Hamburger Helper Recipe

4 Reviews / 5 Average
This homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is nostalgic, classic, and so flavorful! This childhood favorite is great for the whole family. It is quick and easy for any night of the week. Everyone loves this comfort food meal!
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Make this classic Hamburger Helper recipe at home!  This family-friendly dinner is great for both kids and adults.  This nostalgic recipe is great for family dinners, meal prep, and leftovers.  This homemade version is made with wholesome and nutritious ingredients.  You will love this nostalgic and cozy recipe that takes less than 30 minutes!

Hamburger helper.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This Hamburger Helper recipe is quick and easy to make!
  • It takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
  • Everything is made in one skillet.  This makes clean-up easy!
  • Satisfy your comfort food cravings with this healthy and hearty meal.
  • This recipe is picky-eater approved.
  • This version is much healthier than the store-bought version.
  • It is made with whole, real foods.
  • It becomes so creamy!
  • This recipe is great for people and families of all ages.
  • Use any type of ground meat.  Choose beef, pork, chicken, or turkey.
  • The flavor is a mix between beef stroganoff and a cheeseburger!
  • Check out this Classic Lasagna or this Buffalo Chicken Pasta for another classic dinner recipe!

Ingredients & Substitutes

Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom for the full Hamburger Helper recipe.

­­­Use any type of ground meat.  Beef, turkey, pork, and chicken all work well. Check out these Chicken Burgers too!

Sweet onion adds a robust flavor.

Both garlic powder and onion powder add additional flavor.

A little sea salt and pepper provide more flavor.

Nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor.  It replaces the need for powdered cheese.

Suga- free tomato sauce adds moisture and a hearty flavor.  Double check labels for added sugars and preservatives.

Chicken broth adds more moisture and becomes the base of the sauce.  In addition, double check ingredient labels.  If needed, use beef broth.

Uncooked whole wheat pasta is a great pasta option.  For gluten-free, choose chickpea pasta or veggie pasta.  If using veggie pasta, add only at the end.  Veggie pasta needs to cook for only 3 to 4 minutes.

Lastly, cream cheese makes the broth super creamy!  It also thickens the sauce.  Allow the cream cheese to sit on the kitchen counter for an hour before cooking.  This helps it soften up.  If in a pinch, run the pack of cream cheese under hot water for a few minutes before making this Hamburger Helper recipe.

Ingredients for hamburger helper.

Taste & Texture

This healthier Hamburger Helper recipe tastes like a cheeseburger stroganoff!  The main flavors are ground meat, cheese, and pasta.  It is picky eater approved!

The overall texture is creamy!  The meat is crumbly, the pasta is perfectly soft, and the sauce is thick and creamy.  This dish is delicious!

How to Make

Step 1

First, brown the ground beef in a skillet until crumbly.  Remove any excess grease from the pan.

Step 2

Add the finely chopped sweet onion to the skillet.  Cook for 3 minutes, until slightly soft.

Crumbled meat and onions.

Step 3

Next, add in all remaining ingredients except cream cheese.  Stir to combine.

Pasta with meat and broth.

Step 4

Bring this mixture to a light boil.  Then, lightly boil for 4 minutes.

Hamburger pasta in skillet.

Step 5

Reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Add in the room temperature cream cheese.  Mix cream cheese in.

Skillet with cheeseburger pasta.

Step 6

Simmer for at least 10 minutes, up to 20 minutes.  If it gets too dry, add more broth as it continues to simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Step 7

Finally, remove the skillet from the heat.  Ladle this Hamburger Helper recipe into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs! 

Bowl of meat and pasta.

Expert Tips for Success

Brown the ground beef until crumbly.

Finely chop the onion. Otherwise, it will not cook through.

Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet. Do not cook the pasta beforehand.

Use room temperature cream cheese.  It mixes in much easier this way.

If you do not have time to soften cream cheese, run the package under hot water for a few minutes.  It will become soft.

Continue to stir to prevent burning.

Serve this Hamburger Helper recipe hot and fresh for best results.

Cheesy pasta with hamburger.

Flavor Variations & Add-Ins

There are a few ways to mix up the flavors of this easy Hamburger Helper recipe.

Use ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork.

If desired, use cubes of chicken breasts or chicken thighs.

Replace tomato sauce with salsa for a spicier flavor.

Add in some cumin and chili powder for a taco pasta flavor.

Use a different shape of pasta.

Top with shredded cheese for an extra cheesy result.

How to Serve & Store

Serve this homemade Hamburger Helper recipe hot and fresh!  It is equally as delicious as leftovers too.

Serve by itself or with a side dish.  Since the meal is rich and creamy, serve with a light side.

You will also love this Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta!

Serve with a side salad, roasted veggies, whole wheat bread, or your favorite side.

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.

To reheat, add leftovers to a skillet over low medium heat.  Add in enough broth.  Then, cook for a few minutes until warmed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How healthy is Hamburger Helper?

Regular store-bought Hamburger Helper contains added sugars and preservatives.  This homemade version is made with real food ingredients.

Can you substitute for ground beef in Hamburger Helper?

Sure!  Use any type of ground meat.  Cubed chicken breast or pulled chicken also works well.  This will be less similar to classic Hamburger Helper.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

This recipe can be easily made gluten-free.  Use chickpea pasta or veggie pasta.

Do picky eaters like this recipe?

Yes!  This recipe is great for picky eaters and kids.  Everyone loves it!

What is the best pasta to use?

Use either whole wheat penne pasta, chickpea pasta, or veggie pasta.  Zucchini noodles or sweet potato noodles are a great option.  You can also make the meat sauce and serve over spaghetti squash for a low carb option.

Hamburger helper in bowl.

Equipment Needed

Large Nonstick Skillet: This large nonstick skillet is great for making dinner! It is easy to clean and large enough for a family dinner.

Wooden Spoons and Spatula: These wooden spoons and spatulas are great for stirring.

You May Also Enjoy

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Enjoy this homemade hamburger helper recipe!

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    This is a family favorite! I always double the recipe since I have big eaters. I leave out the nutritional yeast just because I never have any and it’s still delicious!

  2. Made this tonight; all of my kids ate it without complaint and a couple of them got seconds! I used tri-colored noodles since I already had them. I did 1.5 times the recipe for 5 of us and have some leftovers!

  3. Would this be ok with cauliflower instead of pasta if one was avoiding carbs? I think I might try cooking the Cauli seperately and combining at the end.