Healthy Hamburger Helper

Love that classic childhood boxed favorite, but want to make it all homemade and healthier? This Healthy Hamburger Helper recipe is your solution, and it’s all made in one pot and so delicious!

Healthy hamburger helper in a pan.Healthy Hamburger Helper

We are all about quick and easy dinners, using minimal ingredients and this Homemade Hamburger Helper is definitely a winner. It’s made all in one pot, with items you likely already have in your pantry and will surely be a hit with everyone. It is reminiscent of that version you might remember as a kid, only it uses real ingredients so it tastes so much better! Did I mention it takes about 30 minutes to cook?  Save this recipe and hang it on your fridge for the next time you need dinner fast.

Healthy hamburger helper in a pot.

Ingredients Needed

  • Ground Beef
  • Elbow Macaroni (we use gluten-free!)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Spices
  • Canned Diced Tomato
  • Beef Broth
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese

What Type of Pasta to Use

We tested this one pot pantry pasta with a different types of gluten-free pasta and with traditional wheat pasta as well. It all worked the same! 

When you are cooking this, the recipe calls for you to cook the pasta as long as the package directions call for so be sure to check for that information on the pasta package.

Two servings of homemade hamburger helper.

How One Pot Pasta Works

If you are new to the concept of cooking pasta all in one pot, let me explain how it works! Typically pasta is cooked separately in lots of boiling water, then drained before being used in whatever dish you are making. But a one pot pasta instead boils the pasta directly in whatever “sauce” you are using. Instead of just filling the pot with water, a precise amount is added to ensure that when the pasta is finished cooking, there is just enough liquid leftover to make your sauce. The resulting sauce is “creamier” because any starch that is leftover in the cooking liquid is left in the pot, instead of being discarded when draining the pasta. Because it’s all cooked in one pot, follow the directions and ingredient amounts precisely to ensure the correct amount of sauce leftover at the end.

Also note that when the pasta is finished cooking, the sauce might look like it is too watery. It will thicken in about 5 minutes to be the perfect amount, so have patience.

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5.0 rating
26 reviews

Healthy Hamburger Helper

Love that classic childhood boxed favorite, but want to make it all homemade and healthier? This Healthy Hamburger Helper recipe is your solution, and it's all made in one pot and so delicious!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Yield 4
Cuisine American
Cook Time 25 minutes
Recipe Type: Dinner
Difficulty: Easy
Total Time 35 minutes
Author: Lexi's Clean Kitchen


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 15 ounce can diced tomato
  • 3-1/2 cups beef broth
  • 12 ounce gluten-free elbow macaronia
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Parsley, for serving


  1. Heat oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the beef and cook until no pink remains. Remove any excess fat.
  3. Add in the salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, diced tomatos and broth and bring up to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add the pasta to the pot and cook for as long as the package instruction states (if package says to cook pasta for 10 minutes, cook for 10 minutes), stirring every few minutes to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked through, shut off the heat and add the cheese. Stir together, then let the pasta sit for 5 minutes while the sauce continues to thicken up.
  6. Garnish with parsley, and serve!


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April 8, 2020

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Join The Discussion

48 Responses

  1. Lol sorry Lexi! I tend to scroll straight to the recipe. Now I see that yes everything goes in one pot!??‍♀️

    1. We always give relevant information within the body of the post ALWAYS, so if ever in doubt about something, definitely check out what we’ve written above it 🙂

    1. We haven’t tested it, but you could give it a go! Let us know how it comes out if you do!

  2. Hi Lexi, I really hope to make this tonight! I don’t have beef broth though. Do you think using water would still make it ok? Extra seasonings? Or I do have chicken and vegetable broth but I don’t want to change the flavor too much.

  3. Did you happen to have anything as a side dish or item? I have this on my meal plan for this week and just wanted to see if you had any serving suggestions for a side. Thanks!

    5.0 rating

  4. Made this tonight as a quick dinner and it was delicious! My young kids that love pasta gobbled it right up. Simple ingredients and easy instructions. Will definitely be going into regular rotation at our house.

    5.0 rating

  5. Made this last night. SO GOOD. It was a total hit with my boyfriend, too, who said “I feel like I’m being cooked for by a professional chef” Ha! In all seriousness, this recipe was great & a perfect way to use things that we already had in the pantry/fridge! I did use rigatoni, just because we didn’t have macaroni. And chicken broth, because we didn’t have beef broth. Both subs worked great! Can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch today.

    5.0 rating

  6. So good! Only change I made was used chicken broth instead of beef broth (didn’t have it). Adding this recipe to my weeknight dinner binder. Thanks, Lexi. 🙂

    5.0 rating

  7. OH MY GOD THIS WAS SO GOOD. Made this gluten free and used dairy free cheese. Didn’t have a can of diced tomatoes so I just diced up some fresh tomatoes. Also didn’t have paprika so used red chili powder. Also didn’t have enough beef broth so I did 2 cans beef broth and one can tomato sauce. Quarantine am I right?! This was honestly such a feel good recipe and will be making this often, might add some mushrooms next time!

    5.0 rating

  8. Lexi, I want to make this but all the gluten free pasta I have indicates it must be rinsed well after cooking. Would using this kind of pasta make the mixture too startchy since I know it’s all cooked together in one pot?

    1. What brands do you have? We’ve tried many different brands and it hasn’t turned out badly! The starch helps it thicken up! But happy to discuss if you let us know what brands you have!

  9. I ended up using Catelli Gluten Free (mix of rice, corn and quinoa) because it was the only one my hubby could find at the grocery store since I usually only use a rice pasta, and it worked out perfectly! I doubled the recipe and started with 6 cups of beef broth (instead of 7 the doubling called for) and it was actually just the right amount. It looked too liquidy but Lexi is right, when it sits for 5 min it thickens right up! It was delicious and all three kids approve! Thank you for another winner!

    5.0 rating

  10. My husband just said…tasted like childhood but it’s not from a box! It was so good! We will be putting this into the dinner rotation!

    5.0 rating

  11. This recipe is so good!! It truly hit all the spots – comfort, taste, texture, etc. I used regular Barilla elbow macaroni and chopped up some extra celery and bell pepper to add in. I drained the tomatoes and also added in a second can. Spinach would be a good addition too! My husband and I practically scarfed half of down, it was just perfect for our chilly and wet Chicago weather.

    5.0 rating

  12. Soooo yummy. Soooo easy. And made lots for leftovers which I very much appreciate these days!

    5.0 rating

  13. Cooking every night during this coronavirus lockdown is exhausting! A friend told me about this website, and when I found the Homemade Hamburger Helper, and it not only looked easy but I also had all the ingredients, I knew I had to try it. This was soooo good. My husband had three servings and I had to tell him to stop eating LOL.
    Adding to my meal rotation for sure.

    5.0 rating

  14. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! And so so so easy. My entire family loved this, Lexi’s recipes never disappoint!

    5.0 rating

  15. Made this recipe this evening, loved that it is made in one pot, super easy and tastes delicious. I threw in green pepper & mushroom since they were about to go bad! Husband loved it and got up for seconds!

    5.0 rating

  16. This was amazing! My bf who’s is a meat and potatoes and a hamburger helper(eye roll)fan said this was soooo good!

  17. This is SO good! I made it a few weeks ago and my family begged me to put it on regular rotation. I shared the recipe with a friend, she made it that night, and she commented that her teenage son hadn’t inhaled food like that in forever! I asked my family for meals they wanted this week and THIS one was the one my son begged for. MAKE THIS! You won’t regret it! I doubled it (had to use two pans) and I’m glad I did so we had some leftovers. Two teenagers can devour this!

    5.0 rating

  18. Made this tonight.. picky toddler and picky husband approved! I don’t like tomatoes so I used a can of tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes. So so good!

    5.0 rating

  19. I can’t wait to try this. Will doubling the ingredients mess with getting the sauce right? I love to have leftovers.

    1. I think with this recipe you should basically double everything, in order to make sure there is enough liquid. Let us know how it goes! We too love leftovers 🙂

  20. I grew up on the pre-packaged hamburger helper. This took me back. It was great to make a healthy version for my own family. Thank you!

    5.0 rating

  21. Love this recipe! It was super easy to make and turned out so good! I love that I cooked everything in the one pot too. Definitely making it again!

    5.0 rating

  22. I want to try this recipe but I want to omit the cheddar cheese. Could I substitute by adding nutritional yeast to the recipe? What do you think?

    1. Becky I think that will be just fine! I’d suggest starting with about 3 tablespoons and going from there! Let us know how it goes!

  23. Hi Lexi, the only gluten free pasta I was able to find was 100% corn flour. Is this a type you tried? I’m just wondering how “creamy” this will be.

  24. This recipe is so lovely to make. Its quick, easy, and simple ingredients wonderful for everyone in your household. My 7 year old loved it so much!!will definitely make it again!

    5.0 rating

  25. One pot meals are my time saving jam and this one does not disappoint! I go dairy free, but once cheese is added for my husband, this smells almost exactly like the far less healthy boxed hamburger helper that I grew up eating.

    5.0 rating

  26. Made this for dinner tonight and it was excellent! Brought back happy memories from my Mom’s version. Made this with 8 oz plant based non-dairy cheddar style shreds due to lactose intolerance. Also used about 1/2 of the seasonings due to my sensitive tummy. It was so full of flavor even with less seasoning. My husband who is not gluten free/dairy free/sensitive, went back for seconds and said that it was really good. Thanks again Lexi and team for another awesome recipe.

    5.0 rating

    1. We haven’t tried it doubled. But I suspect you won’t need double the amount of water added to the past. I’d start with adding in a little less than double the water. Just make sure your water is boiling before adding in the pasta. Everything else should be doubled, but the cook time should stay about the same.

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