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Honestly, I’d never tasted hamburger helper until I was a busy Mama and was desperate to get dinner on the table fast! I switched to homemade hamburger helper one fine day when I realized that I had all of the basic ingredients on hand and that it was just as quick to make this boxed meal myself! I soon realized it was SO easy to customize for hamburger helper potato stroganoff, homemade hamburger helper beef pasta, or a cheeseburger macaroni. Oh, and we can make it gluten free and we think it tastes even better than the boxed meal. Sorry, Betty Crocker!
WHY HOMEMADE HAMBURGER HELPER IS AWESOME
I had no idea how to cook from scratch early in my marriage but now I love it! If you’ve been around THTG for more than a minute, you know that it’s an obsession of mine to figure out the easiest cooking hacks. I love sharing easy recipes with all of you (as well as the best family travel secrets, cozy home hacks, and family friendly entertainment).
Early on I realized how simple the ingredients list was for most of these boxed meals and it’s just as fast to throw together homemade hamburger helper of some variation myself. It’s a wholesome meal that the family enjoys AND the other thing I love is that it’s a one pot meal – which means easy clean up and less dishes to wash!
Created in the 1930s as a super convenient boxed meal, it originally was a skillet dish. Boxed pasta and packets of powdered sauce and seasonings were added to cooked hamburger meat. Whether using a boxed meal or my homemade version, it’s a way to stretch that hamburger meat out with other cheap ingredients to feed a whole family. Nowadays, there are chicken helper and tuna helpers that have the same concept with alternative meat choices.
Depending on which version, you just need meat, pasta (or rice or potatoes), cheese, a little water, and seasonings. That’s all that it’s in the boxed mix – along with some additives that may or may not be good for you! For instance, if you want cheeseburger macaroni, use the elbow noodles, ground meat, and lots of cheddar. If you want beef stroganoff, use egg noodles with your meat and cheese, etc.
Really, the sky is the limit on your choice of meal. My advice is to use what you have on hand, but here are some popular ones: Bacon Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger Macaroni, Cheese Lover’s Lasagna, Cheesy Enchilada, and Cheesy Beef & Hash browns.
Again, you can change out every aspect of this recipe as you wish. For instance, you can lighten the meat taste by using ground turkey instead of ground beef. If you need this recipe to be gluten free, simply make a switch to gluten free pasta. If you would like to create a dairy free dish, all you have to do is use an unsweetened almond or coconut milk of your choice.
HAMBURGER HELPER INGREDIENTS AT A GLANCE
All the exact measurements are on the printable recipe card below, but here are the ingredients for the original hamburger helper recipe at a glance. ->>>
- ground meat
HOW TO MAKE HAMBURGER HELPER
The ingredients and instructions for a printable recipe card on how to make homemade hamburger helper are below but here’s the basic idea:
Just like the boxed version, you do precook the ground meat, but you won’t have to precook the pasta, rice, or potatoes. You’ll cook and drain 1 lb. of ground beef or turkey, add the water and all the other ingredients, and cook for ten minutes before stirring and cooking for a few more.
TIPS FOR THE BEST HAMBURGER HELPER RECIPE
You probably know this, but in case you don’t, be sure to drain the extra oil that accumulates while cooking your ground meat. Also, don’t skip the step of bringing all of the ingredients to a boil, stirring well, covering, and then letting simmer for the allotted time. All of those steps are important and don’t let it overcook!
YOU MAY NEED
Y’all. This little kitchen set is a couple of brilliant lifesavers. Not only can you chop up ground meat and use the scraper to get every drop, there’s also a little strainer that clips onto the chopper for a hands free way to easily drain the grease.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Here are some of the other most popular easy recipes you may also enjoy:
Pork Chops Recipe – Low Carb + Cheap + Easy + Only 3 Ingredients
How To Cook Green Beans – Done in 12 Minutes & Perfectly Every Single Time
Crockpot Italian Meatballs – Low Carb & 3 Ingredients
HAMBURGER HELPER RECIPE CARD
Here’s the printable homemade hamburger helper recipe:
- 1 lb ground meat
- 1 C hot water
- 2 C milk
- 1 1/2 C pasta, rice, or small sliced potatoes
- 1 t salt
- 1 t pepper
- 1 t garlic powder
- 1 t onion powder
- 1 t paprika
- 1 t sugar
- 1 to 1/2 cups cheese
- extra water if needed
- Cook and drain 1 lb. of ground beef or turkey.
- Add l cup hot water, 2 cups of milk, 1 1/2 cups pasta, rice, or very small sliced potatoes, 1 Tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon sugar.
- Stir the mixture well and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Stir and add liquid if needed.
- Add lid and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add cheese, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.