A classic boxed meal, made healthier and heartier. And guess what? It’s not that much harder to make! Your whole family will love this healthy homemade hamburger helper.

Partial image of pasta in large pot with wooden spoon inserted.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t think I’ve ever made real Hamburger Helper. Maybe once or twice in college. It does, however, frequently happen that there’s a pan of something I threw together with whatever I had in the fridge. You can do amazing things with meat, vegetables, and a grain. The options are limitless.

Ben is used to ending up with some type of “slop” on his plate and asking, “What’s in this?” Seriously, that happens at least once a week, and it’s far better than it sounds. It’s not an “Oh boy, what’s in this?” It’s more of a curiosity type thing.

Pasta in round white shallow bowl, with pot and lid in background, on blue plaid cloth.

There’s a point to this. When I made this homemade Hamburger Helper, he walked into the kitchen and was probably 15 feet away from the stove and he said, “Hamburger Helper?”

It’s recognizable, even to someone who never eats it. Maybe he ate it growing up, but I know for a fact he hasn’t had it in at least 8  years. As I often do, I made this version a little better for you. Coming in at 400 calories per serving, it’s definitely not breaking the calorie bank, especially given the fact that it’s a pan full of pasta, beef and cheese.

Paired with a salad (try this kale salad or a Brussels sprouts salad) or fruit, it’s a hearty meal you can feel pretty good about. And did I mention you can make it in 30 minutes? That’s not much longer than the boxed kind would take, I’m assuming.

Overhead of pasta in white dish with fork alongside.

That 30 minute thing is important amidst the craziness of the everyday life. This meal is perfect after a day of working, errands, child care, whatever life brought you today. You’re exhausted, I know you are — we all are! Make dinner easy, and good for you. You got this!

Pasta in bowl garnished with chopped parsley, pot in background.

As I’ve done in the past, I’ve partnered with Anolon® to bring you this easy recipe. My cupboards are full of Anolon cookware and I know it’s a brand I can always count on. I find that I’m often inspired by a good piece of cookware. It encourages me to get in the kitchen and try something new because I can’t wait to put it to use. The pans have comfortable handles and are heavy enough to not be sliding around on the stove, but not so heavy that you break your back when you’re trying to wash them!

Overhead of cooked pasta in pan, with wooden spoon.

For this recipe, I used Anolon’s 3-Qt Covered Sauté pan – it’s the perfect size for this recipe and comes with a cover to help the pasta cook quickly and evenly.

If you love hamburger, try this hamburger soup! It’s easy, nutritious with loads of vegetables, and always a hit. And, of course, there’s always homemade meatloaf! Don’t you just love meatloaf sandwiches? I do!

Make this homemade hamburger helper tonight! 

Easy one pan pasta recipes you may like to try:

Pasta in large pot, with spoon inserted.

Homemade Hamburger Helper - Whole Wheat!

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A classic boxed meal, made healthier and heartier. And guess what? It’s not that much harder to make! Your whole family will love this healthy homemade hamburger helper.


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (96% lean, 4% fat)
  • 1 small onion, diced finely (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small carrot, diced finely (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup whole milk (see note)
  • 2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
  • fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. In an Anolon 3-Qt Covered Sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onion, and carrot and cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent, breaking up beef as it cooks.
  2. Add tomato paste, flour, chili powder, paprika, parsley, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Keep stirring until tomato paste coats all the meat. Make sure to keep stirring so the tomato paste does not burn.
  3. Add tomatoes, water, and milk and bring to nearly a boil.
  4. Add pasta, stir, reduce heat to medium, and cook, covered, for 6-8 minutes or until al dente, stirring occasionally to make sure pasta gets cooked evenly.
  5. Reduce heat to low; add cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.
  6. Serve immediately, topped with fresh parsley, if desired.


  • I recommend using whole milk because milk with lower fat percentage tends to curdle at a higher heat, which you need to cook the pasta. If you don’t have whole milk, you could use 3 cups (total) water and increase the cream cheese to 4 ounces to add creaminess at the end.
  • If you wish, you could use ground turkey instead of ground beef.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 502mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 31g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Anolon. The opinions and text are all mine.