Instant Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper is the ultimate weeknight dinner. Each bite is loaded with ground beef, tomato sauce, and melted cheese to help you combat your comfort food cravings! Instant Pot, stovetop, and slow cooker instructions included.
What does self care look like to you? Maybe a bubble bath or a glass of wine? For me, it’s treating myself to a big bowl of this Instant Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper.
You can forget all about the boxed stuff because this copycat hamburger helper recipe is SO much better. All you need are a few ingredients that are likely already in your pantry! Thanks to the Instant Pot, the entire recipe comes together easily and is ready to eat in just 20 minutes.
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If you’ve never had hamburger helper before, just think of it like hamburger mac and cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food the whole family will enjoy (kind of like my healing chicken soup)! Serve up a steaming hot and cheesy bowl with garlic knots and roasted vegetable salad on the side for the ultimate cozy weeknight feast.
Homemade hamburger helper ingredients
- Pasta – I used elbow macaroni but any kind of short pasta noodles will work.
- Ground beef – Beef is a must in any hamburger helper recipe. Use 80/20 grassfed lean ground beef so the dish isn’t overly greasy.
- Tomato sauce – You can make your own tomato sauce or use your favorite bottled sauce instead.
- Dried herbs – All you need are basil and parsley.
- Cheese – A stretchy, ooey gooey layer of shredded cheddar or mozzarella is melted on top of the beefy pasta when it’s finished cooking.
How to make hamburger helper in the Instant Pot
This cheesy and beefy comfort food is a breeze to make in the Instant Pot. After 4 simple steps, it’s ready to enjoy:
Step 1: Saute the beef. Turn the Instant Pot to Saute mode and saute the ground beef in some oil until it browns.
Step 2: Add the rest of the ingredients. Add the pasta, tomato sauce, water, basil, salt, and pepper. Turn off Saute mode.
Step 3: Pressure cook. Seal the lid on top, switch the valve to the sealing position, and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Quickly release the pressure when it’s done.
Step 4: Melt the cheese, then serve. Add the cheese and parsley on top and place the lid back on top (without sealing the valve) so the cheese can melt. Serve and enjoy!
- Brown the ground beef in a large oiled pot over medium high heat.
- Add the pasta, tomato sauce, water, basil, salt, and pepper to the pot and stir.
- Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
- Take the pot off of the heat. Sprinkle the cheese and parsley on top and add the lid back on until the cheese melts.
Slow cooker instructions
- Brown the beef in a skillet on the stove.
- Add the cooked beef, along with the tomato sauce, water, basil, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a slow cooker.
- Cook on Low for 6-7 hours or High for 2-3 hours.
- Add the pasta to the pot in the last 15 minutes of cooking. Cover with a lid until the pasta is cooked through.
- To finish, sprinkle the cheese and parsley on top and add the lid back on until the cheese melts.
Frequently asked questions
Why am I getting a burn notice?
This can happen if some meat gets stuck to the bottom of the pot while sauteeing. Make sure to deglaze the pot with tomato sauce or water and scrape up any stuck bits.
Can hamburger helper be made vegetarian?
To make this Instant Pot hamburger helper vegetarian, simply replace the beef with vegetarian ground meat, cooked beans, or omit it entirely.
Can this be made ahead of time?
Yes! You can cook the hamburger helper ahead of time and store or freeze the batch for later. Either reheat it in the Instant Pot on Saute mode or in a pot on the stove.
How do you store leftover hamburger helper?
The delicious leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Let the frozen batch thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
More comforting Instant Pot recipes
Instant Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 16 oz elbows shaped pasta
- 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 24 oz pasta sauce, of choice
- 24 oz filtered water, use pasta sauce jar to measure!
- 1 tsp basil seasoning
- 1 pinch salt + pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- Turn the instant pot on sauté mode. When hot add in oil and ground beef. Proceed to sauté as you break the beef apart. Cook until browned, fully cooked and crumbly (10-12 minutes)
- Add in elbows (pasta), tomato sauce, water, basil, salt and pepper. No need to stir but you can.
- Turn off sauté mode. Fit cover in place and switch valve to sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. When time is up, quickly release all pressure.
- When all pressure have been released, open the pot and add cheese and parsley (optional) on top. Do not stir. Place cover back on (don’t need to seal valve!) and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.