Hamburger Mac and Cheese

Published Date: September 18, 2021

This homemade Mac and Cheese recipe is a from-scratch version of the classic boxed comfort food Hamburger Helper! It is meaty, saucy, and oozing with tomato and cheese goodness in every delectable mouthful! A hearty meal that is sure to be a family favorite!

Hamburger Mac and Cheese
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Classic Hamburger Helper 

Is your pantry filled with ready-made boxed meals? They can life-savers on a busy weeknight when you do not have the energy nor the inclination to whip up a good home cooked meal. And those Hamburger Helper box dinners pretty are decent, right? But what if I told you you could have a quick homemade version and eat it, too?

Homemade Hamburger Mac and Cheese

I am all for quick and easy, delicious comfort foods…I love a quick box meal. But nowadays, I’m a bit more conscious about the food I serve to my whole family. And living off those prepared meals in a box is not what I have in mind when making lunch or dinner anymore.

So this homemade hamburger helper recipe is a great compromise! It has all the amazing flavors but is made of real pasta ingredients and is just as easy to make. No artificial flavors are used, it contains less sodium, and is so much more flavorful! A pat-in-the-back type of recipe, if you ask me.

It’s a quick, easy and hearty meal, just like my Instant Pot Turkey Breast and Instant Pot Meatloaf!

Why This Recipe Works

  • It is a budget-friendly dish that is perfect for sharing!
  • A pasta recipe made using one pot only- easy to make, and a breeze to clean up up after.
  • You have complete control over the ingredient portions and can make it to fit any dietary restrictions.
  • Ditch the box because this homemade version is as quick and easy but is much healthier!
Hamburger Mac and Cheese Bowl
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Ingredients Needed:

  • Ground beef
  • Seasoning salt
  • Pepper
  • Beef broth
  • Heavy cream
  • Tomato sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Beef bouillon powder
  • Dijon mustard, or mustard powder
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
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Ingredient Substitution and Options:

  • Aside from ground beef, you can use ground turkey or ground sausage.
  • Other pasta types can also be used to make this dish. Feel free to try rotini, shells, penne, or fusilli, whole-wheat, or cavatappi pasta. Just keep in mind that you may need to adjust the amount of liquid and the cooking time. Just make sure that the pasta is al dente, and add enough liquid so that it is saucy enough for you.  
  • In line with keeping this recipe as simple as can be, I used onion powder and garlic powder. However, if you prefer to use fresh onions and garlic, that is absolutely fine too. Dice up one onion and add it to the Dutch oven at the same time as you add the ground beef. Once the meat is cooked, add 4 cloves of garlic and cook for one minute before adding the sauce ingredients.
  • You can also swap the beef broth with pork or chicken broth.

Kitchen Tools You’ll Need:

  • Dutch oven
  • Cheese grater
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

Make the Hamburger Mac and Cheese

  1. Place the ground beef, seasoning salt, and pepper in a large dutch oven and cook using medium heat. Scramble fry until browned and there are no meat lumps, then drain the fat from the browned ground beef.
  2. Add the broth, cream, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beef bouillon powder, dijon mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and paprika to the dutch oven and stir together. Allow this to come to a boil.
  3. Add the pasta to the beef mixture, stir, and simmer uncovered until al dente.
  4. Stir in 2 cups of cheese and continue cooking until melted.
  5. Remove from heat and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top for serving.
Hamburger Mac and Cheese Process
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Tips when Making Hamburger Mac and Cheese

  • Follow the package instruction for the pasta cooking time. Make sure that it is al dente as they will continue cooking from the residual heat.
  • If the sauce is too thick, you can add some hot water or broth to thin it out. The pasta should be cheesy and saucy.
  • Use good quality cheese to make this homemade cheeseburger hamburger helper for best results.
  • Freshly shredded cheese is also recommended because they melt into smoother and creamier consistency. They taste better and you save more money!
  • Use a wooden spatula to stir the pasta regularly. Make sure to scrape the bottom so nothings get stuck and burned.
  • If you like your Mac and Cheese with a bit of heat, you can add some chili powder.

How to Store Leftovers?

  • If you have leftover Hamburger Mac and Cheese, allow them to cool to room temperature before storing them in an airtight container. This will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.  
  • Reheat in the microwave or on the stove until heated through. If it is not saucy enough, you may add more broth, cream, or milk.
  • Freeze the Mac and Cheese if you want to keep them longer. It will last for up to 3 months.
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Frequently Asked Question for Hamburger Mac and Cheese

I would like to add vegetables to this dish – what do you recommend?

This is actually a great recipe for sneaking in some veggies for your kids. Some to try would be carrots, bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms. Just make sure to dice these up to small pieces and add them with the beef at the beginning so they can fully cook. Or feel free to stir in roasted vegetables like broccoli, or cauliflower at the end of cooking.

Can this be made into a vegetarian dish?

Yes! Just use vegetable broth instead of beef broth, leave out the beef bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, and ground beef. And load it up with vegetables.

Can I use an Instant Pot to make it?

Sure you can, Instant pot cheeseburger macaroni sounds great too! Just follow the same instructions but pressure cook on high for 5 minutes instead.

Hamburger Mac and Cheese H
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If you’ve tried this HAMBURGER MAC AND CHEESE or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how they turned out. We love hearing from you! You can also follow along with me on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM to see more colorful recipes!

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Homemade Hamburger Helper

This homemade Mac and Cheese recipe is a from-scratch version of the classic boxed comfort food Hamburger Helper! It is meaty, saucy, and oozing with tomato and cheese goodness in every delectable mouthful! A one-pot hearty meal that is sure to be a family favorite!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cheeseburger macaroni, Hamburger Mac and Cheese, Homemade Hamburger helper, Mac and Cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon seasoning salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese freshly grated, divided
  • Optional garnish is more shredded cheddar and fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Place the ground beef, seasoning salt, and pepper in a large dutch oven. Scramble fry the meat until there is no pink remaining. Try to make sure there are no lumps. When the meat is fully cooked, drain the excess fat off but leave the meat in the dutch oven.
  • Add the broth, cream, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beef bouillon powder, dijon mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and paprika to the dutch oven and stir together. Allow this to come to a boil.
  • Add the pasta, stir, and simmer uncovered until al dente (about 10 minutes). Do not overcook the pasta.
  • Stir in 2 cups of cheese and allow this to melt.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top for serving.
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