Craving a hearty, cheesy dish that practically cooks itself? This easy Crock Pot Hamburger Helper recipe uses simple ingredients and packs a flavor punch that’s hearty, satisfying, and tastes just like the iconic American boxed meal but better!
Hamburger Helper is an iconic American dish loved by people of all ages. It's a simple yet hearty meal typically made with ground beef, pasta, and a flavorful sauce mix. This slow cooker version tastes even better than the boxed mix. Not only is it a breeze to prepare, but it also serves up a deliciously satisfying combination of creamy, cheesy goodness and savory beefy flavors. It's the kind of dish that brings comfort to your table with a touch of nostalgia.
Cooking hamburger helper in the crock pot is the best way to make it. Browning the ground beef is the only real hands-on step, and after that, you just toss everything into your slow cooker. Let it work its magic, infusing all those amazing flavors with little effort, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner on a busy day.
Whether you're feeding a hungry family on a busy weeknight, hosting a casual get-together with friends, or simply craving some comfort food, this dish fits the bill. It's equally at home as a quick weeknight dinner or a potluck party favorite.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It's a one-pot wonder. Making this recipe in the crock pot means less time washing dishes and more time savoring a comforting, cheesy meal.
- Cooking it in the crock pot ensures that every bite of macaroni is infused with rich, flavorful goodness.
- The combination of ground beef, creamy sauce, and gooey cheddar cheese makes this a crowd-pleaser, even for the pickiest eaters.
- Whip up a batch and enjoy leftovers – it reheats well, making room for meal prep throughout the week.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ground Beef - The star of the show, ground beef adds a savory and meaty flavor to the dish, creating the classic base for Hamburger Helper.
- Onion and Minced Garlic - These aromatic ingredients provide a delightful depth of flavor and a savory kick, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
- Red Bell Pepper - Adds a touch of sweetness and a pop of color, balancing out the richness of the other ingredients.
- Seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning) - This medley of seasonings brings a blend of savory, slightly spicy, and herby notes.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes - Contributes a refreshing acidity and juicy texture, breaking through the creaminess of the sauce.
- Cream of Mushroom Soup - Serves as the velvety base, providing richness and depth to the dish while infusing it with an umami flavor.
- Low Sodium Beef Broth - Adds a savory and meaty flavor to the recipe, enriching the dish without making it overly salty.
- Macaroni - Absorbs the flavors of the dish as it cooks in the crock pot, becoming perfectly tender.
- Cheddar Cheese - Brings that irresistible gooey, cheesy goodness that makes Hamburger Helper so indulgent and satisfying.
How To Make Hamburger Helper In The Crock Pot
Cook the ground beef: In a large skillet, brown the hamburger until it is fully cooked, breaking it up with a spatula. Drain off excess fat and add to the crock pot.
Add remaining ingredients: To the crock pot with the cooked ground beef, add onion, bell pepper, salt, black pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes, mushroom soup, and beef broth. Stir to combine.
Cover and cook: Add the lid to the top and cook on low for 5-7 hours or high for 2½-3½.
Add pasta: Thirty minutes before cooking time is finished, add macaroni pasta and stir into the mixture. Cover and cook for the remaining 30 minutes or until the pasta is tender and not overcooked.
Add shredded cheddar: When the pasta is finished cooking, add in cheddar cheese and stir until well combined. Serve while hot. Enjoy!
- Opt for lean ground beef to reduce excess fat in your dish to keep it from becoming greasy.
- Sautéing the onions and garlic before adding them to the crock pot enhances their flavors, making the dish even more delicious.
- Seasonings can vary in intensity, so feel free to adjust the salt, pepper, paprika, and Italian seasoning to suit your preferences.
- Low-sodium beef broth gives you better control over the saltiness of the dish. You can always add more salt later if needed.
- Wait until the last 30 minutes of cooking time to add the macaroni. This prevents it from becoming too soft or mushy.
- Stirring occasionally during the cooking process helps distribute flavors evenly and prevents sticking.
- Whenever possible, shred your cheddar cheese from a block rather than using pre-shredded cheese. It melts better and has a superior texture.
- Sprinkle some fresh parsley or chives over the finished dish for a pop of color and a touch of freshness.
- For a meatless option, replace the ground beef with plant-based crumbles or diced tofu. Use vegetable broth instead of beef broth for a completely vegetarian version.
- Add some heat by incorporating diced jalapeños or a pinch of red pepper flakes into the mix.
- Experiment with different cheese varieties like Monterey Jack, pepper jack, or Swiss for unique flavor combinations.
- Boost the nutrition by adding chopped spinach or kale to the mix. These greens wilt beautifully in the crock pot, adding color and vitamins to your meal.
- Give your Hamburger Helper a Tex-Mex twist by adding a can of drained black beans, diced green chilies, and a handful of chopped cilantro. T
- If you're gluten-sensitive, swap the regular macaroni for gluten-free macaroni. Ensure that your cream of mushroom soup and beef broth are also gluten-free.
- For an indulgent touch, crisp up some bacon and crumble it on top just before serving. The salty crunch pairs beautifully with the creamy pasta.
- Set up a topping bar with options like diced tomatoes, green onions, sour cream, or hot sauce. Let everyone customize their serving for a personalized dining experience.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: To store leftovers, transfer them to an airtight container. It can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave or gently on the stovetop with a splash of broth to maintain its creamy texture.
Freezing: If you want to freeze portions for later, allow the dish to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. To reheat from frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and then warm it in the microwave or on the stove, adding a little extra broth if needed.
Yes, you can substitute ground turkey for ground beef. It will result in a lighter, leaner dish with a slightly different flavor profile, but it's a great option if you're looking to reduce red meat consumption.
If you don't have cream of mushroom soup, you can use cream of chicken soup or cream of celery soup as alternatives. You can also make a homemade roux-based creamy sauce with butter, flour, and milk or broth.
If your Hamburger Helper is too thick, you can add a bit more broth or milk to reach your desired consistency. If it's too thin, you can create a slurry by mixing equal parts cold water and cornstarch, then slowly whisk it into the dish while it's simmering to thicken it up.
Crock Pot Hamburger Helper
- In a large skillet, brown the hamburger until it is fully cooked. Drain off excess fat and add to the crock pot.
- add onion, bell pepper, salt, black pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes, mushroom soup and beef broth.
- Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or high for 2½-3½.
- Thirty minutes before cooking time is finished, add macaroni pasta and stir into the mixture. Cover and cook for the remaining 30 minutes.
- When the pasta is done cooking, add in cheddar cheese and stir until well combined.
- Serve while hot. Enjoy!
- Don't stress if you're out of cream of mushroom soup. You can go for cream of chicken or cream of celery soup instead. Another option is whipping up a homemade creamy sauce using butter, flour, milk, or broth.
- Choose lean ground beef to reduce extra fat in your dish and prevent it from getting too greasy.
- If your Hamburger Helper is thicker than you'd like, add more broth or milk until it reaches your preferred consistency. On the other hand, if it's too thin, you can make a slurry by combining equal parts cold water and cornstarch. Slowly whisk this mixture into the dish while it simmers to thicken it up.
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.