Want to learn how to make Hamburger Helper mix from scratch? This simple recipe is easy and totally customizable! There isn’t much better than a quick meal with a delicious cheesy sauce.
How to Make Hamburger Helper Mix
Those boxed mixes from the store are so handy but completely scary and even though they seem like a good idea at the time, they are actually costing you more than you think.
So I love to make homemade mixes for so many reasons. Ingredients, cost, the ability to customize, convenience…and much more. I’ll also be sharing cost comparisons on various products from the store and how much the homemade version costs.
Why Not Hamburger Helper from the Store?
How many of you grabbed a box of Hamburger Helper at the grocery store when you were in a panic of not knowing what to make for supper? I know that I have in the past! First, let’s take a peek at what exactly is in the fancy box:
Enriched Pasta (Whole Wheat Flour, Semolina Wheat, Durum Wheat, Vitamin D, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (B Vitamin)), Whey, Salt, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Corn, Soy, Wheat, Calcium Carbonate, Artificial Color, Sugar, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Maltodextrin, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed or Canola Oil, Monoglycerides, Diglycerides, Calcium Lactate, Natural Flavor, Nonfat Milk, Onion Powder, Dried Parsley, Mushroom Powder, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Spice, Beef Stock, Mushrooms, Dried Corn Syrup, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Lactose, Garlic Powder, Dried Soy Sauce (Soybeans, Wheat, Salt), Egg
Oh my goodness. Artificial colors and flavors. Hydrogenated oils, MSG (Autolyzed Yeast Extract), corn syrup. I don’t even want to look at the nutrition facts to see the levels of sodium. Do I really need to go on?
Boxed Hamburger Helper Cost:
The regular price of this in my local grocery store is $2.29 per box. I know it goes on sale for around $2 per box so we will work off that price.
One jar of homemade Hamburger Helper is the perfect amount to go with one pound of ground beef. Let’s get on to the recipe!
How to Make Hamburger Helper Mix
A few notes before we get started….
- If you have my book, you can find this recipe on page 167. It also contains tips on how to make this gluten and dairy-free as well as how to make a chili cheese version. Plus my book also more than the basic Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe like recipes for Chicken Helper Mix and Beef Stroganoff Mix so you might want to check that out!
- Be sure and add the pasta to the recipe first and not the spices or they will clump to the bottom.
- My recipe does not contain cheese powder because I prefer the taste of real cheese but if you’d like to add cheese powder to the recipe, you can find it here.
- Be sure and use a lean ground beef for this recipe otherwise, it will taste a little fatty and greasy. You can also drain the fat if needed before you add the beef into the mixture.
- If you have leftovers of the cooked up mixture, just store them in a container in the fridge. They are just as good the next day!
- Use hot water and warm milk when making the recipe so it takes less cooking time.
Homemade Hamburger Helper Mix
How to make your own Hamburger Helper Mix from scratch.
- 1 teaspoon corn starch arrowroot powder, or flour
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
Mix ingredients together in a bag or jar.
When we are ready to make, brown up 1 lb of ground beef in a 10 or 12 inch skillet.
Add in the mix and 1 cup water and 2 cups of milk. Cover the skillet and let the pasta simmer and cook until the pasta is done. Try not to boil the mixture too hard or you may not have enough liquid.
Stir in 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese before serving. That's it!
These mixes are super easy to put together, less than 5 minutes of prep time! They take very little time to make the recipe as well and the kids love it!
Alternative Versions and Add-Ins
- For a lower cost version, you could use ground turkey in place of the ground beef.
- If you want to easily make this gluten free, these are our favorite Gluten Free Elbow Noodles. You can get them in bulk!
- For a quick and easy substitute recipe, add in diced ham in place of the ground beef and you will have ham and cheese macaroni!
- If you want to add a little more depth of flavor to this basic recipe, add in a little pepper while it’s cooking and top with a dollop of sour cream for serving.
- Add in a little cooked, chopped bacon for an extra flavorful version.
- Replace the water with beef broth for a better depth of flavor.
Homemade Hamburger Helper Mix Cost:
The spices in this mix are in such small amounts they really only cost pennies but for the sake of adding it up, we will say $0.25 for all the spices. A bag of elbow pasta costs around $1, a little bit more if you decide to do whole wheat. One bag will make 2 mixes.
So we are at a total of $1.50 for 2 mixes (each mix serves 4) or $0.75 each. That’s 33% of the cost of the on sale box of Cheeseburger Macaroni from the store.
Of course, the boxed version has that good old dried cheese already in it and you will have to go through the trouble and cost of adding fresh cheese to your homemade version but I’m thinking that might be a plus??
Want to make this Hamburger Helper mix with me? Here’s a video (sorry for the poor sound!) of me making some of my homemade mixes!
Looking for even more mixes that you can make from scratch? Here are some of my favorites!
- Homemade Cream of Soup Mix
- Homemade Chocolate Brownies Mix Recipe
- Homemade Rice Roni Mix
- Frugal Dried Bean Soup Mix
- Homemade Muffin Mix Recipe
- Find more here on my Mixes Page!
Looking for more mixes that you can make quickly and easily? My book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self Sufficient Life has over 130 recipes just like this one!
Does your family enjoy Hamburger Helper?
This post on How to Make Hamburger Helper Mix was originally posted on Little House Living in August 2012. It has been updated as of July 2022.