The childhood meal you remember is so much better made from scratch! Seasoned ground beef with cheese and macaroni comes together in a cinch when you make Hamburger Helper in the Instant Pot.
Kid friendly dinners are the true heroes. For instance, this easy Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs gets two thumbs up from everyone. Or, try this reader favorite Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo recipe!
Give our easy Instant Pot Tuna Casserole recipe a try if you’re craving comfort food!
Table of Contents
Why this Instant Pot Hamburger Helper is Best
Hamburger Helper used to be THE quick go-to meal for busy moms back in the day. A box of that stuff plus a pound of ground beef and you’d have a kid friendly meal on the table in no time.
As a kid I loved the taste of Hamburger Helper but as an adult I don’t love all the sodium and preservatives in the boxed stuff (at least not to eat on a regular basis).
Using my Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe as the base, this dinner came together in minutes!
It’s like classic Hamburger Helper with ten times more flavor and the perfect creamy texture.
I use REAL heavy cream and freshly shredded cheese in this dish along with classic Hamburger Helping ingredients like macaroni, ground beef and garlic powder.
Even with using fresh ingredients, this recipe is so inexpensive to make! If you keep ground beef and pasta on hand, you’re never more than a couple steps away from a delicious dinner.
Me being me, I naturally had to make it in the Instant Pot to make it even easier for a weeknight. Best of all, my family ate up every bite and clean up was a breeze.
No Instant Pot? No problem. You can make it on the stove top too! Either way, this recipe comes together in record time!
- Ground beef – Swap the meat with ground turkey or ground chicken for a lighter meal.
- Cheese – Use a block of good cheese and shred it yourself with a box grater. It will melt better and taste better than packaged shredded cheese.
- Macaroni – Elbow macaroni gives this a familiar Hamburger Helper look, but any pasta shape works!
- Beef broth – Not needed if you make the stove top version!
Step by Step Instructions
STEP 1. Saute the beef
Select the saute setting on your Instant Pot and cook the ground beef until no pink remains. Turn off the pot and drain any excess grease.
STEP 2. Deglaze
Add the broth the the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape off any pieces of meat stuck to the bottom or sides. This is important and helps prevent a burn notice!
STEP 3. Add macaroni
Add the uncooked noodles to the broth in the pot along with the butter, garlic powder, mustard powder and other seasonings.
STEP 4. Pressure cook
Place the lid on the pot and set the valve to seal. Cook on manual or select High Pressure for a cook time of 5 minutes.
Turn the valve to vent once the cook time ends and do a quick release of the pressure.
STEP 5. Serve
Use a spatula or wooden spoon to give the pasta and meet a stir, then mix in the heavy cream and cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and serve warm!
This recipe was tested in a 6 quart Instant Pot.
YES! To make hamburger helper on the stove, cook the pasta according to package directions. While it’s cooking, brown the beef in a large pot. Drain the grease, add the seasonings, then the cooked pasta along with the cream and cheese. No broth needed!
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 2 days.
What to serve with Hamburger helper?
Today’s dinner recipe is *almost* a complete meal. In our house we like to serve this with a fresh Italian dinner salad.
To add more vegetables to your meal, whip up some Roasted Zucchini or make some Sheet Pan Vegetables!
If your family loves carbs like mine does, add some garlic bread or dinner rolls on the side, so soak up all that cheesy goodness left in the bowl!
More Easy Dinner Recipes
- Monte Cristo
- Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin
- Crack Chicken Recipe
- American Chop Suey
- Instant Pot Chili Recipe
- Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
- 1 lb ground beef
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 16 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- Turn the Instant Pot on "SAUTE" and add the ground beef. Cook until no pink remains, crumbling as you brown the meat.
- Once browned, turn the Pot off and drain any excess grease out of the pot.
- Add beef broth and with a wooden spoon DEGLAZE the bottom of the pot. Scrape up any bits of browned meat to reduce the chance of a BURN notice.
- Add the uncooked macaroni, butter, salt, pepper, dry mustard, and garlic powder. Stir once.
- Close and lock the lid in place, making sure the valve on top is set to "SEALING".
- Press MANUAL or HIGH PRESSURE COOK for a cook time of 5 minutes.
- Once the cook time ends, do a quick release of the pressure, turning the valve to VENTING.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir the pasta with the meat. Add in the heavy cream and shredded cheese, stirring until melted. Serve and enjoy.
- Recipe tested in a 6qt Instant Pot.
- Use good cheese and shred it yourself from the block. It melts smoother and has better flavor than prepackaged shredded cheese.
- Swap out the ground beef for ground turkey or chicken to lighten up the meal.
Instant Pot Hamburger Helper is the answer to that 5 P.M. question, “What’s for dinner?” Made with easy to find ingredients, this kid approved meal satisfies everyone in the family, without breaking the bank.
What if you don’t have a beef or chk broth can you substitute anything for that?
Do you put the browned beef back in the pot with the uncooked pasta and other seasonings before putting the lid on and pressure cooking for 5 minutes or add the beef after the noodles have cooked for 5 minutes?
Yes! I wondered the same!
I’ve made this recipe at least a half dozen times. I doubled up on the beef to make it more meaty. I also omitted the heavy cream and used sour cream about one half cup. I also added eight ounces of drained canned mushrooms and two cans of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup.
Can the leftovers be frozen?
You can. However, I find freezing cooked pasta makes it super soggy when reheating.
This was fast & easy & yummy! I only had 2 cups of beef broth, so I used 2 cups of chicken broth too. Thanks for the recipe!! 😋
Hi. If I use ground turkey, do I still use beef broth. Also, what type of cheddar cheese(s ) do you recommend?
You could use beef, as it will deepen the flavor more than chicken broth. I use sharp cheddar cheese, that I shred myself so it doesn’t have any fillers.
Can you use penne pasta instead of elbow macaroni?
After one bite, you’ll ditch the store bought box forever. So much more flavor in homemade. We loved it.
We loved this pasta! It was so easy to make and tasted amazing! This is one I will be making again soon and often.
Is heavy cream a MUST? Can I use regular milk or maybe even coconut milk?
You can use regular milk. But it definitely is thicker and creamier with a more fatty milk 🙂
I was curious about this too. As much as I love dairy, it doesn’t love me!