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Homemade Hamburger Helper- Cheeseburger Macaroni

Homemade Hamburger Helper- Cheeseburger Macaroni

I wasn’t introduced to Hamburger Helper until I got married.  It was part of my husband’s pre-marriage meal rotation which consisted of 3 meals; Hamburger Helper, spaghetti with sauce and cereal. Seriously, that was his diet. Bless his heart.

You can’t go wrong with a homemade skillet dinner on a busy day!



I grew up with a meal very similar to Cheeseburger Macaroni Hamburger Helper but it was homemade and called cheesy beef and macaroni. It was a quick, cheap, wholesome, weekday meal that my mother made  often on PTA nights or whenever we were really pressed for time/money.

homemade hamburger helper recipe cheeseburger macaroni

It’s ALL about the spices that really bring out the flavor!

I thought I was done with boxed Hamburger Helper until I had my son. We ended up getting a box one day when we were out of town and he loved it.  I didn’t mind. It was easy to make, made him happy and I just loved that little glove and how those commercials made family dinners look so fun and easy. Well one day when I was making his favorite kind, Cheeseburger Macaroni I decided to look at the ingredients and WTH!

I’m not normally an ingredient snob but why the long list of ingredients, dyes, msg and weirdy stuff just to make a pot of macaroni, beef and cheese? I ended up throwing it away and making a pot of homemade hamburger helper . We’ve been doing it this way ever since.

homemade hamburger helper recipe cheeseburger macaroni

This homemade Hamburger Helper uses real ingredients: macaroni, meat, milk, water, cheese and spices, THAT’S IT!  It tastes fresh, comforting, cheesy, meaty, and filling, just like it should. And best of all it’s just as quick as the boxed version. I use ground turkey in place of beef simply because we don’t eat much red meat in this family. I don’t normally cook with much cows milk either but I love it in this recipe because it makes for a really creamy cheese sauce. For the cheese I use a mixture of shredded cheddars. Hamburger Helper uses ricotta as well and sometimes I’ll mix a little of that in for creaminess but only if I have some on hand which I usually don’t.

homemade hamburger helper recipe cheeseburger macaroni recipe

If you’re a true, die hard Hamburger Helper fan you may find that it doesn’t taste EXACTLY like hamburger helper. I think it taste waaay better and Isaac doesn’t even know the difference, but if you’re trying to ween your addicted,older kids off of it then you may want to throw in a little processed cheese for a familiar taste.  

homemade hamburger helper recipe cheeseburger macaroni recipe

Isaac approved!


 Watch me make this Homemade Hamburger Helper from start to finish!


4.8 from 19 reviews
Homemade Hamburger Helper
Recipe type: main, dinner,
Serves: 6
  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey (sometimes I use only ½ lb)
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter, optional
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or seasoning salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon parsley
  • ¾ garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Brown ground meat in a skillet over medium heat until almost done.
  2. Add in onions and cook until tender.
  3. Drain meat & onions on paper towels and return to skillet.
  4. Add remaining ingredients except for the cheese.
  5. Stir to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat, cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  8. * Do not over cook pasta. I usually taste check it at 9 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Sauce may be thin.
  10. Let pasta sit to thicken the sauce, meanwhile adjust seasonings if needed.
  11. Serve and enjoy.
~TIPS~ Use various cheeses if desired. Add taco seasonings for a chili-mac. Chopped tomatoes are good in this as well. Want veggies? Peas or broccoli works great ! Hot sauce anyone?




  1. Thank you for this great recipe. I didn’t expect it to be so fast and easy to make! (I didn’t watch the video beforehand ;)) I used whole wheat macaroni and added frozen spinach, mushrooms and red peppers. We really enjoyed it!

  2. I made this tonight and I thought it was delicious! I loved the ground turkey as a healthier option and I used also substituted Organic 2% milk. Also, I used the Barilla brand shells and it was a nice change from the elbow macaroni. Please continue sharing your recipes! :)

  3. For the parsley and oregano, did you use it fresh? Will I get the same results with dried herbs?

  4. Is onions optional because my husband hates onions, will it taste the same?

  5. My 17 year old son made this while I was away and raved about how good it was. The other night he made some for me and OMG. It does not taste like boxed Hambuger Helper …. It tastes much much much BETTER!!!! Thank you or sharing this!

  6. thanks for this recipe! My daughter and I loved your commentary in the instructional video, made us laugh :) thanks again!

  7. This is amazing, I made this for dinner this evening and it was a hit! It not only tastes better than the box version, is so much better for you without all those preservatives and food dyes!

  8. Alright so! I am 17 years old and I do most of the cooking at home. I’ve been super busy so when I came across your page I was so excited! I try to Cook semi-gourmet food. Such as last week I was cooking chili, baked ziti, spaghetti and tons of others, last night I slipped and we had a box dinner I felt guilty because the ingredients are sooo sketchy so tonight (in all teenage last second fashion) I threw this together and it was perfect!!! Thank you so much for your recipes!!!

  9. I made this recipe my family loved it:) I only added only 2 cups of cheese and 1/2 cup of sour cream to make it cheesy and creamy!!!

  10. Just made this for my husband and me. Delicious!

  11. Great recipe! I added some Valentina sauce to liven it up. Thanks!

  12. Picky eater tested,mother approved lol
    Thanks again for another delicious,easy meal.
    This does taste similar to hamburger help but the
    Author is right,it is way better.

  13. This dish was fast and delicious and will definitely be a keeper. As u mentioned, 1/2lb of ground meat was perfect, any more would have been too much. I used 1/2tsp salt because the cheese was pretty salty. Lastly I had ground hot pepper and used that. For me the heat was perfect but too much for my toddler. Next time I’ll adjust accordingly. I love your recipes and appreciate all that you do. Thanks so much!

  14. I made this using meatless Morningstar Crumbles. It was absolutely delicious. It will be a go to meal in my house. I added mushrooms and broccoli. Thank you for sharing!

  15. I made this tonight and was pleasantly surprised! It was delish! Hubby & 8 yr old had seconds & my 6 & 4 year old cleaned their plates…bravo!

  16. I just made this recipe for a late dinner and I must say it was better than the box version. Thank you diva for keep my belly full. You are a blessing

  17. OMG! AMAZING!! I was whimsically looking up Hamburger helper copycat recipes and found this. My 5 yr old son saw the pic and said he wanted it for lunch. This recipe was super easy. I even had both my kids (5,2) help with mixing everything in. (I pre-mesured everything, so it was all quick dump and stir) I try to keep 1lb packs of frozen cooked ground beef on hand, because, let’s face it, some days we all have that one day that started with it’s tail lit on fire and you drop into bed at night, trying to silence the voices telling you about the shower you missed… but I digress. I also happened to have extra chopped onion from a previous meal. This tossed together so quickly! And DELICIOUS! BOTH kids asked for seconds! After I finished lunch, I turned right around and made up two mix pouches of the spices, and added some powdered milk I have on hand. All I’ll need to do for those is warm a ground beef, toss in the spice packet, and add 3 Cups of water! Top with cheese and tada. Even faster! YUM

  18. I made this as per the recipe. Only difference was I had a little bit more of the beef on hand than the recipe called for so I also added a half more cup of the pasta (cavatappi was all I had that was similar to macaroni) and a pinch more of each spice and it was deeeelicious!

    Adults and toddler all raved over it so it will be a family keeper. It’s filling (without being heavy), quick and simple to make too! Thank you for this great weeknight meal idea! :)

  19. Made this tonight for dinner it was SO easy and SO GOOD! I added diced green peppers and tomatoes in addition to the diced onions. Being that I had 1.5lbs of ground beef, I had to double the recipe (only the spices, with the addition of 1/2c milk, 1/2c water and 4c of cheese instead of the 2c the recipe calls for) with these minor adjustments this dish came out PERFECT! I just ate the last bite in my plate as I’m typing this message! I’m going to try the Chili Salmon with Pineapple, Mango Salsa next! can’t wait to come back to the site and leave a review! Thanks Diva for the recipe! keep em’ coming!! :)

  20. This was excellent, and so quick & easy with all items that I had on hand. I will NEVER buy the boxed version again! I added a big dollop of cream cheese in addition to the cheddar to make it even extra creamy and cheesy! A KEEPER! You def. need to tweak the seasonings at the end, as the recipe suggests. I added a little garlic salt, as well.

  21. I htought it was about time to commend you for your recipes for for showing us the steps. THANK YOU!! I made this dish tonight, it is delicious. I also have made your potato salad, mac n cheese (which my family liked better than mine and they thought mine was good), strawberry lemonade and peach lemonade (and I added the peach drink to some iced tea which was just as delicious!! Thank you so much for helping me to feed my family!

  22. I made this tonight and boy was it a hit! My family loved it!! Especially my 4 year old! This is most def going in my recipe book!

  23. This was a hit! We loved it. I don’t buy processed foods very often and my family was so excited to have “hamburger helper” tonight! Thank you.

  24. OMG…luv this recipe…I have picky children, but 2/4 enjoyed it much. This is now a family recipe that I plan to use continuously…Thanx Hun!!

  25. I made this last night and added a can of diced tomatoes as well as 4 cups of fresh spinach. Delish!

  26. I’ve been lurking divascancook for almost 2 weeks now. I’ve written down many of your recipes, & went grocery shopping for A LOT of things that were required to make some of your recipes. I am a 22 yr old college student & between school, work, my sorority…getting a chance to just cook is just sooooo brain wrecking! Plus, I’m a beginner cook. This was my 1st recipe I tried off your page…

    Made this tonight for my begging, starving boyfriend. Wanted to cook something fast before we went to the movies, just to get him full & to shut up. Came out DEELISH! First time making something OUT of a Hamburger Helper box. Plus, I don’t really like the Cheeseburger Hambuger Helper in the box. But THIS is SO GOOD! I think I reduced some of the seasoning because I’m still trying to learn how to measure stuff l0l, but I adjusted the seasoning toward the end. My boyfriend ate his plate in 2 minutes & 30 seconds. Did he even chew!? Thanks Monique!

  27. Just made this, and I was delish! I did change it a little. I used 3 cups of pasta, and upped the water to 3 cups, and I only used one cup cheese, and it was still very cheesy. Next time, I’ll use 4 cups of pasta, and up t water even more. My almost-teenager son, a 12 y.o. had three helpings! I will make this again often! Thanks for posting!

  28. I made this tonight and it was a hit with the family. This is the third recipe from here that I have made this week and they were all delicious . Thank you for your creative meal ideas. I have rediscovered my joy in the kitchen because of this website.

  29. Charlotte Murdin

    Tried this, and we loved it!

  30. Loved it! I actually had everything in my pantry, which is very unusual. This was so awesome! I love the fact that I could pronounce everything that went in it. I got the best of both worlds… Healthy and delicious.

  31. Charmaine Pelt

    Delicious! We are eating this for dinner right now. My husband also lived off hamburger helper so this satisfies his taste for it and my desire for it to be a bit healthier. We use lean beef in our house. Thanks for sharing your recipes! We are having your peach cobbler for dessert!

  32. Love your video and intro notes. Good points: Video: You don’t waste time, you just get to the cooking and I love that about cooking videos. Natural ingredients: Every item you use should be things folks have in their kitchen. Those are my fav recipes.

    I’m about to cook this now.

    Keep doing ya thang girl!

  33. This dish was so tasty and filling, we both went back for seconds. I will be adding this to my monthly meal rotations.

  34. Thank you!!! I can’t wait to eat this. So much healthier than the box! Love your site!

  35. Hi Monique! I’ve made many of your recipes and LOVE each of them. I took beef out the freezer this morning and was going to make spaghetti until I found this Hamburger Helper recipe…we’ll be trying this tonight. Thanks!!


  37. Hi :) this looks great, can you tell me how much cheese to use? Carmen

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