For most of my life I have absolutely loved Hamburger helper. Even in my college years it was definitely something I would love to make (well, I loved to eat it). At least for 3 different versions I had the recipe memorized to the T. It was when I started learning about how our food is handled and processed that I stopped eating the overly processed and preservative filled mix.
Sometime in 2010 I got the idea of “Homemade Hamburger Helper” so I looked online to see what I could find. I came across the Chickens In The Road blog article on making your own hamburger helper. The recipe for Cheeseburger Macaroni is unbelievable. It has turned into one of our go to foods that we make. We’ve actually started experimenting ourselves and have created at least 4 different variations on the hamburger helper theme. Here is us making the regular version, but adding a little extra at the end. I’ve had this recipe dozens and dozens of times since I found out about it, and I will say this was the best cheeseburger macaroni I’ve ever had. The best thing about making this from scratch is you can control every single ingredient you use, and other than making our own noodles, everything we use is as top notch as we can get it.
Brown your Meat
I put the burner on high, and brown 1-1.5 pounds of ground beef.
Create your Seasoning
1 tbs Corn Starch
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Onion
1 tsp Garlic
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
(The way I remember this is, remember that there is 1 tbs corn starch, and 1 tsp of all the ingredients you normally should cook with except paprika having 2. When you taste it you’ll see why, apparently paprika is the key to Cheeseburger Macaroni.)
You’ll need 1.5 cups of macaroni noodles; we use the following type for gluten free. I’ve used all of this brand in one form or another, and without a doubt this one is good to go.
Mix it all in
Once the meat is browned, mix in 1.5 cups of noodles, 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of water, and the seasoning and mix it all up.
Bring it all to a boil, and cut the heat down somewhere between Low and 2. I used to use Low as a kid, but I’m having difficulty on this stove using anything lower than around 2. Set your timer for 14 minutes (that’s the exact perfect time), and then cover the pot. Every now and again come back and stir it up, making sure it isn’t boiling too hard, but there is some bubbling action going on.
Take these 14 minutes to go ahead and prepare the cheese. Grate up between 6-8 oz of cheese. The Chickens in the Road recipe calls for 8 oz, but I just find that to be an obnoxious amounts, and when I was first tuning the recipe, actually complained that there was too much cheese (sounds crazy I know). I know a lot of people swear by Extra Sharp Cheddar for everything, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for this application. I’ve done it numerous times, and found that it didn’t quite mesh well. I have tried the yancy buffalo wing cheese (one of my favorites), holy cow it made it EXTREMELY spicy, but boy was it good.
Once 14 minutes are up, put in the cheese and mix it all up.
Here is my latest experiment. I want to try putting green herbs in a lot more things and in a lot of cases that don’t just immediately come to mind. (Eventually I’ll put in medicinal herbs as well). Here I am putting in Thyme and Oregano. It seriously took this from really good, to EXTREMELY good. I can’t believe just a little bit of these seasonings made such a difference.