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

homemade hamburger helper recipe

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

I thought I was done with boxed Hamburger Helper and then I had my son.  Kids LOVE Hamburger Helper! We ended up getting a box one day when we were out of town and he loved it.  I didn’t mind though. It was easy to make, made him happy and that little glove is adorable. Well, one day when I was making his favorite kind, Cheeseburger Macaroni I decided to look at the ingredients, and what the heck!

I’m not normally an ingredient snob but why the long list of ingredients, dyes, msg, and weird 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

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.  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.


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 tastes 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.  

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


homemade hamburger helper recipe

Get the Recipe: Homemade Hamburger Helper

4.76 from 192 ratings
Servings: 6


  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey, sometimes I use only 1/2 lb
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter, optional
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or seasoning salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon parsley
  • 3/4 garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded


  • Brown ground meat in a skillet over medium heat until almost done.
  • Add in onions and cook until tender.
  • Drain fat from pan.
  • Add remaining ingredients except for the cheese.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  • * Do not over cook pasta. I usually taste check it at 9 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cheese. The sauce may be thin.
  • Let pasta sit to thicken the sauce, meanwhile adjust seasonings if needed.
  • Serve and enjoy.


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?
Course: Dinner, Main
Author: divas can cook
Tried this recipe?Mention @divascancook on Instagram or tag #divascancook.