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.
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.
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).
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
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
- 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.
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