’d planned chili for tonight but wanted something a little quicker. This was perfect. I typically skip the cornstarch. I often toss in a can of diced tomatoes.

  23. Amazing! Have used this recipe quite a few times now, haven’t bought a box of hamburger helper in years. Perfect for a quick meal with few ingringredients.

  24. Just changed the macaroni to gluten free macaroni noodles and its all gluten free too! Woohoo! Also changed to ground chicken breast for lower fat

  25. Oh I think this will be the bomb-diggity after a rainy gross day & running to bowling night with my 2 little ones. Question though, how would this be if I made it before they got home & gave it a quick oven reheat when we get back home in 2 hours from bowling. Thoughts?

    1. It reheats wonderfully in the microwave. I wet a paper towel and place it on top of the bowl making sure no edges are on the outside (this will cause a steam effect in the microwave keeping the pasta from getting tough.) Happy Cooking!

  26. Made this a few nights ago after getting a bizarre craving for Hamburger Helper. I used ground venison and it was awesome. Thanks!

    1. Try sauteing some onions and garlic in the pan first, then add the ground beef. Salt and pepper real good. Not sure why you got the graininess though.

      1. for me, i wouldn’t necessarily
        say grainy, but it does have a different consistency-I’m sure it’s the cornstarch. Next time, I will try with flour instead . It did also lack in flavor, doctored up with assitional pepper, season salt, garlic and onion powder.

    2. I understand what you mean by ‘grainy’. I just tried this today, and the texture is a bit strange. Kind of the opposite of creamy. Lol. Not sure what else to call it. I wonder if it’s an issue of adding cornstarch straight to a hot dish, rather than mixing it with water first ?
      I’m not sure, but I might have to fix it with more cheese and milk.
      What did you do to fix it ?

      1. Milk curdles if boiled, meaning it forms small clumps. When this mixes with everything else, the texture becomes grainy or clumpy. Not desirable! You can either simmer the mixture at a lower temperature or use canned evaporated milk.

    3. I used butter milk and added a tsp of mustard powder and that really helped with the flavor and try letting the cheese cook into the sauce longer, it should get more velvety if you leave it on there a bit longer

    4. Be sure not to add the cornstarch too late, you want the liquid to still be cold when you add it in. Also make sure you don’t have the stove too hot, or add the cheese too early. I’ve had that happen in past cheese sauces.

  27. This was delicious! I added a bit of Montreal steak seasoning & onion powder to the beef as it was cooking, and it came out great!

  28. I used unsweetened almond milk and rice pasta and it turned out great! The rice pasta breaks down a lot more than regular pasta so it turned out really thick and gooey. No cornstarch required. So good!

  29. Maybe my herbs were old (tho I think not) but I thought this had little flavor and very similar to when I doctor up my Mac and cheese. I want to try the beef stroganoff version – that looks yummy.

  30. When my daughter was pregnant, I went with her to set up her registry. I noticed the baby bullet because of the cute smiley face, and BAM, decided I would make my grandson’s food. From there, I learned so much about food. Like another comment, I didn’t know much about food when my children were little, and my husband is picky, and I have an eating disorder where I don’t like food (real). I use all organic for my grandson, and working it into the rest of the family’s diet. I made this tonight with everything but chili powder because I don’t have any. My daughter said it was spicy enough with out it, even my 12 month out grandson like it. I did put 2 1/2 cooks of cheese, which I think is too much, because it didn’t look cheesy enough at first, and I did add minced onion and whole milk. I will be making this again. :)

  31. Made this recipe tonight, a spoonful of cream cheese would help with the texture issue, or if you are ok with it velveeta does work. I would also omit the cayanne and red pepper flakes for those sensitive to heat andadd a 1/2 tsp of cumin to add smokiness without heat. Some fresh herbs like parsley at thee end would brighten things up.

  32. OMG!!! This is soooo easy! And it fast sooooo much better!!! Thank you. And I love how you give instructions. Thanks again.

  33. This literally tastes Nothing like hamburger helper. This is just a bland no flavor recipe? have any of you ever had hamburger helper

  34. I made this, last night, and am in agreement- kiss that boxed meal, “buh bye!” I thought it was great. I also agree- adding some onion powder would have matched the box meal taste. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any onion powder, but my family really liked it! My son can be pretty picky, but he said it was good.
    Thanks for this one!!

  35. I made this tonight and it was a hit! I used a small chopped onion and 1 fresh minced garlic wth a bit of olive oil and saute until light golden, added ground chicken and added a teaspoon of dried parsley and 1/2 teaspoon of oregano. I cup the galic powder for 1 teaspoon and added 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes. used whole milk and tex mex shredded cheese. I even put a bit of cream cheese and everything else the recipe asked for minus the chili peppers. I had no leftovers. :)

  36. I made this tonight and turned out real good. I added some pepper, onion powder, italian seasoning and about 1/2 cup sour cream – for a little more creaminess. Recipe makes a lot of servings, great for lunch tomorrow too! Thank you!

  37. Love this recipe. I try to make as much as I can from scratch. I altered the recipe a bit.
    •used original soy milk
    •less chili power and cayenne pepper
    •used whole wheat noodles

    Turned out perfect! Thanks!

  38. Just made this for supper – I have not had Hamburger Helper in FOREVER, and this sounded really good for tonight. It was delicious!!! Much better than I remembered the boxed stuff, that’s for sure. The only changes I made were to just add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder (I LOVE garlic, but I could taste a lot of garlic even with just 1 teaspoon) and I also added 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder. I only put a pinch of cayenne in though, and left out the red pepper flakes because it would’ve been too spicy for my girls (6 & 4). That being said – both of my girls just cleaned their plates and my 4-year-old asked for seconds. This recipe is definitely a keeper – thanks!! (P.S. I used whole milk and the texture turned out fine. Maybe cornstarch was the problem for the one who commented on the curdled texture? I mixed together the milk, water, cornstarch and all of the spices at one time with a whisk before adding it to the hot skillet).

  39. This dish had a really interesting taste and I cant quite put my finger on the problem. First I would probably suggest using a sharp cheddar cheese vs a regular mild cheese, might give it more depth. Secondly I found the texture to be a little gritty (not sure why). Overall it has a great foundation just have to tweak the cheese n spices to fit your family’s tastes!

  40. Just have to be honest and say I was really disappointed with the finished product. It’s just spicy without any REAL flavor. You’re still chugging gallons of water. If you’ve ever tried original Hamburger Helper, you will not be pleased with the results.

    1. Thank you Sonja for acknowledging the extreme spiciness! With so many comments saying it was bland or just right I was confused…they did see that it calls for a whole TABLEspoon of chili powder right? It was too spicy even for my spicy-food-lovers. I am keeping the basic recipe but cutting way way back on the hotness…

  41. Thank you very much for this. I can’t have dairy so i changed the milk to Silk milk and cheese to dairy free cheese. It was the best!!! My kid even loved it and he is picky eater. It was quick and east and best of all yummmmmmy. Thank you again Heather Scholten for having this recipe up.

  42. Hi Heather, I don’t know if it’s just me, or if others are having the same problem, but I can hardly read the recipe because of the dark background with the black type. I’ve tried on the ipad and also on the computer. Just wanted to let you know. :)

    1. Sorry for any confusion. When I hit submit on the previous comment, it apparently fixed the problem. Now I only have the dark background on the edges. Sorry for taking up your time!

      1. No worries Jennifer. I was playing around with the background last night…didn’t know it would negatively affect the recipes. Glad it was just a little snafu!! Thanks for letting me know.

  43. Our family reall liked it! I added some onion powder as well. I would have to say if you have little guys in the house ( my daughter is 2) you might want to use less cayenne and pepper flakes. My daughter ate it but kept saying ” Hot hot” and chugging water!

  44. I have a family full of picky eaters, and THEY LOVED THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I shared the recipe, and I’m going to be checking out your other recipes!

  45. It sounded like it would be really good but it just wasn’t. It was heavy and blah. I used the best ingredients available but this dish is lacking “brightness”… Perhaps a little Italian seasoning and a spritz of lime might liven it up a bit.

    1. Seriously lime! You obviously have no clue on how to cook. Pairing lime with a beef and cheese pasta dish. Stay out of the kitchen.

      1. Lime with beef is really good,and generally the bright note in fajitas. If the lime is added at the very end it will not curdle the milk. Careful who you tell to stay out of the kitchen!

        1. Who are you people?! Lime zest, repercussions?! What repercussions? Except that lime and cheese in a pasta dish don’t go together. You’re not making tacos here! Try adding some tomatoes or tomato paste.

    2. Lemon juice or vinegar would likely do the trick to brighten the flavor. I would try adding 2 tsps. at first, and then add gradually more “to taste,” if you want. To me, vinegar seems like it would complement the cheese flavor really well. If I was going to assertively spice this up and call it “Mexican-style,” then I would try the lime juice.

  46. My first time making this I used rotini pasta, added some minced garlic and a handful of english peas and diced carrots, and shredded up 3oz. of Tillamook smoked cheddar, 3oz. of Tillamook medium cheddar, and 3oz. of Tillamook colby jack (gotta keep it local!). It turned out amazing!! The second time I made it while visiting my sister down in Texas and all she had was preshredded mexi-blend cheese and some wide egg noodles. Even though the second version turned out OK, I have to say that using REAL cheese and shredding it up is WAY better than using the preshredded cheese. The texture is smoother and the flavor is richer. Also, egg noodles fall apart too easily in this kind of dish, so pasta is pretty much a necessity. I have added this to the rotation as my husband and picky-eating, 17-month-old daughter devoured it. Thank you!!

    1. I used egg noodles and had no problem with them falling apart. perhaps you just cooked them a little too long? I’m with you on the cheese. I used sonoma creamery creamy jack and their 5 year aged cheddar. so good!

  47. Awesome recipe!!!! Thanks so much. Kids and hubby love it! I’ve told everyone how easy and tasty this is and directed them to your website! Works great with rice too.

  48. Just made it. So delicious. Great recipe. I had to substitute flour for cornstarch. Added a few extra seasonings. Perfect!

  49. I read the comments before making this and had high hopes that it would be good. Neither my husband or I liked it. I thought with all the spices it should taste good but it did not have any flavor to it. I won’t be making this again :(

  50. Thank you for sharing! I am making this surprise dish for my daughters tonight! We went GF 3 years ago after testing my 3 daughters for gluten allergy, 2 are gluten intolerant, 1 is Celiac. My oldest daughter is intolerant, and she has been suffering from moderate to bad acne since she was 11, she is now about to turn 23. She would have regular breakouts on her face, shoulders and chest, and avoided wearing tanktops or Vnecks due to her acne, and would tend to pull her hair in front of her face to cover her breakouts. I’m happy to report that a couple months after going GF her acne was 100% gone, she never has ANY now unless she strays from her GF diet, which is only the occasional beers with bf and friends and it will trigger a small breakout on her cheeks. She has such obvious symptoms that its very easy for her to keep herself on track and avoid gluten on a daily basis. However, she has had to give up so much spontaneity in her food choices. She was visiting last night and telling me how much she misses hamburger helper, and that she makes it for her BF and it smells so good, reminds her of eating it when she was younger. (I’m ashamed to say I didnt know very much about eating and preparing clean meals for my kids back then, although they were raised on home cooked meals). I work as a tax accountant, and have been working 7 days a week since January, today is my first day off in months…so I decided to look up a GF version. I’m going to meet her at work with this surprise dinner dish! I’m a very good cook and can tell right away that your blend of spices will be just right.. I’ll be substituting with coconut palm sugar and sugar free almond milk. I’ll be back with an update of the girls’ reactions. Thank you again for sharing, there are so many of us who benefit from the blogs and recipes people like you share with us, and it really makes a difference to our daily lives, I look up recipes every couple of days, although I rarely post anywhere. Thank you again!

  51. I am a big helper fan and been craving it for a week so i found your recipe online and thank you so much i will never eat the box stuff again sooooooo yummy

  52. This is delicious! I’ve been looking for a way to make gluten free hamburger helper but I could never get the spices right, but these are perfect. I left out the corn starch just because I didn’t have any, and simmered it without a lid because I didn’t have one for my pan and it still thickened just fine. I used quinoa elbows for the pasta.

    For those of you who don’t like the texture of the cheddar cheese, you can use melted velveeta or one of those new velveeta sauce packets instead.

  53. I have celiac disease, and I have made this twice now with gluten free pasta and it was fantastic! It tasted great and I love how simple it is to make. Thank you for this recipe!

  54. This has become a staple because my two-year olds LOVE it… as well as my husband and I. I also toss in a bunch of frozen green peas at the end because my kiddos will eat them that way :) Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Oh no!! I wonder if it was too hot for the whole milk? We make it almost once a week and I’ve never had a curdling incident! If you try again next time and use whole milk, try cutting it in half and adding more water. Again…sorry it was a bust for you.

  55. Just made this, although with half extremely sharp cheddar, half american cheese. Had no elbows so I used rigatoni but in the end it came out amazing! thanks!

  56. I just made this for dinner… it was awesome!! Super easy to make and my 3 kids loved it too! It’s a keeper. Thanks for the recipe.

  57. My husband and daughter made this for dinner tonight. Yummy! Easy for them to make and had flavor. Really like the kick at the end. This is a recipe you can add to and increase the nutrional value quite easily.

    Thanks for sharing!

  58. The only thing I tweaked with this recipe is instead of shredded cheese I used velveeta, and almond milk! NEVER will i buy the box again!

  59. Made this and added a little smoked habanero powder (I love spicy!), mushrooms, sweet peas, and kidney beans and it was AWESOME! Thanks so much!

  60. I’m making this tonight for dinner, I already have tri colored rotini pasta cooked, so I’ll add the pasta at the end, but I’m amused at people saying the texture of the finished product is weird. My mom cooked, and I have cooked from scratch meals forever, and that texture is real food!! Ingredients free of binders and emulsifiers!! They could try to make a rue of the cheese, milk, and cornstarch prior to adding it to the rest of the ingredients first if they like to decrease the ‘weird’ texture!! And as far as salt, they could use other herbs to add some flavor!! I guess it’s hard to get used to real food if all you’ve ever know is what comes in a box!

    1. I agree, when you make cheese sauces from scratch they are going to have a different texture because its not powder. I am allergic to msg and it is in almost every pre made or boxed meal. I love from scratch food.

  61. Thank you ! I really like this recipe, One thing about these “home made hamburger helper” recipes is that theyre perfect if you wanna improvise a little. For example im trying it today with diced red peppers and i also add oregano, cumin, and just use a pinch of cayenne pepper. I also use an onion and garlic to cook the meet. Easy to do, quick and also cheap! I,d say its a cool recipe to get the kids started !

  62. These were perfect directions! I am actually lactose intolerant so I couldn’t even try it before I served it. Everyone really loved it! Thanks so much! Can’t wait to make it again sometime

    1. Hey Will – I made it tonight with “Rice Dream” Rice Drink (milk) – came out amazing. Might be something to try. I substitute it in all my recipes with milk because my son has Aspergers.

        1. I used a calorie calculator for this recipe. I use 1% milk and mild cheddar cheese when I make it. This recipe totals about 3,100 calories.

  63. I’m sorry. We didn’t love it :( It was kind of strange textured because of the cheddar and didn’t have enough flavor for us. Still trying to find a good recipe and get “off the box”.

  64. Eating this now! You would never know it wasn’t a boxed mix! Seasoned perfectly and just a hint of kick! I used ground turkey, omitted the sugar and used whole wheat noodles and it is fantastic! Great work! Thanks for sharing!

  65. Made this tonight and it was a hit! My husband went back for seconds! It was a bit salty, so next time I would omit the salt, I think the cheddar we used had enough salt. This is definitely a keeper! Thanks!!

  66. I make the Rice Oriental flavor, but homemade. I don’t know if HH makes this flavor anymore—it was one of their first flavors when HH was introduced back in the ’70’s.

    • RICE ORIENTAL CLONE
    1 lb ground beef
    1 c white rice (uncooked)
    2 1/2 c beef broth (I use soup base to make broth)
    3 T. soy sauce
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 t rice wine vinegar
    1/4 t red pepper flakes
    2 t cornstarch
    Brown ground beef and drain fat. Stir in rice and beef broth. Cover, lower heat to med/med low and simmer gently 20 minutes or until rice is done. Meanwhile combine rest of ingredients. Uncover; add remaining ingredients and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened.

  67. I just made this…followed the recipe to a “T”. I have to say, as a fan of H.H., this tasted nothing like the original. To me, it was like a taco-ish casserole. Maybe there was too much spiciness, I don’t really know. It wasn’t bad, it just was not what I was expecting. I probably wont be making this again. Also, I thought there was way too much liquid. Something about it was “off”.

  68. Thank you for sharing this! I will be trying this as I am the cheeseburger hamburger helper fan. Thing is I don’t like it much anymore just taste like they changed the flavor. Yours sounds yummy!

  69. Hi! This recipe is so good!!! Just wondering if I could use a different pasta like penne? How much would I use since it’s a larger pasta?

    1. Absolutely…we use bow ties and other pasta all of the time. Still use the same quantity, you may need to add a bit more water, watch it as its cooking to make sure it doesn’t get too dry. Penne will suck up more water than egg noodles will. Thanks for commenting!!! :)

  70. I have been a huge Hamburger helper lover since I was a kid. I don’t like processed products with all the sodium and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Plus recently, I made it and I think I’m allergic, I had a very stomach after. So this was an amazing recipe made from scratch!!! Well done.

  71. This was great! I like because you can control the salt you add; packaged kind is loaded with sodium and things you cannot even pronounce. This is the real thing! Terry

      1. okay thanks! I made this tonight with the addition of chopped onion and red pepper…I don’t think we’ll have enough to freeze 😉 thanks

  72. i just want to say thank you so much for this recipe! my 8 year old asks for it whenever it is his turn to pick dinner and my suddenly VERY picky toddler had two helpings tonight! huge hit and i will share it with EVERYONE!

  73. I just found your blog because I unfortunately have a hamburger helper addiction…I tried your recipe and it blew me away! I can’t wait to try some of the other stuff you have come up with. Thanks so much!

  74. Wow, you weren’t kidding the kids clean their plate. I am so glad I stumbled across this. My husband loved the packaged kind, I have always hated it. This has become an instant classic. Thank you!!!!!

  75. My son eats almost everything I make, my daughter not so much. She gobbled this up!! I didn’t have enough cheese, so I added some condensed cheese soup, it was so tasty! Thank you.

  76. This is REALLY YUMMY! I’m embarrassed to say that Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Mac was a FAVORITE of mine growing up…well, as an adult too, but would NEVER make it for my own family simply because of the sodium content and well, the fact that it comes out of a box with who knows what is coming out of it. I made this tonight and even my husband thought it was amazing! I did add mushrooms and onions when browning the burger and added an extra cup of cheese and it was REALLY GOOD!!!! I will make it again!

  77. wow, I was trying to figure out dinner and i kept thinking something with groundbeef, this is an awesome recipe, it smells good(im making it) going by all the comments I am sure its going to come out great!

  78. This is the first time that I’ve come across your page and I have to say, if it can make my sickly housemate come out of hibernation and states that he wants it… that’s saying something! I can’t wait to serve it to my beau and my friend because it’s starting to make my tummy growl. Haven’t made HH in a few months since we’ve been trying to save money and now that we have this recipe, I think we’ll save even more.
    Thanks for the recipe and the awesome tips. I can’t wait to browse more of your site!

  79. I MUST comment! My husband really doesn’t like HH, so we had a competition with a non-English-Speaking guest: his fresh grilled fish vs. my HH. Guess who won? Lol. Only problem was guilt about “the box”. Thank you! :-) I can’t wait!

  80. Yummy! Boys wiped up what was left on their plates with their garlic bread!!!! I made the recipe exactly as stated and it was perfect & easy! Thank you!

  81. When my Sweet Husband and I married 8 yrs. ago, he told me one of his favorite things was Hamburger Helper. I thought “Ugh! I’ve not made that since I was in college and had no money!” Well, every now and then I’ve made a box, but I’m
    SO glad I came across your recipe! It’s bubbling away on the stove right now. He’s gonna love it and I know I will because I can control the salt and the seasonings!
    Thank you! Thank you!

  82. I made this tonight for my boyfriend and me and we loved it! And he’s a picky eater, so I would consider that a VERY good compliment! He had never had the boxed stuff, and I hadn’t had it in six years so we weren’t sure how it would turn out. I may cheat a little next time and add some Rotel Tomatoes to it, but it was wonderful on its own! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  83. I had some small zip-loc bags from the craft store. I used these and measured all the dry ingredients in these bags, I made up 10 of these and stored them in my freezer. It made making this recipe even easier. I do this for a lot of home made recipes. I just put them in a larger zip loc, (like a sandwich bag) and label it.

  84. Made this tonight for my family, they loved it!!! I changed up the seasoning some to make it less spicy and added in some Italian seasoning. Easy, great recipe.

  85. Thanks for the recipe. I had some leftover hamburger and this was great way to utilize it. I added some sauteed onion, then a quick rue of butter and flour, a little white wine and chicken stock reduced before the macaroni and wet stuff (I can’t leave a good recipe alone), and then added steamed broccoli florets to the mix at the end. It was nice to get some veggies in there, and it came out fantastically delicious. Thanks for the recipe and idea!

  86. My wife has long term health problems and doesn’t have the strength to cook. We have found that processed food has an effect on her, so as the chief cook, I am always looking for recipes. This one will be serving tonight at chef David ‘s.

    1. You could just heat the tap water in the microwave or on the stove before putting it onto the pan. This recipe sounds like something my kids would love!

    1. I just made it, I used vegetable juice instead of water 2 cups milk, 2 cups veggie juice a bit more sugar and lots of Italian herb blend, no chili spice. Any tomato juice would do :) It turned out super good!!

  87. I wish my daughters would’ve eaten it! My 5 year old said it was good but then started eating slower and slower and my 2 year old wouldn’t even try one bite. Frustrating! I thought they’d love it! :(

  88. Made this yesterday. Hope it will freeze well, because it’s a lot of food. Didn’t have the elbow macaroni, so I used Penne. It was delicious. Quick, easy, what more could you ask for? BTW – I used ground round. Good stuff.

    1. What a great recipe I just finished cooking it, and it taste better than the box. I actually used cream instead of milk though.

    2. I made this for 1. It froze well and tasted delicious. I don’t have all those spices in my pantry so I just used taco seasoning and it tasted amazing.

  89. My family and I thought this was a fantastic dish. I used egg noodles instead of elbow macaroni. Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes :)

  90. Hi there, I come from a country that does not sell the Hamburger Helper mix. But as your recipe is a one-pot (hooray!) macaroni and cheese hybrid with minced beef in it – two of my fave things to eat – I made this last weekend. OMG so good. Thank you so much for sharing :) Love, DZ from Malaysia

  91. Thank you for posting this. My 5 year old
    really loved it. I am just learning how to cook from scratch. Once again thank you.

  92. Thank you for sharing this recipe! My family and friends really dig it and it is so easy! As a mom, musician, and all around busy person, this recipe has made my life a lot easier in the kitchen. Plus I have loved all the suggestions on how to change it up a bit.

      1. Hey!! Mine came out great! I was just a little concerned that it wasn’t as yellow in color as it is when I cook it out the box normally. I used about 2 1/2 cups of shredded American Cheese.

    1. We have also gone GF, but before we did, we made this recipe and it was awesome. Tonight I’ll be cooking it with GF pasta. Yippee!!

  93. This was so easy. I made a gluten and dairy free version and it was still easy! Took little more time because I make the milk and the noodles take a little longer, but not much longer. I think next time I may try and cook the noodles a little bit before I add it to the meat and let it finish in the sauce. Maybe they will cook a little more evenly. In the future, if it is okay with you, I would like to add this to my blog and refer it back to you. Not sure when that will be, but I will let you know and in the mean time wait for your “OK” or not =) Thanks!!

  94. This is delicious..not sure why people have to be so critical and opinionated when a recipe is not for them. If you don’t like something, just don’t make it again. Easy meal..can be tweaked to anyone’s tastes..will make it again and again when low on groceries!

    1. Thank you Diana! It’s the nature of the beast when you put yourself (or recipes) out there, there’s always going to be someone who will have something not nice to say. Some of my recipes aren’t for everyone – sometimes not even for the mouths in my house. I do appreciate hearing feedback (especially good). :) Thanks for commenting!! xo ~heather

  95. This made a really nice addition to a side salad and homemade biscuits and what I really appreciated was knowing exactly what was in the meal and not having to worry about an allergic reaction as was the case when I used the boxed meal. Thanks … I will definitely make this one again!

  96. I made this with a few changes were a gluten free casein free house so no dairy…
    I used bison hamburger, almond milk, corn elbow macaroni… I also minced up some onion
    But it turned out awesome thanks

  97. I loved HH as a kid, but stopped eating it when I later learned what was actually in it lol. I just made this recipe tonight, and it was sooo delicious. I’ll definitely be making it again! I think next time I might add tomatoes as well. Thank you for the amazing recipe! :)

  98. I’ve actually been making a version of this for 40 years (raised 5 kids, so often the motivation was quick, cheap, easy, and healthy). I change it up depending on what I have available, but adding broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, and onions are the norm.

  99. I’m a vegetarian and I made this with protein crumbles and added a can of diced tomatoes. I also used Velveeta. It was delicious!

  100. Fantastic! recipe, I added minced garlic and onions and mushrooms. Used whole wheat pasta( barely noticeable as it was flavourful ) I will definitely making this again and again.
    Thanks so much for this !

  101. This is great. I grew up on boxed food. I honestly don’t remember my parents ever making anything from scratch. Then I married a man who was the opposite. His mom made every meal from scratch so boxed food is foreign to him. So over the years, thanks to his good cooking, I haven’t eaten boxed food hardly at all, unless I have a weird craving but I usually end up regretting it. Anyway, seeing these on Pinterest has been fun for me. I can share what I grew up eating without the guilt. Can’t wait to try this!!

  102. Been making this for a couple of years now as my husband loves his hamburger helper. I almost always add a can of tomatoes and a drained can of green beans or corn. The whole family loves it.

  103. I have made this recipe three times, tweaking it differently each time.

    Try #1 – left out cornstarch (fiancé didn’t want me to use it) and cayenne (didn’t have it). My fiancé and our roommate ate it just fine, but didn’t like a lot of spice to it.

    Try #2 – left out cornstarch (again) and cayenne (again) and this time took it down to 2 tsp chili powder. Was still a little too spicy for them.

    Try #3 – followed the recipe almost to a T (including the cornstarch and cayenne since I FINALLY found some!) but only did 1 tsp of chili powder. My fiancé didn’t find it to be enough!

    Guess I have an excuse to make this a 4th time and do 1 1/2 tsp chili powder, eh? 😉

    All in all, a wonderful recipe. Thank you! <3

  104. My family loved it! I really dislike boxed Hamburger Helper but my family loves it.It always just tastes like salt and noodles to me, no matter what variety you get. This recipe is a great compromise for our family. I added a can of diced tomatoes and some onion, but nixed the cayenne and it was great. Everytime I try a new reipe I ask my husband if I should dump the recipe or keep it, this one was a keeper!

  105. I have made this a couple of times now & my whole family loved it, especially my picky 4 year old. I just leave out the Cayenne since they are sensitive to spice. I put the hot sauce on the table to add on after. Thanks!

  106. I had a party and served tacos. I overestimated how much food I needed and had a lot of left over taco meat in my freezer. I was looking for someway to use it up other than chili and more tacos. This worked perfectly. I did not have to add a lot of seasonings because the taco meat was already well seasoned. Thanks for the recipe.

  107. I made this the other day and it was delicious!!!! I did add more paprika and i used smoked paprika instead, we really like the flavor of the smoked kind. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  108. I have been making this for a few years now. Not sure where I found the recipe, but my boys won’t even hear of eating the boxed kind anymore. This is really good!

  109. Just made this for dinner and let me tell you my family loved it!! My husband and kids are very picky eaters and they couldn’t stop eating thanks for the recipe

  110. Just made this tonight. I was a little concerned during cooking as the aroma just didn’t seem right, but once the cheese was added it all came together! I realized after it was done that the smell I was missing was probably the nasty chemical smell from the box stuff. So, it was a good thing it smelled different! :-)

  111. I enjoyed this recipes. The first time I made it I followed the recipe and it came out a bit to starchy and the noddles were a tad mushy for my liking. I made it again tonight but cooked the noddles separately and just added then in the meat mixture. It was awesome. I just reduced the liquid to 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of water, a much better alternative to HH

  112. This recipe was a waste of time, effort and money I hate to say. It looked and sounded very good, but I ended up having to throw it away and make something else. Other recipes I’ve tried were good, but this one wasn’t one of them. I know this one won’t stay on here for very long because I think you only keep the ones if people say they liked it. I was very embarrassed!

    1. Suzie – I appreciate your comment and don’t exclusively approve positive comments. Everyone has the right to their opinion and I’m sorry this recipe wasn’t for you. With that said, recipe developing is not as easy as it may seem and it’s impossible to appeal to everyone’s tastes when creating what you believe is a good recipe. Thanks for giving it a shot. ~Heather

      1. Heather – I wholeheartedly disagree with the above comment. Your recipe is absolutely perfect! The boxed version has always been a favorite of my husbands until I tried your recipe. He loved it! Thanks for sharing with us. Kim

  113. I left out the chili powder, used reduced fat cheddar, and subbed Jennie-O Turkey Kielbasa sausage (hamburger was still frozen). It was AWESOME!

  114. I really liked the recipe and everyone loved the flavour. I added a lot of vegetables to mine; shredded carrots, celery, onion, mushroom and red peppers (A mother thing to do).

  115. This was delicious. I used velveeta instead as well. I felt as if it was missing something for my taste so I added a bit of tomatoe sauce and it was perfect!

  116. This was the perfect quick and easy comfort food for a Monday night. I followed the recipe exactly and we loved it. I cut the recipe in half an it was perfect for two with enough left for lunch tomorrow. Sometimes you just need some hamburger helper but the ingred. list freaks me out. Thanks for a better option.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I agree about sometimes you just need the boxed stuff – but just like you, I cringe when I read what’s in it. Nice to know you’re putting good in when you skip the box. Thanks for commenting…I love hearing that my recipes were a success. :) ~H

  117. Only issue I had with this, I didn’t make enough! It flew off the plates. Next time I’ll double the recipe, so delicious and quick.

  118. this was the easiest recipe, came home from a late shift at work and needed something quick and easy for my kids and I. Threw it together in less than 20 min and it was delicious. I dont like hamburger helper, never have. My kids were shocked to see it cuz they love it. then I told them it wasnt actually HH. They were shocked. I substitued ground turkey, added onion and nutmeg and used flour for thickner cuz i didnt have corn startch. I also substituted velveeta cuz we were out of chedder and didnt wanna run to the store. Super easy and very tasty. Thank you for sharing this.

  119. Just what I was looking for!! This is great!! I didn’t have garlic powder so I used fresh garlic and added a bit of Philly as well!!! Yum yum!! Thanks so much!

    1. I used taco mix instead of the spices as I didn’t have most of those spices. The mix made it not spicy and it still tasted fantastic :) I didn’t use all the taco mix though definitely depends on your preference :)

    2. If I may make a suggestion, I made this tonight. Cut the chili powder down to about 1 tsp. I barely noticed the spice in it (of course my fiancé said it wasn’t enough LOL). Good luck!

  120. This was so delicious!! The perfect healthy substitute for the packaged product! Everyone loved it, thank you for this creation!

  121. I started doing this many years ago. I would even add in vegetables to make it a one pot meal. You can also change it up by adding tomato paste or sauce.

  122. I made it for my family of 5 and they loved it. I snuck in extra veggies and they hardly noticed. I used egg noodles instead of elbow macaroni and then added sliced onions and shredded cabbage. You could hardly tell the veggies apart from the noodles. Very tasty and they ate it right up. Nice job! They asked me to make it again.

  123. Hey Heather, made this on a whim tonight and so easy!! You really got the spices right. Tastes just like the box without the MSG headache and and other (unmentionable) side effects that come from eating out of a box. Make it with organic beef, organic pasta, and throw in some frozen veggies. Tons of fun, almost no effort, one dish!

  124. Oh, I am SO glad I found your blog!! Was looking for granola bar recipes, and stumbled on the ‘Hamburger Helper’ recipe…I am on a journey to feed my family as little processed food as possible, and boxed hamburger helper is one thing that they absolutely LOVE, much to my dismay :) I will be trying this recipe soon! I am hopeful they will like it, but they still prefer boxed mac-n-cheese to my DELICIOUS homemade version, so we’ll see :)

  125. Always prefer scratch to those box dinners. This is a family favorite that I don’t feel guilty about serving. Plus there is more pasta in this one! Love our recipes!!! Keep ’emb coming!

  126. Wow!!!!! A.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y LOVED it!! My husband loved it as much as I did, if not more. Thank you so much for providing a recipe to make it from scratch!! Now to know how to make the other specific kinds like the chili-mac, crunchy taco- mac … lol. 😉 Thanks again!!

    1. Awesome Allison!! I read this comment to my husband and he’s on board with me posting recipes for chili-mac and crunchy taco-mac too. haha Guess I better get on that. :) Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it. Made my day! xo Heather

  127. I absolutely loved this recipe. I myself, would possibly cut back on the cayenne and add a little more salt and at least a teaspoon of pepper. But other then that…… amazing. So much better then the boxed recipe.

  128. Wonderful! I used whole wheat pasta and flour (instead of macaroni and cornstarch). I made it vegetarian by using Boca grounds. It was very good even before adding the cheese so this could easily be made vegan … But then I added colby and pepperjack. Mmm. Thank you!

  129. If you look up the Chickens in the Road blog, she has several homemade “helper” recipes. They are really good if you want to try the different types.

  130. I actually love hamburger helper but I knew there was a homemade way so thank you!!! I will actually be preparing with some ground venison

    1. I’m with you…I may have eaten it a time or 2 as a kid, but I don’t recall. All I know is that this is far too easy, and tasty, to even consider buying a box. Thanks for featuring it today on your blog!! xo

  131. I made this for dinner except I left out the cornstarch and the cayenne pepper (boyfriend asked me to skip the cornstarch and we did not have cayenne pepper). Between us and our roommate, there were no leftovers =) Will definitely be making this again!

  132. Just wanted to say, I made this tonight, and oh em gee was it awesome. I subbed radiatore pasta for elbows, and might I also suggest trying it with smoked paprika instead of regular? It really changes the flavor into something awesome! I hope you don’t mind me featuring this on my blog?

    1. Hi Esther. So glad you enjoyed it. A feature is great, please provide a link back to this post. I need to make this again, the fam has been bugging me for a repeat so I will definitely toss in some smoked paprika. Thanks for the tip and glad you enjoyed it!! xo ~Heather

  133. This is a great, easy recipe. My boyfriend wanted hamburger, noodles and gravy. I found this recipe and it was an instant hit. I couldn’t find cayenne pepper so I left it out. There’s still enough spiciness.

    1. So glad you like it Ulla. It’s perfect comfort food. You can make extra spice mix and measure out the dry noodles into zip top bags and add the spices then store it in the pantry for an easy toss together weeknight meal. Thanks for commenting!!

  134. I love this, Heather!! I know I’ve eaten HH but can’t for the life of me remember where and when – maybe college when I was poor? Anyway – this looks so incredibly easy and I’m already thinking of variations depending on my mood (like a mexican version with a margarita, perhaps?). LOVE!!

  135. I am so NOT a make it from scratch kind of mom,BUT, this was super easy. You’re right. I had to make a couple of substitutions due to what was available in the pantry, but it was GREAT! We didn’t have cheddar on hand so I used colby jack and some velveeta. Because the velveeta is soooo creamy I used a little less milk and water.
    Thank you for the easy to follow directions!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Naomi. You made my day with this comment!!! I bet velveeta did add some serious creaminess to it. Thanks again for commenting. I love hearing that a recipe was well received.

  136. How do I make it without the cheese? I’m a big cheese fan; however, my hubby hates it, so we always eat the “beef pasta” kind.. wasn’t sure if I could just leave the cheese out or if I needed to tweak it.

    1. Could you divide the dish at the end and then add cheese to your part? I have done this in the past with some of the meals I have made, depending on the issue. very easy to do.

  137. Thanks for the recipe. We love hamburger helper but have started to stop eating processed foods for about 8 months or so now. It doesn’t help being pregnant and wanting it. haha So I am excited to make this tonight! Thanks! :)

  138. This looks awesome! I hate HH. Hubby loves it, so I breakdown & make it occasionally. I’m going to try this & not tell him, see what he thinks. I was also thinking of doing this pre-made for my daughter & even me. I think if you are going to measure out the spices, instead of doing one batch, measure out 4-5 batches into small containers, then measure out the macaroni into ziplocks, add your spice packet to each macaroni bag, toss into the cupboard. Measuring the spices/macaroni the day of isn’t a big deal, but if you do it ahead & you know that there is a pack in the cupboard all you have to pick up is beef & cheese. You don’t have to stand in the store & wonder is there 2 cups of macaroni left in the box, did I use all the chili powder last week . . . etc. At least this is the kind of conversations I have with myself in the grocery store. I think my daughter will appreciate it too, I’m not sure her single girl that barely cooks kitchen has all the spices, or if she’d even take the minimal time needed, but if I do it, I know she’ll make it.

    1. That’s a great idea Lara. Having it all prepackaged ahead would make for a stress-free weeknight meal for sure. I hope you’re hubs enjoys it as much as mine did. He’s already asking for it again. :)

  139. I grew up on Hamburger (and Tuna) Helper – and lucky thing because it was something my mom couldn’t make taste bad. I have never made it for my family because I don’t like the boxed stuff either but your homemade looks out of this world good and something my family would gobble down! Thanks for sharing and Happy Holidays!

  140. Alright, let’s get personal. Well, not THAT personal. But, yes I do detest Hamburger Helper. Yes, my sister loves it. They eat it at least once a week. I just threw up a little. BUT!!! Your’s actually looks so cheesy and delicious, that I’m pinning this for both her and I to try.

  141. OH MY GOSH!!! that looks amazing. My hubby is a Triple H Fan and he will be super excited when I make this tonight. Thank you SO MUCH for the tutorial! Yummers!

  142. I nearly grew up on hamburger helper and chicken helper but have never bought a box. I would much prefer from-scratch and this looks amazing! (PS – the recipe is missing…only a ZipList box is showing right now.)

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