Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet

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  Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet 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 Skillet 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

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon
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4.75 from 54 votes

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet is a fast and easy homemade version of hamburger helper that cooks all in one pot for easy cleanup!
Total Cost: $5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4 1.5 cups each

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: 1 ServingCalories: 555 kcalCarbohydrates: 53 gProtein: 27 gFat: 26 gSodium: 1045 mgFiber: 4 g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclaimer here.

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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 Skillet – 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! 😍