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Hamburger Mac and Cheese is like a homemade Hamburger Helper. This quick, one-pot meal combines seasoned ground beef, garlic, and onions with tender macaroni in a creamy, cheesy sauce.

Large dutch oven soup pot with macaroni, hamburger and cheese and a wooden spoon.
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Homemade Hamburger Helper

If you still get cravings for classic Hamburger Helper once in a while, but the box just isn’t cutting it, you’ve got to try this homemade version! Hamburger Mac and Cheese is basically a homemade version of the classic boxed meal, except so much better!

You cook the ground beef, add seasonings, milk, broth, and noodles, then simmer it all together until the macaroni is cooked. Melt in the cheese and voila! Homemade Hamburger Helper is ready in about 30 minutes.

Such a simple and comforting meal. Feel free to mix it up and add some veggies, like carrots or mushrooms, or even just a cup of frozen veggies. For a healthier version, use ground turkey instead of beef.

Ingredients

  • Ground Beef – I prefer to use a lower fat ratio, like 85/15 or 90/10 for this recipe.
  • Onion and Garlic – Flavorings for the ground beef.
  • Dijon Mustard – Adds a slight tang to the sauce, but you can’t taste it.
  • Low Sodium Chicken Broth I always opt for the low sodium version to keep control of the salt in my recipes.
  • Whole Milk and Heavy Cream – This combo make the sauce rich creamy but keeps it lighter than if we just used cream.
  • Macaroni – Makes sense to use macaroni noodles for a mac and cheese recipe, but you could use any small cut pasta, like shells or rotini.
  • Cream Cheese – This addition gives the same an extra creamy and smooth texture.
  • Cheese – I like to use a variety of cheeses; Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Jack Cheese, and Parmesan Cheese are the winning combo for this recipe.

How To Make Hamburger Mac and Cheese

See the recipe card below for full, detailed instructions

  • Heat oil in a large dutch oven and cook ground beef with onions and garlic.
  • Stir in warm broth, mustard, milk and macaroni. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
Cooked ground beef, diced onions in a dutch oven.
Ground beef, uncooked macaroni, milk and broth in a large soup pot.
Hamburger mac and cheese in a large dutch oven with a wooden spoon.
Macaroni and ground beef with melted cheeses.

Variations

  • Cheese – Mix it up and add different cheeses like gruyere, fontina, or white cheddar.
  • Meat – Ground turkey or ground chicken work just as well and are a little lower in fat.
  • Vegetables – Try sauteeing some mushrooms with the onions, or stir in some steamed broccoli or frozen mixed vegetables at the end.
  • Spicy – Add a pinch of cayenne, ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, or a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Storage

Refrigerator – Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add a splash or two of milk to rehydrate the sauce if needed.

Freezer – Cool completely, then place leftovers in a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw completely before reheating.

Bowl of hamburger macaroni with a fork.

Pro Tips

  • Grate Your Own Cheese – Grate cheese fresh off the block. Pre-shredded cheese has a starchy coating that prevents proper melting.
  • Room Temp Liquids – Before adding the broth and milk to the ground beef, measure and set them out on the counter so they are at room temperature when they are added to the pot. This helps to prevent any fats from the beef from seizing up and solidifying.
  • Chicken Broth vs. Beef Broth – You’ll notice that the recipe used ground beef and chicken broth for a lighter flavor. Beef broth can be used instead if you prefer.

Recipes To Try Next

Recipe

Hamburger Mac and Cheese / Homemade Hamburger Helper

5
Hamburger Mac and Cheese is a like a homemade Hamburger Helper. A quick, one-pot meal with ground beef and macaroni in a creamy cheesy sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • Canola oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 small yellow onion finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk room temperature
  • 3 cups dry macaroni noodles or any short pasta
  • 2 ounces cream cheese room temp, cubed
  • 1 ½ cups freshly shredded block medium cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded block colby jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: Freshly minced parsley or chives
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Instructions
 

  • Measure out milk and broth into a large measuring cup. Set aside.
  • Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat, add a drizzle of oil, followed by the ground beef. Season with salt, cook and break up the meat with a wooden spoon until most of the pink is cooked out.
  • Add in the onions and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the dijon, chicken broth, milk and pasta. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until pasta is al dente, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the pasta is cooked through, remove from heat and stir in the cheeses and black pepper, stirring until the cheese is melted. Stir in the heavy cream. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of milk, the sauce will thicken a lot as it stands.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately, garnished with more cheese, and fresh parsley or chives if desired.

Notes

Before adding the broth and milk to the ground beef, measure and set them out on the counter so they are at room temperature when they are added to the pot. This helps to prevent any fats from the beef from seizing up and solidifying.

Nutrition

Calories: 696kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 43gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 990mgPotassium: 677mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1085IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 576mgIron: 3mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Laura K. says:

    Great, simple recipe. I had no cream, so only used milk. Was still delicious. Next time, I will maybe add a veg or 2. Thanks!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Laura! Thanks for stopping by.