A homemade version of cheeseburger macaroni that the entire family will love. It's almost as easy as the boxed version of one of your childhood favorites and uses better quality ingredients. An easy dinner recipe for busy weeknights!
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Sometimes you just want to push the easy button on dinner.
Sometimes when you start on this cooking from scratch journey, you miss the days of the boxed dinner. The simplicity of it. Browning some ground beef and dumping a packet in the skillet and calling it a day sounds mighty fine at the end of a long day.
The good news is you can still make easy skillet meals with just a little tweaking. This easy homemade cheeseburger macaroni recipe is very similar in taste and level of difficulty to the old boxed stuff. Brown some ground beef, dump in some seasonings, liquid, and macaroni. Simmer and melt in some cheese.
Simple, folks! You can do this!
This will quickly become a family favorite, and the best part is, it's a one-pot meal!
Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni Ingredient List
Real ingredients that you can feel good about feeding your whole family.
- 1 pound of ground beef: I prefer a lean ground beef. You could also substitute ground turkey for a lower fat version.
- onion: Half of a fresh onion is plenty. You could also substitute ½ tsp onion powder if you have picky eaters that are funny about the texture of onions.
- seasonings: salt, black pepper, garlic powder
- tomato paste
- water: You could also substitute chicken broth or beef broth, but water is less expensive and works just as well.
- elbow macaroni noodles: wheat based or gluten free
- shredded cheddar cheese: I prefer a sharp cheddar over mild cheddar to add additional flavor.
Step by Step Instructions
Dice half an onion.
In a large skillet, brown ground beef and diced onions over medium heat until beef is cooked through and onions are soft and translucent. Drain any excess fat.
Add salt, pepper, garlic, powder, and tomato paste. Stir and let cook for another minute.
Add water, milk, and macaroni and stir.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Every 3 minutes, remove lid and stir to prevent sticking. As the macaroni cooks, it will absorb the liquid and release starch into the pan creating a creamy sauce, no thickening required.
After macaroni is cooked to al dente, stir in shredded cheese until the cheese melts and has created a creamy cheesy sauce. Serve hot!
I purposefully kept the seasonings of this dish simple and basic, but if you would like to jazz it up a bit more, feel free to add in some extra kick:
- taco seasoning in place of the other seasonings for a taco twist
- hot sauce
- a squirt of dijon
- add green chilis or salsa
- add crumbled bacon
- different combination of cheeses (gruyere, Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, pepper jack, etc)
How to make it gluten free?
Cheeseburger macaroni can easily be made gluten free by simply using gluten free noodles instead of wheat based macaroni noodles.
If you can't find gluten free macaroni noodles, another short cut pasta like penne will work just fine as a substitute.
How to reheat leftovers
Cheeseburger macaroni is best served fresh. If you do have leftovers, they need to be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and can be reheated on the stovetop or microwave.
For both methods, add a splash of water or milk to your bowl or saucepan to bring the sauce back to life. Microwave for about a minute, stirring halfway through for an individual portion size. A larger portion size may take longer to heat though.
For the stovetop, add leftovers to a small saucepan with a splash of water or milk. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally for about 3-5 minutes until cheeseburger macaroni is heated through.
What to serve with cheeseburger macaroni?
I like to keep the side dishes simple.
- Roasted frozen vegetables
- Skillet green beans
- Simple salad
- Roasted asparagus
- Roasted carrots and green beans
Cheeseburger macaroni from scratch
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ½ c onion diced
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 c. milk
- 1 c. water
- 1 ½ c. macaroni noodles
- 2 c. cheddar cheese shredded
- Brown ground beef and diced onion together in a large skillet. Drain off any grease.
- Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and tomato paste. Stir and cook for one minute.
- Pour in milk, water, and noodles, and stir.
- Bring to a bubble, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes or until noodles are cooked. Remove lid and stir every few minutes to prevent sticking.
- Once noodles are soft, remove from heat and stir in cheese. Serve hot.
- If macaroni sauce is too dry, you may need to stir in another ½ cup water or milk.