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Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper

Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 6 servings

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This easy Homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is made completely in one pot and better than the original! A cheesy macaroni and beef pasta made healthier. Ready in 30 MINUTES or less! Includes step by step recipe video.

one pot hamburger helper overhead on white background in stainless steel pan

I can’t honestly remember the last time I purchased or prepared a box of Hamburger Helper.

It’s not that I never have, it’s just that when you can make Homemade Hamburger Helper in one pot with real ingredients in about the same amount of time, why would you go for who-knows-what is in those boxes?

This Hamburger Helper is made with a few healthier swaps and additions, but it all cooks down (and adds flavor!) so that picky eaters will never really notice.

In my version of Hamburger Helper, I boosted the nutritional value with some extra veggies like red pepper and spinach, and swap regular white pasta for high fibre whole wheat pasta.

close up image of hamburger helper in stainless steel pan

I promise you that no one will even know the difference! (It’s amazing what kind of healthy stuff a good layer of cheese can hide).

And if you love this one pot Hamburger Helper, you’ll enjoy my Slow Cooker Hamburger Helper and my Instant Pot Goulash as well!

Variations on this Homemade Hamburger Helper:

  • If your family isn’t into red pepper or spinach, feel free to swap out the veggies for others your family enjoys, like mushrooms, shredded carrots, zucchini, or anything else you have taking up space in the fridge.
  • Keep the red pepper and spinach, but add even more veggies! Shredded vegetables cooked down in the ground beef are a great way to get more vegetables into anyone’s diet.
  • Use high fiber white or whole wheat macaroni instead of regular white. I do this every time, since that is what I buy, but the recipe just lists dry macaroni as really any variety works fine.
  • Skip the milk (and cheese) and use additional broth, or swap for dairy free milk for a dairy free version of this Homemade Hamburger Helper
  • Skip the ground beef and just cook up extra veggies, swap the beef broth for vegetable broth for a vegetarian option
  • Swap the ground beef for ground chicken or ground turkey if that’s what you have on hand
grey bowl of homemade hamburger helper with fork stuck in the pasta

Make this Hamburger Helper ahead and freeze for later:

I have made this hamburger helper, doubling the recipe to freeze half or bring to a neighbor or friend in need.

If you’re going to freeze and reheat, be sure to take a couple minutes off the pasta cook time so it is still slightly firm, so that it is not mushy when reheating.

To freeze, simple spread into a foil or freezer safe baking dish and cover with a layer of plastic wrap and then a lid or a layer of tin foil. The plastic wrap helps prevent freezer burn (thanks Grandma for that trick!).

If you’re putting a glass dish from the freezer to the oven, it’s a good idea to let the dish sit out at room temperature for a couple hours beforehand to warm slightly.

More One Pot Pastas you’ll love!

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Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper

5 from 32 votes
This Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper is a savory, one-pot meal that's better than the original! Made with tender elbow pasta, savory ground beef, cheese, tomato sauce, and veggies, it's ready in 30 minutes or less!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 6 servings
Calories 469cal


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes or more, if you like it spicy!
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (or 1 cup fresh, chopped fine)
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 3/4 cups dry uncooked macaroni (1 375g box)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato or pasta sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese


  • To a large pot add beef, onion, peppers, pepper flakes, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning and spinach. Cook over medium high heat until beef is browned.
  • Add in milk, broth, macaroni and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 12-15 minutes, stirring often.
  • Stir in 1 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, cover and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.


**NOTE: Nutrition information is estimated and will vary depending on exact serving size, types and brands of products used.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 469cal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 126mg | Sodium: 1382mg | Potassium: 1342mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 1380IU | Vitamin C: 22.2mg | Calcium: 722mg | Iron: 3.1mg
Keywords ground beef pasta, healthy hamburger helper, one pot pasta

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Tanya says

    Really delicious and easy recipe! Definitely a keeper and my kids approved. I substituted heavy cream for half the milk and it tastes really good! Thank you for the recepie!

  2. Kris says

    Love this recipe! And toddler approved!

    My little guy can like certain foods one day, the next says ‘yucky’ lol
    First time trying it and I’m sure he will love just as much tomorrow and in the future 🙂

    Super easy to make. I didn’t have beef broth BUT I did have chicken stock cubes which I used to make broth before adding it.

    Definitely a keeper!
    Thank you so much 🙂

    Looking forward to trying more of your recipes in the future!

  3. Jason Conway says

    Well this is the first time that I have come across your site Ashley. This homemade hamburger helper looks extremely yummy.. So I am going to make it for me and my wife for dinner tonight. I am looking forward and will update you on how it comes out. Anyways I do have a question though…How much is a serving of this? I see that it makes six but i am trying to keep my calorie count for my wife and me to about 500 calories per meal. So I just need to know the serving size….Thank you in advance.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Jason! I hope you enjoyed the Hamburger Helper! Unfortunately I don’t know the weight of one serving for this recipe, so your best bet would be to weight the entire recipe and divide by 6 servings

  4. Ash says

    this was AMAZING. I love the easiness of the one pot, and the taste was delicious. Thank you!! I could only find a bigger box of the macaroni, so I just made sure I did extra of everything. For the sauce I did one small tomato sauce , and one large can of kitchen ready pasta sauce. The cheese I did a blend of Italian! soooo yummy

  5. Ja'net Boykin says

    I used 1 1/2 fresh chopped Spinach, added 1 grated zucchini, 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1 1/2 cup diced mushrooms (we’re mushroom lovers), 1 cup of petite diced tomatoes w/ tomato juice & 1 8oz. (1 cup) can of tomato sauce, 2 cups of milk, garlic and herb seasoning and all purpose seasoning. I topped it off with grated Parmesan/Romano. It was DELICIOUS!!!

  6. Graham says

    YES! I was originally going to make spaghetti w/meat sauce but, had everything for this recipe and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was, one pot meals are a favorite when we don’t feel like cleaning multiple pans…. plus, my family LOVED it! We had plenty of left-overs for our little family of three, and I’ll use whole grain pasta next time. Looking forward to it, and thank you.

  7. Brittany says

    Absolutely love this recipe and the ingredients! This is a go-to with our family! 🙂

    I do have a quick question about reheating after freezing. Do you typically reheat in a skillet or in the oven? If in the oven, how long do you reheat without the noodles getting soggy?

    Thank you!

  8. Amber says

    I made your homemade mac and cheese the other night and had plenty of leftovers so I added the other ingredients to create this. Our family LOVED it! We have never been disappointed by your recipes but this was quick and easy and is a new family favorite.

  9. Pauline says

    This looks so delish!! I would love to make this tonight – quick question – when the macaroni is added – it’s not cooked? It’s added uncooked-dry? Thank you!!

  10. Linnea says

    We’ve had this a million times and we can never have enough. We even went over and made it with friends and they ate it for one month afterwards they were so addicted to it! Just hoping the double recipe shows back up soon! Thank you!

  11. Julia says

    It’s been years since I bought a box of hamburger helper but this homemade version is really tasty and so easy to throw together!

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