What Is A Hamburger Helper? [How Do I Make It?]

A lot of us love the classic American dish – the Hamburger Helper. Some of us even create our own version of the same. However, there are many, mainly outside the mainland United States who wonder what this dish consists of.

Hamburger Helper is a pasta dish, that contains pasta and powdered seasonings, which are to be combined with ground beef, turkey, or bacon to make a wholesome one-pot meal. It can be made from scratch or by buying a pre-packaged version from the supermarket.

In this article, we shall gain a better understanding of what a hamburger helper is, and how can it be best enjoyed.

How Was The Hamburger Helper Invented?

‘Hamburger Helper’ – a packaged pasta brand that originated in 1971 by General Mills and is currently owned by Eagle Foods. They made their debut with five flavors – Beef Noodle, Potato Stroganoff, Hash, Rice Oriental, and Chili Tomato, It was an instant success.

According to General Mills, more than one in four – 27 percent – U.S. households purchased Hamburger Helper in its first year.

The inspiration for the same was the sky-high beef prices in the 1970s. Feeding the family meat became very expensive, thus the addition of carbohydrates in the form of pasta made the meal affordable and added enough nutrition.

The boxed version of the Hamburger Helper contained pasta with seasonings and the consumer had to combine the contents of the box with ground beef, water, and milk to create a complete meal.

Today there are other variations of the product designed with other meats such as fish, chicken, and tuna. Recently, the term Hamburger Helper has been renamed as simply the ‘Helper’, by the company.

What Is The Point Of Hamburger Helper?

The boxed version of the Hamburger Helper consists of a dry pasta camera with powdered seasonings in a packet it was meant to combine the box with brown ground beef water and milk to create a complete one-pot meal.

Today Not only the box version is famous even making the helper as it is popularly called from scratch is loved by many. Although the basics remain the same the helper can be customized according to one’s preferences.

What Do You Call Hamburger Helper?

For those people not staying in the United States Hamburger Helper is essentially a – dry packaged dinner. A boxed version of pasta with condiments which are then added to ground beef to make a wholesome meal. There are varieties of Hamburger Helper options available today such as – Crunchy Taco, Philly Cheesesteak, Stroganoff, Cheesy Hashbrowns, Beef Pasta, Double Cheeseburger Mac, Cheesy Ranch Burger, 4 Chs Lasagna.

Is Hamburger Helper A Meal Or A Side(With Calculator)?

A Hamburger Helper can be a meal in itself or a side dish. It can be what you would like it to be just like another popular dish such as macaroni cheese. There are a variety of side dishes that can be served with Hamburger Helper, namely:

  • macaroni cheese
  • zucchini noodles
  • garlic bread
  • french fries
  • sweet potato fries
  • coleslaw
  • corn dogs
  • hot dogs
  • variety of salads
  • southern hush puppies

Hamburger Helper as a Side Dish Quantity per person:

Hamburger Helper quantity per person as a side dish will depend on some of the following factors:

Factors That Determine The Portion Sizes:

  1. How many number or side dishes are there?
  2. The number of people that are coming.
  3. The age group that you will be feeding
  4. What will you be making the cheese sauce with? Richer and decadent cheese-based sauces made with heavy ingredients such as heavy cream or a combination of cheeses will tend to be heavier, thus lowering the consumption per serving.

Hamburger Helper Per Serving Calculator:

Typically a single packet boxed Hamburger Helper varies from 5.2 ounces(148 grams) to 5.6 ounces (160 grams). Other versions may contain more calories as well. However, the classic ‘Helper’ – Beef Pasta Hamburger Helper by Eagle Foods contains 5.9oz per packet.

The following table gives us a rough estimate of the serving size if you choose to make a Hamburger Helper as a side dish.

Number of PeopleAs a main dishAs a side dish
For 10 people 59oz (3.6 lbs) 30oz (1.8lbs)
For 20 people 118oz (7.3lbs) 60oz (3.75lbs)
For 50 people 295oz (18.4lbs)150oz (9.3lbs)
For 100 people 590oz (36.8lbs) 300oz (18.75lbs)
For 200 people 1180oz (73.7lbs) 600oz (37.5lbs)

Also, it is noteworthy that ground beef, turkey, bacon, and a selection of meats will be added to the dish. This will increase the serving size since the above values are for the hamburger helper and not the added meat.

Related Reading: How Much Macaroni and Cheese Per Person? [With Calculator!]

What All Goes Into A Hamburger Helper?

Following is a list of some of the ingredients that can enhance the classic version of the hamburger helper to make it even better as well as improve its flavor and texture.

  • Tomatoes
  • Heavy cream
  • Extra cheese
  • Mixed Vegetables
  • Beef bouillon cube
  • Bacon
  • Salsa
  • Garlic
  • Ketchup
  • Pickles
  • Italian seasoning
  • Smoked sausages
  • Chicken or a variety of meats of your choice

Related Reading: Is Hamburger A Sandwich? [The Grand Debate!]

How Do You Make A Hamburger Helper?

The most commonly loved recipe of the Hamburger Helper is a classic version with ground beef, macaroni, and cheddar topped with Italian seasonings however the recipe can be customized according to your taste.

Classic Hamburger Helper Recipe:


1 pound 80-20 or 85-15 meat-to-fat ratio – ground beef
2 chopped onions
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder or paprika
1 cup uncooked macaroni pasta
3 cups broth or water or beef bouillon cubes mixed in water.
2 cups grated cheddar cheese.
Salt and pepper as per taste


  • Add beef into a heavy bottom pan with Italian seasonings and cook over medium-high heat until the beef has cooked through and browned well. Take out the excess fat with a spoon if there is any.
  • Add the tomato paste, garlic powder, and chili powder and mix well.
  • Add the broth or water or bouillon cubes mixed in water and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the macaroni pasta and cook until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add grated cheese, salt, and pepper, topping it with fresh parsley.

How Many Calories Are There In a Serving of Hamburger Helper?

The following table lists the serving size (in grams) and the calories for 1/3 cup of the said version of the popular brand of Hamburger Helper from hamburgerhelper.com. Most of the boxed version calls for the addition of ground beef or your favorite variety of sausage.

Sr. No.Meat VarietyVersionGrams per servingCalories per 1/3cup as packaged
1BeefRanch Bacon167110
2ChickenFettucini Alfredo246140
3TunaTuna Creamy Pasta155110
4CheeseCheese Macaroni187120
5TomatoTomato Basil Penne209120

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