This super easy Cheesy Hamburger Skillet is a delicious homemade version of Hamburger Helper and is sure to please the whole family – even the picky eaters. Kids LOVE it and it all cooks in one skillet!
I’ll never forget the first time I got recognized in public because of the blog. It was in the middle of Walmart. The sweetest older gentleman approached me to tell me how much he loved my recipes. We talked for the better part of 15 minutes and as he turned to walk away, I realized that I had been standing there the entire time holding a box of Hamburger Helper.
At first, I felt a little embarrassed. Here I was getting noticed for my recipes all the while holding what is arguably the king of convenience food meals. But after I thought about it, I realized… Hamburger Helper is real life. It’s cheap, easy, and makes for a quick one-pot meal. And that’s 100% ok.
The reality is I’m certainly no stranger to “America’s Favorite One Pan Meal.” No, quite the contrary. As a child of the 80s, I love me some Hamburger Helper. And Jack does, too. It’s like comfort food to me.
And while Heather’s not a huge fan of the boxed stuff, she’ll tolerate it sometimes to make us happy. And whether it’s Cheeseburger Macaroni, Beef Stroganoff, or Beef Pasta, I love how easy it makes supper on busy weeknights.
Now, as I’ve said before, there should be zero shame in grabbing the cheap box of dried pasta and seasonings if that’s what you need to do to get supper on the table. But if you’ve got a few extra minutes, making a homemade version of hamburger helper is an opportunity to add some really great flavor.
Is this version healthier? Probably not. Is it more delicious? 100%!
I mean, this is the kind of meal that becomes a family favorite not because it’s healthy, but because it tastes great, is hearty and filling, and is easy – like way easy. In fact, this easy homemade hamburger helper recipe all cooks in one pot just like the store-bought version.
What should I serve with Hamburger Helper?
This one-pot wonder is certainly a meal unto itself. It’s got your protein, your carbs, your dairy… But what side dish should you serve with it?
Side Salad – We most often grab a bagged salad kit from the grocery store. They offer a delicious variety and keep the meal quick and easy. With that being said, you could also serve my Apple Pecan Salad or a Caesar Salad made with my homemade Creamy Caesar Dressing.
Green Veggie – Sticking with the easy theme, serve this with a steamable bag of green veggies right from the grocery store produce shelf – like green beans or broccoli. You could also use my recipe for Roasted Green Beans or Roasted Broccoli.
- Ground Beef – Since we’re going to drain it, any ratio of ground beef will work here. Going for super lean, like 90/10 might even eliminate the need for you to drain the meat after it’s cooked.
- Onion – White, yellow, or even sweet onions will work. As the recipe shows, you can also swap a fresh onion for onion powder.
- Garlic – Fresh is going to give you the best flavor, but you can use the jarred garlic or even garlic powder.
- Water or Broth – Water works just fine, but broth will give you more flavor. Just opt for a low sodium or no salt added broth so you can control the sodium content.
- Brown Gravy Mix – This gives the sauce great flavor and thickening power. If you’re watching your sodium intake, just choose a low or lower sodium mix.
- Cheddar Cheese Soup – This ingredient adds some great flavor and creaminess. And while canned soups often get a bad rap, just check out the ingredients on the label. There’s nothing weird in the brand I use.
- Macaroni – I prefer to keep my homemade hamburger helper as true to the boxed version and use plain ol’ elbow macaroni, but I suppose that you could use other pasta shapes. You could even use egg noodles. Just keep in mind the pasta size might require more or less water or broth – so just watch it carefully.
- Cheddar Cheese – I normally use whatever I have in the fridge – be it mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, or a cheddar blend. And no… if I’m making this cheesy hamburger skillet, I ain’t grating my own cheese here. The bagged stuff works just fine.
Love one pot meals? Try these…
Cheesy Hamburger Skillet (Homemade Hamburger Helper)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 small onion chopped (or 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder)
- 1 clove garlic minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 3 cups water or beef broth
- 1 (.87 to 1.0-ounce) packet brown gravy mix
- 1 (10.5-ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni
- 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with onions over medium heat. Once completely cooked, drain the excess grease away and return the skillet with the meat to the heat.
- Add the garlic and sauté 1 to 2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the brown gravy mix, cheddar cheese soup, and water. Mix thoroughly to combine. (If using onion and garlic powder instead of fresh, add those now.)
- Add the uncooked pasta to the pan and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pasta is al dente or cooked to your liking.
- Stir in the shredded cheddar cheese until melted. Serve immediately.
* If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. The values do not include optional ingredients or when ingredients are added to taste. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.