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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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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: 421 kcal

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

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  • 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 |

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  1. 5 stars
    I’m not a beef eater so this is my husbands review lol. He thought it was great and I will definitely make it for him again.
    I followed some of the other comments and doubled up on the spices, used tomato paste, a bit of Dijon, and just a bit more liquid.

    1. Hey Toni,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thank you so much for giving it a try!! Have the best day:) xx

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe was so good! I used ground chicken instead of beef (it’s what I had on hand) and it was delicious. I will definitely make it again.

    1. Hey Lauren,
      Happy Wednesday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a go! xx

  3. This was really delicious! I used two zucchinis and put them in the blender but next time I might use three. It didn’t change the flavor at all.

    1. Hey Hannah,
      Happy Wednesday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a go!! ☘️Tieghan

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback! Love to hear that it was enjoyed!! xTieghan

    2. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong on your one pot pasta recipes. I always seem to need more liquid. I cover the pot to reduce how much can evaporate off. Using ridged elbow macaroni in this one. Tips? I love all your recipes!

      1. Hi Liesa,
        So sorry to hear this. I would try not covering the pot and then possibly turning your heat down a touch. I hope this helps! xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    My family loves hamburger helper but I hate how processed it is and the high sodium count, among other things. Well, this was a hit. Did not tell my picky kid there was zucchini in this dish and yet she ate it up. Thank you! I made it in my dutch oven on stovetop and found that when using 1 pound of pasta, I needed to add a tad bit more broth and milk to barely cover the meat and pasta mixture. Well done and will make it again. Any recommendation on how to make it more colorful and greener?

    1. Hi Beth,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for giving it a try! You could add some cooked broccoli for color. xx

  5. 5 stars
    Thanks to everyone’s inputs made some great changes and it was wonderful!! Used 1tbsp of all 3 spices. Used 1 can of coconut milk instead of regular milk. A hearty splash of Worcestershire sauce, and just over 2 cups of broth. Added peas in at the end with the cheese! My fiancé LOVED it!

    1. Hi Caroline,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! xx

  6. 5 stars
    So delicious! My picky husband loved it and my extremely picky daughter liked it, too! Will be making this again. I love the added veggies! Thanks for another great recipe!

    1. Hi Lindsey,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! xx

    1. Hey Melissa,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! xx

  7. 5 stars
    This was super delicious! My husband absolutely loved it, and he typically doesn’t like any style of pasta dishes. I added some diced bell pepper and it was super yummy. The vegetables get hidden in with everything else so is great for kids if you need a dish to hide some veggies!

    1. Hi Jayme,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! xx

  8. 5 stars
    My boyfriend lovesssss Hamburger Helper in the worst way.. I made this recipe and he was floored at how good it was! We’ll definitely be putting this into the rotation for sure.

    1. Hey Andrea,
      Happy Wednesday!! Thanks a lot for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed!! xT

  9. Hey! I was wondering what were thoughts were on using coconut milk for this? Would that help it be more creamy? Would it change the taste?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Caroline,
      Sure, coconut milk will work for you, you could get a slight coconut flavor. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

    1. Hi Esther,
      Thank you so much for giving this recipe a try, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Have the best weekend:) xT

  10. 5 stars
    Our family really likes this recipe. It does take longer than 5-8 min to cook and I did need to keep adding broth while the noodles finished cooking. We tried some of the recommendations of adding Dijon and enjoyed it that way too. Definitely a keeper and will be in our winter rotation.

    1. Hey there,
      Happy Friday!! Thanks a bunch for giving this recipe a go, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!! xTieghan

  11. 5 stars
    My husband wouldn’t have eaten Hamburger Helper if I had served it to him and on a silver spoon but he loves this.