I’m a 70’s baby and was raised on Kool-aid, margarine, and Hamburger Helper. AND…I’m the oldest of 10. Let’s all agree that the food of the 80’s and 90’s, although terribly unhealthy, was quite budget-friendly. A packet of Kool-aid beats a 6-pack of craft flavored water in the budget department. So, it’s no wonder that I grew up on every. single. variety of Hamburger Helper. Seriously! And Cheeseburger Macaroni was the hands-down variety of my siblings and I. This recipe is a close recreation of the processed version but using all real ingredients. Still keeping it all in one pot and under 30 minutes. Seriously…best. thing. ever!
Although, I’ll admit I sometimes whip up a package of ramen, show my kids what a pitcher of Kool-aid is (they can’t believe people drank that all the time ;)), and make Velvetta dip in the crock pot for football games. I grew up on the stuff, guys. But thank goodness I revamped my favorite Cheeseburger Macaroni into a “real food” dish.
By the way, I’d love hearing about a favorite 80’s processed food that you revamped into “real food”…shoot me a link in the comments and
I’d love to feature it on social media!
I love my Lodge dutch oven for one-pot dishes. It’s large enough that I don’t have to worry about it spilling over when I stir. But, this is the smaller one of their dutch ovens and I love that it fits so much better into the dishwasher.
Note: go ahead and sub out ground turkey and chicken to keep the fat content down. But, be sure to add a bit of olive oil to the pan to replace the missing fat you’ll need for cooking the onions and the remainder of the dish.
You’ll want to add the garlic cloves right when the ground beef has finished cooking, just for a couple minutes.
Note: if you don’t have fresh garlic you can use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder as a sub. Or, 3/4 teaspoon of garlic salt and reduce the salt by half.
Of course, you don’t have to use whole milk if you don’t want to. But, the heavier the milk the creamier the pasta will be. And, frankly, a whole lot closer to the original 80’s version from your childhood. And elbow pasta is traditional here. You can go all freaky and un-traditional if you like. But then why are you making cheeseburger macaroni, may I ask? Yup…elbow, it is.
Like most pasta dishes, don’t just cover it and leave. Be sure to stop by and give it a stir once or twice to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom. If you find that it is sticking a bit, add a couple tablespoons more milk.
Speaking of 80’s food, does anyone remember Velvetta? Oh yes. Please tell me you don’t use that stuff anymore. Let’s move on to real cheese that is made from real milk, can we? Like the sharp cheddar cheese we put into our cheeseburger macaroni. No little pouches of powder will go into this recipe. No sirree!!
Why don’t you gather your family around the table, share them memories of days gone by, and treat them to a plate of Cheeseburger Macaroni.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- Brown ground beef and diced onion together on medium heat.
- When ground beef is brown and onion is transparent, add garlic. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix the spices together. Add to the beef, onion, and garlic. Stir.
- Add the noodles and milk. Stir.
- Bring to a boil on high heat, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook on low for 12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir occasionally.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese.
- Serve warm with fresh parsley (optional)
- If the pasta is sticking to the pan add an additional 2 tablespoons of milk.