If you grew up eating hamburger helper and are looking for a healthier, allergy-friendly version, then you're in for a treat! Fresh ground beef and gluten-free macaroni are cooked all in one pan in under 30 minutes. This recipe has no funky ingredients, and flavors that will take you back to your childhood.
Hamburger Helper is a ready-made food product that came out in the 1970's. It is a box filled with macaroni noodles and a powdered flavor packet. You add a pack of ground beef and shredded cheese, then you have a homemade dinner in minutes. This time period was all about products that helped families get dinner on the table faster. With this, often came processed ready-to-eat food, and hamburger helper is still in grocery stores today!
Many parents nowadays grew up with hamburger helper and these quick, convenience foods. This Gluten Free Hamburger Helper recipe gives you all of those nostalgic flavors, made healthier and allergy friendly. There are no crazy ingredients, just pantry staples. It tastes even better than the real thing!
All you need is some gluten free macaroni, ground beef, some broth, cheese, and seasoning! If you're familiar with goulash, it's a similar concept, otherwise called cheeseburger macaroni. This healthier homemade hamburger helper comes together in 1 pan in under 30 minutes. It's the perfect easy dinner recipe for the whole family.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Nostalgic taste. Just like the hamburger helper from your childhood, but healthier & homemade. The homemade version is even better than the boxed version!
- ONE PAN MEAL! Easy cooking & even easier clean up.
- Easy weeknight meal made in under 30 minutes.
- Made with simple ingredients. Pasta, tomato paste, broth, & spices are pantry staples in this simple recipe.
- Easy to make for a crowd.
- The best part is: No heavy whipping cream, no sour cream, and no ingredients you can't pronounce, unlike the store bought version.
- Allergy-friendly. This recipe is nut-free and gluten-free.
- It's a full meal. Protein, carbs, & feel free to throw in some veggies, or serve with a side salad.
Love quick & easy pasta recipes? You'll also like my authentic fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti aglio e olio, sausage & eggplant pasta, vegan spicy vodka sauce, spring green pasta sauce, and easy vegan mac and cheese.
Here is everything you'll need to make this healthy hamburger helper recipe:
- Lean ground beef: I use 85-90% lean. You could also use another ground meat like ground chicken or ground turkey.
- White onion
- Tomato paste: If you don't have tomato paste, you could use a small can of crushed tomatoes, or even an equal amount of jarred tomato sauce.
- Seasoning: garlic powder, paprika, dried oregano, cornstarch, black pepper, red pepper flakes, salt
- Gluten-free macaroni: Or use any other small gluten free pasta like mini shells. If you do not have celiac disease, you could of course use regular pasta.
- 2% milk
- Beef broth
- Old cheddar cheese: Feel free to mix in any other cheese you like or have on hand.
- Parmigiano reggiano: I like to finish with a little bit of this salty cheese.
- Squeeze of lemon juice and a handful of parsley: For acid and freshness if you have them.
Can I make this dairy-free? The milk is easy to swap for a neutral plant based milk such as cashew milk or soy milk. I worry that a dairy-free cheese won't melt in as nicely as regular cheese. You could try it with a dairy-free cheddar!
Add more veggies! When cooking the ground beef, feel free to add in more veggies like chopped carrots, celery, zucchini, squash, corn, peppers, or whatever you have on hand.
Be sure to read the recipe card below for the full ingredient list and instructions.
(1) Heat a large skillet (12") over medium heat. Once warm, add the ground beef and the diced onion. Sauté until the ground beef is cooked. Discard excess fat.
(2) Add the tomato paste & seasonings to the pan. Stir and toast for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
(3) Add the pasta to the pan along with the milk and 2 cups of beef broth. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook until the pasta is almost al dente. See your pasta box for approximate timing.
Stir often, and add more beef broth as the pasta absorbs it. I use about 3 cups total.
(4) When the pasta is cooked, stir in the old cheddar and some parmigiano reggiano.
Mix in a squeeze of lemon juice for acid and parsley for garnish.
Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.
What to Serve with Homemade Hamburger Helper
This recipe really is a one pot meal. It's got protein, carbs, & feel free to add in some veggies to bulk it up. I like to serve it with a gluten-free bread for dipping, and a side salad for some vegetables. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
- Gluten-free garlic bread
- Gluten-free focaccia
- Gluten-free no knead bread
- Crunchy kale salad
- Beet & goat cheese salad
- Prosciutto wrapped asparagus
- Charred corn
- Broccoli salad
Allow leftovers to cool and transfer to an airtight container. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Note that the gluten free noodles will likely keep absorbing liquid and become quite soft as they sit the next day.
Here are some of my top tips and tricks for successful homemade hamburger helper:
- Add extra veggies while cooking the beef. Bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, etc.
- Grate your own cheese so it melts nicely.
- Season to your taste preferences.
- Cook the pasta to al dente with a slight chew. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce and absorb all the flavours. Overcooked pasta may fall apart, especially since it's gluten-free pasta.
- Add beef broth as needed while the pasta cooks. It will absorb quite a lot.
- Add as much cheese as your heart desires. And add any type that you have on hand.
- Top with hot sauce for even more flavor!
Frequently Asked Questions
No, store bought hamburger helper is not gluten free. It contains wheat noodles, as well as wheat flour.
No it is not, as it contains enriched wheat flour. You cannot simply use this with gluten free noodles.
Any type of small gluten free pasta will work for this recipe. I used Catelli gluten free macaroni, though I find this brand to be quite soft and fragile. Great Value at Walmart also makes a version of gluten free macaroni. My favourite brand of gluten free pasta is pasta rummo. Try the small chickapea pasta shells for some added protein.
Gluten free pasta can be fragile. Ensure you cook the pasta until just about al dente, as it will continue to absorb broth as it sits. It's okay if the pasta breaks a bit, you will still have a delicious meal.
This homemade gluten-free hamburger helper recipe is a healthier version of the classic store bought supper. Made with pantry staples and whole foods, you can feel good about serving this easy one pan dinner to the entire family on busy weeknights! It's the perfect comfort food for the cooler weather.
More Quick Dinners
- Spaghetti aglio e olio
- Fettuccine alfredo without cream
- Greek chicken meatballs
- Turkey meatballs
- Air fryer trout
- Gluten-free chicken nuggets
- Air fryer halibut
- Sausage & eggplant pasta
- Gluten-free pasta salad
- Tuscan chicken & orzo skillet
Have you made this healthier hamburger helper? I'd very much appreciate it if you leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review below, and tag me on instagram @fromoliviaskitchen!
Gluten Free Hamburger Helper
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ½ white onion diced
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, paprika, dried oregano, cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cup gluten-free macaroni 200g
- ½ cup 2% milk
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 cup old cheddar, grated
- ⅓ cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
- Squeeze of lemon juice and a handful of parsley
- Heat a large 12" skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add the ground beef and the diced onion. Sauté until the ground beef is cooked. Discard excess fat.
- Add the tomato paste & seasonings to the pan. Stir and toast for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the pasta to the pan along with the milk and 2 cups of beef broth. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook until the pasta is almost al dente. See your pasta box for approximate timing. Stir often, and add more beef broth as the pasta absorbs it. I use about 3 cups total.
- When the pasta is cooked, stir in the old cheddar and some parmigiano reggiano. Mix in a squeeze of lemon juice for acid and parsley for garnish. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.
- Pasta shape: Use any small gluten free pasta you have. Mini shells would be great.
- Dairy-free: The milk is easy to swap for a neutral dairy free alternative like soy or cashew milk. Dairy-free cheese may not melt as intended in this recipe.
- Storage: Allow leftovers to cool and transfer to an airtight container. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Note that the gluten free noodles will likely keep absorbing liquid and become quite soft as they sit.