This creamy cheeseburger mac and cheese is easy, comforting, and ready to serve in under an hour. If you love hamburger helper, you will love this family-style cheeseburger macaroni casserole made with succulent ground beef, a creamy cheese sauce, and lots of melted cheese on top.
⭐ Why this recipe works
Cheeseburger mac and cheese is so delicious and full of flavor. The recipe is hearty and made with lots of cheese, tender pasta, and 2-pounds of juicy beef that will easily feed a large family of 6.
The recipe is easy to make for any home cook in under an hour using common pantry ingredients and a skillet to bring it all together before baking it in the oven to perfection.
This homemade hamburger helper casserole is not like the packaged hamburger helper you buy in the grocery store full of preservatives, artificial flavors, and high amounts of sodium. This recipe is made with fresh ingredients to make a delicious family dinner meal.
The rich cheesy sauce mixed with macaroni noodles, ground beef, and seasonings tastes out of this world, finished with a generous helping of crispy melted cheese on top. It's a hearty meal the whole family will love!
Plus, it's great for storing when you have lots of leftovers, and you can prepare it in advance, ready for baking the following day or freeze it for longer.
CuriLearn more about best cheeses for mac and cheese.
🍽 Key Ingredients
Homemade cheeseburger macaroni casserole uses everyday household ingredients and minimal kitchen equipment.
Fresh ingredients - No beef dish is made without its two partners, onion and garlic. The onions and garlic fragrant the beef and the bell pepper add sweetness and color.
Pasta - Elbow macaroni is the pasta of choice here. They are small and soak up that amazing cheese sauce.
Beef -using 2 pounds of lean ground beef to give the cheeseburger macaroni and cheese a richer beef flavor.
Seasonings - A mixture of paprika, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper is combined with the beef for additional flavor.
Dairy - Unsalted butter and milk are essential ingredients in this recipe to make a thick creamy sauce.
Cheese - Mac and cheese need a strong-flavored cheese and one that will melt nicely like cheddar cheese (mature or white). Learn more about best cheeses for mac and cheese.
Canned tomatoes - Look for the diced tomatoes with juice, not the peeled whole tomatoes. We want small pieces for texture and juice for flavor.
A good substitute for canned tomatoes is tomato paste. You only need a teaspoon of paste because it is concentrated tomato and strong in flavor.
If you don't have fresh onions or garlic on hand, you could swap them for onion powder and garlic powder at half the recipe to achieve the same flavor.
Use a gluten-free pasta variety and gluten-free flour to make this recipe gluten-friendly.
If you want to substitute the ground beef without changing the flavor, use a mixture of 70% beef and 30% pork. Or you could use ground turkey or chicken, although the flavor will change slightly.
🔪 How to make
Cheeseburger mac and cheese is home cook-friendly. It's one of my family's favorite recipes to eat on busy nights, and you can learn how to make it in an hour with my easy step-by-step cooking instructions and helpful top tips.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Put the macaroni's in the boiling water for 2 minutes less than package directions until al dente, then drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
- Finely chop the onion and garlic, and cut the green pepper into small pieces.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat, then add the garlic and cook for a minute or two till fragrant. Add onion and green pepper and cook until softened.
Add ground beef and increase to medium-high heat. Cook for a few minutes until almost cooked, then add the basil, oregano, and paprika, cooking for a few minutes more until cooked through.
Reduce the heat to low and sift the flour over the top of the beef, mixing well to combine.
Stir in the milk, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
Put the cooled pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour over the beef mixture and ½ of the cheddar cheese. Mix with a spatula until completely incorporated.
Grease a 9x11" baking dish, then pour the pasta mixture into it, patting it down with the back of a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and bake in preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown and bubbly.
Allow cooling for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.
Garnish suggestions - Chopped fresh parsley, sour cream, and chopped green onion.
💭 Cooking tips
If you find that the mixture is a bit too thick, you can add a little beef broth to it to reduce the thickness. Add it bit by bit until you're happy with the consistency.
Buy the block cheese and shred it yourself rather than buy the pre-shredded cheese, as it is coated and doesn't melt as good as freshly shredded cheddar cheese from the block.
📖 Recipe Variations
These three delicious cheeseburger mac and cheese variations use the same recipe with a few tasty additions.
Cheeseburger mac and cheese with bacon
Crispy bacon is a lovely addition to mac and cheese. It adds saltiness and extra flavor to the ground beef. Cook 1 package of sliced bacon and chop it into pieces to cook ground beef.
Turkey and broccoli cheeseburger macaroni
This variation uses ground turkey instead of beef and the head of 1 broccoli for added healthy nutrients. Add the broccoli florets simultaneously as the milk and tomato sauce, and cook the turkey with the onions and garlic.
Spicy homemade cheeseburger macaroni
If you like your food spicy, give this cheeseburger macaroni a kick with some hot sauce and chili powder. Add a tablespoon of hot sauce and a teaspoon of chili powder to the beef mixture. It's not overly spicy, so feel free to adjust to your taste buds.
🥗 What to serve with
Cheeseburger mac and cheese is a filling dish on its own without anything else needed, but in case you have many guests, you may want to serve it with some tasty side dishes like these below:
Prosciutto wrapped asparagus
They're easy to prepare and incredibly moreish. Since asparagus wrapped in prosciutto is light, flavorful, and easy, it's perfect served with a heavy main meal like cheeseburger macaroni and cheese.
I love roasted potatoes, and these are incredibly delicious because they're made with rosemary and garlic. They're easy to prepare and pair well with meats and pasta.
Fried cabbage & bacon
A comforting side dish to go with a comforting main meal. Use any cabbage in your fridge with this simple yet tasty side dish with crispy bacon. Southern-style fried cabbage uses minimal ingredients and is light and healthy.
🙋 Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use any pasta for mac and cheese with ground beef?
Traditionally, mac and cheese is made with macaroni elbows, but you could use other small pasta like conchiglie, farfalle, or penne.
What is the best cheese for macaroni and cheese?
The best cheese to use for this cheeseburger macaroni and cheese recipe is cheddar, although you can use gruyere, monterrey jack, or smoked gouda. Make sure the cheese is strong in flavor for best results.
🧊 Storing and ♨️ Reheating
Cheeseburger mac and cheese is great for storing in the fridge or freezer once it has cooled.
Fridge - Transfer any leftover cheeseburger macaroni to an airtight container or cover the baking dish in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer - Store the leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Reheating - Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and heat the homemade cheeseburger macaroni for 10 minutes until piping hot and 15 minutes for frozen. You could reheat the leftovers in the microwave on high power for 2 to 3 minutes.
🍳 Related Mac and Cheese Recipes
If you love my cheeseburger mac and cheese recipe. Try one of these fantastic mac and cheese recipes for your next meal.
👪 Serving Size
This cheeseburger mac and cheese recipe gives you a minimum of 6 generous servings and is easily scalable to make another casserole. I sometimes prepare two mac and cheese with ground beef casseroles to eat one and freeze the other.
Comfort food starts with the way it's made, and this homemade cheeseburger macaroni and cheese is made with hearty and fresh ingredients that are sure to please any crowd.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.
Try one of my comfort dinner recipes for your next family meal! And if you have any questions, I'm here to help!
Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese Casserole
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon garlic - chopped
- 1 large onion - chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper - chopped
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- to taste salt and pepper
- 3 cups cheddar cheese - grated
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and heat the oven to 400 F.
- Cook the pasta in the salted water to 2 minutes less than package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium low heat, then add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, then add the onion and green pepper and cook until softened.
- Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground beef and cook until almost cooked through, then add the basil, oregano and paprika and cook until done.
- Reduce the heat to low, then sift the flour over the top of the beef and stir in until well combined. Stir in the milk, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
- Put the cooled pasta in a large bowl, and pour over the beef mixture and ½ of the cheese. Mix well.
- Grease a 9x11" baking dish, then pour the pasta mixture into it, patting it down with the back of a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown and bubbly.
- Allow to cool for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.