A Spicy Perspective

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper RecipeCheesy and satisfying classic Cheeseburger Macaroni is the ultimate kid-friendly dish, and is easy to make in just 20 minutes using only one pot!

hamburger helper recipe

Cheeseburger Macaroni 

Hey dudes! Do you remember those commercials with the high-fiving cartoon glove?

If you were born in a certain generation, you most likely can recall the latch-key kid meal of the eighties and nineties, Hamburger Helper. This boxed pantry staple includes macaroni noodles and a pouch of powdered… Stuff. Just add ground beef and milk and BOOM you’ve got dinner ready in 20 minutes!

Now, as an adult, you may even look back on those meals with nostalgic longing.

Although the classic prepackaged cheeseburger mac and cheese meal is pretty good, this quick Homemade Hamburger Helper version is SO much better! Our cheesy, rich, savory cheeseburger macaroni recipe is just as easy to make as the original, without any questionable ingredients.

homemade hamburger helper

Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni

This cheeseburger mac and cheese recipe is a much more wholesome version of boxed Hamburger Helper, and is still made with simple pantry staples! It is super kid-friendly, with familiar comfort food ingredients that will make the whole family happy.

Start to finish Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper takes only 20 minutes to make, and is a perfect dinner for busy weeknights.

Plus, it is a classic one-pot meal, so cleanup is a breeze. Yay!

If you still sometimes crave the old standby, or are obsessed with all things 80’s and 90’s, you’ve got to have this Homemade Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese Hamburger Helper recipe on your regular meal planning menu!

cheeseburger macaroni

What Ingredients You Need

Homemade Hamburger Helper includes only a few simple ingredients, with no prepackaged scientific ingredients.

Here is everything needed to make the easiest, cheesiest one pot Cheeseburger Macaroni from scratch:

  • Ground Beef 85% fat or leaner
  • Tomato Pastefor perfect zesty flavor
  • Dijon Mustardadds a bit of bite
  • Seasoningsgarlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, salt and pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper
  • Macaroni Pastaor other small pasta shape, like small pasta shells
  • Beef Brothor water combined with beef bouillon
  • Half & Halfto create the richest, creamiest base
  • Shredded Cheesewe used sharp cheddar

For an extra kick, try using shredded spicy cheddar jack cheese!

How to Make the Best Cheeseburger Macaroni

You only need 20 minutes and one pot with a lid to make a crave-worthy Homemade Hamburger Helper from scratch!

  1. Place a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it browns. Mix in the tomato paste, Dijon mustard, and seasonings as you cook the beef.
  2. Once the ground beef is fully cooked, add the macaroni noodles and beef broth.
  3. Stir well, and then cover the pan and simmer until the pasta is cooked to al dente. There is no need to stir while the pasta is covered and cooks!
  4. After the pasta is done, carefully remove the lid and stir in the half & half and shredded cheese.
  5. Continue to simmer and stir for another few minutes, uncovered, until the sauce is cheesy, thick and creamy smooth.
  6. Serve warm!

Get the Complete (Printable) Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe Below. Enjoy!

How Do I Serve This Recipe?

Serve one pot cheeseburger macaroni and cheese warm with a bit more shredded cheese and a generous sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley, if you like.

This is a terrific dish for making ahead and enjoying as leftovers for several days. Homemade Hamburger Helper will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, and the flavors get even better as it sits!I love to enjoy a hearty, heavy meal like this with a fresh and veggie-packed salad. Our Healthy Rainbow Chopped Salad and Lieutenant Dan’s Steakhouse Salad are super quick to put together as an easy and healthy side!

how to make hamburger helper

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Hamburger Helper Without Beef?

Yes, you can! Feel free to substitute the ground beef in this recipe with ground turkey for a leaner meal. Or, you can use ground pork sausage to create a richer, even more savory mac and cheese dish.

You could certainly try this recipe with plant-based ground “meat” for a vegetarian version. Let me know in the comments if you give it a try! However you choose to make Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni, I hope you and your family love it as much as we do.

How Long Does This Cheeseburger Macaroni Last In The Fridge?

This recipe can last in the fridge for 4 to 5 days when stored properly in an airtight container. 

Can I Freeze This Recipe?

Yes you can! This recipe is a great one to make and place in the freezer for future recipes. It can be stored in an airtight container for 3 to 4 months in the freezer. 

cheeseburger Mac and cheese

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5 from 17 votes
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Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe – Cheesy and satisfying classic Cheeseburger Macaroni is the ultimate kid-friendly dish, and is easy to make in just 20 minutes using only one pot!
Servings: 6 servings



  • Place a large sauté pan (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef. Break the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. As it's browning, mix in the tomato paste, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
  • Once the beef is fully cooked, add the macaroni noodles, and beef broth. Stir well. Then cover the pan and simmer for 7-10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked to al dente.
  • Remove the lid and stir in the half & half and shredded cheese. Simmer and stir another 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Serve warm.



Want to mix things up? Try using pork sausage instead of ground beef, or pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar.


Serving: 1servings, Calories: 628kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 34g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 108mg, Sodium: 1359mg, Potassium: 566mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 718IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 354mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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19 comments on “Homemade Hamburger Helper”

  1. The Bar-B-Que Hamburger is too hot and spicy…..why do you use cayenne pepper??? Even my Husband who loves Mexican food thinks it has too much bite.

  2. Why can you substitute instead of half and half?

  3. This recipe is great! Added a little more spices and substituted beef for ground chicken. I’m also allergic to tomato’s so I doubled up on the mustard. 


  4. This recipe was absolutely delicious!  I wasn’t sure about the blend of spices but it’s genius!  My only complaint is there weren’t enough noodles so I made more and added to the pot.  Then it was perfect.  I added about 16oz of noodles overall.  Will definitely make again. Thank you!

  5. I made a vegan version of this tonight and it was INCREDIBLE. I used Alpha crumbles instead of the beef, Chao shreds for the cheese, Ripple Half and Half, and Reduced Sodium Better Than Bouillon. The only adjustment it really needed was a reduction in the added salt, since the vegan substitutions are pretty salty.

    Thank you for this FANTASTIC recipe. The thyme and cayenne really made this dish, in my opinion. This is going into regular rotation.

  6. This recipe is simple and a definite crowd pleaser! I don’t normally have the time to leave reviews on the recipes that I find online, but this one was talked about so much, and after a couple of small changes, we’ve taken it to the max! I feel like it would be irresponsible for me to not share this.

    Like I said, the recipe as it reads is such a hit, but that didn’t stop me from taking it up a level by implementing a couple minor changes. Now, my wife keeps begging me to make it again and again. First, the recipe doesn’t call for draining the ground beef fat, so what I’ve actually been doing is draining it anyways but then replacing it with wagyu beef tallow that I’ve infused with fresh garlic, fresh thyme and fresh rosemary. (You can get the wagyu beef tallow on Amazon). This alone absolutely sets this recipe off! The wagyu flavor is definitely noticeable and the infusion of the fresh garlic and herbs just elevates the whole recipe. Now because I do this, I actually add the spices after the browning and draining of the meat and after adding the infused wagyu tallow (the recipe calls for adding the spices while browning). I do this because I assume some of the flavor from the seasonings will be lost when the beef fat is drained, and we want to retain those flavors.

    The only other thing I do is use equal parts sharp cheddar and monterey jack cheese instead of just the cheddar (just a personal preference), and I find that it’s vital to shred your own cheese and avoid those pre-shredded cheeses for recipes like this. Do it and you’ll see why!

  7. Just wondering if you drain the fat off of the ground meat after frying it? I didn’t see that in the video and wanted to ask if it matters if you do drain it or not? Thanks 

  8. I’ve made variations of this dish over the years, and I can safely say this is the best one I’ve ever had. I was generous with the seasonings and added my own. I just used a bit of brown mustard instead of Dijon. My mom is my biggest critic of my cooking, but even she had nothing negative to say. I made this a month ago and forgot; making it again today!

  9. My daughter (14) has been asking for a cheesy hamburger pasta dinner for ages … turned out very nice!! I’ll cut thyme down to 1/2 tsp only next time, I just tend to really taste thyme, not something to mark down the recipe for sure. Different than an American Goulash, so glad I tried it out!!

  10. Made this for dinner and it was delicious!

  11. I was looking for a recipe like this, thank you for sharing!

  12. Made this tonight for dinner. We all loved it! Even my picky kid! Super easy weeknight meal and tastes great!

  13. So much better than anything from the box! Love how easy this was to make!

  14. This is really ahhmazing! Quickly became a favorite meal at my house!

  15. By far a family favorite. My kids scarf this down so quickly!

  16. better than the boxed versions that you can buy at the stores!