One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta

$5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.49 from 103 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

4.49 from 103 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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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. Definitely a family hit! Everyone loved it. Oddly tastes just like a McDonald’s cheeseburger per my 8 y/o son. Will absolutely make this again, especially on a busy school and sports weeknight.

  2. A little too much tomato flavor, but otherwise quite good! I did season with Weber’s gourmet hamburger seasoning blend while the ground turkey cooked because I feel it is a crime not to season meat. I also think in the future I may reduce the amount of shells I use so the ratio of pasta to meat is closer to what I like. This totally satisfied my craving of hamburger helper without all the added sodium and crap of a boxed meal.

  3. My husband liked this very much. When I made it, the flour made 2 piles of glues. I just put them in the trash and the dish was fine. Great for weeknight dinner. I served pan fried summer squashes with it and garlic toast.

  4. I was so excited to make this recipe for my family. I recently was laid off from my job and this dish is the last straw. Quite awful. Now looking for something to eat for dinner instead of this. Maybe some seasoning, salt, or less tomato sauce would have made this edible?

  5. Very very bland, I felt like I had to dump an entire spice rack in it. I added the relish and wish I didn’t! T
    I thought this was going to be a leveled up hamburger helper, but I rather of cooked the hamburger helper!

    1. 10/10, this is the recipe that got me into cooking. I recommend trying it with Mexican blend cheese instead of cheddar, in my opinion it elevates it

  6. I agree this recipe doesn’t need flour as the noodles and cheese alone thicken it up by themselves nicely. Reading the comments about the blandness I gotta address… Use your preferred seasonings after adding the broth and tomato sauce, this is just a bare bone recipe from reading it. Season your meat before it starts to cook as well! This is my 2nd time making this recipe. I must add: while adding the cheese and melting it, splash some milk to keep it a somewhat saucy cheese if you would like to have a similar cheesiness to the Hamburger Helper recipe. 1st time making it had to throw it out cuz the tomato flavor was too much and threw my mind for a loop as I was expecting cheese flavor. 2nd time around of adding seasonings and the milk trick made this dish flavorful.

  7. I’ve made this twice. First time I was missing the can of tomato sauce. I substituted pasta (a tomato based) sauce and tomato paste. I thought it tasted amazing. I enjoyed that much more than when I followed the recipe correctly the second time, that was bland

    1. Hi there I was wondering. How much pasta sauce did you use with the tomato paste?

      1. I remember using a 1:1 ratio for the pasta sauce. I for the tomato paste, I don’t remember exactly, I want to say a table spoon, but I recall feeling it out and doing it to taste