Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet

This Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet is a filling and flavorful one pot dinner recipe.  Ready in less than 25 minutes, it can be made with gluten-free or gluten pasta and is sure to be a family favorite!
Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet. A quick and tasty one skillet recipe that is done in less than 30 minutes. Gluten-free or with gluten.

Today’s delicious Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet is inspired but a total flashback.  Can you guess?

I distinctly recall when Hamburger Helper arrived on store shelves in my town and my mom brought it home to make for dinner.  It seemed ingenious!  All the needed ingredients in a tidy box to be added to ground meat and water to create a main dish?!  Unimaginable.

Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet. A quick and tasty one skillet recipe that is done in less than 30 minutes. Gluten-free or with gluten.

The irony is not lost on me that I grew up in the cool of burgeoning processed foods.  What had been fresh and mandated seasonal in the absence of international food logistics, gave way to the tony foods in a box, canned soup casseroles, Instant Breakfasts, powdered drinks that just need water added; it all seemed so futuristic.

My crunchy granola college days left those foods in my rear view mirror and brought me back to eating fresh whole foods.  My locavore experiment firmly planted me back into seasonal eating though admittedly becoming gluten-free opened a new dynamic as well.

Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet. A quick and tasty one skillet recipe that is done in less than 30 minutes. Gluten-free or with gluten.

My first instinct when becoming gluten-free (for medical need) was to assess how far from my familiar normal I would have to exist.  It has remained my tactic to try new packaged gluten-free foods whenever I find them.  It’s sort of a hoarding instinct I think; I may never actually have a need to eat that food but if I did I want to know what’s out there ahead of time and if it’s good.

A few weeks ago I was shopping at a big box store which happens to have a great gluten-free section.  I breezed through to see if there was anything I had not tried, to find a gluten-free off brand version of Hamburger Helper.  I was shot back through time to my childhood dining table the first time the skillet was served and it was so good!

Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet. A quick and tasty one skillet recipe that is done in less than 30 minutes. Gluten-free or with gluten.

I brought the box home and made it having no idea how it would turn out and what my kids would think.  I shuddered a bit when it was time to add the white packet of mystery spices (most of them having Yellow and a number).  It wasn’t bad, though certainly not as dazzling as my childhood memories which I’m sure have warped over time.  However, my first thought was that I could re-engineer this dish with whole ingredients making it still easy and fast but with far better flavor and texture.

Cheesy Hamburger Pasta Skillet. A quick and tasty one skillet recipe that is done in less than 30 minutes. Gluten-free or with gluten.

So my friends you have landed smack dab in the middle of my recreation of Hamburger Helper with this Cheesy Hamburger and Pasta Skillet.  It’s a simple, homey dish of ground meat, onions, spices and real cheesy cheese.  It’s a fast meal and one that is filling.  I made my version with gluten-free pasta though I’m sure gluten pasta will too, just check the pasta for doneness.  I added a few other things to improve on the classic, keeping it ‘real’ rather than anything with ‘yellow’ and a number behind it!

Cheesy Hamburger and Pasta Skillet

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8

This recipe could not be easier and is ready in less than 30 minutes. Cheesy, flavorful and filling, it's a perfect weeknight recipe.


  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1-pound Lean Ground Beef
  • ½ medium Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium Garlic Cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Sweet Paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • A grind of fresh Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1 15-ounce can Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cups Elbow Pasta (I used gluten-free Brown Rice Tinkyada pasta; see note for gluten options)
  • 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (with lid) over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering on the surface add the onion and garlic; sauté until the onion begins to become translucent (3-4 minutes).
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until no pink color remains; break up into small pieces as it cooks. Drain and excess fat.
  3. Sprinkle the spices over the meat and add the chicken broth, milk, tomato sauce and pasta. Bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Once at a boil, lower heat to medium-low (simmering) and cover with the lid. Allow to cook 15 minutes, (stirring periodically to prevent sticking) or until the pasta is tender and almost done.
  4. Stir in the cheese, and allow to sit for 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken before serving.


  1. says

    This recipe looks incredibly delicious! My family loves anything cheesy. I like the mix of chicken broth, tomato sauce and milk. Great combination of flavors.

  2. Pam Wattenbarger says

    My daughter would love this. With celiac, what she really misses is junk food and childhood foods that they don’t make good gluten free versions of. This would be so nostalgic!

  3. says

    I can not tell you how much I appreciate this recipe. We cook from scratch in our house, but I often miss those classic boxed meals I grew up enjoying.

  4. says

    My son is going to be soooooo excited! He can’t have gluten and his dream is to eat hamburger helper! He would flip out if I told him I could make homemade gluten-free hamburer helper!

  5. Susan says

    I think I had Hamburger Helper once as an older adult, and wasn’t impressed. However, I’m always looking for simple one pot meals, especially for those times when my kitchen is mostly an electric skillet, so I’m saving the recipe. I’m also operating on the assumption that you’ve done what’s necessary to give this good flavor.

  6. says

    My mom was big on Hamburger Helper too and I remember making it years after I moved out of her house thinking it was so good back then. Nope. Ickiest stuff I ever had. We try to avoid processed foods as much as possible now and this sounds like a really great alternative to that nasty boxed junk they try to pass off as food.

  7. Lisa says

    My husband is allergic to MSG and Hamburger Helper, which did not have MSG in it years ago, now does. His heart was completely broken as he loved this for a quick dinner in a pinch. I cannot wait to make this for him. He is going to flip. Thank you for this recipe!

  8. Jeanine says

    This looks so delicious. Much better than the store bought packages. I would love and feel proud to serve this to my family!

  9. says

    I am loving my iron skillet and I’m always looking forward to learning recipes that I can use it in! I’m sure my sons would love for me to cook this for them. It looks so good and filling!

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