Are you in search of an easy weeknight dinner idea that will satisfy your whole family? Look no further than this homemade Ground Beef Mac and Cheese recipe! With its comforting flavors and quick preparation time, it’s the perfect meal for those busy nights when planning ahead seems impossible.
A Family Favorite That Never Disappoints
This Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet has become a staple in many households, boasting over 7 million page views and rave reviews. What sets it apart is its simplicity and the fact that it can be made with ingredients you likely already have on hand. In just under 20 minutes, you can have a delicious and satisfying meal that even picky eaters will love.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
I didn’t grow up eating Hamburger Helper, but it quickly became a favorite during my college years. Trading nights to cook with roommates was a fun way to try different dishes, and that’s when I was introduced to the boxed hamburger helper. It may not have been the most sophisticated meal, but the combination of meaty pasta with a cheesy sauce was undeniably delicious and comforting.
Elevating a Classic
Fast forward to today, and I’ve discovered a homemade version of this nostalgic dish that surpasses the boxed variety. By using real cheese and skipping unnecessary additives, you can recreate the flavors of the classic hamburger helper in a much tastier way. This recipe has become a go-to for busy weeknights when I don’t have time to plan or feel like cooking.
The Beauty of One-Pot Meals
One of the great advantages of making homemade hamburger helper is the minimal cleanup required. This one-pot skillet meal reduces the number of dishes you’ll have to wash, making it even more appealing for those nights when you’d rather opt for takeout. In fact, you can prepare this dish from start to finish in just 15 minutes, making it faster than most fast food options.
The Recipe – Quick and Easy
Now, let’s dive into the details of this delightful Ground Beef Mac and Cheese recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pasta: Choose your favorite small pasta, such as cavatappi or elbow macaroni.
- Lean ground beef: Feel free to substitute with ground turkey, chicken, or sausage for a different flavor or a healthier option.
- Milk: Add richness to the dish without the extra calories.
- Hot water: While beef or chicken broth can enhance the savory taste, water works just fine.
- Cheese: Medium cheddar cheese is the classic choice, but you can experiment with other melty cheeses like Monterey or pepper jack.
- Cornstarch: This ingredient helps thicken the sauce and gives it a silky texture.
- Paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, sugar: These spices and seasonings bring depth of flavor to the dish.
The homemade hamburger helper comes together easily. Start by browning the ground beef in a large skillet, then add cornstarch and spices to coat the meat. Next, add the hot water, milk, and pasta, then simmer until the pasta is tender.
Once the pasta is cooked, sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top, allowing it to melt and combine with the remaining liquid in the pan to create a luscious cheese sauce. A few minutes later, the sauce will have thickened slightly, and your homemade hamburger helper is ready to be served.
Tips for Success and Serving Suggestions
To make this dish even more versatile, you can consider adding chopped bell peppers, green beans, or other veggies to the recipe. Letting the dish sit for a few minutes before serving allows the cheese sauce to set up and thicken slightly. If you prefer a different pasta shape, feel free to swap out the cavatappi noodles for shells or macaroni.
Ground Beef Mac and Cheese pairs beautifully with a spinach salad or crisp green salad dressed in a copycat Olive Garden dressing. You can also serve it alongside green vegetables like roasted broccoli or green beans. For a sweet touch, a fruit salad with marshmallows or even orange jello is sure to be a hit with the whole family.
More Easy Dinner Recipes
If you’re looking to expand your repertoire of easy weeknight dinners, you’ll love these other recipes:
- Ground Beef Stroganoff
- Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes
- Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
- Tex-Mex Doritos Taco Salad
This homemade Ground Beef Mac and Cheese recipe offers a delightful twist on a classic favorite. With its simplicity, quick preparation time, and crowd-pleasing flavors, it’s the perfect solution for those busy evenings when time is of the essence. So, go ahead and give it a try and experience the joy of a homemade comfort meal that’s both comforting and delicious!
This article was originally published in August 2018, and the content has been updated in November 2022.
Don’t forget to visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ for more mouthwatering recipes and inspiration!