Homemade Taco Hamburger Helper

This Taco Hamburger Helper copycat recipe is a quick, easy, one-pan dinner made with just FIVE real, all-natural ingredients in under 30 minutes!

Taco Hamburger Helper on plate and in skillet with text overlay.


 

For other flavors of homemade Hamburger Helper, try our from-scratch Cheeseburger Macaroni, Asian Ground Beef & Rice Skillet, or 30-Minute Skillet Lasagna!

In case y'all hadn't noticed, I've been on somewhat of a one-pot/one-pan/one-skillet recipe kick lately. And why not? Who doesn't love a complete dinner that's made in about 30 minutes while dirtying only one large cooking receptacle?

So a few weeks ago, I'd been running around all day and hadn't had any time to think about dinner until, ohhh, about 5 o'clock. And so I did what one does when one is short on time and overdue for a trip to the grocery store....I reached into the freezer for a pizza to pop in the oven. Alas, the freezer revealed that frozen pizzas needed to be added to my grocery list as well, so I quickly had to come up with a plan B. I realized that I had a lone pound of ground beef in fridge, so what could I make with that in a matter of minutes? Sloppy Joes? No buns. Tacos? No tortillas. But the taco theme stuck for some reason, so I quickly secured a handful of ingredients that would turn ordinary taco meat into a from-scratch copycat of good ol' Taco Hamburger Helper.

Taco Hamburger Helper Inspiration

The inspiration for this recipe admittedly originated from the childhood-affinity-for-Hamburger-Helper recesses of my brain. In fact, the minute I took my first bite, I instantly had the conviction that my meal should be accompanied by a tall tupperware cup of Kool-Aid and a Jello Pudding Pop for dessert.

Do y'all remember the Beef Taco Hamburger Helper from the 80s, made with rice instead of pasta? Welp, this recipe is a homemade version of that. I just now Googled it to see if it still exists, and apparently it was later replaced by a "crunchy" version. Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper was enhanced by the fancy-pants addition of tortilla chips on top, so it would be easy to convert this Taco Hamburger Helper recipe to that by...crushing some tortilla chips on top. 😉

Nevertheless, the Taco Hamburger Helper I remember loving as a kid was simply ground beef, rice...and whatever icky seasoning packet and powdered cheese came in the ubiquitous red and white box. So that's what I included in this copycat recipe, minus the icky stuff and the artificial ingredients. And this recipe is just as quick and easy to make!

One-Pan Cheesy Beef Taco Skillet {Homemade Hamburger Helper} ~ a quick and easy dinner recipe made with five real, all-natural ingredients! | FiveHeartHome.com

Ingredients

As it turns out, today's homemade version of Taco Hamburger Helper still comes together one pan in under 30 minutes, just like the HH of yore. But it's much healthier and tastes wayyyy better, since it swaps out all of those processed ingredients for real, all-natural ingredients. And just FIVE of them, at that!

Labeled ingredients to make homemade Taco Hamburger Helper.
  • Ground beef. Ground turkey may be substituted.
  • Taco seasoning. I always keep a jar of homemade taco seasoning in my pantry, but you can buy store-bought packets made with decent ingredients as well.
  • Rice. Long-grain white rice is what allows this recipe to cook as quickly as the OG Taco Hamburger Helper. I prefer using jasmine.
  • Beef broth. Or you can substitute water + Organic Better Than Bouillon Beef Base.
  • Grated cheddar. Or your favorite cheese.
One-Pan Cheesy Beef Taco Skillet {Homemade Hamburger Helper} ~ a quick and easy dinner recipe made with five real, all-natural ingredients! | FiveHeartHome.com

How to Make Taco Hamburger Helper

This from-scratch, copycat recipe is ridiculously easy to make, friends.

  1. Simply brown some ground beef and drain the grease.
  2. Stir in taco seasoning.
Browning ground beef in skillet.
Adding taco seasoning to ground beef for Taco Hamburger Helper.
  1. Add the rice and beef broth and stir well to combine.
  2. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then stir and reduce to a simmer.
Adding beef broth and rice for homemade Taco Hamburger Helper.
Simmering mixture on stove.
  1. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
Lid on skillet of Taco Hamburger Helper recipe.
Taco Hamburger Helper in skillet.
  1. Then mix in some grated cheese and voilà...
Cheese stirred in, could add crushed tortilla chips on top for Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper.
  1. Dinner is served!
Serving of Taco Hamburger Helper on plate.

Variations

Taco Hamburger Helper is not fancy, whether we're talking about the original boxed stuff or this homemade version. That being said, you can always make it fanci-er! So if your pantry is stocked and you want to jazz up this meal with some additional ingredients, feel free.

  • You may saute some garlic and/or diced onions in the pan before adding the beef.
  • Substitute a can of diced tomatoes (juice included) for about 1 cup of the broth.
  • You can stir in a can of diced green chiles for a little kick.
  • Use your favorite cheese in lieu of cheddar. Monterey jack or pepper jack would be yummy!
  • Top with crushed tortilla chips for a copycat version of Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper.
  • Garnish with your favorite taco toppings, from diced tomatoes to cubed avocado to a dollop of sour cream to a sprinkle of cilantro.

Get wild and crazy with your dinner-making self!

One-Pan Cheesy Beef Taco Skillet {Homemade Hamburger Helper} ~ a quick and easy dinner recipe made with five real, all-natural ingredients! | FiveHeartHome.com

White Rice vs. Brown Rice

As far as the rice, I chose white rice for this Taco Hamburger Helper because of its quick cooking time.

I love wholesome brown rice and use it most of the time, but since it takes twice as long to cook (and requires more liquid), I thought that white rice would just work better for this 30-minute, one-pan meal.

Just know that you'll have to experiment with the liquid ratio and cooking time if you decide to convert this recipe to brown rice. 🙂

Pan of Choice

Also, this recipe should work in just about any large skillet, pan, or pot. You see it pictured here in a wide, deep braiser, but I'm just as likely to make this type of recipe in a large Dutch oven, which is better at containing grease splatters when I brown the meat.

So who's ready for a quick and easy, one-pan supper that will tickle your tastebuds, fill your belly, and simultaneously transport you back to 1983? Whip up a pitcher of Kool-Aid and join me for some Taco Hamburger Helper, won't you? 🙂

More Skillet & One-Pot Dinners

Taco Hamburger Helper on plate with side salad.

Homemade Taco Hamburger Helper

Taco Hamburger Helper is a quick, easy, one-pan copycat recipe made with just FIVE real, all-natural ingredients in under 30 minutes!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Calories: 302kcal
Print Pin Rate

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons Homemade Taco Seasoning, OR 1 packet store-bought
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, such as Jasmine
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar

Instructions

  • Set a large skillet, pan, pot, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking apart and stirring as the meat cooks. Drain the grease from the pot and sprinkle the cooked meat with taco seasoning.
  • Add the rice and beef broth and stir well to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then stir and reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir in the grated cheese and serve immediately.

Video

Notes

  • When you bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer, make sure that the simmer is a simmer...not barely bubbling (or the rice won't cook and absorb the liquid) and not bubbling too fast (or the liquid may get absorbed too fast and the bottom may burn). For my stove, this was medium-low heat, adjusting up or down a tad as needed when I would stir every few minutes.
  • If too much liquid remains once your rice is cooked, you may remove the lid and turn up the heat for a minute or two, stirring so that it doesn't burn. If the liquid evaporates before the rice is done and everything starts to stick to the bottom, you may stir in a bit more broth or water.
  • This recipe is intentionally simple, but you may jazz it up as you wish (see post above the recipe for ideas).
  • You may garnish this meal with your favorite Mexican toppings...crushed tortilla chips, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, extra cheese, etc. Or you may leave it perfectly plain!

Nutrition

Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 489mg | Potassium: 555mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 306IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 2mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

SaveOriginally published on September 29, 2016, and updated on February 3, 2021, and May 25, 2023.

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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We loved this! As easy as the boxed stuff but tastes way better. My kids already asked me to make it again.

  2. 5 stars
    Seriously so much better than anything from a box! Love this recipe on busy weeknights because it's so easy. The family gobbles it up.

  3. 5 stars
    I didn't want to go to a lot of trouble after a long week and this was a great Friday night meal. Came together quickly and was delicious. I used instant brown rice and it seemed to work just fine. Otherwise I didn't change a thing. Leftovers the next day were great too. Will definitely make this again! Thanks for the dinner idea!

    1. That should work, Brenda! You'll obviously need to reduce the cooking time since instant rice will cook much quicker. And you also may need to decrease the amount of beef broth to account for the shorter cooking time. Hope that helps!

  4. Your cookbook arrive yesterday. I read it like a novel last night. I want to make your taco hamburger helper tonight. My instructions for jasmine rice calls for 1 and a half cup of liquid. Should I reduce the amount of beef broth a little? Thanks for sharing so many wonderful recipes and stories on your blog.

  5. Love this! It's going on my to make list for sure. I hate to admit it but my family likes the taco Hamburger Helper, so this is going to be the substitute from now on 🙂