Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Recipe Column: Homemade cheeseburger macaroni


You want to know one of my food guilty pleasures? It’s Hamburger Helper. I know, I run a recipe column. I should probably have better taste than that. And in a way, I do. You see, it’s not the stuff out of the box that you get at the supermarket that I like. That’s stuff’s too salty and doesn’t really fill you up. It’s my mom’s homemade version that I love.

Growing up working and having three kids, my mom was a fan of easy, quick meals. Hamburger Helper is designed for parents like her and my father who got home, ate, helped with homework and put the kids to bed. But to feed five people, one box of hamburger helper didn’t cut it, and sometimes two didn’t either. Needless to say the promise on the box that it feeds four people was proven false in our home.

But we liked the idea –– the cheeseburger macaroni kind especially. Dad, my siblings and I loved the cheese and the pasta, and Mom loved that it only took one pot and less than 30 minutes. The problem was, we never left the table full when we used the boxed version. So, Mom found a way remake it at home in a far more filling manner.

This recipe has a little more pasta, and it’s just as easy to make as the box version, if with the added step of measuring spices out yourself rather than dumping in a bag of powder. This recipe also has less salt than the boxed mix, though you can add more if you want.

To make it, you just need one pan. That’s it. Brown the meat, drain the grease, return it to the pan and then add everything else but the cheese. Bring that to a boil.

This is the step where I get nervous because boiling milk and I don’t always get along. But if you watch carefully and stir when it starts to simmer, you should be fine. Once it boils, give it a good stirring, turn it to low and let it simmer for 12 minutes. When you’ve got a few minutes left, add the cheese and stir well. Then let it sit for a couple minutes so the sauce can thicken and serve.

Like me, my mother starts with a bare minimum of cheese and then adds more depending on taste. At the least, you should add one cup. I added a cup a half and sprinkled some more on top when I served it. I’m going to have cholesterol problems when I’m older, but I’ve accepted it.

This recipe only took me 30 minutes to make, and since it’s one pan, it didn’t require much cleanup. And the best part is, it’s going to give my roommate and I ate least two more meals each this week.


1 pound of ground beef

1 cup hot water

2 cups milk

1 12 oz box of elbow macaroni

1 cup (or more to taste) of shredded cheese

Sauce Packet

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar


1. Cook hamburger meat until brown. Drain grease and return to pan.

2. Add hot water, milk, pasta and sauce packet ingredients.

3. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat. Simmer 12 minutes or until pasta is tender.

4. During the last few minutes, add cheese, stir and re-cover.

5. When pasta is tender and the cheese is melted, remove from heat and uncover.

6. Let stand about 5 minutes, then serve.

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