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 52 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. Mariam says

    I made this for dinner and it turned out great. My dad liked it a lot ( he wasn’t afraid to eat what I made).


  2. Randi says

    I have never had hamburger helped before, but if it tastes anything like your recipe, it’s amazing! I followed the recipe exactly and it is so, SO good!

  3. Lena says

    I just love you. Like everyone else I tweeted it to our liking. For instanced I used honey instead of sugar and more spices and milk. Great recipe. My daughters ate it all and was like it smells good the whole time I was cooking it. Thanks!

  4. Nina says

    I love this …Thank you very much… I made it for supper tonight and I didn’t have any cheddar cheese, but I did have Velveeta,I used that instead. Knowing velveeta was on the salty side I used less salt .Turned out very tasty!!!My hubby loved it!!

  5. kat says

    I’m like you, I often only use a half pound of meat, plus I find that no salt or sugar and 1 cup of cheddar is plenty. Everything else is the same. Love your recipe. Thanks for sharing it and your story :)

  6. Fee says

    This recipe was so good. Made it on a humbug, last minute meal hunt. I had ground turkey and needed a good, quick recipe with ingredients I had on hand. Instead of elbow, I used small pasta shells. I also added a can of diced tomatoes with green peppers & onions combined. I did add a wee bit more milk & water. I did not make enough, as the food came to a boil I knew it would be a hit. I will definitely keep this recipe on deck.

    Thanks Diva

  7. Mrs Wallace says

    My hubby loves pasta. I Google home made hamburger helper and came across this recipe. I just finished making it! I used ground chicken instead of turkey and fat free milk. I just had a sample and it’s Delicious! I can’t wait for my hubby to taste it! Thank you for the recipe!!

  8. Laurie says

    This recipe is fantastic! I think it tastes pretty close to the box version. I added some frozen mixed veggies for some added nutrition. Soo good, thanks!

  9. MommaP says

    Amazing! My Family loved this and it tasted exactly like I hoped. I had to double up on the spices for our liking, but I’m still giving 5 stars. and I also add nearly an extra cup of milk and also of water…but that’s because I used wheat macaroni noodles. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  10. Diane says

    I never made Hamburger Helper because my husband had a heart attack and I need to watch his sodium in take plus my son really liked it we all thought it very cheeses and excellent I would defentily make it again.

    • Whitney says

      Use earth balance vegan mac and cheese and just use soymilk no earth balance spread and use vegan beef crumbles :) All cholesterol free and low fat!

  11. Sarah says

    I came across this website just by searching homemade hamburger helper and I did put it with the box Mac and cheese but boy did I get an instant hit with my family. My two year old even did the “mm mm mhmm” with a mouthful of the stuff. Definitely a repeat recipe! Thank you!

  12. Shondra says

    I made this last night and it was great, a hit with my husband, who refuses to even look at the boxed Hamburger Helper. Every recipe I have made from you is great! So glad I found your site! Keep up the good work, you’re helping me out! :)

  13. Tamika says

    I loved hamburger helper as a kid but never bought it for my kids because of the high sodium content and other not so good ingredients. I was excited to try this and it was a big hit for my boys and husband. I think it tastes waaaay better than the boxed stuff. Keep the awesome recipes coming :-)

  14. Melinda says

    This was yummy! However, it was bland with the amount of spices indicated in the recipe. I kept adding more to make it more flavorful- next time I might double or triple some of them at the start. Also, I don’t eat cheese, so it wasn’t creamy enough. Next time I think I’ll add a little half and half or heavy cream to make it richer. This totally hit the spot though!!

    • Carl says

      Wait, Melinda… you don’t eat cheese, yet searched for homemade Hamburger Helper? And gave this 2 stars as a review? This recipe was fine. I tweaked it, too. Your desire to write a review and give it 2 stars “because you don’t eat cheese” is like going to a vegan restaurant and giving them a 1 star rating because THEY DON’T SERVE MEAT.” You’re the worst and you clog the internet.

  15. kjj says

    This was really good! I was very pleasantly surprised. We used 3 cups pasta and an extra cup each of water and cheese. I also used 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 lentils.

  16. Rhonda says

    My daughter loves Hamburger Helper, but I stopped buying it. One day I put some hamburger and boxed mac and cheese together and hey homemade Hamburger Helper. I went on line to find a recipe for homemade hamburger helper and came across this recipe. I did not have cheddar, so I used Velveeta and Parmesan cheese and this was fantastic. My daughter has yet to taste it but I know she will love it. This is a keeper and I will be trying more of Diva’s can cook recipes.

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