Homemade Hamburger Helper ~ Cheeseburger Macaroni

Cheeseburger Macaroni is a creamy, flavorful copycat recipe of Homemade Hamburger Helper that's all-natural and made from scratch!

Homemade Hamburger Helper with Text


If you enjoy comforting skillet dinners, you'll also love Easy Skillet Pastitsio, Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Skillet, and Skillet Shepherd's Pie!

Not even gonna lie...Hamburger Helper was one of my favorite dinners growing up. And if you had asked me my favorite flavor of Hamburger Helper back then, I would have had a hard time deciding between Lasagna and Cheeseburger Macaroni. I mean, what's not to love about beef and sauce and noodles? Simple, tasty, and a winner every time.

Homemade Hamburger Helper in Pot and Plated in White Bowl

Unfortunately, when I had children of my own and felt the inexplicable pull to embark upon this whole 'real food kick,' boxed/processed dinners (like my beloved Hamburger Helper) went by the wayside. And I totally missed 'em!

But one glorious day I realized that I could make a "Homemade Hamburger Helper" all-natural version of Cheeseburger Macaroni (that seriously tastes even better) with not much more effort than what came out of the smiley-faced, hand-bedecked box (which now seems a bit creepy, but maybe that's just me). So would you like to join in on the deliciousness? Read on!

Cheeseburger Macaroni Close-Up in White Bowl

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

This homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni starts just like the good ol' boxed dinner upon which it's modeled.

  1. Brown the ground beef.
  2. Add a few seasonings.
  3. Pour in some liquid.
  4. And stir in the pasta!

Better than the Original

However, there are a few crucial additions to boost flavor even more.

  • First off, I like to add a can of diced tomatoes to the mix.
  • Then, instead of water, my macaroni has the pleasure of simmering away in beef broth.
  • But the biggest change would be the homemade cheese sauce in lieu of powdered cheese questionableness.

Now granted, making your own cheese sauce does dirty up an additional pot. But it is so worth it.

You can whip up the cheese sauce while the noodles are boiling and then, once all of the broth has been absorbed, you simply fold the cheesy goodness into the beef and noodle mixture.

The result is a Cheeseburger Macaroni that's beyond creamy and cheesy. Quite frankly, it puts boxed Hamburger Helper to shame. And BONUS...no icky ingredients!

Hamburger Helper Recipe Served in White Bowl with Diced Tomatoes on Top

I'm not the only one who loves this stuff. Everyone in the family enjoyed it when I made it the other night (with the exception of the 2-year-old, who currently refuses to eat any dinner not constituted of pizza or sausage, so don't mind her)... and my eats-like-a-bird middle child actually gobbled down two platefuls. I'm with you, little buddy...this recipe is worth a second helping.

Close-up of Healthy Hamburger Helper

Please...promise you'll make this soon and don't be intimidated about the homemade cheese sauce. It's really easy to make and it's the secret to putting this Cheeseburger Macaroni over the top!

So what is/was your favorite variety of Hamburger Helper? In case you're a fellow aficionado, be sure to see below where I've linked to a few other copycat flavors... 😉

More Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipes

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni ~a creamy, flavorful, all-natural, copycat of the Hamburger Helper classic, with an easy, from-scratch cheese sauce that puts it over the top! | FiveHeartHome.com

Homemade Hamburger Helper ~ Cheeseburger Macaroni

Cheeseburger Macaroni is a creamy, flavorful copycat recipe of Homemade Hamburger Helper that's all-natural and made from scratch!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Calories: 450kcal
Print Pin Rate


  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) sharp cheddar, freshly grated
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt


  • In a large skillet set over medium heat, brown ground beef and garlic; drain grease. Stir in paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. Mix in diced tomatoes, beef broth, and macaroni; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover pan. Simmer for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until pasta is tender.
  • While the beef/macaroni mixture is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce by placing a medium pot over medium heat. Melt butter. Use a whisk to stir in flour, whisking continuously until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Continue to whisk while slowly and gradually adding milk. Whisk until sauce is smooth and thickened, between 5 to 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Add grated cheese, ½ cup at a time, stirring until completely melted and smooth before adding more. Once all cheese has been incorporated and the cheese sauce is smooth, stir in garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  • Once the macaroni is done, pour the cheese sauce over the ground beef mixture and stir to combine. Serve immediately.


Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 891mg | Potassium: 744mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 940IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 377mg | Iron: 3mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

Adapted from Kevin & Amanda
Post originally published on September 8, 2015.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I really loved this recipe…used Kraft Mac n cheese instead to save time. But followed exact ingredients minus the beef broth & diced tomato. I Only had vegetable broth & tomatoe paste on hand. It was delish…will make again and going to add diced green bell pepper next time.

  2. I was excited to try this Hamburger Helper alternative and remained optimistic until I added the cheese sauce mixture. The meat mixture was very tasty but once the cheese sauce was added it ceased to resemble any cheese burger macaroni I have had previously. The kids were disappointed as well.

      1. So sorry to hear that, Emma. This recipe has always received positive comments and my own family loves it, so I can't imagine what would have made it taste "off." 🙁

  3. 5 stars
    I was lacking in cheese so I changed this up a bit. I used a box of kraft macaroni and cheese with the cheese sauce and the added one half cup of cheddar cheese that I had. This tastes awesome.

    1. Yay, Haley! It makes me very happy to hear that y'all enjoyed this recipe so much. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

    2. 5 stars
      Amazing!! Cant even compare to hamburger helper...soooo much bettr! My four year old finshed the whole bowl in no time and my 2 year old is right behind her! Definately will be looking into your other receipes! I cant wait! Thanks so much for posting!!

  4. 5 stars
    Just made this Cheeseburger Mac for dinner and it is AMAZING! Thank you for sharing it. You can bet I ran right over to Pinterest and started following you. I cheated a little using Velveeta though. It worked perfect.

    1. So happy to hear it! This is definitely a favorite at our house, and it's what I make when I don't want to hear any complaints about dinner -- ha. 😉 Glad to have you following along on Pinterest!

  5. 5 stars
    I stopped eating Hamburger Helper years ago because I try to stay away from processed foods. Oddly enough it never occurred to me to try and make it from scratch until I stumbled across this recipe. I fixed it tonight for the first time and I must say, it DOES taste better than the box stuff. Flavor is spot on, just so delicious. This is a wonderful recipe, definitely going into my favs!

    1. Thanks so much, Deb...I hope you enjoy this one if you have a chance to try it. 🙂 I also appreciate the pin! Hope you had a fabulous summer...how is fall already upon us?! 😉

    1. Ha, Rebecca...that made me laugh! Well, at least they didn't end up discontinuing your favorite...and as an added bonus, you were nice and stocked up for awhile! 😉