This Homemade Hamburger Helper is just as easy as the boxed version, but it tastes so much better. It’s a family friendly meal that you can make as spicy as you like. There are directions below for making it in the Instant Pot or right on the stove–it’s definitely a quick dinner recipe for busy weeknights.
Once you begin thinking about healthy eating goals, one of the first things to do are store bought meals. I do understand craving those meals though, so I decided that a quick and easy homemade Hamburger Helper recipe was a necessity for my readers! This family favorite is truly an easy dinner recipe.
Where’s the recipe?
Here at My Crazy Good Life, I make sure that everyone can cook my recipes–whatever your skill level in the kitchen. This recipe can be cooked in the Instant Pot or right on the stove, and I walk you through both instructions in the post below. Read that first for ingredient information, substitution tips, and other recipe tips.
If you are a whiz in the kitchen, scroll straight down to the printable recipe for Homemade Hamburger Helper and you’ll be good to go!
What is Hamburger Helper?
A total comfort food from my childhood, I remember how easy it was to pull out some hamburger meat and make dinner. There was aways leftover hamburger helper in my fridge at home, and boxes of this were pantry staples in my house.
Traditional Hamburger Helper is a boxed dinner, complete with white pasta and powdered sauce–both ingredients I don’t recommend if you’re waiting your weight or what you’re eating. If you loved Hamburger Helper as a kid, you’re going to love this recipe–I’ve been told it tastes like the cheeseburger macaroni dinner.
Boxed hamburger helper isn’t something I typically eat because of the processed ingredients and white pasta. This homemade recipe is an easy meal that picky eaters will love, but made with minimally processed real ingredients and extra protein. This version of the classic meal will keep you full for longer and because of the whole grains and extra protein.
- Ground Beef: Be sure and grab at least 95% lean beef, or substitute fat-free ground turkey if you prefer.
- Onions: Loaded with antioxidants, and studies show that onions can fight inflammation.
- Green chiles: These spicy peppers can actually balance your blood sugar levels and improve your immune system. You can absolutely substitute these for green bell peppers if you’d like to remove the spice from this recipe. You can find canned green chilies in the grocery store next to the other Mexican-inspired items.
- Garlic Powder
- Pasta: Whole wheat noodles are perfect for this recipe. I used elbow macaroni, but egg noodles would be a bit more traditional for Hamburger Helper. The type of pasta doesn’t matter much here.
- Low sodium beef broth: If you don’t have any, chicken broth or even water will do.
- Tomato sauce: Be sure to grab one with low-sodium and no added sugar.
Optional Ingredients and Toppings:
- Want a creamier sauce for the Hamburger Helper? You’ll want to use the optional Greek yogurt and shredded cheese in this recipe. Any cheese works– cheddar cheese and colby jack are popular here.
- If you’re looking for a delicious topping, plain Greek yogurt (a perfect swap for sour cream!), diced green onions, fresh parsley, and sliced jalapeños are perfect.
- Need more spice? Add some hot sauce chili powder to the top of this recipe.
- Want to add extra veggies? I’d add diced tomatoes, diced green peppers, and even cooked cauliflower rice.
- Serve this recipe on its own or with some garlic bread.
Instant Pot Hamburger Helper Directions:
This easy hamburger helper recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes.
- Press the Sauté button and spray the pot with cooking oil. Once hot, brown the ground beef until it’s no longer pink. Completely brown ground beef is fully cooked. If there is a lot of grease left over after browning, go ahead and drain that before moving to step 2.
- Add the diced onions, green chilis, paprika, and garlic powder. Give it a quick stir.
- Pour in the whole wheat pasta, low sodium broth, and tomato sauce.
- Close the lid and turn the pressure valve to sealing. Cook on high pressure using the manual setting (or pressure cook setting, depending on which model pressure cooker you’re using) for 3 minutes.
- Release the pressure using the quick release method. This means that you’ll open that sealing valve as soon as your recipe is done cooking and the steam will come out (fast and loud).
- Remove the lid and turn the Instant Pot off. Allow the food to cool for a few minutes, then mix in the Greek yogurt and cheese until the cheese is melted. Allowing the recipe to cool before adding Greek yogurt mixture helps to avoid curdling, which happens when dairy products are heated up too quickly.
The nutrition facts are calculated without the Greek yogurt and cheese because it’s how we prefer to make it. I wanted to give you the option of the creamy version!
- If using Gluten Free pasta in the Instant Pot, cook this recipe for 1/2 the amount of time listed on the box of noodles.
- You can easily control the spice of this recipe by adding more or less green chilis. Want it cooler? Replace all of the green chiles with green bell pepper. Hotter? Add a few jalapeños!
- This recipe is great with ground turkey as well, no changes are required when switching from ground beef to other ground meats.
- Read this if you’re using frozen ground beef to make this recipe.
- I rarely add salt to my recipes so you can add salt and pepper to your individual taste.
- To make this recipe dairy free, just skip the Greek yogurt and cheese–I often make this recipe dairy free at home!
- Brown the ground beef in a large skillet on the stove over medium high heat.
- Once beef is cooked thoroughly, stir in the diced onions, green chiles, paprika, and garlic powder.
- Pour the pasta, beef broth, and tomato sauce into the skillet. Mix it up gently.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer the pot for 10-12 minutes, cooking pasta until it’s tender.
- Remove the lid and allow the recipe to cool for a few minutes, then mix in the Greek yogurt and cheese (optional).
Healthy Eating Plans
This homemade version of Hamburger Helper is perfect for your healthy lifestyle! It’s compatible with multiple diets and is filling and healthy.
21 Day Fix Hamburger Helper:
- For the 21 Day Fix or Ultimate Portion Fix, the entire recipe (including Greek yogurt) is calculated as: 5 red containers, 3 green containers, and 8 yellow containers. If you use cheese, add in 4 blue containers.
- I give you the counts for the entire recipe so it’s easier for you to calculate containers if you change something.
- Per 1 cup serving on the 21 Day Fix/Portion Fix (and including the optional cheese and Greek yogurt), your count is 3/4 red container, 1/2 green container, 1 1/3 yellow container, and 2/3 blue container per serving.
- Without Greek yogurt and cheese, counts are 2/3 red container, 1/2 green container, 1 1/3 yellow container per serving.
Weight Watchers Hamburger Helper:
- For every one cup serving, this WW friendly recipe counts as 3 Blue Plan Points |5 Green Plan Points | 1 Purple Plan Point when using 99% fat free ground turkey, fat free yogurt, and low fat cheese.
- If you’d like to use 95% lean ground beef, your counts will be: 5 Blue Plan Points | 6 Green Plan Points | 3 Purple Plan Points
- This is a perfect 2B Mindset lunch recipe when you fill half of your plate with vegetables from the 2B Mindset food list.
More healthy Meal Prep Recipes:
I consider this Homemade Hamburger Helper a delicious meal prep recipe because it’s easy to make and it keeps well in the fridge or freezer, and tastes great even after reheating. Here are some other favorites:
- Starbucks Bacon Egg Bites
- Healthy Breakfast Tacos
- Healthy Green Chili Chicken
- Spaghetti Squash Taco Bowls
- Healthy Veggie Quesadillas
- Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 1 lb ground beef lean (can also use turkey)
- 1 cup green chiles fresh or canned, diced
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1 cup beef broth low sodium
- 2 cups whole wheat pasta I used elbows
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt optional
- 1 ⅓ cup cheddar cheese shredded, optional
- Brown the ground beef in the Instant Pot using the sauté function.
- Add the onions, green chilis, paprika, and garlic powder. Give it a quick stir.
- Next pour in the pasta and then cover with beef broth and tomato sauce.
- Close the lid and turn the pressure valve to sealing. Cook on high pressure using the manual setting for 3 minutes. Release the pressure using the quick release method.
- Remove the lid and turn the Instant Pot off. Mix in the optional Greek yogurt and cheese until the cheese is melted.
- Brown the ground beef in a large skillet on the stove.
- Stir in the onions, green chiles, paprika, and garlic powder.
- Pour the pasta, beef broth, and tomato sauce into the skillet. Try to keep the pasta below the liquid.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium low.
- Allow the meal to cook for 10-15 minutes until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally as needed.
- Remove the lid and mix in the (optional) Greek yogurt and cheese. Mix until the cheese is all melted. Garnish and serve.
- Brown the ground beef in a large skillet on the stove, then transfer the cooked ground beef to your slow cooker.
- Add onions, green chilies, paprika, garlic powder, noodles, beef broth, and tomato sauce.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on high heat for 2-3 hours, low heat for 4-5 hours, or until the pasta is tender.
- Remove the lid and mix in the (optional) Greek yogurt and cheese.
- Weight Watchers Plan Points: For a 1 cup serving using 99% fat-free ground turkey and fat-free greek yogurt 3 Blue Plan Points : 5 Green Plan Points : 1 Purple Plan Point
- 21 Day Fix/Ultimate Portions Fix: Per 1 cup serving with optional ingredients: ¾ Red Containers, ½ Green Containers, 1 ⅓ Yellow Containers, ⅔ Blue Containers. Without optional ingredients: 2/3 red container, 1/2 green container, 1 1/3 yellow container per serving.
- 2B Mindset: Fill your plate half full with veggies for a complete lunch.