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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!
Course Dinner, Main
Cuisine American
Diet Low Salt
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 377kcal


  • 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
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup canned no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 2 ½ 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