Fast, easy, and delicious, Homemade Hamburger Helper is so easy to make from scratch, you’ll never buy the boxed stuff again! Plus, you control the amount of seasonings and sodium!
I was about to say that I grew up on the store-bought versions of Hamburger Helper, but that wouldn’t be true. Even though packaged Hamburger Helper was introduced to the masses in 1971, it would be the mid-1990s before it made it to our family dinner table. Now, I never buy a box from the store, but when the craving hits, I prefer to make my Homemade Hamburger Helper!
We had what I guess you could think of as homemade versions of this instant family classic, but it never came out of a box. My mom would make dishes like this goulash, which in essence, is hamburger helper. But, the familiar box wasn’t found in our pantry until I was in high school.
HAMBURGER HELPER VARIATIES
I remember it well too! My mom never ventured too far outside of her comfort zones when it came to food and food flavours, but when it came to Hamburger Helper, it seemed she was willing to cross some borders.
Seriously, in addition to the classics like Cheesy Beef Pasta or Four Cheese Lasagna, mom would also buy the Chili Macaroni and the Beef Stroganoff. We were living life large, Dear Reader!
A few years after school when I was sharing an apartment with my sister, we continued to purchase Hamburger Helper from time to time, but not as often as my mom would. In fact, I’m in my 40s now, and I remember being at my mom’s house in my late 30s (before she became too sick to shop for groceries and cook for herself) and seeing her pantry very well stocked with those familiar boxes – like a dozen boxes or more!
INSTRUCTIONS ARE LIKE SUGGESTIONS, RIGHT?
She loved it! But, the thing is, Dear Reader, I don’t know if she ever prepared the dish according to the instructions on the package. She would add other seasonings, other flavours, and even double up on the ground beef sometimes. And every time she sat down with a bowl of the Beef Noodle, she would top it with a drizzle of Diana Sauce. (Another one of her favourites!)
Long gone are the days of boxed Hamburger Helper for me. It’s been at least ten years since I’ve eaten it. But, that doesn’t stop me from eating a homemade version. My Homemade Hamburger Helper really couldn’t get any easier. You’ll no doubt have most of the ingredients already anyway, so why buy the boxed stuff?
GET THE PASTA RIGHT!
Because I am a stickler for pasta that has the right texture, unlike other homemade versions of this recipe that you’ll find online, I treat my pasta differently. I cook the pasta, drain it, and set it aside. Why? Because overcooked pasta is not my idea of a delicious meal.
Other recipes will add the uncooked pasta to the beef and onion mixture and will add a few cups of water or stock to “boil” the pasta right into the beef and sauce mixture. I find that to be a gluey, gloppy mess and it really has no appeal at all. Trust me, Dear Reader, cooking the pasta separately is the way to go!
What you’re left with is a creamy and cheesy pasta dish which is beefy, hearty, and filling. I love the little hint of smoke from the paprika and the kick from the seasoning salt. If you don’t have seasoning salt, just add a pinch of garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt. It will give you the basic same flavour.
Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 450 grams macaroni, cooked according to package instructions, drained, and set aside
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, and ground beef. Fry the beef until cooked all the way through – about 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the salt, and pepper. Stir well. Remove the ground beef from the skillet and set aside.
- To the skillet, add the milk and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once the milk is heated through, add the cheese, oregano, seasoning salt, and paprika. Whisk the ingredients together until the cheese is melted.
- Add the cooked and drained pasta, as well at the cooked ground beef, to the cheese and milk sauce. Toss everything together until the ingredients are well combined and the sauce is evenly distributed.
- Remove from heat. Garnish and serve immediately.