Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

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Fast and easy, this homemade cheeseburger helper is ready in 30 minutes or less. It’s a one-pot meal made with ingredients you likely have on hand: beef, noodles, tomatoes, and cheese. This recipe is a hat tip to the classic boxed meal, but made with simple ingredients.

Homemade cheeseburger helper in bowl and displayed with a fork.

Like many people of my generation (yaaay, geriatric millennials!), boxed meals like Hamburger Helper were a pantry staple. Honestly, had it not been for meals like cheeseburger macaroni, I might have starved to death in my early 20s because I had no idea how to cook.

It seemed like magic to me then. You just brown some meat and dump in a box of ingredients. Voila! You had dinner. But what’s actually magical is how easy it is to make your own homemade cheeseburger helper.

As a one-pot meal that’s done in 30 or minutes or less, this is now a staple for our family meals. Without a doubt, it’s delicious any way you slice it. It’s nostalgic for the adults, and my three-year-old loves it.

There will be many more pots of homemade hamburger on our dinner table. And I hope there will be on yours, too!

Watch How to Make Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

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Tips for Making Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

  • Use any pasta you have on hand. The classic, boxed meal uses macaroni noodles. So to stay in line with that, my recipe calls for macaroni. But when I make this for my family, I use whatever small noodles I have on hand. For example, bowtie pasta, egg noodles, fusilli will work. This recipe is great for pantry clean out meals (video) and using up the noodles and other ingredients you have stashed in the pantry.
  • Adjust the liquid as needed. All pasta is a little different and requires more or less cooking liquid. The general rule for cooking one-pot pasta meals is to use 8 ounces of liquid for every 4 ounces of pasta.
  • Use home-canned or store-bought tomatoes. I canned bushels of tomatoes last year, so I make this with home-canned tomatoes. However, I have made homemade cheeseburger helper with store-bought tomatoes, and it was equally delicious.
  • Prep your ingredients. Shred the cheese the night before or, even better, keep fresh shredded cheese in the freezer for easy use.
  • Switch up your ingredients. This recipe is extremely versatile. For example, you can swap out the Italian seasoning with chili spices for a quick homemade chili mac. Or use your favorite cheese (this would be so good with smoked gouda) to switch up the flavors.

More Family Favorite Recipes

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FAQs

Can I make a gluten-free homemade Hamburger Helper?

Yes! Just swap out the pasta for your favorite gluten-free pasta. Make sure to check how much liquid you need. Different pastas have varying pasta to liquid ratios.

How can I make a healthier Hamburger Helper?

For a lighter version of homemade cheeseburger helper, you can use ground turkey or lean ground beef.

If your ground beef has a high-fat content, you can drain the meat to reduce the amount of fat in the dish.

Also, you can cut back on the cheese if you want a healthier homemade Hamburger Helper. This recipe calls for 2 cups of shredded cheddar. But I’ve made it with one cup of cheese, and it is still creamy and delicious.

Small bowl of homemade cheeseburger helper

How much liquid do I need for Homemade Cheeseburger Helper?

Since all pasta is different, the amount of chicken or beef broth can slightly vary. In general, the ratio is 8 ounces of liquid for every 4 ounces of pasta.

Can I double the recipe?

Absolutely! One-pot meals like this are perfect for bulk meal prepping. When our schedules are busy, I like to make a double batch for leftovers.

Can I freeze homemade cheeseburger helper?

Yup! The trick to freezing pasta dishes (video) to is to undercook the pasta slightly. That way, when you reheat it, you don’t end up with soggy noodles. I recommend cutting back on the liquid slightly and cooking until the noodles are very al dente. You can always add more broth or water when you reheat your freezer meal.

Storing Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

Leftover cheeseburger helper will store just fine for about 3-4 days refrigerated in an airtight container.

I don’t recommend freezing leftovers unless your noodles are very al dente. Pasta gets soggy after freezing unless it is undercooked when freezing. When you reheat it, you can always add more liquid.

Wooden spoon scooping homemade cheeseburger helper out of dutch oven

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (or a pint of home-canned)
  • 1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 2 cups macaroni noodles, uncooked
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

In a cast iron dutch oven or large pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil or a dab of butter on medium-high. Add the onion, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Remember, the other ingredients have salt in them, so don’t overdo it. Sauté until tender crisp, about 4-5 minutes.

Diced onions sautéing in dutch oven.

Add the ground beef and cook until brown. If needed, break apart with a wooden spoon. If your ground beef has a high fat percentage, you may want to drain the grease once the meat is browned. But that is optional.

Toss in the garlic. I like to use a garlic press for extra ease. Then, cook until just aromatic. Do not let the garlic brown, or it will turn bitter.

Groud beef cooking with onions in dutch oven

Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and broth. Stir until combined, and bring to a rapid boil.

Ground beef and canned tomatoes in dutch oven

Pour in the noodles, and stir to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Cook uncovered at a vigorous simmer until the noodles are tender and the sauce has reduced to your liking.

Macaroni noodles in casserole, cooking in dutch oven

Turn off the heat, add the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir to combine.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Then, enjoy!

Homemade cheeseburger helper in Staub dutch oven

More Dinner Recipes

Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Fast and easy, this homemade cheeseburger helper is ready in 30 minutes or less. It’s a one-pot meal made with ingredients you likely have on hand: beef, noodles, tomatoes, and cheese. This recipe is a hat tip to the classic boxed meal, but made with simple and healthier ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (or a pint of home-canned)
  • 1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 2 cups macaroni noodles, uncooked
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

    1. In a cast iron dutch oven or large pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil or a dab of butter on medium-high. Add the onion, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Remember, the other ingredients have salt in them, so don’t overdo it. Sauté until tender crisp, about 4-5 minutes.
    2. Add the ground beef and cook until brown. If needed, break apart with a wooden spoon. If your ground beef has a high fat percentage, you may want to drain the grease once the meat is browned. But that is optional.
    3. Toss in the garlic. I like to use a garlic press for extra ease. Cook until just aromatic. Do not let the garlic brown, or it will turn bitter.
    4. Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and broth. Stir until combined, and bring to a rapid boil.
    5. Pour in the noodles, and stir to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Cook uncovered at a vigorous simmer until the noodles are tender and the sauce has reduced to your liking.
    6. Turn off the heat, add the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir to combine.
    7. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Then, enjoy!

Notes

Since all pasta is different, the amount of chicken or beef broth can slightly vary. The general ratio is 8 ounces of liquid for every 4 ounces of pasta.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 576Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 168mgSodium: 646mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 48g

Nutritional information is auto-calculated and may not reflect your final product.

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