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 60 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. Joyce says

    I made this tonight and there was only about a 1/2 cup left we loved it!!! My 15 yr old wants me to make the stroganoff now LOL

  2. says

    I am making hanmurgerhelper for dinner and I have s taste for it it good to try something once in awhile and were making it homemade!and this is her daughter that is helping her !yay I love to cook.

  3. Penny says

    This is the best! These other boxed foods are processed! Don’t eat msg. Or nitrates, however hard not to eat them!

  4. Kianae says

    I’m currently living in Germany with my husband. I alway ate Hamburger Helper growing up as a kid, but they don’t really have any similar to the taste here. I wanted to make Hamburger Helper one day for lunch and stumbled upon this recipe. The finished product turned out great. When my husband took his first bite it was like the inner child came out haha. He said this is now his favorite food to eat. Will definitely be recommending this recipe to others.

  5. Karla says

    Made this for dinner last night using whole grain rotini. My 3 fussy teenagers and my husband LOVED it! I hate serving my family processed and prepackaged foods so very rarely buy hamburger helper (now I will NEVER buy it again :) I also added some chopped up bell peppers…delicious!!!With the extra add-ins I found I had to add a bit more liquid so that my pasta was covered. The next time I make this I will double it and make up some frozen dinners for hubby’s lunch :)

  6. Stephanie says

    just made this a la kitchen sink. It was delicious but turned out REALLY watery and never really thickened! I used buffalo meet and penne pasta. Is that why? My one year old ate it but would love to master it next time. Anyone have the same problem? Thanks! Also used real garlic and real parsley. :)

    • Julie says

      Hi Stephanie :)
      I have been searching for the perfect homemade hamburger helper recipe when I came across this one. Most I have seen require c

    • Alyssa says

      Honey, within adding all of the seasonings add 1tbsp of corn starch and that is what will help thicken your watery sauce, you can use corn starch to always thicken any sauce that is thin, this is very popular in chinese cuisine, try it out!

    • Amy says

      Stephanie, garlic powder and dried parsley are ‘real’ ingredients, just not fresh! Maybe your source is different, but my spices are just garlic, dehydrated and pulverized, and just parsley, dried and crumbled. Don’t fear the spices! Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with using fresh.

      Monique – this was delicious! I cook a lot from scratch, and this was the meal that my 2 and 4 year old raved about. The 2 year old had three servings!

    • Misty says

      Hey I just made this tonight and knew I’d have a problem with thickening because I use almond milk. Just put in a little cornstarch! :)

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