One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta

$5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.56 from 94 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!

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

4.56 from 94 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 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 30 minutes

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
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Video

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. In regards to the added relish: didn’t find “hot dog relish” so added mustard to the dill relish I had

  2. Everyone loved it! And was surprised at the “relish” that was in it. I’ll make it again but I’ll add shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes to it at the end

  3. This absolutely does NOT need the flour; the first time I made this it ended up with a awful congealed, heavy mess of a sauce that made the dish so hard to eat. On my second run I completely omitted the flour and got a much better result – the pasta being cooked in the sauce gives it more than enough thickness.

    We don’t have hotdog relish here in my country so for seasoning I added salt and pepper, mustard, worcester sauce, smoked paprika and – this is the ingredient that I think really makes it – diced gherkins. The gherkins add a tanginess that’s really reminiscent of a cheeseburger flavour. I might try adding some dill next time as you mention this is what’s in the hotdog relish and see if that makes it any better.

  4. RE hot dog relish. A lot of commenters are unable to find it, I get it. Would it perhaps be a regional thing? Around here you can get both Sweet and Dill relish but the sweet has no mustard in it. But we do have something called Chow-Chow that may be what’s needed. Ever hear of it?

  5. Delicious and super easy to make! This is going into the regular rotation of recipes for sure! Makes for great left overs too!

  6. My family and I make this quite a lot. The kids are always excited when they ask what’s for dinner that night and we tell them CheeseBurger Mac. We always used to use the Primo shells from Aldi which were a little more expensive but the were AWESOME with this recipe. Now we cannot find those shells at any of our local Aldi stores now. But regular shells work well. Highly recommend this recipe 10 our of 10.

  7. This pasta is delicious! Quick and easy to make, and I love how it tastes like Hamburger Helper. I used elbow macaroni instead of shells and omitted the hot dog relish as they didn’t have those things at my grocery store. The cheese is a perfect touch and melted perfectly.

  8. a new favorite! way better than hamburger helper but just as tasty and comforting. i added a few things; added 1tsp smoked paprika, 1/2tsp dried garlic, and 1/4tsp black pepper to the flour, and then about a tbsp each of soy sauce and worcestershire sauce. i also shredded a whole zucchini and added it in with the pasta for extra veggies. this will be in the regular rotation for sure.

    1. I didn’t add the soy sauce or zucchini because I didn’t have them, but I made it this way with the additional spices and it was amazing. My husband said he’d eat it twice a week lol.

  9. I made a double batch of this and it was delicious!! I used penne pasta since that was all I had, and omitted the relish. It was simple to make and turned out fantastic!

  10. Made this last night and it was so simple and tasty. The one pot and minimal chopping meant easy cleanup. I made it with violife just like cheddar shreds because my husband is lactose intolerant. I ended up with an amazingly creamy and cheesy dish! I loved the mustard and dill relish but only added it to my portion. Will definitely make again!

  11. I didn’t have onions and hotdog relish doesn’t exist in my country, so I substituded the onion for a tablespoon onion powder. This pasta is like getting the perfect bite of bechamelsauce and tomato sauce in a lasagna. I will absolutely be making this again.