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 for Hamburger Helper delivers total comfort food with minimal effort.
Why Homemade Hamburger Helper?
Boxed Hamburger Helper is an affordable meal helper that is extremely popular in many family's households.
And I get it. Hamburger Helper is a simple meal that comes together in one pan, using minimal ingredients, and is loved by picky eaters.
But what if I told you that is it JUST as easy to make a homemade version of hamburger helper that is better for you AND better tasting? Not to mention that homemade hamburger helper is much lower in sodium, has no added MSG or food coloring, and is oftentimes cheaper to make from scratch.
It seems too good to be true--but it is NOT!
This recipe for Homemade Hamburger Helper uses ground beef and basic, affordable pantry staples to create a family-favorite recipe using just one pot in less than 30 minutes. It is the perfect go-to recipe on those nights you need something on the table fast that the entire family will devour.
Notes on Ingredients
The number one reason I opt to make homemade hamburger helper is that the ingredients that make up this recipe are more wholesome than anything you find in a box of Hamburger Helper. But I still keep this recipe super simple and affordable by using dried seasonings and pantry staples.
- Ground Beef: I love to use lean ground sirloin, but ground turkey or ground chicken work as well.
- Beef Broth: Beef broth/stock is the best option for hamburger helper. I recommend selecting a low-sodium version to control the level of sodium in the recipe.
- Seasonings: To season this hamburger helper, use paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper
- Tomato Sauce: Use canned tomato sauce or tomato puree.
- Tomato Paste: The tomato paste will give the dish a rich tomato taste and make the dish taste like it has simmered for hours, versus minutes.
- 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 cook over medium-high heat, breaking it up into small pieces as it browns.
- Once the meat is fully browned, remove the skillet from the heat and drain off any fat if needed.
- Return the skillet to the heat and add in tomato paste and spices. Let that toast for a minute or two to develop the flavor of the spices and tomato paste.
- Add in the beef broth and the tomato sauce and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling, add in the noodles and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender. If you notice the liquid is evaporting before the noodles are fully cooked, you can add in a bit more broth or water as needed.
- Turn off the heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce.
- And then dish up this easy Homemade Hamburger Helper and watch your family enjoy!
Leftover Homemade Hamburger Helper should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
If needed, allow the hamburger helper to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Then reheat in a heat-safe dish, adding a bit of water to help add moisture back into the noodles, in 1-minute intervals until heated through.
- Gluten-Free Hamburger Helper: 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.
- Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper: 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.
- Instant Pot Hamburger Helper: If you would like to prepare this recipe using an electric pressure cooker, follow my recipe for Instant Pot Hamburger Helper.
More Easy Family-Favorite Recipes
- One Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- Easy Homemade Beef Stroganoff
- Tex-Mex Chicken and Sweet Potato Skillet
- Taco Salad
- Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf
If you enjoyed this simple, wholesome 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-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until noodles cooked through and sauce is absorbed. If needed, add in a bit of additional water or broth if you see the liquid is evaporating before the noodles are fully cooked.
- 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.