This Instant Pot Hamburger Helper is a homemade version of the classic boxed dinner! Macaroni noodles are cooked directly in the instant pot then tossed with ground beef and a creamy tomato cheese sauce!
I l.o.v.e. hamburger helper. I was never a fan of the boxed variety, but homemade hamburger helper is just the BEST! Noodles, beef, veggies, and a tomato-y cheesy sauce? It’s a crowd pleaser for a reason!
What is hamburger helper?
Traditional Hamburger Helper is a classic American boxed meal that consists of dried pasta and a powdered sauce packet. It’s designed to be made with ground beef and cooked in one dish for a super easy, no-mess dinner.
The homemade version is pretty much just as easy, DEFINITELY healthier, and way more delicious! Bonus: this version is made in the Instant Pot so it’s even faster than my stovetop Hamburger Helper!
The great thing about homemade versions of your favorite comfort foods is you know exactly what’s going into it!
- Ground Beef – the “hamburger” in Hamburger Helper! I like to use a leaner ground beef so there’s not as much grease to drain, but feel free to use whatever you have on-hand!
- Yellow Onion and Green Pepper – adds slightly sweet flavors, texture, nutrition, and color.
- Beef Broth and Milk – the base for the cheese sauce. Cooks the pasta and adds creamy texture and flavor.
- Ketchup and Dijon Mustard – ketchup adds a hint of sweetness while dijon mustard adds a nice tang to cut the richness from the cheese sauce.
- Garlic Powder, Paprika, Salt, and Pepper – a simple seasoning blend that really takes the Hamburger Helper to the next level. It’s sweet, earthy, a little nutty, and so flavorful.
- Macaroni Noodles – no need to cook these first. They cook directly in the instant pot!
- Sour Cream and Sharp Cheddar Cheese – gives the Hamburger Helper that classic, tangy mac and cheese flavor and makes it super creamy and ultra cheesy.
How to make
This delicious instant pot dinner recipe takes 10 minutes to prep!
- Hit SAUTE on your instant pot then add in beef and onion. Cook until the beef is no longer pink, then drain the grease.
- Stir in broth and milk then add in ketchup, dijon, bell pepper, uncooked macaroni, and spices. Mix until fully incorporated.
- Cover and cook for 4 minutes on HIGH pressure. Quick release, remove the lid, stir in sour cream and cheese, then serve and enjoy!
Do you need to cook the pasta first?
No! The macaroni noodles cook directly in the beef broth/milk in the instant pot. This is super convenient because HELLO only one dirty dish—the whole point of Hamburger Helper in the first place!
If you pre-cooked your noodles and then put them in the instant pot they would be over-cooked and mushy.
What meat to use
The “hamburger” in Hamburger Helper is ground beef so that’s what we’re using for this recipe! I prefer to use a leaner meat (80/20) so there’s not as much grease to drain, but any fat content will work.
Can you make hamburger helper without an instant pot?
Yes! If you don’t have access to an instant pot, no problem! Check out my one-pot, stovetop homemade Hamburger Helper instead!
What to serve with hamburger helper
I love to serve my homemade Hamburger Helper with a salad, side of veggies, or a yummy bread!
How to store
Leftover instant pot Hamburger Helper will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then microwave or heat on the stove until warmed through. If the cheese sauce is too thick, thin with a splash of milk before reheating.
Instant Pot Hamburger Helper
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 pound ground beef I used 80/20
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 cups milk I used skim
- 1/4 cup ketchup plus more to taste (I stirred in an extra tablespoon after everything was cooked)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard plus more to taste (I stirred in an extra tablespoon after everything was cooked)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste (I used 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 green pepper diced
- 1 (16 oz) box uncooked macaroni
- 1 (8 oz) container sour cream room temperature
- 1 (8 oz) block sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- Hit SAUTE on 6 quart Instant Pot.
- Once it reads HOT, add in beef and onion.
- Cook, breaking up the meat as you go, until the beef is no longer pink.
- Hit CANCEL on the Instant Pot and drain grease.
- Replace the pot, then stir in broth and milk, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom to avoid a BURN notice.
- Stir in ketchup, dijon, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, green bell pepper, and uncooked macaroni. Be sure everything is fully incorporated and the macaroni is submerged in the liquid.
- Cover and lock the lid (make sure the steam releasing handle is pointing to sealing).
- Cook on HIGH pressure for 4 minutes.
- Flip the valve to "venting" for a quick release, hit CANCEL on the Instant Pot, then stir in sour cream and cheese.
- Taste and re-season, if necessary, then serve and enjoy!
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.