Ditch the box and easily make your own Homemade Hamburger Helper in less than 30 minutes. Made with lean ground beef, a richly spiced tomato sauce, and tender noodles, this recipe delivers total comfort food with minimal effort.
This Healthier Homemade Hamburger Helper sometimes referred to as American Goulash or Johnny Marzetti makes for a perfect weeknight meal as it comes together in one pan in less than 30 minutes.
Boxed Hamburger Helper is an affordable meal helper that is extremely popular in many families households.
The premise of it is simple. Brown up some ground meat, add water, and the boxed ingredients and simmer for a quick dinner.
But it is just as easy to make your own Homemade Hamburger Helper and there are so many reasons why you should ditch the box and use this recipe instead!
- You can pronounce all the ingredients.
- WAY less sodium than the boxed hamburger Helper.
- Homemade Hamburger Helper is just as easy to make.
- The homemade version is often much cheaper than the boxed variety--especially if you have spices in your spice cabinet.
- It is a meal the family LOVES and you know exactly what you are feeding them!
- Most importantly-- IT TASTES BETTER!!!
Notes on Ingredients
- Ground Beef: I love to use lean ground sirloin, but ground turkey or ground chicken work as well.
- Stock: Use beef stock for the best flavor, but if you only have chicken broth or vegetable broth on hand, they will work in a pinch.
- Spices: I keep this simple in flavorings and use paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. I don't use fresh onions or fresh garlic to keep this meal super simple and affordable.
- Elbow Macaroni: Whole wheat or regular noodles both work well.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Just a little bit finishes the dish with a bit of POW and rounds out the flavors.
You start off making this homemade hamburger helper recipe just as you would when making a boxed version.
- In a large skillet or saucepan add in the ground meat and as it browns, break it up into small pieces.
- Once the meat is cooked, drain off any fat and return to heat.
- Add in tomato paste and spices and let it toast for a minute to develop the flavor of the spices and tomato paste.
- Add in the beef broth and the tomato sauce and bring to boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling Add in the noodles and reduce heat.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender.
- Turn off the heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce.
- Dish up and serve Hamburger Helper--or American Goulash or Johnny Johnny Marzetti--whatever you call this dish!
Homemade Hamburger Helper will last in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 days and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Feel free to saute 1 small onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic when browning the beef and then omit the garlic and onion powder.
Yes! For a Gluten-Free Version of Hamburger Helper, it is best to use Barilla Gluten-Free Noodles. Most gluten-free noodles brands give off too much starch to cook in the sauce. I have used the Barilla brand many times with great success. You will also want to check to be sure your beef stock/broth and Worcestershire Sauce are gluten-free.
If you would like a cheesy version of Hamburger Helper, stir 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese after simmering. The residual heat should be enough to melt the cheese.
More Ground Beef Recipes
If you enjoyed this simple, cheap recipe for Hamburger Helper, please be sure to leave a comment and review below.
Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 3 ½ cups low-sodium beef broth
- 2 cups dried macaroni noodles
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Heat a large nonstick deep skillet or dutch oven pan over medium-high heat. Add in the ground beef and brown, while breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Once the meat is browned, drain off any fat and return the pan to heat. Note: If not using a nonstick pan, you will want to add in 1-2 teaspoons of oil before browning the meat to prevent the meat from sticking to the pan.
- Add tomato paste and seasonings. Cook for 2 minutes to develop flavor. Add in tomato sauce and beef broth and bring to a boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling, add in the noodles and turn the heat down to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until noodles cooked through and sauce is absorbed.
- Once the noodles are tender, turn off the heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce. Serve.
This recipe was orginally published in 2017 but was updated in 2021 with new step-by-step pictures.