Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper (30 Minute Meal!)


Gluten-free Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper is much healthier than the boxed version. Made in just 1 skillet and ready in 30 minutes!

 Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Happy Monday, everyone, did you have a nice weekend? I got back from Seattle yesterday afternoon and spent the remainder of the day snuggling the heck out of Ben and Lincoln. I missed them terribly but had a fabulous time out west. Per usual with these girls, we ate, saw, and explored a TON in just a few short days, and lucked out with the most fabulous weather. I’ll tell you all about it later this week!


In the meantime, if you had a busy weekend like I did and weren’t able to hit up the grocery store, I’ve got a winner of a quick chicken ground beef dinner for you. Inspired by one of my most popular recipes on IGE to-date (Homemade Cheeseburger Helper) Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper is ready in 30 minutes, made in one skillet, and uses fridge and pantry staples. It also has just 7 ingredients compared to the boxed version’s 27 (I counted!)

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

If you’ve been reading IGE for any length of time than you know that one of my favorite things to do is remake processed, packaged foods like the aforementioned Homemade Cheeseburger Helper, Creamy Garlic Shells, and Creamy Chicken Pasta to make them healthier (notice I didn’t say healthy. But healthier – YES!) After today Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper is joining the ranks. Heck it may even be the new captain. All aboard!

Ok, that was cheesier than this dish, which actually doesn’t have that much cheese and is still yummy even if you want to leave it out.

Ground beef is seasoned with homemade taco seasoning and then simmered with long grain white rice and chicken broth until the rice is tender. Freshly shredded cheddar cheese is stirred in at the end then the whole dish is topped with taco-inspired toppings like salsa, avocado, and green onions.

Oh and, as the name implies, a little (or lots) of crunch, aka crushed tortilla chips. Or corn chips like Fritos. I buy the ones from Trader Joe’s and like to pretend they’re healthy as I’m stuffing my face because they’re organic. Send help.

At any rate, if your family likes quick, easy and satisfying meals, then they will absolutely gobble this one up!

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Start by browning 1lb lean ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 chopped large shallot (or 1/2 small onion.) Drain then return to the skillet.

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Next add 1 batch homemade taco seasoning, or a taco seasoning packet. Add the whole thing but don’t use the water that’s called for in the seasoning recipe or on the packet.

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Now add 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa. My all time favorite store-bought salsa is Tostitos Restaurant-Style Salsa. It is…so good. I have been known to eat half a jar in one sitting. Right. Trader Joe’s Salsa Authentica is also really good.

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Pour in 1-3/4 cups chicken broth then turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Once the liquid is boiling stir in 1 cup long-grain white rice (either basimati or jasmine) then place a lid on top, turn the heat down to medium low, and cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid is nearly absorbed. Mine took 15 minutes, but yours could take a few more.

By the way, I have not tested this recipe using brown rice but if I were to do it I’d probably start with at least 2 cups chicken broth then add up to a 1/4 cup more near the end if it needs it.

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Almost done!

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Remove the skillet from the heat then stir in 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese until melted. Place a lid on top then let the rice continue to steam for 5 minutes.

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

When time is up, scoop the homemade taco hamburger helper onto plates then add your toppings and dig in!

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper

serves 5


Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper is much healthier than the boxed version. Made in just 1 skillet and ready in 30 minutes!


  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large shallot or 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 recipe homemade taco seasoning (recipe below) or 1 taco seasoning packet, don't add water
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1-3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup long grain white rice such as basmati or jasmine
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Toppings: crushed tortilla chips, salsa, sliced avocado, chopped green onions


  1. Brown ground beef with shallot in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain then return to the skillet. Add taco seasoning, salsa, and chicken broth then bring to a boil. Add rice then place a lid on top and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender then remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Place lid back on the skillet then let sit for 5 minutes before serving with toppings.
  2. Click here for homemade taco seasoning recipe >

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

Just think of how much better you’ll feel serving this hearty, totally yummy meal to your friends or family knowing it didn’t come from a preservative-filled box, right? And it was so easy, too – like I said, 30 minutes from start to finish. Enjoy!

Crunchy Taco Homemade Hamburger Helper | iowagirleats.com

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  1. I am s softie for anything mexican. It is one of those foods and always tastes good! Thanks for posting your taco seasoning blend-I am a big fan of making your own blends (so much cheaper!) Another great recipe too, thanks!

  2. Lauren 03.24.2014

    Hi Kristin,
    I have been reading your blog for years (which seems weird to say!). I don’t ever comment but just had to tell you that I LOVE your blog and your recipes! Lincoln is adorable and you seem like such a sweet, genuine person. Anyways … I just wanted to say thanks. Many of your recipes are staples in our house … chicken and wild rice soup, lettuce wraps, and lately the man-pleasing chicken! I have loved every recipe of yours we have tried. I am so sorry to hear about your new celiac diagnosis! My husband cannot eat wheat either, so selfishly I am sort of glad for the recipes to come :). Thanks for all the work you put into your blog/recipes!

    • Kristin 03.24.2014

      Thank YOU, Lauren, for such a kind note. It made my day! :)

  3. Loving quick and delicious meals! This totally looks like a meal the husband will love! Pinning!

  4. Laura S 03.24.2014

    I’m sure you are sick to death of gluten free recommendations but I listened to this last week and found the science behind baking gluten free really interesting. Also, there are some good tips for cooking with brown rice – baking it is actually better!


    • Kristin 03.24.2014

      This was a fantastic read – thank you so much! Going to try those chocolate chip cookies this weekend! :)

  5. Dena 03.24.2014

    I realize I’m just taking up space with this comment, but had to say I laughed out loud when you crossed out the word “chicken”. hahaha. Thanks for the laugh!

  6. Stephanie 03.24.2014

    This just saved dinner tonight! :) I am a huge fan of your homemade version of Hamburger Helper, and this sounds like a great dish too!

  7. Danielle 03.24.2014

    Looks yummy! Love your other hamburger helper recipe, my husband requests it all the time!

    Can you use quick cooking rice?

    • Kristin 03.24.2014

      I’ve never used quick cooking rice, but I bet you probably wouldn’t need to use as much chicken broth. I’d check the package and use what it calls for!

  8. I am totally going to try and make a vegan version of this. I bet it would be awesome with soyrizo!

  9. Meredith 03.24.2014

    Yum, thanks for the easy recipe! I love that it only requires one pan as well:)

  10. This looks great! My husband and I used to eat actual hamburger helper in our early years of college…we’ve learned a LOT about nutrition since then, and we can afford real food ;) but I’m pretty sure he’d love to have this for dinner sometime.

  11. Jackie 03.24.2014

    This is a winner in my book I will try it this weekend!

  12. Kaysha Comfort 03.24.2014

    Ummm…Let me start out by saying, you rock! I love me some taco anything. This looks quick, easy, and delicious…that’s the perfect combination. Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe, I will surely be making it soon!

    That Comfort Girl

  13. FIONA BROOKS 03.24.2014

    that loooosss soooo yummy! Ill have to try it!!


  14. Kim 03.24.2014

    This will be on the menu for next week. Looks delicious and easy!

  15. JennP 03.24.2014

    Ah, pinning for later this week! This is the kind of dish that makes my husband a little less pouty about his gluten intolerance :)

  16. Kim 03.24.2014

    For some reason my boys love Hamburger Helper meals – I’ve never been a big fan so will definitely give this recipe a try – then everyone can be happy!!

  17. Kim @FITsique 03.24.2014

    Yum! This brings back such memories. Growing up my dad made hamburger helper ALL the time when my mom was at work. Its one of those things I don’t eat anymore but the thought brings back comforting memories. I love the healthy option!

  18. Kristin, Your weekend in Seattle looked like so much fun! I followed along on instagram and cannot wait for the scoop! That cocktail!!!!!

  19. Jessie 03.24.2014

    Made this tonight…and it was great. My three kids and husband really liked it. I didn’t have a lot of time, but was able to do the prep, cook, and eat in less than an hour!

    Will be making again!

  20. Debtgirl 03.24.2014

    Can’t wait to hear about your trip here! This rice looks amazing!

  21. Looking forward to hearing your Seattle recap. It’s a place that I have always wanted to go.

    As for this homemade hamburger helper, looks amazing and perfect for a weeknight meal. Definitely pinning it!

  22. I can’t wait to hear about your Seattle trip. I have always wanted to visit. I LOVE your cheeseburger hamburger helper recipe so I and stoked to try this one. Thanks for sharing :) PInned!!

  23. pilla 03.25.2014

    Looks so delicious!


  24. Kissy 03.25.2014

    Hi. Im from Spain and i read your post, I love it!!!

  25. […] Kristin’s […]

  26. Irene 03.25.2014

    Thank you so much for the recipe, it was a HUGE hit last night. My husband’s new fave!!

  27. Love these healthier revamps of packaged foods! This one looks great, and it has just a quarter of the ingredients as the store-bought one? Perfection!

  28. Jenn 03.25.2014

    I made this last night, and it was absolutely delicious! I didn’t expect for it to be as good as it was – I couldn’t stop eating it!

  29. Ashley 03.26.2014

    If you could make over a Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff version that would be amazing. It is my husbands favorite HH, but I hate to use the box version because of all the unknown ingredients.

  30. […] I lost track of days because I enjoyed this delicious dinner the past two nights: Iowa Girl Eats’ Taco Hamburger Helper. This dish is way out in left field for me. I think Mike had to do a double take when I emailed him […]

  31. Angela 03.26.2014

    I made this tonight and all I can say is shazam!! It is perfect and the man requested thirds! Thanks!!

  32. AbbieD 03.27.2014

    This was actually one of my favorite meals growing up…we just call it “Spanish Rice”. And instead of salsa, I throw in a can of diced tomatoes and a can of green chillies. AND a can of black beans!

    And I don’t stir cheese into it…I just top it with cheese, sour cream, salsa, and chips. Yummy yum yum!

  33. Christina 03.27.2014

    THIS WAS SO SO SO SO GOOD!! i just had leftovers for lunch. it reheats and tastes even better the 2nd day!

  34. […] We really love Mexican flavors – excited to try this crunchy taco “hamburger helper”: […]

  35. Trisha 03.31.2014

    Just made this for dinner. I also made the mistake of using brown rice instead of white. It was totally worth the wait!!

  36. […] once again to my girl, Kristen, we had a delicious dinner at home. Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper, to be […]

  37. meredith 04.02.2014

    I made this last night- very good, and very easy! Thank you! One quick question, if I wanted to use less rice next time – like 1/2 cup, do you have any idea of how much less broth to use? Thanks;)

    • Kristin 04.02.2014

      You’d want to use just less than a cup of chicken broth!

      • Meredith 04.02.2014

        Perfect- thanks so much for the response! And try stirring in plain greek yogurt when you are ready to eat it– delicious!

  38. Leah M 04.02.2014

    I made this last night and it was SO tasty and SO easy to make. The only issue I had was my that I didn’t read the instructions for my rice so the rice ended up a bit crunchy! I guess mine was “double crunchy homemade taco hamburger helper” :)

    It was hubby AND kiddo approved, so I will be throwing this into the meal rotation…except next time my rice will actually be cooked!

    Thanks for all of your great, healthy AND easy recipes!!

  39. […]  Healthy Hamburger Helper!? […]

  40. Liz 04.08.2014

    Made this with ground turkey breast and no tostitos… delish!

  41. Jenn 04.15.2014

    This was so delicious! I made this one night for dinner, and had leftovers for lunch all week, and didn’t get sick of it! I was pleasantly surprised about how delicious it was!

  42. Emily 04.19.2014

    Yes, I am a recovering Hamburger Helper-lover! I just made YOUR recipe tonight for the first time, and it was sensational! Obviously, much fresher tasting.

    I love that it’s so versatile. I cut up some corn tortilla strips and baked them — and put them on top. I also added frozen corn – and I bet black beans would be good next time too. And I drizzled it with sour cream + salsa. And cilantro, obvs. My husband called this Mexican Stir Fry ;)

  43. […] Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats. […]

  44. ginny 04.27.2014

    Making this for seriously like the 6th time since you posted it! It’s so easy, so good, Gfree and the husband and the 2 year old LOVE it! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  45. […] Wings Monday: Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper Tuesday: Hot Dogs (for Graham), my Bible Study Wednesday: Bacon Asparagus Pasta Thursday: Meatball […]

  46. Donna from Chicago 05.06.2014

    I made this last night and it was delicious. Thanks for all of the great recipes.

  47. Megan 05.06.2014

    We made this last night and loved it–my boyfriend said he liked it better than regular tacos!! I don’t know if I’ve ever even had the actual Hamburger Helper taco version or not, but yours is a recipe we’ll keep on making over and over again :) Thanks!

  48. […] up eating more taco shell than anything else. My recipe is based on a recipe I found at the blog Iowa Girl Eats.  The meal is made in one skillet and only takes 20 minutes to make. It is also good for lunch the […]

  49. Jessica 09.07.2014

    Made this tonight. SUPER easy and quick to prepare, and we all liked it! :)

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