Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

School is back in session and family meals can get pushed off for busy schedules.  I know how busy it can get but instead of grabbing a boxed meal like a Hamburger Helper with ingredients that can’t even be pronounced, how about making your own.

I promise this recipe takes the same amount of time as listed on those boxes, COSTS LESS and it tastes a heck of a lot better hands down.   Oh, and you can pronounce every ingredient.  For families that live gluten and dairy free you can also control those ingredients and many others like the amount of salt you add or if you want to keep it vegetarian or vegan.

Keep this recipe in mind when you want to cook up a quick meal with pasta and you don’t want to cook the pasta separately in a big pot of water.  You could easily use spaghetti and break it up into pieces. I recommend doing that in a plastic bag to avoid pasta flying throughout your kitchen.  You could also use broken pieces of lasagna noodles and add in some cheese and you have a quick lasagna.  This is what we’re having for dinner tonight.

I shared this recipe in the past in my newsletter and here but wanted to update it.  The next newsletter is coming out on Thursday so make sure you sign up for The WHOLE-istic Life.

Before we jump into this recipe don’t forget that the auction for A Fund For Jennie ends at 11pm EST this Friday.  Bid Now!


Homemade Hamburger Helper


1 pound organic local ground beef

8 oz package of organic sliced mushrooms

1 1/2 cup pasta shells or elbows-gluten free

2 cups hot beef stock

1 15 oz can of tomato sauce

1 TB tomato paste

2 tsp minced toasted onion*

1 tsp minced garlic*

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

1 tsp parsley


Brown the beef and drain the fat.  Toss in the mushrooms and mix well.  Add in the tomato paste and combine.  Add in everything else except the parsley.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Cover and turn down to simmer for 14 minutes.  When the time is up mix in the parsley and serve.  It’s just that easy.


*Fresh chopped onion and garlic work great.  Cook them with the ground beef.

If you don’t have broth, water will work.

Adding in some spinach is a great way to make this a more rounded meal in one dish.

You can substitute a different ground meat for the beef or leave it out totally and add in other vegetables to keep it vegetarian.

Add in some of your favorite type of cheese like mozzarella or the Daiya version which is gluten, dairy and soy free.

You can also have a lot of fun with different flavors.  For instance add in some chili powder and cumin and you have a Mexican flavor.

How about adding some red chilies, garam masala, ginger and some frozen peas for more of an Indian dish.

OK, one more.  How about a more Moroccan twist by adding some paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric.

You see this really is a great meal that you can make over and over is so many different ways it will always seem different, but always be easy!

I love to add in mushrooms to this dish.  What will you add?

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Here is another take on this meal I found over at Once A Month Mom blog.

Don’t miss Shirley’s gfe Saucy Cheesy Chicken Veggie Pasta Skillet.

Alta shared a family favorite using rice on Tasty Eats at Home.

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12 Responses to Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe

  1. Alisa Fleming September 6, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    That recipe looks amazing Diane! I love the whole hamburger helper concept and need to give this a go!

    • Diane Eblin September 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

      I love using this recipe as a starter and changing it. Let me know if you add or change anything. Enjoy!

  2. glutenfreeforgood September 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    You've taken "Hamburger Helper" to new and healthy heights! I especially like the Moroccan twist idea. And garam masala is an absolute favorite of mine. Just the smell makes me swoon. I might try a vegetarian version of your Hamburger Helper, although I'd have to change the name to Vegburger Helper. =)

    Once again, you've inspired me!

    • Diane Eblin September 7, 2011 at 10:51 am #

      Yep the Veggie burger helper would be a good one. I'm sure you could add in your quinoa burgers to this although I might add that at the end. I'm going to have fun with this recipe all winter long and see how many different versions I can come up with. I'm guessing at least 50. Let me know what you come up with.

  3. Jenna September 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    This looks delicious. I love the mushrooms. I'd add shredded zucchini or pureed squash since we have lots form our garden right now.

    When you choose your noodles, how long would the cook in water? We have gf noodles that cook in 7-9 minutes, and others that need about 20 minutes. Which would you recommend here? Thanks.

    • Diane Eblin September 7, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      Jenna I like the zucchini idea! As far as the noodles if you have ones that need longer to cook I would add in a little more water and cook closer to that length of time. Of course the best way to find out is give it a go and test it at different intervals. Then you'll know for the next time and I'd love to hear too.

  4. Shirley @ gfe September 7, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Diane–So yummy! Mr. GFE would be all over this one because of the pasta and mushrooms. I think I'd have to add some zucchini for sure. 😉

    Thanks so much for linking to my pasta "helper" dish! I need to share my hamburger "helper-roni" recipe soon. 🙂


    • Diane Eblin September 7, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      Well Mr. GFE and my hubby would get along great. Made this last night and I think I counted 3 or 4 helpings. It is hard to stop eating this dish. It tastes good and has such great mouth feel, especially on a rainy day. I also added spinach last night and it was hardly noticeable which is a good thing around here.

  5. Lexi September 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Thanks for sharing such an easy GF and CF meal! We have food allergies at our house and I'm always looking for new things to make that are quick. We'll be trying this one!

    • Diane Eblin September 11, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      Lexi, thank you for stopping by and saying hello. I'd love to hear if you make any changes to this or what flavor profile you use. I just stocked up on tomato sauce so I'd have some ready to make this meal when I didn't feel like cooking. Love to have those easy GFCF ones on hand. Love to hear if you have others.

  6. Victoria Meyers September 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    All my life we made this at my house, but we called it ghoulash- I hadn't really thought about making it gluten free, duh! Thanks for the idea!

  7. Deb September 23, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Sounds yummy. Can't wait to try. Some people experience the same reaction to spinach as they do to gluten. It also has opioid peptides in it.