One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta

$5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.79 from 65 votes
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Y’all know I love to get creative with flavors, but every once in a while I get in the mood for straight-up American comfort food, like cheeseburgers. When that craving hit this week I decided to make a cheeseburger flavored pasta, which gives me all that cheeseburger flavor with a lot less actual burger. Because when meat is one of the most expensive items at the grocery store you have to streeeeeeeeetch it any way you can. This One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta does just that. If you loved Hamburger Helper when you were growing up, you’re going to love this homemade version even more!

Originally posted 4-27-2016, updated 5-29-2021.

Overhead view of cheeseburger pasta skillet in the pan with a spatula in the side

Hot Dog Relish is the Secret Ingredient

This cheeseburger pasta is super good even without the relish, but adding a couple spoonfuls of hotdog relish at the end really makes it taste like you’re eating a hamburger. What is hot dog relish? It’s basically a dill pickle relish mixed with yellow mustard. If you can’t find hot dog relish at your grocery store, you can buy plain dill relish and mix a little yellow mustard into it (about a teaspoon). 

How to Serve Cheeseburger Pasta

I’m usually all about stuffing my recipes with as many vegetables as possible, but I couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate more vegetables into this recipe without making it less hamburger-like, so I’m just going to suggest you serve it with a simple side salad. Nothing fancy, maybe just some Romaine, tomatoes, and dressing. Keep it easy. :) And maybe Homemade Garlic Bread. Because every meal is better with garlic bread. ;)

Freeze Some For Later

Saucy pasta dishes like this freezer pretty well, IMHO, so if you’re cooking for yourself this would make a good cook-and-freeze-for-later dish. If you’re extra sensitive to texture changes like pasta getting slightly softer, though, you may not be a fan of the leftovers.

Tips for Cooking One Pot Pasta

Cooking one pot pasta recipes is a little bit like riding a bike. You have to watch it and adjust to the nuances of the pasta as it cooks, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Here are a few tips:

  • Use heavy, thick cookware to help the ingredients heat evenly.
  • Use a burner size close to the size of the bottom of your pot for even heating.
  • The broth does not need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook, so resist the urge to add extra water or broth.
  • Make sure the liquid is simmering the whole time the pasta is cooking. If the heat is too low, the pasta will just get gummy.
  • Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking, but not too often or your risk breaking down the pasta.
  • Use your judgment. If your pasta looks close to being cooked through, but there is too much liquid left in the skillet, let it finish simmering with the lid off. If the liquid is gone but your pasta is still not tender, add a splash more water or broth and continue to simmer.

Overhead view of cheeseburger pasta in a bowl with a fork on the side

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One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta

4.79 from 65 votes
Cheeseburger Pasta is a fast and easy homemade version of hamburger helper that cooks all in one pot for easy cleanup!
Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion ($0.25)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef ($2.50)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.02)
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce ($0.29)
  • 2 cups beef broth ($0.26)
  • 1/2 lb. pasta shells, uncooked ($0.50)
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded ($0.75)
  • 2 Tbsp hot dog relish ($0.16)
  • 2 green onions, sliced (optional) ($0.20)

Instructions 

  • Finely dice the onion. Add the onion, olive oil, and ground beef to a large deep skillet and sauté over medium heat until the beef is fully browned and the onion is soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.
  • Add the flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute more. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the skillet. Be careful not to let the flour burn.
  • Add the tomato sauce and beef broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet may not fully cover the pasta, but that is okay.
  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let the liquid come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the pasta simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.
  • Add the shredded cheddar to the skillet and stir until it has melted into the sauce. Stir the hot dog relish into the sauce and then top with sliced green onions. Serve hot.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 555kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 27gFat: 26gSodium: 1045mgFiber: 4g
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

If you love easy one pot pasta dinners, check out our One Pot Meals category!

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon

How to Make Cheeseburger Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Ground beef and onion cooked in the skillet

Start by finely dicing one onion. Add the onion, 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large deep skillet. Sauté the onion and beef until the beef is fully browned and the onions are soft and translucent. Drain off any excess fat, if needed (if you’re using 90% lean or higher, there probably isn’t anything to be drained off).

Flour added to the cooked ground beef

Add 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet and continue to stir and cook for one minute. The flour will bein to coat the bottom of the skillet. This is okay, just be sure to watch it closely and not let it burn. The flour will help thicken the sauce and help the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce.

Tomato sauce in the skillet, beef broth being poured in

Add an 8oz. can of tomato sauce and 2 cups beef broth. Stir to dissolve the flour off the bottom of the skillet.

Uncooked pasta shells added to the skillet

Add ½ lb. uncooked pasta shells to the skillet and stir to combine. The liquid in the skillet does NOT need to fully cover the pasta for it to cook. The steam in the skillet will help cook the pasta that is above the surface and the pasta will be stirred to ensure even cooking.

Cooked pasta in the skillet a spatula pulling the pasta aside to show the sauce

Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the liquid to come to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir to loosen any pasta from the bottom of the skillet, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the skillet simmer, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat off.

Shredded cheddar added to the skillet

Add 4oz. shredded cheddar cheese and stir it into the pasta until it is melted and creamy.

hot dog relish added to the skillet

Finally, add 2 Tbsp of hot dog relish (mustard dill relish), and stir it into the sauce. I feel like the relish is what really made this taste like a hamburger, but if you’re not into relish you skip this last step and still have an amazingly cheesy beef pasta. 

cheeseburger pasta skillet topped with sliced green onions

I had some green onions in the fridge, so I sliced a couple up and added them on top. They add just a little extra pop of flavor and nice visual appeal to the otherwise very monochromatic dish.

Close up side view of cheeseburger pasta skillet with a spoon dug in the side

OMG look at that cheesy sauce! 😍

TRY THESE OTHER GROUND BEEF PASTA RECIPES:

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  1. This was really good! I made it with Morningstar Crumbles to make it vegetarian. I absolutely DESPISE mustard so I used green chile instead. It was easy as heck to make and full of flavor.

  2. I have made this so many times since I found this recipe. Sometimes I use ground Turkey instead of beef just because I’m trying to eat less red meat, but it still comes out great!

  3. Honestly, Beth taught me how to cook. This is my go-to comfort meal. Highly recommend.

  4. I found this when it was 4pm and I had nothing planned and no desire to make dinner. This turned out delicious and everyone loved it! I only had Annie’s mac n cheese boxes when it came to pasta shells, so I used three boxes as well as the powdered cheese in place of shredded; everything else I kept the same. It was perfect!! I will definitely be making this again.
    Thank you!!

  5. Absolute winner prepared exactly as listed with no changes!! Smash hit in my house and I make it again and again. It’s soooo delicious and easy to make during the week. Thank you, Budget Bytes! I’m a huge fan of your recipes. :)

  6. Do recommend cooking this the day of or can this be made the night before?

    1. I recommend cooking this the day of, as the pasta will soak up the sauce overnight and might get mushy with reheating. We have not tested prepping it the day before, so we cannot tell you for sure what the results will be. However, if you need to prep it the day before, try just making the sauce and then finishing with the pasta the next day. You might also want to experiment with adding uncooked pasta to the sauce and letting it sit in the fridge overnight. The pasta will soak up some of the sauce and soften. Then you can just warm it up the next day. Again we haven’t tested this method, but it’s what I would do if I were in a time crunch. XOXO -Monti

  7. Great recipe, and really well written, as always. To be even MORE BudgetBytes-y, I blitzed some grilled hamburger patties that were leftover from our cookout this weekend in a food processor, to make it into crumbles. Instead of ground beef, I sauteed chopped mushrooms at the beginning with the onions, to add more meaty flavor to the sauce, followed all other steps as written, and then added the already-cooked ground beef when I added the cheese, and honestly, it was fantastic. As someone who does not enjoy eating leftover cooked meat, this recipe delivered. It was delicious, AND it allowed us to avoid wasting valuable food!

  8. Don’t skip the relish!! I don’t like relish on most things and my husband hates pickles, but it took this dish to a whole new level. 

    Love this as something quick, easy, and cheap to make with leftovers and pantry staples!

  9. Made this. Big hit subbed a tablespoon of taco seasoning for the relish. 

  10. I love your one pot pasta recipes!

    I tried one last week (creamy mushroom, did it twice once for me and once for my sister in law) and decided to give this one a go.

    It’s super good. Creamy and comforting. Followed the instructions and turned out great. Some pasta attached to the pot, but that’s probably because the bottom of my pan isn’t that thick/I didn’t stir enough after adding the liquid. But it was a success anyway, the atraching was really minor. Definitely doing it again soon!

  11. This is a favorite in our house! My 1.5 year old son absolutely devours it and my husband and I love it too so I usually make it about once a week.

    Some minor additions – I didn’t have relish the first time I made it so I omitted that, but added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and some squirts of Dijon mustard when I added the tomato sauce. Super flavorful!

  12. This is an all-time favorite in our house, with a few tweaks. I omit the relish, cut the cheese in half, and add about 4 oz. of tomato paste. The paste thickens it up a bit to give it this super creamy texture. We usually use bow-tie pasta instead of shells (personal shape preference). Overall, this is an incredibly easy recipe that has become an instant favorite!