Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe Cheeseburger Macaroni


homemade hamburger helper cheeseburger macaroni

I’m just going to admit something here. I LOVE Hamburger Helper.

Yes the super bad for you, preservative filled box of powdered seasoning and noodles. LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

I recently found a recipe for Cheeseburger Macaroni from scratch though and you know what? It’s not that much more difficult! In fact, it’s honestly about the same amount of work.

And yes…it is BETTER than the box mix.

From now on, we will be making this homemade version. I’ve made it 3 times so far and 3 out of 4 family members LOVE it and go back for seconds (the 4th one likes dinosaur chicken nuggets and PBJ’s.).

If this becomes a “go to” meal for your family, you could theoretically even make baggies of the spices & cornstarch and keep it in your pantry to make this dish even faster and more simple!

Feel free to use ground turkey or ground chicken!

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni Recipe

From Food.com


1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp sugar

1 cup hot water

2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups macaroni

1 cup shredded cheddar


  1. Go ahead and brown your ground beef in a fairly deep pan or pot (you’ll be adding a lot of liquid).
  2. Drain the fat off the meat and put it back in the pan/pot. Add spices, cornstarch, water, pasta and milk and bring to a boil.
  3. Bring your heat down to a simmer and let simmer until the pasta is finished.
  4. Add your cheddar cheese and turn off the heat. Stir until the cheese is melted.
  5. Let sit for a few minutes and serve!

This is SO tasty! I love to add some ketchup to mine so it’s more “burger” like.

Serve with a salad or another good green veggie (these brussels sprouts are awesome!).


There have been some comments about this being bland…you need to season this to taste. If your family is VERY used to the boxed Hamburger Helper, this probably will be very bland as written. So adjust seasoning to your family’s liking. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep tasting. This is how you make a recipe work for YOUR family. There are some helpful tips from other readers who have made slight substitions with success, be sure to look at those and decide if those will work for you. This is a great base recipe that  my family LOVES, but your family might need to tweak it…and that’s perfectly alright!


homemade hamburger helper

4.4 from 11 reviews
Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe: Cheeseburger Macaroni
  • 1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1½ cups macaroni
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  1. Go ahead and brown your ground beef in a fairly deep pan or pot (you'll be adding a lot of liquid).
  2. Drain the fat off the meat and put it back in the pan/pot. Add spices, water, pasta and milk and bring to a boil.
  3. Bring your heat down to a simmer and let simmer until the pasta is finished.
  4. Add your cheddar cheese and turn off the heat. Stir until the cheese is melted.
  5. Let sit for a few minutes and serve!



  1. Mel says

    If I normally have to make two boxes of HH for my family would I just double this recipe? Or does it make more than a box would??


    • says

      Karina, it does seem like a lot, but it’s really not! If you pre-cook the pasta, you’d have to adjust probably the entire recipe liquid wise….

      All of the liquid gets absorbed for the most part. What’s left ends up being the sauce.

  2. Kara says

    Just tried this tonight with ground venison and it was a huge hit. I doubled the meat in the recipe and had to keep adding a little more liquid so it wouldnt stick and the macaroni would get done. Also added a little more of each of seasonings since venison has a more “wild/gamey” taste. Delicious! I don’t buy ground beef a lot since we have a freezer full of ground venison and i am always looking for new creative ways to use up the venison. I can see this being added to the meal rotation for sure! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Chelsey says

    This is so delicious & a million times better than the boxed hamburger helper! When are you supposed to add the cornstarch, though?

    • Vickie says

      I came here from pinterest and I would like to try this, but I’m not seeing when to add the cornstarch either?

      • Shian M says

        I just made this tonight, and I assumed the cornstarch went with adding the “spices”. I did that and it turned out fine. I would add a bit more of each spice next time and add a little less cheese for a less “cheddar-y” flavor.

  4. says

    Hello colleagues, how is the whole thing, and what you want to say about this article, in my view
    its in fact amazing for me.

  5. Stacey Haralson says

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was very good. I wont be buying the boxed stuff anymore. Thanks for sharing!

  6. says

    I am eating this as we speak! Very yummy. I buy my pasta in bulk from Sam’s Club, so my package was 16oz, didn’t measure it at all, but I did find myself having to add more water and milk. I just went between the two, add some milk, let it cook, add some water, let it cook, and so on and so forth until my pasta was done! This is a really good recipe! And you know what is in it! Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Sara says

    I’m making two versions of this tonight. One for myself which is using Morningstar “beef crumbles” for my vegetarian self and another pan with regular beef for my family. Can’t wait to try it! Seemed so easy to make :)

  8. Alison says

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was very bland. My husband and I added everything from hot sauce to parmesan to try to flavor it up.

    • says

      I’m sorry! We did not find it bland at all. I do love to eat mine with ketchup, but that’s a weird quirk I picked up growing up. The rest of my family eats it as specified above.

    • Carolyn says

      I used smoked paprika then doubled the onion and garlic powder. The smoked paprika gives it a wonderful flavor. If you know your family likes more flavor I’d double it up and then maybe add some fresh parsley. Everyone has different tastes :)

  9. Lindsay says

    I just made this, but doubled the recipe. Too much liquid! What’d i do wrong?! I doubled Everything so it shouldn’t be a ratio issue. Should I add more cornstarch?

    • says

      How long did you give it to thicken? It will seem like too much liquid until the pasta soaks it up. You could try more cornstarch to thicken it though. I have never doubled this recipe though :(

  10. Ellaina says

    I don’t know what I did wrong but mine came out very bland. I was so disappointed. I even added extra seasonings and still..nothing..

  11. Heather says

    Mine was bland as well. I tasted the finished product and it was all milk and paprika to my palate. Admittedly, the MSG in the box mix is extremely salty. I think my palate missed the salt, but salt did not help. So, I doubled all of the spices except paprika and added chili powder and cumin. That worked. I won’t try it again, but it sated my craving for Cheeseburger Mac.

      • Heather says

        Don’t apologize! Nostalgia tastes different to all of us :). You can see that you had many very positive reviews and a couple of blands– a small minority of us just like that MSG taste (which…ugh, gross). Thank you for helping me get my cheese mac without the box and all those preservatives.

  12. says

    Added few splashes Worcestershire , 1/4 cup ketchup , 1tsp spicy mustard and more spices and used shredded Colby heaping cup . Tastes great !!!!

  13. Heather says

    Good stuff! Surprised at how much it taste like hamburger helper (minus all the salty flavor) ! This is def a fav by the BF

  14. melanie says

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit!! So much so that it went into the recipie book so I can make it again :) So happy to have a healthy alternative to HH. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Ashley S says

    I thought this recipe was great! The only thing I did different was brown the meat a little longer and on higher heat to get that slightly dark brown crusty-ness. Adds so much flavor and when you add the milk and water, you scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the yummy bits. I also added a half tsp more of onion powder and garlic powder. And instead of using salt, I used a tsp of garlic salt. I like things on the saltier side but without using actual salt. This will definitely be a staple in our home now :) Thank you for the recipe!

  16. Hollie says

    Hello, I made this dish tonight and found it very bland. I added extra cheese and seasoning still bland. I ended up throwing it away.

    • says

      It could be many things. Did you use enough pasta? Did you drain your meat? Did you let it simmer long enough, etc. Without having cooked it myself I have no way of knowing. Sorry!

  17. shannon says

    I used venison, sauteed onions while I browned the meat, added lawrys salt, a tablespoon of worcester sauce and 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard. I also used sharp cheddar cheese. Yummy!

  18. raye says

    Made this twice. Once the way the recipe is written, delicious!! The next time I added some chili beans!! Really good also!! Its a nice spin on the recipe. Yum!

  19. Megan says

    Delicious! Just made this last night. Used half light cream and half evaporated milk and added a tiny bit of taco seasoning. Extremely delicious. I always taste as I go so near the end I felt I needed to throw in a little more seasoning to fit my taste preferences. Oh and I hate to admit it but I also threw in some gooey velvetta cheese with some cheddar. Couldn’t help it. Thanks so much for this recipie.

  20. Jen says

    This recipe was great! I added more noodles and cheese since Im not a huge meat eater and it turned out fine. Reheats well the next day, and I definitely feel better about eating this over the sodium/chemical laden hamburger helper version. Thank you!!

  21. says

    This recipe is awesome! I did a few things different.. Once at my husband’s urging I tried just the hamburger with Velveeta Shells & Cheese, but it was not quite right.. I doubled everything except the pasta, I used shells instead of elbow macaroni.. I did not have enough milk so I used half & half.. And I used Velveeta cheese, because I read the recipe was bland.. I know this isn’t a “health conscience” approach to Cheeseburger Macaroni, I will make adjustments to my diet in another way!

  22. Michelle says

    Making this right now and it smell amazing! My husband is so excited to try it, glad to move away from the boxed products!

  23. Susan says

    Just like another person said, my son was so hungry and I had everything on hand. He loved it! I added a squirt of ketchup, 1 beef bouillon and a few dashes of Worcestershire while it was cooking. He ate his with a little Tabasco :)
    Thank you for the recipe.

  24. Meredith smith says

    I made this tonight. It was very good. I doubled the recipe and added about a half teaspoon of Dijon mustard. My husband added ketchup to his. I think next time I will add in onions when I brown the ground beef. Thanks for the recipe. It was a hit with my family.

  25. says

    I have to say, from the other posts about it being bland, I was worried so I amp’d it up a bit. I used beef stock instead of water, I added 2 tsp approx of Kitchen Bouquet at the end and I cooked my hamburger with a tiny bit of bacon grease for a pop of flavor. I gotta say, it was really good and my hubby happily gobbled it up. He ended up sprinkling his with some ancho chile powder in the end b/c he can’t live without some heat in his food. Definitely will be adding this to our rotation. So much better than the box!

  26. krystal pierce says

    WHEN DO U ADD CORNSTARCH….ITS BEEN ASK 10 TIMES…..WHY NO ANSWER… literally in middle of making it…..arggg

    • Brooke Deaton says

      This made me laugh so hard…I am skimming through all these comments trying to find that answer. It just keeps getting ignored. I’m just going to leave it out…obviously it’s not important. Ha. Hope it worked out!

    • Sherryl says

      So, it’s 2 1/2 months after you were making it, so not going to help either of you ladies, but the directions say to add the corn starch when you add the other spices. Maybe it was added in after you were making the recipe, but it is up there. It does look like the printable version doesn’t have it listed, but if you read the actual post with the list of directions, it is there in step 2.

  27. Dawn says

    I’ve made this several times, my family loves it. You add the cornstarch with all the spices, pasta, milk and water. The ingredients are listed in the order that you add them. I also add about 3 tbsp or 1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix. We love the cheeseburger ranch hamburger helper, and adding the ranch powder makes this taste amazing! I’m sure you could add regular ranch dressing from the bottle and it would work as well.

  28. Sammie says

    I’ve been making my own “hamburger helper” for almost 40 years …I think this might even pre-date the product! LOL What I do is very similar to your recipe, except I always add one can of tomato sauce at the end and mix well. It completely changes the flavor, but in a great way. This has been my go to fast, easy, filling and good meal in a house of guys for decades now. To this day it is the most requested dish when my sons come home for a visit now that they are grown. Try the tomato sauce in the recipe, even if you aren’t a ketchup on everything person…..he difference it makes in the flavor is astonishing.

  29. says

    AWESOME!! I read the comments so I tweaked it a bit. Didn’t have paprika so I added dry mustard, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce. Also used fresh garlic and onion instead of the powders. Added a generous squirt of ranch dressing after the cheese was melted!! My very picky kids asked for seconds! YAY!!!

  30. Megan says

    Guys you add the cornstarch with all of the other dry spices/ingredients. Since everything cooks in one pan I don’t understand the big confusion. It’s just a thickening agent like flour nothing to be afraid of …..

  31. Jessica says

    Just made this tonight and it is DELICIOUS!! I never post on recipes but this was so good I had to. I even made 1/2 this recipe and it still turned out perfect. On a side note; I added the cornstarch when I added the spices. I dont know if this is right or wrong but it worked.Great Recipe!

  32. Katie says

    I’ve been playing around with this recipe a lot. We love it with a can of tomato soup & about 1/4 cup of ketchup added in right before i put the cheese in :)

  33. Kim says

    This was a huge hit with my family of five. Everyone cleaned their plate tonight. To give it a little more taste I sauteed fresh chopped onion, pressed garlic and mushrooms in butter before adding and cooking the meat. This is like comfort food!

  34. Vanessa says

    I added a can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chile’s for an extra kick it’s so good! Thanks for a great recipe, my family loves it.

  35. Lexy says

    I just made this for tonight’s dinner. Something quick and easy on a Friday night. Man this is good :) I’m pregnant so I’m trying to eat healthy and not eat too much sodium or processed crap that isn’t good for me or the baby. I added a bit more garlic and onion powder and instead of regular salt I replaced it with seasoned salt. Got my approval (which is hard these days) and my boyfriends aswell. He says “babe this is better than actual hamburger helper”. Not bland at all. Will be making again for sure :)

  36. Karly says

    i found this recipe on Pinterest last year and have been making it almost weekly ever since. It’s actually cooking right now! I hate the weird after taste in boxes HH. But this recipe is great. I usually about double the onion and garlic and add some extra salt on my serving, my kids gobble it up. I like to use whole wheat elbows and all organic and grass fed ingredients, just my thing, this recipe can be very healthy. Thanks for sharing this recipe, total staple in my home now :)

  37. Amy says

    This recipe is great! Thanks so much for sharing. To those who thought it was bland, I added extra cheese to taste and it was more to my liking :)

  38. April says

    Every time I make this it’s a hit! If you want to make it more flavorful use chicken stock instead of water. I use low or no sodium so I I can put as much salt as I want. It’s even better.

  39. Jessica says

    I just made this and it is delicious! It was perfect.I Just followed the directions exactly.

    Thank you!

  40. Jackie says

    So much better and tastier than HH. I brown the meat and then add back in the last few minutes, plus sub half of the milk for heavy cream. This is my “easy night” dinner :)

  41. MEGHAN says

    After reading comment I knew I need to amp it up while cooking, I added some garlic, and curry powder, amd crushed red pepper flakes to the meat. Also, had crumbled bacon at the end, yum, family of 5 finished their plates here with it, good recipe!

  42. Dizzylizzie says

    Overall pretty good, but I did find it a bit bland for my taste. Totally amped it up with smoked paprika, Worcester sauce, Dijon mustard and the other spices as per the recipe (doubled those). Salt and pepper to taste and added a dash of dried basil. I did add a bit of extra milk as the macaroni cooked. De-lish!! My boys loved it!

  43. Megan says

    I made this tonight for my family and I have to say I grew up eating hamburger helper that was my Dad’s speciality! And this stuff is great! Lots of flavour and a winner in our house! I type to 5 stars but my phone wasn’t cooperating lol

  44. says

    I made this for dinner tonight – I doubled the onion and garlic powders as well as the paprika. Our family LOVED this. My husband went back for seconds and he never does this. He said it is definitely a keeper – My four year old even finished his plate!
    Thank you!


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