This Healthier Instant Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper is a delicious one-pot spin off on one of your favourite childhood meals.
Oh hey there!
I've just classed up your favourite childhood dinner to make it healthier and more wholesome – I mean, why not end the week with a one pot meal and a little bit of wine, right????
I've just updated this delicious homemade hamburger helper recipe with new photos AND you can now make it in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop – just dump in all your ingredients, set it and forget it. How could dinner get any better than with this cheesy one pot pasta recipe?
As a kid, my mom never ever let us have Hamburger Helper. I feel like it's something that I always missed out on as a kid; all my friends would have it every once in a while and I'd see it everywhere but my mom was maybe just TOO good of a mom and always made us homemade meals. Screw her and her refusal to let us eat processed crap hahaha.
As I've gotten older I've realized that Hamburger Helper and all those other boxed meals are probably the type of thing you serve your kids when you've just given up for the day and are too tired to function, not necessarily a treat you should look forward to.
But I've got a real penchant for junk food.
Honestly, I used to look forward to eating TV dinners and ramen noodles as a kid.
My mom insisted on homemade and healthy for literally every single meal (except for the odd time she took us to McDonald's when my dad went away on a business trip, or the couple times she made us Kraft Dinner…) so I always felt like the odd one out among my friends. I had to wait for a visit to my grandma's in order to get my fill of crap food (mostly because my grandma couldn't cook LOL).
How to Make Homemade Hamburger Helper
This homemade Hamburger Helper recipe is SUPER easy since it comes together in one pot. You're basically going to brown the beef with some diced up carrots, celery, onions and garlic, then add in some canned diced tomatoes, beef broth and pasta, stirring in some red pepper, cheese and parsley at the end.
I love to add carrots and celery to this hamburger helper even if the traditional recipe doesn't call for them because they are mildly flavourful veggies that pack in that extra punch of nutrition.
Most of the ingredients in this recipe can already be found on hand at home too so no running to the store for last minute items!
You don't have to worry about all the preservatives that come along with boxed foods like this, and you can still spend a lot less time in the kitchen, making less of a mess at that, because this Healthier Homemade Hamburger Helper is a one-pot recipe. Also, like I love doing with just about everything, I highly recommend you add in ALL the veggies in your fridge. Seriously.
I think my vegetable addiction is actually handy in that it often combats my cravings for processed food. I end up spending way too much time in the produce section of the grocery store so it keeps me out of the aisles where all the delicious carb-heavy packages of pre-made foods are calling my name.
How to Make Hamburger Helper Healthier
Here are some great ideas for healthy add-ins to this deliciously mouth-watering cheeseburger casserole:
- Bell peppers
- Red cabbage
Just dump your whole vegetable crisper up in here okay? Any excuse to make this healthier…
I made a slightly (okay, much) unhealthier version of this Healthier Homemade Hamburger Helper in the form of a Bacon Jalapeno Cheeseburger Casserole a few years ago if you're looking for a different twist on this one-pot meal. Obviously that one's another one of my faves but it's not exactly something I eat on a regular basis anymore. Darn millennials and their health goals, right?
Hamburger Helper Sub-Ins
Whether you try it on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot, this Healthier Homemade Hamburger Helper is loaded with extra veggies and you can even sub in some ground chicken or turkey for the ground beef if you're looking to make this cheeseburger casserole extra lean.
I decided to try the homemade cheeseburger hamburger helper but I do have a similar Hamburger Helper-style recipe in the form of beef stroganoff in case you like the other version better.
Will you be making this Healthier Homemade Hamburger Helper?
I absolutely love remaking my favourite childhood classics, even if I didn't end up trying actual Hamburger Helper until I was 20 years old. OMG. What was I missing out on?!
Go ahead, I give you permission to go ahead and make this giant pot of deliciousness. Just be prepared to share it or basically eat it the whole week as leftovers because it makes a TON of food.
Meal prep tools
- The Instant Pot DUO Plus 60 is the version I use in this recipe.
- This is the pasta I use for the Instant Pot version.
- Grab some Glass meal prep bowls for your leftovers.
- And of course I get all my grass-fed beef from Butcher Box!
Healthier Hamburger Helper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb extra-lean ground beef or ground chicken
- 2 small yellow onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 cups beef or chicken broth
- 1 796mL can Diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb (about 4.5 cups) dry rotini pasta
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped (optional)
- Stovetop directions: In a large pot, heat olive oil over med-high heat. Add ground beef or chicken, onions and garlic, and cook until browned, about 4-5 min. Add in carrots, celery and red pepper, sauteeing for another 2-3 min. Add broth and tomatoes, along with basil, oregano and salt. Add dry pasta and cover with a lid, cooking on medium heat and stirring occasionally for 12-15 minutes until pasta is completely cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in cheese and remove from heat. Top with parsley (optional) and serve!
- Instant Pot: Add olive oil and ground beef to bottom of Instant Pot and break up meat with a slotted spoon. Add in remaining ingredients in order that they are listed above except for red pepper, cheese and parsley, adding in pasta last. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes (Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to preheat then cook the 3 minutes). Do a quick release of the pressure, then stir in red pepper, cheese and parsley. Let sit for 3-5 minutes for red pepper to steam, then serve and enjoy!