BEST Cheeseburger Macaroni (Homemade Hamburger Helper)

Cheeseburger Macaroni is a creamy, flavorful, Homemade Hamburger Helper recipe that's comforting, all-natural, and easy to make from scratch!

Homemade Hamburger Helper in skillet.


Enter your email below and we'll send it to your inbox. Plus get our best recipes every week!

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.

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 Cheeseburger Macaroni) went by the wayside. And I totally missed 'em!

Hamburger helper homemade on white plate.

But one glorious day I realized that I could make Homemade Hamburger Helper...AKA, an all-natural version of Cheeseburger Macaroni. It 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!

Why Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

This Cheeseburger Macaroni recipe simply tastes better than the boxed stuff, y'all. It's easy to make. And it contains nary a processed ingredient!

Its flavor is boosted by a few special ingredients, as explained below. But it's truly elevated by a homemade cheese sauce! You know, in lieu of powdered cheese questionableness... 😉


The ingredients required to make Homemade Hamburger Helper are pretty straightforward:

Labeled ingredients to make Homemade Hamburger Helper.
  • Ground beef. AKA, the "hamburger" in Homemade Hamburger Helper.
  • Garlic. Minced.
  • Canned diced tomatoes. With the juices. Use fire-roasted for deeper flavor, or use petite diced if you have kiddos who are averse to large chunks of tomato in their food...not that I would know anything about that.
  • Seasonings. Including paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and just a pinch of sugar to mellow out the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Beef broth. Lends extra flavor to this recipe, as opposed to using water. Use low-sodium beef broth in order to have more control over the saltiness of the dish. Or you may substitute water + Organic Better than Bouillon Beef Base if you don't want to open a whole carton of broth for just 2 cups.
  • Elbow pasta. AKA, the "macaroni" in Cheeseburger Macaroni. Although you may certainly substitute another small pasta shape if you don't have macaroni on hand.
  • Flour + butter. To make a roux...
  • Milk. Which turns the roux into a sauce...
  • Shredded sharp cheddar. To turn the sauce into cheese sauce!
Cheeseburger Macaroni in skillet and on plate.

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

(The below photos are intended to be helpful, but please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for FULL DIRECTIONS.)

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

  1. Brown the ground beef and add a few seasonings.
Adding spices to cooked ground beef in skillet.
  1. Stir in (undrained) diced tomatoes, beef broth, and macaroni.
How to make homemade hamburger helper by coming cooked ground beef, spices, diced tomatoes, and elbow pasta.
  1. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender.
Combining ground beef with spices and diced tomatoes as a standard way to make homemade hamburger helper recipes.
  1. While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce. Yes, making your own cheese sauce does dirty up an additional pot...but it is so worth it! So go ahead and melt some butter over medium heat and whisk in a bit of flour.
Making a roux for first step of cheese sauce to go in homemade cheeseburger macaroni.
  1. Continue to whisk while slowly and gradually adding milk. Whisk until the sauce is smooth and thickened.
Whisking milk into roux.
  1. Remove the pot from the heat. Add grated cheese, ½ cup at a time, stirring until it's completely melted and smooth before adding more.
  2. Once all of the cheese has been incorporated and the cheese sauce is smooth, stir in garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Making cheese sauce for cheeseburger macaroni recipe.
Saucepan of homemade cheese sauce for Cheeseburger Macaroni.
  1. Once the pasta is tender, fold the cheesy goodness into the beef/macaroni mixture and stir to combine.
Combining beef mixture and cheese sauce for Homemade Hamburger Helper.
Homemade Hamburger Helper recipe in skillet.

It might not be much to look at, but it sure is delicious. Enjoy!

Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni in bowl and skillet.

Gluten-Free Substitutions

This Homemade Hamburger Helper recipe can easily be adjusted to make it gluten-free.

  • Substitute the elbow macaroni for your favorite gluten-free pasta. It doesn't have to be shaped like elbow macaroni, but using another small shape (such as rotini) is recommended for a similar cooking time.
  • When making the cheese sauce, use a gluten-free flour blend (I've successfully used this one) in place of the all-purpose flour.
Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni close-up.

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

Homemade Hamburger Helper is beyond creamy and cheesy. It's comfort on a plate. Quite frankly, it puts boxed Hamburger Helper to shame. And icky ingredients!

Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni on plate and in pan.

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 Copycat Recipes

Homemade Hamburger Helper, also known as Cheeseburger Macaroni, in skillet.

BEST Cheeseburger Macaroni (Homemade Hamburger Helper)

Cheeseburger Macaroni is a creamy, flavorful, copycat recipe of Homemade Hamburger Helper that's comforting, all-natural, and easy to make from scratch!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Calories: 440kcal
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
  • Garlic salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 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-low to 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, which should take around 5 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 pasta is tender, pour the cheese sauce over the ground beef/macaroni mixture and stir to combine. Serve immediately.



  • When making the cheese sauce, it's very important to remove the pot from the heat and then stir in the cheese slowly and gradually, as directed. If you don't make sure the cheese is completely melted and smooth before stirring in additional cheese, the cheese sauce may turn out lumpy.
  • Also, using freshly grated cheese is highly recommended since it melts more smoothly than pre-grated cheese, which typically has anti-caking agents added to it.
  • This Homemade Hamburger Helper can be made gluten-free by substituting gluten-free pasta (any small shape will work) and using a gluten-free flour for the cheese sauce.


Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 800mg | Potassium: 762mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 957IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 382mg | Iron: 3mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

You May Also Like

5 from 19 votes (6 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    All of my kids loved this cheeseburger macaroni - which is a big deal 🙂 Next time I will double the recipe, it's yummy!

  2. 5 stars
    I've made this twice now and both times loved loved loved it! The whole family was impressed! Brought back childhood memories of Hamburger Helper, but this was delicious! Ha Ha! With so many hamburger skillet recipes out there, I'm thankful I found yours! Looking forward to trying some of your other recipes! Thanks so much!!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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." 🙁

  5. 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!!

  6. 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!

  7. 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. 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! 😉