Homemade Hamburger Helper

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Hamburger Helper is an easy one pan dinner that always hits the spot! This homemade version of the classic boxed dinner features ground beef, macaroni noodles, a medley of mouthwatering seasonings and plenty of cheddar cheese. It’s easy to make, picky eater approved, and is the ultimate weeknight comfort dinner!

It’s about that time of year… The weather is cooling down, so it’s time for all of our favorite comfort food recipes to make a triumphant return! Warm up on even the chilliest of nights with recipes like Beef Tips with Gravy, Chili Cornbread Casserole, Beef Noodle Casserole, and Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole.

White bowls filled with hamburger helper.

Hamburger Helper (Cheeseburger Macaroni)

Dig into a cheesy, beefy, warm serving of homemade Hamburger Helper! This easy dinner recipe comes together in no time and is so much better than the boxed original. Since it’s made with real shredded cheddar cheese and a heaping handful of mouthwatering seasonings, this cheeseburger macaroni recipe is impossible to turn down.

As filling as it is, you’ll likely not have any room for seconds… But it’s such a good dinner that you’ll be craving another serving. If you have picky eaters at your kitchen table, this is a great way to get some protein on their plate that’s not in the form of a dinosaur chicken nugget!

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

You’ll love how easy this one pan dinner is to make! It’s perfect for those crazy weeknights when you need a homemade dinner on the table but don’t have a ton of time to play with. 

  1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain the excess grease. 
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, mustard, seasonings, elbow noodles, and broth. 
  3. Cover and cook for about 7-10 minutes. 
  4. Remove the lid and stir in the milk, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese. 
  5. Continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes, then serve and enjoy!
Collage showing how to make hamburger helper.

Tips and Variations 

  • You can use any variety of cheddar cheese in this recipe. Mild, medium, sharp, and extra sharp all work well. 
  • Craving a little heat? You can easily add some spice by sprinkling in some chili powder, cayenne powder, or even a dash of hot sauce. 
  • For the creamiest, thickest consistency, we recommend using whole milk and full fat sour cream. 
  • Add diced onion, minced garlic, finely diced jalapeños, or green bell peppers when cooking the ground beef for some extra flavor.
  • Make this dish even creamier by swapping out a couple ounces of cheddar cheese for Velveeta.


Storage: In an airtight container in the fridge, any leftover you have of homemade Hamburger Helper will stay fresh for up to 5 days. 

Cast iron pan of hamburger helper.

Can I use another type of meat? 

Yes! We like to keep things classic with ground beef, but you can swap that with ground turkey, chicken, or even a plant based alternative if needed. 

Do I need to shred the cheese myself?

Here’s the deal. You can use a bag of pre-shredded cheese, but you might not get the creamy results we’re aiming for here. Pre-shredded cheese has an anti-caking powder on it that prevents the cheese from sticking to itself and clumping in the bag.

That powder can also prevent the cheese from fully melting together when cooked. For that reason, we always recommend shredding it off the block when making Hamburger Helper. 

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Side view of a bowl of homemade hamburger helper.

Hamburger Helper (Cheeseburger Macaroni)

4.8 from 14 votes
Print Pin
Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings


  • 1 pound ground beef, lean
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 12 ounces elbow noodles, uncooked
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth, low-sodium
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded off the block


  • Heat a large skillet or pan with a lid over medium heat. Add the ground beef, and cook until no longer pink. Drain the excess grease, and return the beef to the pan.
    1 pound ground beef
  • Add the tomato paste, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, elbow noodles, and broth. Stir to combine.
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
    12 ounces elbow noodles
    4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • Cover the pan and cook for 7-10 minutes or until the noodles are al dente. Remove the lid, and add the milk, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese. Stir to combine, and continue cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes.
    ½ cup milk
    ½ cup sour cream
    2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • Serve warm! See post for tips and storage options.

Suggested Equipment


*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 ½ cups of hamburger helper. Actual calories will vary.
*Doubling or tripling this recipe has not been tested. Therefore, we can not guarantee the outcome of adjusting the ingredients.
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.


Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 624kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 1134mg | Potassium: 543mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 654IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 350mg | Iron: 3mg
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    1. Those are some great substitutions to make this a vegan dish! Thank you so much for sharing. We’re glad you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful evening! 🙂

  1. I subbed a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. Didn’t have an onion so added onion powder. Also a bit of beef consommé. Used some hatch chili cheddar from Aldi. Gluten free Penne. Yum!!!

  2. I just made this tonight but didn’t have tomato sauce; I subbed with the amount of white sauce instead and it’s JUST as good. Thank you so much!

    1. That’s great to hear, Karen! We’re glad the white sauce worked out in place of tomato sauce. Thanks so much for coming back to comment. We hope you have a lovely weekend! 🙂

4.79 from 14 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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