Homemade Hamburger Helper

As the third-trimester winds down, and we get closer and closer to the due date – I’m getting tireder and tireder of just about everything, cooking included. So, a go-to easy meal like this one is a lifesaver on those nights when I’m just exhausted.

I’ve always secretly loved a bowl of Hamburger Helper, but hated the fact that I couldn’t pronounce half of the things on the ingredients label. Not to mention the astronomical sodium content…and, the fact that you feel like you have a lead pellet sitting in your stomach for hours afterwards. I knew I could do better at home!

So I set out to make a homemade version, and I tried a few before I finally settled on one that I really loved. It takes the same amount of time to bring together as the box you buy in the store, and is about a million times better – both on the health front as well as taste. Ingredients like basic spices in your pantry, milk, pasta, and lots of freshly shredded cheddar cheese are the only things on my ingredient list.

You could easily pre-mix a few batches of the spices and pasta together and store them in a resealable bag to have them ready to go – making this dinner even quicker and easier. It always feels great to kick yet another boxed processed mix to the curb!

Source: adapted from Food.com via Iowa Girl Eats


  1. Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    I’ve also been a closet H.H. fan. But definitely in theory only, never as good as it sounds. Love a homemade version. Sounds yummy. = )

  2. Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    Oh man, I considered it a win if I made 1 home cooked meal per week at the end of my pregnancy. But I think if anything would have gotten me off the couch it would have been something like this. It looks so good, and I bet the leftovers were awesome!

  3. Lisa
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    You nailed this! So much so I am leaving my first blog comment. I tasted it without the cheese and couldn’t believe it didn’t come out of the box. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  4. Angela
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:17 PM | Permalink

    Yummy. Made it tonight.

  5. Elaine Tsai
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 9:30 PM | Permalink

    I’ve always loved HH. I never make it anymore because of the preservatives, etc. I made your version tonight and boy is it spot on. I had all the ingredients on hand, so it was easy to make. I will be making this again.
    Thanks so much for the recipe.

  6. Posted March 26, 2014 at 5:02 AM | Permalink

    I like this recipe!
    It makes my mouth water!

  7. Kim in MD
    Posted March 30, 2014 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

    I loved HH as a child, but when I became an adult (and starring reading labels)’I stopped buying it due to all of the preservatives. I have to say this post reminds me that I miss it! I can’t wait to try your recipe. My family will love it, I’m sure!

    Again, congrats on your pregnancy! You’re in the homestretch! 🙂

  8. Amanda
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    We loved this recipe! It will be a part of our monthly rotation for sure, especially since it was so easy to make. Much better than boxed Hamburger Helper, for sure.

  9. Kathleen
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    We LOVED this recipe! Working full time and our little guy keep me pretty busy & this meal was just perfect for a weeknight dinner. Quick, easy, and toddler approved (with plenty for leftovers….yay!) Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

  10. Sara
    Posted May 2, 2014 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

    This showed up on foodgawker, and I decided to give it a try. I’ve only had hamburger helper once in my life (my mother was very anti-packaged foods, even made her own bread, which was kind but never turned out well sorry mom). This recipe is AWESOME. It was so easy to make. Took me less than 20 minutes from start to finish, and I only had one pot to wash. Made it for my husband’s lunch tomorrow. I gave him a bite to make sure it was good, and he loved it. I kept sneaking in little bites as I was putting it away. I really like that the pasta cooks in the sauce so I don’t have to cook it beforehand. This will be perfect for weeknight dinners when I get home a half hour before dinner time. Thank you! Maybe one day we’ll have a little one who will enjoy this too. Only thing I might do differently is add a touch less pasta, I think having extra sauce would be good.

  11. Cheryl Taylor
    Posted July 17, 2014 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

    This is a keeper. I shared it on Facebook. Thank you!

  12. Kelli
    Posted August 21, 2014 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    My family loved this recipe!!! I’ve never had hamburger helper but the dish looked delicious so I went for it and I’m so happy I did! I did make it healthier by using a beef/turkey combination, half of the cheese and whole grain elbow pasta. I have to say, I didn’t feel it was lacking in the least. SO SO GOOD!!! Thank you.

  13. Shea
    Posted September 13, 2014 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    I want to make this for dinner soon but I want to know why it calls for so much milk. Is it okay to cut down the milk by at least a cup? The rest of the recipe looks great though!

    • Posted September 13, 2014 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

      The milk is used to cook the pasta and make the creamy sauce. You could replace some of the milk with water I suppose, but I think that would result in a watered-down tasting sauce.

      • Shea
        Posted September 14, 2014 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

        Thanks Laura! I’m planning on trying this recipe this week. Hope my boys like it better than the box Cheeseburger Helper!

  14. Amanda
    Posted September 22, 2014 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

    I found this via Google. I am crazy about HH but don’t eat it often (if at all) because of all the preservatives in it. I crave it all the time and then thank goodness I stumbled on your site and this recipe. This has everything that I love about HH…the meat, the creaminess, the cheesy flavor. I will never buy the boxed version again. I am so so SO happy I found this recipe!!!

  15. Cheyanna
    Posted January 21, 2015 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    Thank you so much for posting taking the time to post this! I was not one who grew up on HH nor have I had it very many times but this particular flavor has been one of the few I have liked. A few months ago I made a box for the first time in like 6+ years and shortly thereafter I noticed I started breaking out into hives. After discussing with my dr. I found out that quite a few people are allergic to the preservatives in HH. Let me also state I am not allergic to ANYTHING, don’t have allergies to anything so this was just INSANE to me to be allergic to HH of ALL things. So this is an awesome option for me and my family. Thank you thank you thank you!

  16. Shelly
    Posted September 1, 2015 at 7:51 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I used to cook HH all the time from the box until I started reading and learning more about the ingredients. Bad stuff!!! I have started making more from scratch meals. I had everything in my pantry already. I cooked it tonight and it was easy and delicious. My fiancé loved it. Thanks!

  17. Dee
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 5:53 PM | Permalink

    I’m not a big fan of meat but I wanted a healthier HH recipe since both my kids love it. This one was the best I’ve ever made and even I eat it! It’s become a staple in our house!

    • Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

      So glad, Dee! Thanks for taking the time to come back and comment 🙂

  18. Candice Dunlop
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

    We really enjoyed this and I’m malignity for th second time tonight. My toddler loved it and it has simple REAL ingredients that I can pronounce and always have in the pantry. I wanted to increase the amount without doubling the recipe so there was enough for hubbys lunch the next day also. Will add another 1/2 cup of noodles and 1 cup milk and hope for the best !!!

    • Posted August 2, 2016 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

      I usually add a little more pasta and milk too, to accommodate my crew. I’m sure it turned out just fine! Glad you guys enjoyed it. It’s def a winner!

  19. Lisa
    Posted August 12, 2017 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    Yum! This was delicious! I too am a closet HH fan. But because of my child’s dairy allergy, I don’t buy it any more (he’s never been able to try HH). I subbed milk for unflavoured soy milk and skipped the cheese on his portion. My picky eater loved it and his sister went back for seconds. Definitely adding this to our dinner rotation! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

      Love this! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.