Homemade Hamburger Helper- Cheeseburger Macaroni
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.
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.
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.
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!
Get the Recipe: Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 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?
Amazing recipe. My very picky 8 year old asked for 2 extra helpings.
Y’know, I ‘accidentally’ made this recipe once in college; I was hungry, busy with homework, but needed a quick and easy meal, and I made this recipe.
I really love this healthy alternative to Hamburger Helper. I’ve been making this a long time and it comes out perfect and delicious every time. My kids love it. The hubby loves it. It’s one of those meals that feels like a warm hug! Thanks for sharing!
Followed this recipe exactly, and the sauce was liquid and didn’t set with more time; cooking off the liquid wouldn’t have fixed it because then the pasta would be overcooked. The cheese stuck to the beef and didn’t flavor the macaroni. This indicates lack of absorption, so has to do with using cold water and non-warmed milk. Once I changed that, the recipe worked…just not as written.
I’ve never left a review for a recipe before, but… I found this recipe a few years back and tried it out. SO GLAD I DID. I recommend this recipe to anyone that mentions hamburger helper. It really is so wholesome & delicious. I try to stay away from processed foods as much as I can so this makes such a great meal. I usually add a couple spoonfuls of sour cream at the end to thicken the sauce & make it a tad richer. Absolutely delicious!!