I think a lot of us grew up on hamburger helper! My homemade version is 1000 times better if you ask me, a delicious meal the whole family can enjoy.

Sometimes I get odd cravings for things like canned alphagetti or hamburger helper..I’ll blame it on growing up in the 70’s haha.. I was really craving hamburger helper one day but I knew I had all the things in to make a homemade version so I saved myself the trip out to the grocery store and the $2 lol and created this delicious dish. It is so simple to make and the whole family can enjoy it.

It is made with simple ingredients and customizable with ground beef, turkey, or chicken, this dish is sure to satisfy your nostalgic cravings while still being Weight Watchers-friendly at just 8 points per serving. Plus, it’s easy to make and perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Give it a try today and save yourself a trip to the storeI used ground beef but if you want to save a few points feel free to use ground turkey or chicken. Makes 6 servings at 8 points per serving on WW.

Ingredients used

  • Ground beef
  • Thyme
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Garlic
  • Salt & pepper
  • Tomato paste
  • Corn starch
  • Beef broth
  • Milk
  • Pasta
  • Shredded cheese

I love using the small shell pasta in this dish, this type of pasta just seems to suit the recipe but any pasta can be used. If you prefer a penne or rotini noodle it will work just as well.

You could also swap out the ground beef for ground chicken or turkey if you are looking to lighten up this dish, if you follow WW and turkey/chicken is a 0PP food for you then it is a great option to swap it out and I promise it is just as delicious.


I love my Stove & Dove cast iron skillet for this dish, I definitely suggest having a good cast iron skillet in your kitchen, some recipes just taste so much better made in one. While a high-quality one is great to have you can still find a low-priced option on Amazon that will work just as well if it fits better in your budget.

I like using cheddar cheese in this recipe, it adds to the overall flavor of the sauce. If you don’t have cheddar in the fridge you can definitely try it with a different kind of shredded cheese.

This recipe should yield 6 heaping 1 cup servings. It pairs well with a salad, I like to serve it with some garlic toast and spoon some onto the toast, so good!

Homemade hamburger helper

4.27 from 19 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
8P range, 8SP blue/green, 5SP purple *if using whole wheat pasta/ 7 points plus


  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • Salt/pepper
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1.5 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups pasta (I used small shells *measured uncooked)
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese


  • Cook the ground beef in a pan or skillet over medium heat, drain fat and return to pan.
  • Add in the tomato paste, all seasonings, garlic and the corn starch, mix well.
  • Stir in the broth and milk and then add the pasta, bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover with lid and let simmer for 9-12 minutes, stirring a couple of times..
  • Remove from heat and mix in the shredded cheese, cover again for a few minutes to let cheese melt and the sauce thicken.
  • Makes 6 heaping 1 cup servings.. *Note- you can swap out the ground beef for turkey/chicken to lower points on blue/purple


Points- 8
Personal Points- 5-8 depending on your 0PP foods 
Smart points- green & blue- 8 using WW recipe builder
Smart points- purple- 5 using WW recipe builder
Points plus- 7 using PP calculator
Nutritional info per serving..Calories 280...Fat 9.3g..Sat fat 4.7g...Carbs 28.3g...Fiber 1.3g...Sugar 4.9g...Protein 20.5g using My Fitness pal *includes all ingredients
Author: Drizzle
Keyword: Featured

You can store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. This recipe freezes well making it a great option for meal prep.

To reheat from frozen, let dethaw then you can cook it in a pan over medium heat on the stove, use a casserole dish in the oven or you can use the microwave.

Looking for some similar recipes? Try my Bacon cheeseburger pasta bake or One-pot turkey rigatoni 



  1. Melanie Vandergaast Reply

    You may want to include the step that includes the minced garlic. It’s missing.

    • Drizzle Reply

      well it is part of “all the seasonings” but I did update it in case there is any confusion, thanks

      • This was a hit!! Made this for myself and the teens and there was nothing left haha

        Super easy recipe and very tasty! Definitely will be making again in the future!

        Thank you!

        • Drizzle Reply

          Hi Jeanette, yay!! I am so glad everyone enjoyed it 🙂

  2. Made this tonight for dinner and it was awesome!!! If you like hamburger helper you will love this! Also very little mess, my kind of meal. We will make this again and again for sure.

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Nicole, I am so glad you enjoyed the pasta dish, we all loved it here too!

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Shantelle, step #3 the pasta cooks once you add the broth and milk and simmer for 9-12 minutes

    • Drizzle Reply

      there is 2 tsp in the whole dish?? Sorry that it was too strong for you, each to their own I guess but really 2 tsp of a seasoning in a dish that size is not a lot

  3. 5 stars
    Loved that we can enjoy “Hamburger Helper” again, thanks to your healthier version!

  4. 5 stars
    Delish! A big hit with picky kids, I snuck some spinach and peppers in there too. Will make again for sure!

    • Drizzle Reply

      Awesome, I love when it is picky kid approved cause I myself have one of those haha

  5. 5 stars
    My husband and I love this! Have made it every week since you posted it. His coworkers are jealous when he hears up leftovers for lunch. Comes out great with nonfat milk too since that’s all I have.

    • Drizzle Reply

      Haha I love that!!! I’m so glad you both enjoy it 🙂

  6. Ruth Taylor Reply

    I just saw this so I have not tried it yet but I have been looking for good recipes with less sodium and diet friendly that people say is really good so I will be trying this soon.

  7. 5 stars
    Family approved!! Perfect for that comfort food craving. I didn’t tell my husband it had reduced fat cheese until after he said he liked it lol Will definitely keep the recipe to make again. Thanks!

  8. I input the ingredients in my WW builder and come out with 12 points on blue. I even used ground chicken breast. Not sure where this went wrong ;(

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Cindi, here is the breakdown in my App, sometimes products can vary but it should not be that high .. cornstarch 2, tomato paste 1, broth 1, milk 5, reduced fat cheese 12, extra lean ground beef 10, pasta (measured uncooked) 16

        • Drizzle Reply

          I buy a brand here in Canada that is a high fiber and it works out to 16 SP for 2 cups measured dry, just try scanning a bunch at the grocery store and see what you can find

  9. Sharon Sawyers Reply

    I am going to try this tomorrow for the first time, but with ground turkey.
    My question is – Do I precook the pasta?

    • Drizzle Reply

      once you have added the broth and milk then you add the pasta (dry) it cooks during this step (#3)

  10. We made this last week and it was so good we are making it again this week. It’s an easy recipe and a great comfort food in our house 🙂

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi DeAnne, yay, I am so glad you all enjoyed it 🙂

    • Made this tonight and it was so yummy!! Very easy, love that it’s all in one pot. Easy to make, easy clean up are my kinda meals during the week. Thanks for sharing with us ☺️

      • Drizzle Reply

        Hi Becky, that is awesome to hear so glad you all enjoyed it 🙂

  11. I really liked it! And it was super easy, but I agree with someone else that it might be too much Thyme. Idk if mine is super strong but it seems a bit overpowering. I still enjoyed it though!

    • Drizzle Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, easy enough to lower the amount of thyme for next time 🙂

  12. Tanya Murray Gendron Reply

    This was sooooooo delicious!!!! I enjoy many of your recipes!! Thank you for everything you do?

    • Drizzle Reply

      I am so glad you enjoyed it Tanya 🙂 and you are very welcome!

  13. Natalie Ann Groom Reply

    I’m so happy to have found you ..These ideas are fantastic
    thank you so much

  14. Kate,
    ‘This was GREAT! Husband loved it. Did make a few changes as I didn’t use the milk and used extra beef broth. Did partially cook the noodles in the beef broth as I needed to use gluten free pasta that cooks for longer than some gluten ones. Lastly I used fresh Tarragon as I had some in a pot outside my kitchen. Will definitely make this again. Thanks for the recipe!

      • It would be great to list pasta by weight. Definitely agreeing with way too much time. Would not use more than 1/2 tsp.

        • Drizzle Reply

          Thanks Emily, yes to each their own on the seasoning, I personally enjoy the amount used

  15. Paula Mason Reply

    If you don’t use cheese in the recipe (my husband won’t eat cheese, crazy I know) should I still use the milk? Or is the milk there to make the cheese a sauce. Would substituting more broth for the milk work do you think?

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Paula, the milk does help the cheese sauce.. I would think using the broth instead will work ok, I mean it is definitely going to taste different than the recipe without the cheese sauce

  16. Thanks to Bre from YouTube, I have found you too. Can’t wait to check out more from drizzlemeskinny.com. Thank you for the hamburger helper recipe and points. I need all kinds of great ideas to make lower point versions of family favorites. Thank you.

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Joan, yay! I am glad you found me and I hope you continue to enjoy the recipes 🙂

  17. Delicious!!!! I wasn’t sure if I like Thyme so I made it without it. Definitely will make it again.

  18. This was a family hit! Used rotini and added a shredded zucchini in the second step to add some veggie-bulk, that made it a little saucier but it was so good!! Thanks!

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Amy, this makes 6 heaping 1 cup servings as mentioned at the end of instructions 🙂

  19. How many ounces of pasta does 2 cups dry come out to? The app doesn’t have a cup option for my pasta. I’m going to use Barilla Protein + elbow macaroni.

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Sam, according to google 2 cups dry pasta will give you approximately 4 cups cooked, hope that helps, try googling it too you should find what you are looking for

  20. I made this tonight for dinner! We LOVED it! Definitely have to add this to the dinner recipe book. Thanks for sharing

    • Drizzle Reply

      I’m so glad everyone enjoyed it, one of our favorites too 🙂

  21. Can you use almond milk instead of 2%?? Will
    That change the consistency??

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Jackie, sure you can, I don’t think it will change it too much

      • Drizzle Reply

        Yes should be ok, the corn starch helps thicken the sauce a bit but flour should give similar results

  22. Making this again for dinner tonight. Love that it is one pan and uses pantry staples. Another family favourite from Drizzle!

  23. This was amazing…..and I love the one pot way of cooking!! This pleased the whole family….thank you! ?

    • Drizzle Reply

      Hi Karen, thank you so much for sharing, I am so glad everyone enjoyed it 🙂

  24. 5 stars
    I laughed when I got your email tonight on the 5 most popular recipes because I had just finished my dinner of hamburger helper. I have made this recipe many times because I always have the ingredients on hand and my family love it.

    • Drizzle Reply

      Yes that should be fine just expect it to be runnier than how mine came out. You could use a little flour to thicken it up.

  25. 5 stars
    It’s a staple at our house. We love it. Sometimes for a little added veg I added puréed pumpkin. You can’t taste it and it just adds to the creaminess and thickness so you wouldn’t need as much cornstarch.

  26. I want to use garlic powder instead of minced garlic, what would the ratio be?

  27. 5 stars
    So I see that no one has commented on this recipe in the last two years. I just happen to stumble on it because I was hungry for hamburger helper but I wasn’t going to use a box.my only changes were; added in 1 tablespoon of unami seasoning, used Mostaccioli instead of shells and 2 tablespoons of Marsala wine to deglaze. It was delicious, we loved it. Can’t wait to take to the next potluck!

Write A Comment

Recipe Rating