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Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper

Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper

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Enjoy a comforting bowl of Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper, featuring ground beef, macaroni, and a creamy cheeseburger sauce enriched with beef and chicken broth, half and half, and a blend of classic seasonings.

Growing up, weekday dinners were all about quick, hearty meals that could bring the family together without much fuss. My mom, a working parent with little time to spare, often turned to boxed meals for convenience. However, on special days when she had a bit more time, she’d whip up her version of a homemade Hamburger Helper. It became a cherished comfort dish in our home, promising not only a delicious dinner but also a kitchen filled with laughter and stories as we all helped out in some way. Today, whenever I miss those simpler times or need a quick escape from the hustle of modern life, I recreate this recipe. It’s more than just food; it’s a warm hug from my past.

This “Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper” is not just another quick dinner recipe; it stands out for several reasons. Firstly, it’s made with fresh, quality ingredients, ensuring a meal that’s free from the preservatives and artificial flavors often found in boxed versions. Secondly, the combination of beef and chicken broth deepens the flavor, creating a rich, savory sauce that’s perfectly balanced with the creamy, cheesy goodness. Additionally, the flexibility of this recipe is a major plus—you can adjust the seasonings to suit your taste or whatever you have on hand. Finally, it’s a fantastic way to deliver a comforting, filling meal that feels gourmet without requiring hours in the kitchen.

Ingredients Notes For This Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper

Crafting the perfect Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper begins with selecting quality ingredients. Here are some tips to make your dish a standout success:

  • Ground Beef: Opt for lean ground beef for the best texture and flavor. It should be fresh and not overly processed.
  • Broths: Using a mix of beef and chicken broth adds a rich depth to the sauce. Homemade or high-quality store-bought broths are preferred for their natural flavors and reduced sodium.
  • Half and Half: This blend of milk and cream provides the creamy texture essential to the dish. For a lighter version, you can use whole milk instead.
  • Cheese: Sharp cheddar cheese is recommended for its robust flavor and excellent melting properties. Feel free to experiment with different types of cheese for a unique twist.
  • Macaroni: Standard elbow macaroni works best, but any small pasta will do. Ensure it’s cooked just al dente to maintain texture.

How To Make This Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper

Creating your Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper involves simple steps that culminate in a deliciously creamy and comforting dish. Here’s how to bring it all together:

  • Prep Work: Start by mixing your liquids and seasonings in a large measuring cup. This ensures a smooth cooking process as you won’t be scrambling for ingredients last minute.
  • Cook the Beef: Season your beef well and brown it in a skillet. This step is crucial as it builds the foundation of flavor for your entire dish.
  • Make the Sauce: Utilizing the same skillet, create a roux with butter and flour, then gradually incorporate your seasoned liquid. This method ensures a silky, lump-free sauce.
  • Boil the Pasta: Cooking the pasta to just al dente is key, as it continues to cook once added to the sauce, ensuring it doesn’t turn mushy.
  • Finish the Recipe: The final steps involve melding all the components together. Adding the cheese slowly is essential for a smooth, creamy sauce. Combine the pasta and beef back into the sauce, allowing everything to marry together beautifully.

Storage Options

The Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper keeps well in the refrigerator for up to three days when stored in an airtight container. It’s perfect for meal prep or enjoying as leftovers, as the flavors continue to develop. For longer storage, you can freeze it for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove over low heat, adding a splash of milk if needed to loosen the sauce.

Variations and Substitutions

This Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper is wonderfully versatile. Here are some variations and substitutions to keep it exciting:

  • Protein: Swap ground beef for ground turkey, chicken, or even a plant-based meat alternative for a lighter or vegetarian option.
  • Dairy: Use different cheeses like Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or a blend for different flavor profiles. For a dairy-free version, opt for nut-based milk and cheese alternatives.
  • Pasta: Try different shapes like fusilli or penne to change up the texture.
  • Flavor Boosters: Add diced bell peppers, mushrooms, or onions during the beef cooking stage for added flavor and nutrition.

Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper

Enjoy a comforting bowl of Cheesy Homemade Hamburger Helper, featuring ground beef, macaroni, and a creamy cheeseburger sauce enriched with beef and chicken broth, half and half, and a blend of classic seasonings.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 5


  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups of beef broth
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • ½ cup of half-and-half a mixture of milk and light cream
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ of a beef bouillon cube refer to notes for specifics
  • 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
  • ½ pound of macaroni approximately equal to 2 cups


  • ½ teaspoon of onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon of oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of basil
  • ½ teaspoon of mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon of parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon of smoked paprika


Preparation Work:

  • Combine the beef broth, chicken broth, half-and-half, Worcestershire sauce, and all specified seasonings in a large measuring cup equipped with a spout. This will serve as the “Sauce mixture.” Set this mixture aside. Measure out all other ingredients before commencing the cooking process.
  • Start boiling water in a large pot, adding salt to taste, for cooking the macaroni. Continue with the following steps as the water begins to boil.

Cooking the Beef:

  • Lightly season the ground beef with salt and black pepper. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the seasoned beef to the skillet, and cook, breaking it apart until browned and fully cooked, approximately 8 minutes. Once cooked, remove the beef from the skillet, drain the excess grease, and set aside.

Making the Sauce:

  • Using the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to create a smooth mixture. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, or until the mixture starts to turn a toasty brown color.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and gradually introduce the sauce mixture to the skillet in small increments, stirring continuously to prevent the sauce from breaking and ensuring a smooth consistency. Incorporate the half beef bouillon cube into the sauce.
  • Increase the heat slightly to bring the sauce to a boil, then lower it to maintain a gentle simmer. Let it simmer uncovered while you proceed with cooking the pasta.

Boiling the Pasta:

  • Place the macaroni in the pot of boiling salted water and cook until just al dente. Setting a timer is recommended to avoid overcooking. Once done, drain the pasta and set aside.

Finalizing the Dish:

  • Adjust the sauce heat to low and gradually add the grated cheddar cheese, stirring continuously until the cheese is completely melted and incorporated into the sauce. Reintroduce the cooked ground beef to the skillet, stirring to combine thoroughly.
  • Add the cooked and drained macaroni to the sauce, stirring well to ensure that the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce. The sauce may initially appear thin but will thicken as the macaroni absorbs it. Once combined, remove the skillet from heat and serve the dish immediately.
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