Skip the box; this homemade hamburger helper recipe is ready in about 30 minutes!

Ground beef and pasta are simmered in rich cheesy sauce for an easy one-pan meal.

pot of cheesy Hamburger Helper

Ingredients in Hamburger Helper

Hamburger helper is an easy recipe and this homemade version uses simple pantry ingredients. It’s budget-friendly and reheats well so double up for easy meals throughout the week.

Ground Beef – Use lean ground beef (80/20) for the best flavor and drain any fat after cooking. If using ground turkey or ground chicken; add additional seasoning as needed.

Pasta – Choose small to medium size pasta like shells, elbow macaroni, penne, or rotini. Depending on the type of pasta, you may need a little bit more or less broth and/or cooking time.

Liquid – Broth and tomato paste add flavor while milk makes it creamy. Replace beef broth with chicken broth if needed.

Seasonings – I add chili powder and onion powder. Feel free to add some garlic powder, taco seasoning, or Italian herbs to make your own version of hamburger helper.

Cheese – Use sharp cheddar cheese for the best flavor (pre-shredded works just fine in this recipe).

tomato sauce , pasta , milk , beef , broth , cheese , salt , onion powder and chili powder with labels to make Hamburger Helper

Variations and Additions

  • Cook fresh onions and/or garlic when browning the beef.
  • Stir in fresh veggies like diced celery, chopped tomatoes, or sliced mushrooms.
  • Stir in ½ cup of heavy cream in place of some of the milk for added richness.
  • Stir in ½ cup of sour cream after removing from the heat for a little tang.

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

This is a homemade versoin of a childhood favorite and is loved by kids and adults alike!

  1. Brown the beef in a deep skillet or Dutch oven per the recipe below.
  2. Add the sauce ingredients and dry pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender.
  3. Stir in cheese cheese.

Holly’s Tips

  • Stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Depending on the type of pasta, you may need extra broth or cooking time.
  • Remove from the heat before adding cheese.
  • The sauce will thicken as it rests.
plated Hamburger Helper

Leftover Hamburger Helper

  • Keep leftover hamburger helper in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  • Leftovers can be stored in the freezer for 4 months in an airtight container. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

One Pot Wonders

Did your family love this homemade Hamburger Helper? Leave us a rating and a comment below!

cooking Hamburger Helper in a pot
5 from 33 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Homemade Hamburger Helper

This easy cheesy family favorite is a one-pot meal with tender pasta and ground beef in a rich zesty sauce.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Holly Nilsson


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  • 1 pound lean ground beef (80/20)
  • 2 cups beef broth or chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces medium pasta such as shells or large elbows
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded


  • In a 12-inch skillet, cook the ground beef over medium high heat until no pink remains while breaking up with a spoon. Drain any fat.
  • Add 1 ¾ cups beef broth, milk, tomato sauce, onion powder, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the pasta and cover. Reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until the pasta is tender, adding more liquid as needed.
  • Remove from the heat and rest uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.


  • Additional seasonings such as paprika can be added.
  • Stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Depending on the type of pasta, you may need extra broth or cooking time.
  • Remove from the heat before adding cheese.
  • The sauce will thicken as it rests.
5 from 33 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 532 | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1096mg | Potassium: 1071mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 812IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 309mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Beef, Dinner, Pasta
Cuisine American
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30 minute Hamburger Helper with writing
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Hamburger Helper in the pot and in a bowl with a title


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About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Recipe Rating


  1. Yum! I used a 14.5 oz can of beef broth and didn’t have to use any more. I also used 1/2 C heavy cream and 1/2 C milk and added homemade fajita seasoning in addition to the seasonings listed in the recipe. It turned out well. I will make again. Thanks!5 stars

  2. The recipe ingredients says 2 cups of beef broth but the instructions say 1 ¾ cups beef broth. Which is the correct amount so it’s not too dry or too wet? Thanks!5 stars

    1. I start with 1 ¾ cup and add the additional ¼ cup if needed. It can vary slightly based on the type of pasta (or size of pan).