Cheesburger Macaroni – Life Above the Cafe

Cheesburger Macaroni

A quick weeknight meal that's better than boxed!
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Cheesburger Macaroni

Cheeseburger Macaroni
Jun 09, 2021




7 mins.

15 mins.


My mom was religious about coupon cutting, meal planning, and grocery shopping. Every Sunday she scanned the grocery store sales ads and clipped coupons from the giant coupon section of the Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, planned our meals, her grocery list, and off we went.

Most of the time when she dragged my brother and me to the grocery store with her, we were allowed to pick out the canned vegetables that we wanted and a couple of boxes of Hamburger Helper.

Cheeseburger Macaroni was one version of the red box with the little gloved guy smiling up at you, that always made it into our cart. My kids also loved Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni, but over the years, I started making many of the convenient boxed meals from scratch.

Cheeseburger Macaroni is one of my favorite nostalgic, comfort foods. When I’m craving childhood classics, I whip up a pan of the cheesy goodness for a quick lunch or dinner option.

Speaking of lunch, this recipe is easily halved for a two serving lunch. I made the Cheeseburger Macaroni seen in the photos, as a two person lunch option. It will feed me for two days which is a win-win in my book of stay at home life. Feel free to swap out whatever noodles that you have in your pantry or that your family loves. I used giant elbow noodles, but seashell shaped pasta are also perfect.

Although the recipe calls for shredded cheese, I love the flavor without the addition of cheese. If you’re lactose intolerant try subbing the milk out for a lactose free or non-dairy milk, and leave out the shredded cheese. I’m sure that you’ll enjoy this easy one pan meal without the dairy products.

Likewise, to all my vegetarian readers, this is a great meal to make with Beyond Meat or another vegetarian option. Substitute the beef broth for a vegetable broth.

I hope that you’ll try this recipe today and leave a comment below. Also, for daily updates follow @lifeabovethecafe on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest using the social media icons found on this page.


  • 3/4 to 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of diced white or yellow onion
  • 2 cups of elbow noodles (uncooked)
  • 2 Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1 tsp. of dried parsley flakes
  • 1 & 1/2 tsps. of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of onion powder
  • 1 tsp. of granulated sugar
  • 1 to 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • extra water as needed
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch if needed to thicken


Dice the onion into 1/4 inch size pieces.  In a large skillet over medium heat brown the ground beef with the onion.  I use lean meat and don’t have much fat, but If you use a fattier meat, spoon off most of the grease after the meat is browned.

Add the tomato paste and all of the seasonings and sugar to the browned meat and cook for about 2 minutes to eliminate the raw tomato paste flavor.  I add a beef bouillon cube and water next, but use a can or boxed beef broth if desired.  Stir until the beef bouillon cube is dissolved.

Add the milk and macaroni noodles and bring the mixture up to a boil.  Turn the mixture down to maintain a low boil.  Cook, stirring often, until the noodles are al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes depending on the noodle size.  If you cover the pan make sure to stir often, I don’t cover mine while cooking.

I keep a measuring cup of water next to the stove and add more water as needed so that the mixture never dries out while the noodles are in the process of softening.

Once the noodles are tender, turn off the heat and stir in the shredded cheddar cheese.  I like the final product without the cheese so feel free to leave it out.

Note – I didn’t need any cornstarch to thicken my final product, but you may.  If so, add the cornstarch to an equal amount of water, stir, and then pour the cornstarch slurry into the final product before adding the shredded cheese.  It will need to come up to a boil, and cook for 1 minute to fully thicken.  I prefer a creamy final product with more sauce which is why I don’t add a thickener like cornstarch or flour.

Additional Photos:

Cheeseburger Macaroni
Cheeseburger Macaroni

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