Homemade Cheeseburger Helper is the healthier, homemade version of boxed Hamburger Helper. This gluten-free dinner recipe is incredibly delicious! | iowagirleats.com

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl who moved to Minneapolis after college to whoop it up for a few years before settling down into adulthood, or whatever it is they call being a mid-upper twenty something.

The boy and the girl were dating, but lived in separate apartments. The girl liked to have the boy over for dinner as often as she could because she liked the boy a lot, but also because she knew what the boy would eat every night if left to his own devices.

See, while the girl liked to cook meals chock full of fresh veggies and protein (for the most part,) the boy had a weakness for boxed dinners that called for a pound of hamburger to “help” them along.

The meals were quick, cheap, and painless to prepare, but loaded with salt and weird ingredients.

“Disodium guanylate?” The girl once asked the boy, after looking at the ingredient list.

“I think that just means ‘extra delicious’.” The boy replied.

The boy and the girl ended up getting married and moving back to Iowa a few years later, and while they’ve been eating well ever since, he occasionally likes to think of the boxed dinners from his bachelor days and drool a little.

More in love with the boy than ever, the girl offered to whip up a homemade version of his favorite “flavor”, Cheeseburger Macaroni.


And the boy freaking LOVED IT. And guess what? The girl did too!

Ok. The jig is up. The boy is Ben, and the girl is me. ;) The rest of the story is true, however, including the part where Ben inhaled his bowl of Cheeseburger Macaroni. I literally gave him a bowl, went to snap a few pictures, and it was gone by the time I got back. Thanks for waiting!


The beauty of this meal is that it is inexpensive – I had all the ingredients on hand except for the hamburger to “help” bring the meal together – it’s made in one pot, so clean up is basically nil, and it’s ready in 20 minutes. 20 minutes!

Start by browning, and draining, one pound of ground beef.


Next, sprinkle in a rainbow of yummy seasonings and thickeners, including paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and cornstarch.

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Pour in water, skim milk,


and any short pasta – regular or gluten-free. I wanted to use elbow macaroni, but only had mini penne on hand. Still worked fine!


Stir everything together, pop a lid on top, and simmer the mixture until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.


Finally, stir in a wee bit of sharp cheddar cheese, and it’s done!


Ultra cozy, ultra easy, and, most importantly, disodium guanylate free!


Homemade Cheeseburger Helper

5/5 (5 REVIEWS)


Homemade Cheeseburger Helper is the healthier, homemade version of boxed Hamburger Helper. This gluten-free dinner recipe is incredibly delicious!


Serves 5

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1-1/2 cups dry gluten-free or regular elbow macaroni (or other small pasta)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Brown ground beef in a large skillet then drain and return to the skillet. Add cornstarch, seasonings, hot water, skim milk and pasta then stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, place a lid on top, then simmer until pasta is al dente, stirring a few times.
  2. Turn off the heat then add cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Let stand for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened then serve.


From Food.com

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


This meal is the ultimate in comfort food, shockingly easy to prepare, and so dang good. SO good! Enjoy!