A Chef's One-Pot Old-School Hamburger Helper™ Recipe for Throwback Thursday by Chef Gigi

A Chef's One-Pot Old-School Hamburger Helper™ Recipe for Throwback Thursday

If you're my age, you can remember when Hamburger Helper™ came on the market. Well, now you can make this nostalgic ground beef dinner for your family without all the preservatives from the box. I hope this homemade skillet ground beef and pasta recipe brings back some fun memories!

The easy old-school homemade hamburger helper is made with onion, garlic, bacon, ground beef, beef stock, heavy cream, hot sauce, smoked paprika, a bay leaf, elbow macaroni pasta, shredded cheddar cheese and grated Parmesan cheese. The ingredients cook on the stovetop in one pan, just like the box!

Serve this quick and easy budget recipe for dinner with your favorite side dishes. If you really want to go old school, serve it with peas and carrots.

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Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 2 tablespoons neutral-tasting cooking oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 strips uncooked smoked bacon, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce  
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • bay leaf
  • 8 ounces elbow pasta
  • 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

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Recipe Notes

  • Try this recipe with ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  • Any short pasta will work for this recipe.
  • Use your favorite hot sauce for this old-school recipe.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Here's how to make it: 

  1.  Heat a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the oil and onion. Cook until the onions turn light brown in color and begin to caramelize, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add bacon and ground beef. Stir to break up the meat into smaller pieces. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the liquid has almost evaporated and the meat starts to cook, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully drain off most of the fat, leaving a little in the pan to keep the meat moist. Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the beef stock, heavy cream, hot sauce, paprika and bay leaf. Mix well and bring to a boil. 
  4. Once the mixture is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring often, about 8 to 9 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and stir in both kinds of cheese until completely melted and the sauce is thickened. Remove the pan from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving

Calories: 556

Total Fat: 23.1g

Saturated Fat: 11.3g

Cholesterol: 67mg

Sodium: 573mg

Total Carbohydrate: 59.6g

Dietary Fiber: 3.4g

Total Sugars: 3.7g

Protein: 26.5g

Vitamin D: 8mcg

Calcium: 332mg

Iron: 6mg

Potassium: 186mg

Recipe cooking times, nutritional information and servings are approximate and provided for your convenience. However, 30Seconds is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe, nor may you have the same results because of variations in ingredients, temperatures, altitude, errors, omissions or cooking/baking abilities. This recipe has been analyzed by VeryWellFit. However, any nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and it is up to the individual to ascertain accuracy. To ensure image quality, we may occasionally use stock photography.

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Elisa Schmitz
I remember this dish from childhood. Brings back some serious comfort food memories. Thank you for sharing, Chef Gigi !
This looks so much better than the stuff I remember.

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