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Easy One-Pan Homemade Hamburger Helper

This homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is a savory one-pot meal that’s better than the original boxed version! Made with tender elbow pasta, savory ground beef, cheese, tomato sauce, and veggies, it’s ready in 30 minutes or less and impossible to resist!

Confession time: I can’t honestly remember the last time I purchased or prepared a box of Hamburger Helper.

It’s not that I never have—like most moms, I’m familiar with the beloved boxed pasta (it’s one of my childhood favorites!). But somewhere along the way, I discovered that it’s actually quite easy to make homemade hamburger helper.

Variations and Substitutions

Change the veggies. Feel free to swap out the veggies for others your family enjoys, like mushrooms, shredded carrots, zucchini, or anything else you have taking up space in the fridge. Also, shredded vegetables cooked down in the ground beef are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet.
Use your preferred pasta. I use high fiber whole wheat pasta, but really any variety of wheat pasta works fine. If you are using gluten-free or alternative pastas, you may want to reduce the amount of liquid, or add more, depending on the type of pasta.
Make it dairy-free. Swap dairy-free milk and dairy-free cheese for the whole milk and shredded cheese. Or simply make the recipe with no milk, substituting additional broth, and leave out the cheese altogether!
Make it vegetarian. Swap out the beef broth for vegetable broth, and vegetarian crumbles, chickpeas, or simply extra veggies instead of the meat.
Use another meat. Ground turkey, ground chicken, or even ground sausage all work well.
Make it creamy. Stir in some sour cream or plain yogurt for an extra creamy pasta.
Spice it up! Splash in some hot sauce or sriracha.


1.5 lbs ground beef
6 oz tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
10 oz pasta (shells or elbow macaroni)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried onion (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

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In a large frying pan, brown the ground beef with salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and dried onion over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
Stir in the tomato paste and reduce heat to medium.
Add beef broth and bring to a boil.
Stir in uncooked pasta, adding more broth if necessary to cover the pasta.
Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until noodles are softened.
Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheddar cheese until melted.

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