Homemade Hamburger Helper

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This Homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is my take on the classic boxed Cheeseburger Macaroni that we all know and love, but made on a healthier note! Full of lean ground beef, macaroni and the creamiest cheddar cheese sauce – guaranteeing your kids will love this as much as you do. 

Complete comfort cooked in one pan that can be on your table in about 30 minutes.

Pan filled with hamburger helper recipe.


I must be reminiscing my childhood when it comes to favorite meals. Lately I have been craving my dads homemade pot roast, which brought about the Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. This time? The traditional, boxed Hamburger Helper. I would love perusing the grocery aisles as a kid with my mom, as we would always end up with boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese and a few boxes of Hamburger Helper! What kid doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? Add in some ground beef and it was a home run at our dinner table.

But as an adult who is very conscientious of what she puts into her body, I am always looking for ways to make these types of meals at home and decrease any processed foods in my life. Not to say that my husband and I don’t indulge in a frozen pizza or two here and there. We have those days, too!

Making this Homemade Hamburger Helper brought back many memories for me with my brother. It was one of those meals that we didn’t have to stay at the table and finish when we didn’t want to. It was a meal that we were hoping there were seconds of! And that is exactly how your kids will be with this recipe – happily asking for seconds!

Close up photo of Homemade Hamburger Helper - macaroni and ground beef in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.


This Homemade Hamburger Helper is very easy to make, is cooked in one pot, and it’s not only a world better than the boxed version, but it’s also healthier! I love a good one-pot meal, too. Not only does it make cooking simpler, but it takes the burden of clean up off the table (pun intended 🙂 ).

One-pot recipes like my Easy One Pot Lasagna Soup and Easy One Pot Chicken and Herb Dumplings are staple recipes in my kitchen that are made on a regular basis. This Homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is currently on rotation! All recipes include ingredients you will find in your pantry and fridge, are budget friendly, and are better than any powdered packet boxed product!


Full recipe with directions can be found via the printable recipe card below. Simply scroll down! 🙂

  • Lean ground beef – can substitute with ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground turkey sausage.
  • Elbow pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Spices – salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and chili powder.
  • Beef stock – low-sodium or unsalted is recommended so that the sodium level in this dish can be controlled by you. Another reason homemade is better than boxed! You can also use beef broth or chicken if you don’t have beef.
  • Half and half – can substitute with milk or heavy cream.
  • Extra-sharp cheddar cheese – highly recommend freshly grating from a block. Freshly grated cheese melts into a creamy sauce, whereas pre-packaged, shredded cheese can create a lumpy sauce.
  • Tomato paste
  • Plain greek yogurt
  • Dijon mustard

White bowl filled with creamy, cheesy pasta and hamburger.


  1. Brown the beef and onion. If using anything other than lean ground beef, drain any excess fat remaining in pot.
  2. Season meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and dijon mustard. 
  3. Stir in tomato paste. Once combined, pour in beef stock and half and half. Stir until well combined.
  4. Once boiling, add the uncooked macaroni and stir. Reduce heat to low, stir again and cover.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 12-14 minutes, or until macaroni is tender.
  6. Remove pan from heat and stir in greek yogurt, followed by cheese. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Pan filled with pasta, hamburger and creamy cheddar cheese sauce recipe.




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Close up photo of Homemade Hamburger Helper - macaroni and ground beef in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

4.78 from 9 votes
This Homemade Hamburger Helper is a delicious rendition of the boxed Cheeseburger Macaroni that we all know and love, but healthier! Easy to make, requiring only one pan. Guaranteed to be loved by kids and adults!
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cheeseburger Pasta, Easy Pasta Dishes, Ground Beef Recipe, Hamburger Helper, Hamburger Recipe, Homemade Hamburger Helper, Homemade Italian Bread Bowls, Pasta
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 537kcal
Author: Samantha Buckner


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef stock, (low-sodium or unsalted)
  • 1 cup half and half, (sub with milk or heavy cream)
  • 2 cups elbow pasta
  • 2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, (freshly grated)
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt


  • Place a soup pot (or deep pan) over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once the oil is heated, add the ground beef and onions. Brown 7-9 minutes, breaking the beef apart as it cooks.
    If using a beef with higher fat content, omit the olive oil and drain excess fat prior to seasoning.
  • Season beef with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, and dijon mustard. Stir in tomato paste.
  • Pour in the beef stock and half and half. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and stir.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low to control the boil. Cover and allow it to simmer as the pasta cooks (12-14 minutes or as directed on the box), stirring every few minutes to prevent pasta from sticking.
  • While the pasta cooks, grate the cheddar cheese and set aside.
  • Once pasta is cooked, remove pan from heat. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Then stir in the greek yogurt.
  • Sauce may be thin. Let the pasta sit for the sauce to thicken. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed.
    If sauce is too thin, add a splash or two of half-and-half and stir. Add until desired creaminess is met.


  • Can swap the extra-sharp cheddar cheese for regular cheddar or mixed cheeses.
  • Add in peas or broccoli to enhance this meal with veggies.
  • Sautéed mushrooms are a great addition, too!
  • Swap lean ground beef for ground chicken, ground turkey or ground turkey sausage for a leaner, high protein meat option!
  • Any pasta will do.
  • Enjoy a little heat? Add some hot sauce, to taste.
  • Highly recommend freshly grated cheese as it will melt better, creating the ultra creamy sauce that the dish deserves!
TRIED THIS RECIPE?Tag me @withpeanutbutterontop or use my hashtag #withpeanutbutterontop on Instagram!


Nutrition Facts
Homemade Hamburger Helper
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 537 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 13g65%
Cholesterol 102mg34%
Sodium 817mg34%
Potassium 795mg23%
Carbohydrates 41g14%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 37g74%
Vitamin A 856IU17%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 361mg36%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Disclaimer:The nutritional information provided on each recipe on With Peanut Butter on Top is given as a courtesy and as approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Nutritional information varies per brand/product. We recommend using an app to calculate full and accurate nutrition based on your ingredients used per recipe. Thank you! 🙂
Close up photo of Homemade Hamburger Helper - macaroni and ground beef in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce. Pan filled with homemade hamburger helper recipe.
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