Hamburger Helper From Scratch

by Heidi @ Food Doodles on January 27, 2016

This hamburger helper from scratch is a quick, healthy meal for when you’re in a rush!  Made with ground venison or extra lean ground beef, veggies, whole wheat pasta and a mix of spices make this comforting classic a healthy, from scratch meal!


This is one of my go-to “I have no idea what’s for dinner and it’s already 6:00” meals.  When you have little kids, it can be hard to get a healthy meal on the table if you don’t plan well in advance.  Well, I’m not the best at planning ahead all the time, so I rely on a few back-up recipes to save the day.  I don’t like to say never, but I never rely on a box for dinner.  I like to keep a few, homemade, ready to cook meals in the freezer, and I also rely on quick recipes like this.  If you’ve been following Food Doodles for any length of time you know I usually don’t like anything prepackaged.  Luckily, hamburger helper is easy and almost just as fast to make from scratch, not to mention I think it tastes 100% better.  My kids don’t know any better since they’ve never had the boxed kind, but I’m happy to say they all(including my husband!) love it.


I use to add a lot more vegetables to this, but I have to say, my husband isn’t a fan, so now I just make this with a small amount of carrot and celery.  You can of course omit the carrot and celery if you want, or if you want to add even more I once added a couple cups of finely chopped zucchini, and I thought it was delicious.  I did cook it in another pan over medium high heat for a few minutes to get rid of some of the moisture though.  You can even add other vegetables, it depends entirely on what you and your family will eat.  Make this recipe work for you!  I like to serve it beside some salad, or sometimes some steamed or roasted broccoli.  You can really serve it with just about any vegetable, peas would be great, a side of steamed carrots would be yummy, the sky’s the limit.  Whatever veggies your little one(or husband!) will eat, it’ll go great with this!


So you’ll notice that I use venison, but you don’t need to use venison.  Extra lean ground beef or I think even ground turkey would work just as well.  We hunt our own meat, and butcher it ourselves so it’s extremely lean.  I add the extra butter, or sometimes bacon grease because our meat really doesn’t have enough fat in it to make the recipe work.  If you’re using a different meat be sure to get the leanest kind you can, and omit the added butter as any store bought meat will have enough fat to make the recipe work just fine.  Just start to cook the meat before adding the onion so your onion doesn’t stick to the pan.

I want to know, what are your go-to healthy meals when you’re in a rush?

homemade hamburger helper

Homemade Cheesy Venison Hamburger Helper from Scratch
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Course: Main, Main Course
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 lb ground venison extra lean ground beef works just as well!
  • 1 large carrot finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cup milk
  • 1 - 375 g package whole wheat macaroni pasta cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups grated, aged cheddar cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pan heat butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add the ground meat, break up and cook until completely cooked. Use this time to chop the other veggies and measure out the spices into a small bowl.
  4. When the meat is about half way cooked add the carrots and celery and stir in. Cook until the meat is completely cooked before adding the garlic and spice mixture, along with the 1/4 cup of flour. Stir together until the flour is completely combined with the butter and fats from the meat and cook for a minute or two while stirring.
  5. Add the milk and stir the flour mixture along with the meat and veggies into the milk. Continue to cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and the cooked pasta.
  7. Serve immediately. Leftover last up to 5 days in the fridge, reheat before serving.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Divas Can Cook

Leave a Comment

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charlotte Moore January 27, 2016 at 05:39

OOPS!! Not pasta bake just Cajun Pasta Chicken. Duh!!


2 Charlotte Moore January 27, 2016 at 05:38

This looks very yummy. I love to use whole wheat pasta. I just made a Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake yesterday with whole wheat linguine. My husband says he will not have to order this now at O’Charleys since mine was just as good plus much less fattening.

I like to have chili and spaghetti sauce in the freezer for busy days. I also like to make chicken and noodle soup so I try to have chicken and broth in the freezer.


3 Heidi @ Food Doodles January 28, 2016 at 10:40

Oooh, that sound really yummy!

Yes! I keep chili and sometimes spaghetti sauce in the freezer too! I usually use up chicken broth as soon as I make it though. I should make more to freeze for quick meals 🙂


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