Homemade “Hamburger Helper” Recipe
Do you have a meal that is nostalgic to your childhood?
I learned how to make Hamburger Helper from a box when I was in middle school, I believe. My mom worked full time, and wouldn’t get home til about 6pm. I often had sports practice after school, but if I made it home before her it was my job to get dinner started.
Hamburger Helper was one of my favorites. Of course, I loved the noodles! But the cheesy sauce was just as good.
When our family started to eat healthier and focus on real, whole foods. Good ol’ Hamburger Helper was something I stopped buying. It has a bunch of ingredients in it that I would prefer not to feed my family, like enriched flour, gmo’s, glycerides, artificial colors and flavors, inflammatory oils and anti-caking agents.
Thankfully, it is not hard at all to make a nutritious version of Hamburger Helper that tastes even better than the boxed stuff! My kids and I all love this recipe. I hope you do, too!
There are lots of ways to level up the nutrition here if you so choose. Either way, know that you are making a much better version than what you would get in the store.
Nutrition “Up-Level” Ideas:
Ground beef - use grass fed beef
Butter - use grass fed butter
Flour - use organic, unbleached flour
Bone broth - use homemade from good quality bones
Milk - use raw milk
Cheese - use raw cheese
Noodles - use organic, whole grain or brown rice pasta
Homemade “Hamburger Helper” Recipe
Serves about 5 people
(I 1.5x this recipe for my family)
1 lb. ground beef
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 ½ cups bone broth (chicken or beef)
½ cup cream or milk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon oregano
2 cups cheddar cheese (fresh grated preferred)
½ lb. macaroni noodles, equal to 2 cups - cooked according to package directions
COOK BEEF: Season the ground beef lightly with salt and pepper. Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat and add the beef. Cook until cooked through. You can choose to drain the beef at this point or not. (I don’t if it’s grass fed beef.) Remove beef from the pot.
MAKE SAUCE: Melt butter in the same skillet over medium heat and add the flour. Stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes or until it begins to thicken.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add the broth, milk and Worcestershire in small splashes, stirring continuously. Doing this slowly ensures that the roux doesn’t “break” and continues to thicken.
Add the tomato paste, paprika, onion powder and oregano while you are stirring in the liquids. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Reduce the heat of the sauce to low and gradually sprinkle in the shredded cheese, stirring continuously until combined. Add the ground beef back and stir to combine.
Add the drained macaroni and stir to combine. The consistency may seem thin at first, but the macaroni will continue to absorb the sauce and it will thicken upon standing. Remove from heat and serve!
Cheese: Shred the cheese from a block instead of using packaged shredded cheese. It will melt and taste much better and won’t have the anti-caking ingredients on it that pre-shredded has.
Make sure the base of the soup isn’t too hot when you add the cheese, otherwise the dairy will separate and create a grainy consistency.
Pasta: We like elbows or shells the best in this recipe, but you can use what you like. I also prefer to use a gluten free brown rice pasta, and it works great in this recipe.
Be sure to set a timer when cooking your pasta to avoid overcooking it. Macaroni in particular cooks fast.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. This does freeze/reheat very well. It saves my life every week.
Let me know if you try this and what you think!
Wishing you abundant health - Melisha