Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper

5 from 4 votes

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Homemade Hamburger Helper is all of the simpleness and ease of the stuff in the box, without the box! This dish is a creamy, cheesy, pasta and hamburger recipe that’s super fast to make.

What I like best about this recipe is that you can change it up to your liking (see the recipes notes!). Feel free to stir in veggies, use a different shaped pasta, or use a different kind of cheese. When you are cooking from scratch, you get to decide.

cheesy yellow pasta and beed in a skillet
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Homemade Hamburger Helper

Why is ground beef always in our freezers? Because it’s so versatile and so easy to use. I keep it on hand pretty much all of the time because we love it and it can be turned into so many things.

Add this easy Hamburger helper recipe to your list of easy ground beef recipes because it’s delicious, fast, and oh so easy. I love dinners that come together in 30 minutes or less and that the whole family loves. THIS is one such dinner.

The sauce is extra rich and creamy thanks to cooking the pasta in the skillet (the starch in the pasta is a great thickener), plus the additional of cream and cheese don’t hurt! It’s silky smooth, full of beef and pasta, and all seven people in my family will eat it. That’s a big win in my book.

hamburger helper being served into three white bowls

How to make Hamburger Helper

  1. It’s simple! Start by browning up your hamburger. Don’t feel like you have to stir it constantly. I like to let it sit in a hot pan and really brown up on one side before stirring it to the next side. Truly browning your hamburger in a hot pan is my favorite easy way to add tons of flavor to a dish.
  2. Next add the seasonings and cornstarch. This is essentially making a base for a flavorful sauce or gravy that has a really nice texture thanks to adding cornstarch.
  3. Add the broth (so great for flavor opposed to just water, the pasta soaks up the flavor) and the pasta and let the pasta cook with all that meat and spices. It makes for a great flavored pasta.
  4. Finish up by stirring in cream and cheese for added creamy texture and flavor.
  5. Enjoy with your family and don’t forget to add your favorite sides.
browning meat in a skillet

Tips for making the best Hamburger Helper

  • Don’t over cook or under cook the pasta. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to tell where the pasta is at when it’s cooked in a pan with other ingredients. It might vary a bit from the package instructions. Don’t let the pasta get too soft, taste it often around the 10 minute mark of cooking to check. And if your pasta isn’t fully cooked, feel free to add a few tablespoons of water at a time, while you continue to cook it, until the correct consistency is reached.
  • Don’t under salt. Most boxed items like the store-bought hamburger helper have lots of sodium which adds to their flavor. If yours is tasting a bit bland adjust the salt as well as the other seasonings to taste. It’s a simple trick that makes home cooking delicious.
  • Add what you like! Feel free to customize this dish by adding in frozen peas or broccoli, changing up the cheese, and picking your favorite shape of noodle. When you add your own personal touches, taking in your unique preferences, you’ll end up with a dish you truly love.
close up of finished hamburger helper dish

How to store and reheat leftovers

Store leftover hamburger helper in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat you can stick it in the microwave to heat OR you can reheat it on the stove top, over medium heat. Add a splash of water as needed to help adjust the thickness and texture of the dish while it’s heating.

What do you serve with Hamburger Helper?

This recipes isn’t quite a full meal in a pan as it’s lacking in fruits and veggies, so naturally that’s what you can add to the meal. I’d serve this with a side of cooked green beans and a side salad (I like doing a cooked and a raw vegetable at each dinner) and it would go great with a simple fruit salad too.

When your main dish hits the starch/carb and meat/protein portion of the meal, it’s really easy to fill out the meal with what’s fresh and in season. In the summer I’d serve this with watermelon and in the winder I’d do sliced oranges. This makes shopping in season and shopping the sales easier to do.

hamburger helper in a white bowl with spoon

Other quick dinner recipes you’ll love:

cheesy yellow pasta and beed in a skillet
5 from 4 votes

Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper is all of the simpleness and ease of the stuff in the box, without the box! This dish is a creamy, cheesy, pasta and hamburger recipe that’s super fast to make.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 ½ cup chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups medium shell pasta, (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large skillet or high sided saute pan add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until the beef is cooked through and no longer pink, breaking it into pieces with a spoon as it cooks.
  • When the beef is cooked through, add the cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chicken stock and stir to combine.
  • Add the pasta and stir to combine. Bring the pan back up to a boil and reduce the heat so that it’s simmering steadily but not boiling hard.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and cook until the pasta is cooked al dente, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
  • When the pasta is cooked through remove the lid and stir in the heavy cream.
  • Add the cheese and stir to combine until the cheese melts. Simmer for 1-2 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
  • Remove from the pan and adjust the seasonings to taste.
  • Serve right away while still hot.


  • This recipe is so flexible! This is the bare-bones version that is very quick and easy, just like opening a box from the store and cooking it on the stove. Feel free to change up the kind of pasta or cheese you use.
  • You can add vegetables easily to this dish. Sometimes I’ll add chopped broccoli to the pan about half way through cooking the pasta so that it boils with the pasta for around 8 minutes to soften. Other times I’ll throw in frozen peas or frozen peas and carrots when I add the cream and just cook until they are warm .
  • I have used canned evaporated milk in a pinch when I didn’t have heavy cream on hand and it worked great.
  • A good quality broth adds a lot of nice flavor to this dish. Make your own or buy a quality chicken stock for this recipe.


Serving: 1 of 6 servings, Calories: 575kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 134mg, Sodium: 898mg, Potassium: 569mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1130IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 314mg, Iron: 3mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This Hamburger Helper recipe is great because it’s fast, it doesn’t take very many ingredients, AND you can customize it to fit your likes and preferences.  All this makes it a really convenient recipe to keep on hand. I hope you love it as much as we do!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times now and it’s sooooo easy and a hit with my kids. It’s great for using up pasta, different kinds of cheese, leftover vegetables. I’ve even chopped up leftover cooked hamburgers in place of fresh ground beef. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    We loved it! Even one of my pickier kids said it was good. I doubled the recipe and added too much liquid, so it was a bit soupier than yours but still delicious. We will be adding this to our regular recipe rotation!

  3. I forgot to add….I didn’t have enough of any one noodle on hand….so it was a hodgepodge of styles….all, according to their packages, were a 9 minute cook…..perfectly done at 10 minutes. PS….barely any leftovers 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    It’s not bad he said…..and proceeded to have a 4th helping..hahahaha….oh how I miss Hamburger Helper now that we eat cleaner….its been years since I have indulged in it. I’m so excited to have this recipe in my life! I can hardly wait to taste the leftovers tomorrow….if there is any left! Served with a green salad and a wedge of warmed up sourdough bread…..and made bare bones style…..can’t go wrong with meat, cheese and noodles! Awesome dinner! Thanks for the yumminess!!!!!

    1. Yay! I just love getting your comments, they’re always so helpful and fun to read. THANK YOU!