Not Yo Mama’s Hamburger Helper

Rule #164: Good help is hard to find, but bad help can sure be cute.

This recipe is a tried-and-true crowd pleaser, y’all. I mean it. Two year olds, five year olds, thirty-somethings, etc. It wins at dinner time, my friend! Our sassy little two year old “helped” to make this lovely little number, and I have to admit she was a tad more of a hindrance than a help. To her credit though, she did clear her plate when it came to chow time. That’s why we love this Not Yo Mama’s Hamburger Helper: it makes dinner time less like a battle between two opposing attorneys and more like the signing of a peace treaty.


I’m telling y’all. This stuff is magical. There’s veggies hidden inside, lots of protein woven in, TONS of flavor, and it nobody has to be the wiser for it. Also, there’s cheese. Can’t hurt, right?


This is not your 90’s or whatever year version of Hamburger Helper, but it sure does take me back to the boxed goodness that was Hamburger, Chicken, or Tuna Helper. I’ve had every version of those about 3 times each, and I ain’t complaining. That stuff tasted like it should: filling, delicious, and hiding what it needed to (preservatives, etc.). I used to actually drown each and every one of those dishes in my salad dressing, which at the time was Hidden Valley’s Raspberry Vinaigrette (it’s delish… give it a go). Anywho… no need for dousing anything here. This is a new version of the old Helpers.


We use Banza pasta in pretty much every pasta recipe we have (minus anything spaghetti, linguine, or the like). Their tubular pastas, like macaroni, hold up just the same as regular pasta but with fewer net carbs and higher protein. Just throw in 1 lb. of pasta to a pot of heavily salted, boiling water. Boil until al dente (about 8 minutes), then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for later.


First, over medium-high heat, sauté a diced yellow onion with some chopped carrot in some olive oil until softened (about 8 minutes).


Add in some minced garlic and cook an additional minute, or until fragrant.


Add in a pound of ground sirloin (90/10 beef). Cook until browned, breaking into smaller pieces.


Add in 2 (8-oz.) cans of tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Cook another couple of minutes to combine the flavors, then turn the heat off.


Then, stir in 3 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese.


Gently fold in the cooked pasta.


Next, pour the whole mixture into a large greased baking dish.


Finally, top with 3 oz. more of shredded cheddar. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.


Allow the cooked Not Yo Mama’s Hamburger Helper to rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.


This delicious little Love Bake makes about 8 hearty servings coming in at around 360 calories (using Banza pasta), 24g net carbs, and 28g protein. Not too bad for a delicious, simple meal that the whole family will love!


Did I mention… the WHOLE family will love it? Even that shady, stinky family member who throws shade on everything but mac ‘n cheese (Brooke).


A great side dish to pair with this would be either a simple salad or a roasted veggie like Roasted, Shaved Brussels Sprouts.


And now we can officially say, “This is Not Yo Mama’s Hamburger Helper”… it’s the newer, updated, healthier Everybody’s Hamburger Helper. Welcome to Weeknight Bliss.

Not Yo Mamas Hamburger Helper

Not Yo Mama’s Hamburger Helper

1 lb. pasta (elbow macaroni, rotini, or penne will all work great) – we love Banza pasta for the lower carb index and higher protein
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 lb. ground sirloin (90/10)
2 (8-oz.) cans tomato sauce
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Heat a pot of heavily salted water until boiling. Cook the pasta until al dente (8 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot, and sauté until softened (about 8 minutes). Add the garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add tomato sauce, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir thoroughly and cook 2 minutes until heated through.

Stir in half the cheese, then add the pasta to the beef mixture.

Spoon pasta mixture into a large baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle on remaining cheese.*

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

*Assemble ahead of time to this point and store, covered, in the fridge up to a day ahead of time. Bake as directed above.

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