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Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper. Swapping the boxed stuff out and making everyone’s childhood dinner completely homemade, and healthier too. Plus so much tastier! Think of this hamburger helper as the tastier, creamier version of what you’d eat as a kid. It’s made with ground beef, seasonings, pasta, and a little shredded zucchini too (for added veggies). Comfort food at its best, this recipe is sure to become a family favorite.

Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper | halfbakeharvest.com

I didn’t grow up eating hamburger helper, neither did my brothers. But for whatever reason, this has been a recipe I wanted to try and recreate for a while now. Ever since my older brother mentioned the idea to me a year or so ago it’s been on my “to make” list.

Not going to lie, it’s obviously not my usual kind of recipe, as I tend to sway towards recipes with a bit more color. But something about recreating this in a healthier, tastier, way really excited me.

So while it may have taken me over a year to finally test this out and share, the day is here. And I’m excited because this really is that perfect early fall, September dinner.

Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper | halfbakeharvest.com

The idea

So as I said, my brother had mentioned creating a recipe for homemade (not boxed) hamburger helper. He said that if I could make it like the boxed stuff, but with a creamier texture, and a little more depth of flavor, that it would be, “SO GOOD”.

I wasn’t excited at first, but then I started to think about the upgrades I could make. I wondered, “could I make it healthier, but still creamy? Could we add a little flavor, but still keep it classic? And could I make it all in one pot just like the box?”.

All of the challenges started to excite me, so I figured if I could get each one checked off, then I would have a great recipe!

Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper | halfbakeharvest.com

This is a one pot dinner, so the details are simple

First of all, find yourself a nice big pot or braiser to cook this in. I love this one and think it’s the perfect size for this recipe.

Now, starting cooking! Simply add the beef and onion to your pot and brown it all over, add in some spices, and then the pasta. And next? The ingredient that adds a little health to the recipe…a bit of shredded zucchini.

I love adding shredded zucchini to pasta dishes like this. Not only does the zucchini incorporate a vegetable into the recipe, but it also adds moisture and creates an even creamier sauce.

Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper | halfbakeharvest.com

Finish it up

Once the pasta and zucchini are both added, pour over the broth and milk. Add a squeeze of ketchup (sounds weird, but trust me), then cook everything together until that pasta is al dente.

It’s important to stir the pasta frequently to ensure that nothing is sticking. But other than that, everything is EASY.

The final step is to stir in a handful of cheddar cheese. Serve up the hamburger helper topped with fresh parsley (it needs a little color!) and enjoy!

As I always like to say – homemade is best!

Excited to have this recipe in my back pocket for cozy fall and winter dinners to come. And Creighton’s verdict? He loved every bite. He said, “how could someone not love this? It’s basically mac and cheese with meat…and it’s delicious”.

So there ya go! He doesn’t lie.

Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper | halfbakeharvest.com

Looking for other easy family dinners? Here are a few ideas: 

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

One Pan Autumn Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Easy Southern Style Baked Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Cheese Stuffed Pasta Bolognese Bake

One Skillet Cheesy Broccoli Cheddar Orzo Bake

Lastly, if you make this Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 675 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 1. In a large pot set over medium hight heat, add the olive oil, onion and beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until brown all over, breaking up the meat as you go, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, paprika, and garlic powder, cook another minute.
    2. Add the pasta and zucchini and toss to coat, then pour in the broth and milk. Add the ketchup and stir to combine. Season with salt.
    3. Bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat. Simmer 5-8 minutes until the pasta is al dente, stirring often.
    4. Stir in the cheese and cook another few minutes until very creamy.
    5. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
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Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper | halfbakeharvest.com

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Comments

  1. Quick crowd pleaser for my boys without all the preservatives. Thank you! Your recipes are really wonderful and flavorful. This one is terrific comfort food.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was so good! I cut the recipe in half and added a little extra liquid but the zucchini was the secret key to making the most creamy sauce! It took a little longer for the pasta to cook but I just kept stirring until al dente and it was delish. Thanks Tieghan for your amazing recipes, they are always a hit 🙂

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thanks so much for your kind message and giving this recipe a try, so glad to hear that it was enjoyed! xT

  3. 5 stars
    My family loves this one, an easy one for families with littles! I end up doubling or tripling the spices and ketchup, just to really boost the flavors, but it’s easily adaptable to your family’s taste. Great comfort food.

  4. 5 stars
    I have made this countless times and absolutely love it. I was just wondering if there was a way to adapt it to a slow cooker?

  5. 5 stars
    When I make again I am going to add more paprika and chili powder. Personally my family likes more heat and seasoning. But otherwise it was very good!

  6. 5 stars
    Your recipes never disappoint! Sooooo delicious! Made it 2 nights in a row – should’ve just doubled the recipe 😂

    Would love a way to maybe do a gluten free, dairy free or lighter dairy option. Maybe a mixture of almond milk/mild flavored coconut milk? Nutpods unflavored creamer? Kitehill cream cheese? Nutritional yeast? Obv it won’t be the SAME experience, but maybe someone could experiment!

    1. I made it with gluten free pasta, almond milk, primal kitchen ketchup and it turned out just fine!! I’m wondering if you could use lactose free cheese as a sub?

      1. Oh nice! So glad to hear it worked well for you:) Sorry, I have honestly never worked with lactose free cheese so I’m not sure how it melts! Let me know if you give it a try! xT

  7. 5 stars
    My husband and daughter like this. I left out the zucchini this time and used 1/2 milk, 1/2 cream. I will be adding zucchini next time and probably using just the milk.