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Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Growing up, my mom never made Hamburger Helper meals, but my mother-in-law did. It’s one of those things that my husband loved from childhood, just like his beloved Kraft Mac and Cheese. I decided I should make him hamburger helper sometimes but I wanted to make a healthier version without the preservatives that the boxed Hamburger Helper contains.

This Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe is easy to make, delicious, and your whole family is going to love it! AND, even though it is a homemade version, it’s just as quick as making the boxed version if you use your Instant Pot or another pressure cooker. Next time you’re craving this comfort food, try this homemade version!

Don’t have a pressure cooker? Don’t worry! You can make it on the stovetop too! This is a family-friendly recipe that anyone can make and enjoy!

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Will My Picky Kids Eat It?

Well, I can’t guarantee it will be a family favorite because if they are picky, you just never can tell! I can say that I have 6 picky kids and 4 out of 6 were fans of it. The ones who are big macaroni and cheese lovers seemed to like it the most. I’ll also add that I’m not a huge ground beef lover myself but I did like this recipe! The cheesy sauce is great for picky eaters.

How to Cook Homemade Hamburger Helper – Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker, Stovetop, or Oven

The easiest way to cook this meal, in my opinion, is in a pressure cooker. It’s super easy and quick that way. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use your stovetop or even bake it in the oven.

Homemade Hamburger Helper in the Instant Pot or another Pressure Cooker

Because this is my preferred method, the instructions for your Instant Pot are the ones found in the recipe card below. I love fixing this easy dinner idea in my pressure cooker whenever possible because it’s just so fast and only gets that one pot dirty.

Ingredients for homemade hamburger helper recipe.
Browning hamburger meat in the Instant Pot
Brown ground hamburger meat, onion powder, and garlic salt in the Instant Pot using the saute function.
Making homemade hamburger helper in the instant pot.
Mix in milk and chicken broth with the browned hamburger meat.
making homemade hamburger helper in the Instant Pot
Next, add in your dry pasta. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes then quick release.
Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe
How the homemade hamburger helper looks after it initially finishes in the pressure cooker before you add in cheese.
cheese to add to homemade hamburger helper
Next, add cheese to the pot, a little bit at a time, and mix it all together until the cheese has fully melted.
Homemade Hamburger Helper made in the Instant Pot ready to eat.
Ready to eat!

Homemade Hamburger Helper on the Stovetop

Want to make this recipe on the stovetop instead? It’s easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In a large pot on medium heat, brown hamburger meat with the onion powder or onions and garlic salt.
  3. Drain excess fat.
  4. Add cooked al dente pasta, chicken broth, and milk to the large pot with browned hamburger meat. Heat on medium heat until heated through but not boiling.
  5. Add cheese, mixing in a little bit at a time until it is all incorporated.
  6. Serve hot.

Baked Homemade Hamburger Helper

Want to make this as a baked dish? Sure, you can do that too! Here’s how:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions so that it’s al dente.
  4. In a large pot on medium heat, brown hamburger meat with the onion powder or onions and garlic salt.
  5. Drain excess fat.
  6. Add cooked al dente pasta, chicken broth, and milk to the large pot with browned hamburger meat.
  7. Add cheese, mixing in a little bit at a time until it is all incorporated.
  8. Transfer to baking dish.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until all shredded cheese is thoroughly melted.
  10. Serve hot.

What to Serve with Homemade Hamburger Helper

  • Air fryer baked potatoes make a delicious side dish. In my opinion, baked potatoes are one of the things air fryers cook the best. They are amazing this way!
  • Salad makes a great veggie side dish along with these skillet green beans.
  • Garlic bread is another great side dish for this meal.
homemade hamburger helper recipe

Meal Prep Tip for Busy Moms

I try to keep a couple of pounds of browned lean ground beef in my freezer at all times.  It makes meals really quick when I don’t plan in advance as I can just grab a pound of ground beef and thaw if needed for quesadillas or throw it in the pressure cooker frozen.

Homemade Hamburger Helper Style Pasta

Yield: 8 Servings

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

Busy weeknights are a great time to make this delicious, cheesy pasta and hamburger dish! Your family will love this easy homemade hamburger helper recipe! It's a great recipe we make again and again!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes


  • 1 Pound Browned Ground Beef
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 16 Ounces Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 Ounces Sliced American Cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder OR 3 Tablespoons of fresh onion
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 12 Ounces Mini Farfelle Pasta


  1. Place all ingredients EXCEPT the cheese into your pressure cooker.
  2. Stir.
  3. Close lid and seal.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Switch to keep warm for 2 minutes.
  6. Release pressure BUT put a towel over the release knob as the milk makes it sputter.
  7. Open the lid and add the shredded cheese.
  8. Stir.
  9. Serve!


Refrigerate leftover hamburger helper in an airtight container. The leftovers are great reheated!

For a little change in flavoring, try adding 3-4 tablespoons of tomato paste or a can of tomato sauce. Alternatively, you could add about 1/2 cup of sour cream for another variation.

If you're trying to sneak some extra veggies into your kid's diet, try adding in small pieces of red bell peppers and mushrooms to this meal or corn.

For a creamier sauce, add in 1/4 - 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 518Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 1052mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 35g

These nutritional facts are offered only as an estimate and could vary slightly.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

So simple!  I like to make this particular homemade recipe when I’m feeling a bit lazy or pressed for time.  I just serve it with some of my canned applesauce and butter bread and it’s always a hit. If one of your childhood favorites was the boxed stuff, you’ve gotta give this a try! Grab this simple ingredient list and head to the grocery store!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I substitute beef broth for the chicken broth? Yes, that should work just fine.
  2. Can I substitute ground turkey instead of hamburger meat? Yes, that should be just fine. You could substitute ground chicken too.
  3. Can I substitute another type of pasta? Absolutely! Elbow macaroni is a good alternative or shell pasta.

If you give this Homemade Hamburger Helper Style Instant Pot Recipe a try, make sure you chime in as to what your family thought. We love a great one pot meal like this.

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If you need some more easy weeknight dinner recipes, check out our other Thrifty Nifty Mommy Recipes.

Homemade Hamburger Helper Style Pasta Pressure Cooker Recipe

gloria patterson

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

I also grew up eating hamburger helper it was always our favorite dinner. I will be making this of course cutting it way down.

Mia Rose

Monday 16th of May 2022

I recently made hamburger helper for my grandkids when they stayed overnight, and they loved it.

gloria patterson

Friday 3rd of September 2021

Hamburger helper have not had this in YEARS!!! it was something that was quick and cheap and I had it a lot. I think I am going to make a 1/2 size or less to see if memory is right about how good it it.


Friday 11th of June 2021

That looks really simple and delicious.

monique s

Wednesday 16th of October 2019

Thanks for the idea and the recipe. This being done in 7 minutes is awesome. A real time saver on a busy day

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