Healthy Hamburger Helper

January 18, 2022

Say “bye-bye” to sad, boxed meals and “hello” to this gorgeous, healthy twist on your childhood favorite! My Healthy Hamburger Helper recipe is a light and simple twist on the American classic, and can easily be made gluten-free! Plus, this recipe comes together with only one pot, and in 30 minutes. Weeknight dinners have never been more easy, more delicious, or more nostalgic!

Who remembers eating Hamburger Helper as a kid?! I know I do. Growing up, Hamburger Helper was a staple in my household, because it was quick, easy, involved only one pot, and my sister and I loved it. It was the perfect solution to those weeknights where my parent’s just didn’t know what to cook, and didn’t feel like coming up with something creative in the kitchen (which, hey: I get it now!)

But since it’s 2021 and food has come a long way since my childhood, both in terms of creativity and health-consciousness, I figured it’s time to come up with a much healthier and lighter twist on the classic American boxed dinner. 

While this recipe is a little more involved than just throwing everything from a box into a pot, I promise, the little bit of extra work is worth it. Plus, I’ve managed to keep all of the things you know and love about Hamburger Helper in this recipe!

It still comes together in one pot, and in under 30 minutes. And even though it’s healthy, we are not sacrificing flavor at all. We’ve still got your classic macaroni, your tender ground beef bits, and the creamy, cheesy sauce that you know and love.

And if you’re gluten-free, this recipe can easily be adapted to your needs; simply swap out the traditional macaroni noodles for a gluten-free macaroni  noodle, and you’re good to go!

This recipe is proof that healthy and delicious weeknight dinners don’t need to be complicated, or boring, for that matter. They can be easy, fun, and absolutely delicious!

What You Need to Make This Healthy Hamburger Helper

  • Olive Oil: Although I tend to use avocado oil in my savory dishes, using olive oil in this one adds another layer of flavor. So if you have olive oil on hand, I promise it’s worth it.
  • Onion: I use a yellow onion in this recipe, but any onion works well!
  • Carrots: We’ll be slicing our carrots really thin in this recipe, so that they not only add a pop of color to our pasta, but also a nice crunch! Plus, carrots are rich in Vitamin A, which makes them a great veggie to sneak in whenever / wherever possible. 😉
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic always adds the best flavor, so I highly recommend it here!
  • Ground Beef: A lean, ground beef is perfect for this recipe.
  • Seasonings: To season our Healthy Hamburger Helper, we’ll be using salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Yum!
  • Macaroni Noodles: Sure, any type of noodle would work in this recipe, but in order to get that classic Hamburger Helper feel, we’ll be using macaroni noodles. And as I mentioned earlier, feel free to use a gluten-free macaroni noodle, if you’d like!
  • Broth: In this recipe, you can use any type of broth you’d like, whether that’s chicken, beef, or vegetable. I generally use chicken or beef bone broth, since it’s what I usually have on-hand. But feel free to use whatever you have!
  • Greek Yogurt: Instead of using milk or heavy cream in this recipe, we’re using Greek yogurt. Why? Because it’s lighter, full of probiotics and protein, and is gentler on your stomach than other dairy products are!
  • Ketchup: Ketchup adds sweetness, acidity, and the perfect tomato-y flavor. 
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese: You’ll want your cheese to be grated, for this recipe! I recommend buying a small block of sharp cheddar cheese and grating it at home yourself, because it’ll lead to the freshest flavor! But if you can only find pre-shredded at the store, that’s okay too. 

How to Make This Healthy Hamburger Helper

  1. Start by heating your oil in a large pot or dutch oven, on the stove, over medium heat.
  2. While the oil is heating, prepare your veggies. Dice your onions, scrub and cut the carrots into 1/4 inch rounds, and mash the garlic.
  3. Once the oil is hot, add in the prepared vegetables, stirring often until the onions start to soften. This should take abut 5 minutes.
  4. Next, add in the beef and cook until no pink remains, making sure to break up the meat as you go. This should take about 10 minutes.
  5. Then, add in a generous pinch of salt (approximately 1 teaspoon) and black pepper.
  6. Stir in the chili powder and paprika, and cook for about another minute.
  7. Next, add the pasta, broth, greek yogurt, and ketchup to the pot, stirring everything to combine.
  8. Bring your mixture to a gentle boil over medium-high heat and simmer for about 5-8 minutes, until the pasta is al dente, making sure to stir often.
  9. Once the pasta is al dente, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in your shredded cheese until it’s nice and melted.
  10. Plate your pasta, add garnishes of choice, and enjoy!

Other Easy Weeknight Dinners to Enjoy

If you loved this recipe, then you will absolutely LOVE some of my other easy weeknight dinners. And as a bonus, all of these recipes come together in about 30 minutes or less!

Hearty Tuscan White Bean Soup

Beef Kofta Kebabs with Tzatziki Sauce

The Best “Everything” Chicken Tenders

Shrimp Broccoli Caesar Pasta

Better Than Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas

If you try this recipe, please be sure to leave a review and a comment below – this helps other people decide whether to make this recipe as well. And since I practically live on Instagram, tag me in your creations so I can see them and repost on my IG stories. Nothing makes me happier! xx 

Healthy Hamburger Helper

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Nicole Modic
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
SERVES 6 Servings
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Say "bye-bye" to sad, boxed meals and "hello" to this gorgeous, healthy twist on your childhood favorite! My Healthy Hamburger Helper recipe is a light and simple twist on the American classic, and can easily be made gluten-free! Plus, this recipe comes together with only one pot, and in 30 minutes. Weeknight dinners have never been more easy, more delicious, or more nostalgic!

Ingredients

For the Hamburger Helper

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion finely diced
  • 2 Medium Carrots scrubbed and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 Cloves Garlic mashed
  • 1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Pound Macaroni Noodles
  • 3 Cups Broth chicken, beef, or vegetable broth all work well
  • 1 5 oz Container Greek Yogurt (or 3/4 cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated

For the Garnishes

  • Chopped Parsley
  • Chopped Chives

Instructions

  • Start by heating your oil in a large pot or dutch oven, on the stove, over medium heat.
  • While the oil is heating, prepare your veggies. Dice your onions, scrub and cut the carrots into 1/4 inch rounds, and mash the garlic.
  • Once the oil is hot, add in the prepared vegetables, stirring often until the onions start to soften. This should take abut 5 minutes.
  • Next, add in the beef and cook until no pink remains, making sure to break up the meat as you go. This should take about 10 minutes.
  • Then, add in a generous pinch of salt (approximately 1 teaspoon) and black pepper.
  • Stir in the chili powder and paprika, and cook for about another minute.
  • Next, add the pasta, broth, greek yogurt, and ketchup to the pot, stirring everything to combine.
  • Bring your mixture to a gentle boil over medium-high heat and simmer for about 5-8 minutes, until the pasta is al dente, making sure to stir often.
  • Once the pasta is al dente, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in your shredded cheese until it's nice and melted.
  • Plate your pasta, add garnishes of choice, and enjoy!

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in your posts and I’ll re-share!

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  1. If you miss the hamburger helper taste then make this recipe right now! It tastes exactly like the boxed hamburger helper we all love and you can enjoy it GUILT FREE! Thanks to Kale Junkie we now have a go to easy dinner recipe in our casa. Ok, stop reading and go make it right now.

    • Woohoo!! I love this review so much, Ella! Thank you so much for your sweet words, and for making this recipe. I’m so happy that you love it!