Homemade cheeseburger macaroni is a great way to avoid the store and boxed stuff. With real cheese, seasonings, ground beef, and noodles you can create a tasty dish in under 30 minutes.
I have never been a real huge fan of boxed hamburger helpers. Well, I loved the sweet and sour chicken one, and there's like one or two beef ones that are okay when I'm in a pinch, but I hardly ever buy them.
My husband often complains because hamburger helper is a favorite of his. I just can't get past the high sodium and the fact that the boxes cost so much money but make so little food for us. Making it homemade solves all of those problems.
What's even better is that the homemade version of mac and cheese with ground beef makes a ton of servings. This recipe makes large affordable portions and gives incredibly tasty results. Creamy, meaty, cheesy noodles in every bite.
For more macaroni recipes, be sure to check out my 3 Ingredient Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese, Mac and Cheese Tuna Casserole, and 5 Ingredient Mac and Cheese.
Why This Recipe Works
- It's quick. In about the same amount of time as the boxed version would have. In under 30 minutes, I can have a pot full of food and feel good knowing exactly what's in it.
- It's easy. Brown the meat, add stuff to the pot and let it all simmer until ready. This recipe is almost as easy as making a boxed mix.
- It's comforting. Serve this delicious meal up any night of the week or when you just need a good comfort meal to come home to.
Ground Beef- You will need some ground beef. I like to use 80/20, but other percentages will work fine.
Onion- Add in some onion for a nice aromatic and depth of flavor.
Cherry Tomatoes- This is optional, but I love the contrast in flavor and bright color.
Seasonings- You will need Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika, Salt, Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper for a wonderful blend of flavors.
Milk- Use milk for added moisture and richness.
Water- You will need some water to cook the noodles in.
Elbow Noodles- Any noodle shape will work, but we prefer elbow noodles with this recipe.
Cheddar Cheese- For that golden color and cheesy taste, use some cheddar cheese. I recommend the cheese you have to shred yourself as it melts more easily. I prefer sharp or medium cheddar.
Cream Cheese- Adding in cream cheese will give us a richer and creamier taste in every bite.
For the exact amounts needed, please see the recipe card below.
🍽 Equipment Needed
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Check out how to make easy cheeseburger macaroni skillet with these simple step-by-step instructions:
Combine your ground beef and diced onion in a large pot over med/high heat.
Drain the excess grease and then stir in the seasonings.
Add in the cream cheese and stir until melted.
Turn the heat to high and add in the water and milk.
Bring to a rolling boil.
Add in the elbow noodles and return to a boil. Cover. Reduce the heat down to medium and let it boil for 5 minutes.
Stir, and then place the lid on and continue boiling or another 5 minutes. It's going to look curdled, that's okay.
Remove the pot from the heat and top with your cheese. Place the lid back on and wait a minute or two for the cheese to melt. This makes it easier to stir in.
Stir until the cheese is fully mixed in. Add in the cherry tomatoes.
Gently fold together to combine.
Let stand 5 minutes uncovered and then serve.
🍴 Recipe Tips
When you're making this hamburger mac and cheese recipe, there's a point where it looks ruined because the milk curdles. I just want to make sure that you now this is completely normal and is a result of the milk reaching a boiling point.
If you chose to substitute it for a higher fat like heavy cream it would be less likely to do this, but the dish would have a much higher fat content.
As the liquid gets absorbed by the noodles, the curdle look goes away, and after adding in the cheese it's completely gone and unnoticeable. It has no change in the texture of the dish.
If you want a stronger cheese flavor use sharp cheddar cheese or double up on the cheese if you really want it extra cheesy!
Your leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. This should give you plenty of chances to eat it all or it can be a great way to meal prep for the week.
Yes! Just place the cooled meal in an airtight container or Ziploc bag and place it in the freezer for up to 6 months. To thaw, place it in the fridge overnight and reheat before eating.
More great dinner ideas
- Chicken Divan Noodle Casserole
- Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Pineapple Teriyaki Yakisoba Noodles
- Tater Tot Casserole
Easy Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet
- 1-2 pounds Ground beef ($5.05)
- ½ cup Onion, diced ($0.35)
- 2 teaspoons Garlic powder ($0.20)
- 2 teaspoons Onion powder ($0.20)
- 1 teaspoon Paprika ($0.10)
- ½ teaspoon Salt ($0.05)
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper ($0.05)
- 1 pinch Cayenne pepper ($0.01)
- 2 ounces Cream cheese ($0.50)
- 2 cups Milk ($0.38)
- 2 cups Water ($0.00)
- 1 box (16oz) Elbow noodles ($0.99)
- 8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded ($0.99)
- ½ cup Cherry red tomatoes, quartered ($0.62)
- In a large pot over medium/high heat, combine your ground beef and diced onion.
- Brown the ground beef and drain all excess grease. Add in the seasonings and stir until combined.
- Add in the cream cheese and stir until it's melted and fully incorporated.
- Turn the heat up to high and add in the water and milk. Bring to a boil and add in the elbow noodles.
- Return to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat down to medium-low. Boil for 5 minutes. Stir, and then boil for another 5 minutes. You may notice the curdle appearance of the liquid at this point. This is normal.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add your cheddar cheese. Place the lid on and wait a minute or two for the cheese to melt. This makes it easier to stir in. Stir the cheese in until it's fully combined.
- Gently fold in the cherry tomatoes. The heat of the noodle dish will warm them up and cook them slightly, but you don't want to crush them.
- Let the pot stand for 5 minutes before serving to help the sauce thicken and cool.
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