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a close up shot of the hamburger helper in a large dutch oven with fresh parsley and a large orange spatula

Homemade Hamburger Helper

This baby and kid-friendly homemade hamburger helper is made with ground beef, veggies, and staple pantry items. It's the ultimate one pot comfort meal!
5 from 34 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (cremini or white button mushrooms)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup canned no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded Cabot cheddar cheese (adjust amount to your liking)


  • Brown beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drain off any excess fat.
  • Add the vegetables. Give it a good stir. Add in tomato paste and seasonings and cook for 5 minutes or so until everything gets well incorporated. Stir frequently.
  • Stir in the broth and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, making sure to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Once it comes to a boil, add the pasta, cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer. Cook 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally. At this point, set aside a portion for baby.
  • Stir in cheese. Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes.


  • The nutrition facts for sodium doesn't include cheese.
  • If you would like to make this creamier, replace 1 cup of broth with milk of your choice.
  • Ground beef: you can certainly use chicken or turkey. If you want to make this vegetarian, I suggest adding a 15 ounce can of no-salt-added beans along with the vegetables.
  • Mushrooms: white or cremini will work best.
  • Green bell peppers: feel free to use whatever vegetable(s) you have on hand. Zucchini, carrots, peas, broccoli...
  • Elbow macaroni: I have a very strong opinion that this childhood classic is best with this type of pasta. It just soaks up all the flavors so well. Other alternatives I suggest are rotini or fusili. 
  • Cheese: set aside a portion for baby and then add the cheese for the rest of the family to reduce the sodium amount.
  • Will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 179mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: -17g | Vitamin A: 446IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 4mg
Course Dinner, Main
Cuisine American
Diet Low Salt
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