Homemade Hamburger Helper

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Homemade hamburger helper is the alternative to grabbing a box when you might have most of the ingredients in your house already. Homemade hamburger helper is a comfort food. It’s one of those recipes that you can whip up in 25 minutes and everyone loves it. It’s a one-pot meal so dishes are minimal and to be honest it tastes better than the original box mix. This version has a few veggies in it so score one extra point for healthier too.


  • 1-pound 80/20 or leaner ground beef
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (I add a tablespoon because I like garlic)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach (optional!)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 and 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 and 3/4 dry uncooked pasta elbows
  • 1 and 1/2 cups tomato or pasta sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Mexican blend is the best!)


  1. Use a large pot or a Dutch oven and add the ground beef. Sauté the beef over medium-high heat until brown.
  2. Add onion, red bell pepper, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, and spinach if you intend to use it. Stir until incorporated throughout the cooked beef.
  3. Add in the milk, beef broth, elbows, and tomato sauce. Bring this mixture to a boil. Then cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the mixture for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  4. Once the macaroni is finished, turn the burner off. Stir in one cup of cheese and cover. Let sit for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Serve warm in a bowl with a spoon. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over individually served bowls.


  • The spinach is completely optional in this dish, and I never personally use it. However additional garlic, peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, and cheese always fill it out very nicely. Additionally, the red pepper flakes are also optional for those that don’t like spicy food. However, if you want to ramp up the spice you could always add more red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and Tabasco sauce.
  • This is a great meal to double up on and use later for lunch. The recipe serves 6. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days. It isn’t a great recipe for freezing but it can be frozen for up to six months. When reheating, be sure to thaw first and reheat in a pot over the stove. 
  • This recipe has 469 calories, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 40 grams of protein, and 26 grams of fat per serving. The serving size is 1/6 of the total recipe.


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