Blast from the Past! Cheesy Homemade Helper

I discovered chicken helper in college while living in a small studio apartment next door to a girlfriend of mine. I won’t embarrass you by telling everyone you liked Chicken Helper, but you know who you are 🙂

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While it was never my favorite dinner choice, it did provide leftovers and a full stomach.

I know other people that lived on hamburger helper in college and love to walk down memory lane. Instead of cringing, when someone asks me to make it…

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I had to come up with a way to make Hamburger Helper o.k. in my house. I’m all about indulging in cravings but that powder in a box? I just can’t. So I made up a recipe! There are tons of homemade helper recipes out there so I checked them all out and customized mine accordingly.

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I picked fusilli pasta because I feel like all the cheese and goodness sticks to it best.  Any short pasta would do.

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Even though it might sound like I’ve sort of been hating on the helper, it is pretty awesome that it all cooks in one pan!

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Adding cheese right before you serve it, makes it super creamy.

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No preservatives, no box, but similar-and by similar I mean better.

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Dinner served and I didn’t even need that creepy little walking hand (with a face!) to help me!


Serves 4


1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey

1 Small diced onion

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

15 twists freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup water

2 cups milk (i used 1%)

1/2 pound fusilli or other short pasta

1 cup sharp cheddar, grated

Instructions and directions: 

Cook onion and ground meat in a large skillet until the meat is no longer pink l

Add pasta, seasonings,  water and milk to skillet. Stir well.  Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes (stirring periodically), or until pasta is cooked through and liquid is mostly absorbed.

Stir in cheese until melted and creamy. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until sauce is thickened.


10 thoughts on “Blast from the Past! Cheesy Homemade Helper

  1. JP says:

    Molly Michael is going to love this!! Thank you Hungry Apple!!!

  2. Amber K says:

    Made this today with my husband. We decided that next time we’re going to use half the meat and twice the seasonings. Ours was done in half the time (maybe because we used gluten-free pasta?) but we’ll definitely make it again!

  3. Erica says:

    I agree about doubling the seasonings. I used large seashell pasta and used an additional cup of water and milk. This is a great recipe! I have missed hamburger helper since we started clean eating over two years ago. Thanks!

  4. Patty says:

    I have this recipe pinned to pinterest. I make it often and we enjoy it thoroughly!

  5. Hi, I came across your blog post while looking for new homemade hamburger helper recipe’s, can’t wait to try out this one. I also have my own secret homemade helper recipe, feel free to try it out yourself – you can find it here I can’t wait to try out yours, it looks delicious!”

  6. Kendel says:

    I see a French’s bottle in your picture of the ingredients but don’t see it in the list of ingredients. So what is that French’s bottle? Making this tonight and don’t want to miss anything. Thx

    • That is a great point. I should hire an editor! 😉 I am out of town and I can’t verify because it is an original recipe, but I would definitely add a dash or two!

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