One-Pot Hamburger Helper

One-Pot Hamburger Helper

hamburger helper

Let’s talk Guilty Pleasures and Not-So Guilty Pleasures today.

You with me?


There is something so gratifying about enjoying the random snack you loved in college or the weird thing your grandma made that is so outlandish you’re afraid to talk about it or the fact that you own and every word to every song on The Darkness’ first album, Permission to Land. Everyone considers theirs to be the worst, but in reality, is there a scale of terrible Guilty Pleasures? How bad is bad? We all have our own ideas of what’s considered bad, but I think I figured something out about this. I don’t think Guilty Pleasures are bad at all.

Think about it. Sinful desserts, food that is to die for, ridiculous music. There’s so many ways to describe the things we genuinely love with words that, in short, downplay the goodness that is associated with these things. We limit ourselves by making ourselves feel bad about the things we genuinely love and it makes me really sad, especially when it comes to food because there’s so many better things to talk about instead.

The flavor, the smells, the way you feel when you eat it or how you can taste the underlying flavors as you chew. The same thing goes for that pop-punk band you loved when you were 19. Are they still making music that you blast while you’re home alone? Yep. Do they make you really happy? Yep. Then why do we shame ourselves by calling things like this Guilty Pleasures.

More like, Not So Guilty Pleasures to me. 

hamburger helper

One of the things that I’ve decided to “come clean” about loving is Hamburger Helper.. or at least the idea of it. Pasta, meat, diced veggies and this weird silky tomatoey sauce thing, all topped with cheese just salty enough to make it even more delicious. Maybe the love for it is because I didn’t eat a lot of it when I was younger, or maybe it’s because it’s so damn good, I don’t really know and after my mom helped me make our own version of it, I really don’t care because this version is WAY better than the one you’ll find in the store and it can be made with a bunch of stuff that’s already in your pantry and refrigerator.

I think that might be my favorite part about this recipe. It’s easy, fast and if you have some ground meat in the fridge, it’s ready to go in about 30ish minutes. Wait, no. That’s not my favorite part. My favorite part is that it’s a one-pot meal and there’s fewer dishes to wash. Yep. Fewer dishes is ALWAYS a winner in my book.

This is one of those recipes that I can’t stop eating. I forced myself not to cook it for a couple weeks so I don’t get burnt out on it, but I just love it and want to eat it every day because I’m secretly a 5 year old who wants to wear the same Batman shirt every day. Okay, so back to this Hamburger Helper. It started out as one of those “omg it’s 7pm wtf are we going to have for dinner, I’m so tired.” kind of meals and has turned into a family favorite. It’s great when you’re “eating down” your pantry and refrigerator in order to restock and when it’s really cold out. It has that same “stick to your ribs” feeling that chili does on a cold day. I really want you to try and make this and tell me how much you love it because I know you will.

hamburger helper

Another really cool thing about this hamburger helper re-do is that you can pretty much add and remove things at will from the recipe as long as it all fits in the pot and there’s enough liquid for the pasta to absorb and cook fully. Sometimes, I’ll add something like Rotel instead of separating the tomatoes and chiles, or corn because I love it. If you change the type of ground meat you use, just make sure to drain off any grease that might show up before you start adding all the fun stuff. The pasta shape doesn’t really matter either, use what makes you and your family happy.

Copycat One-Pot Hamburger Helper

Yields: 6 servings

  • 1Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 pound Ground Turkey
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 7 oz diced green chiles
  • about 12 ounces of bowtie pasta
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3-4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (low-sodium if you have it)
  • 1-1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil until it's shimmery and add the meat, onion, bell pepper, 1 tsp salt, pepper, oregano, turmeric, garlic, cooking until the onions and peppers have softened and the meat is cooked, about 10 minutes.
  2. Create a open circle in the middle of the pan, and add tomato paste. Cook until the color has gone from bright red to more of a brick-like, darker red. Incorporate this into the meat and vegetables.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, green chiles, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and stir. Now add your pasta and water, stirring to incorporate it all. Add more salt to help flavor your pasta and cover the pot.
  4. Cook until pasta is cooked, about 10 minutes, stirring somewhat frequently so it does not stick to the bottom
  5. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 35 minutes

Tell me what your favorite Not So Guilty Pleasure is in the comments!

Let’s all start being really proud of the stuff we still secretly love. 
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