Enjoy the flavors of this Homemade Hamburger Helper Lasagna recipe, a unique spin on a classic nostalgic dish. Packed with ground beef, rich marinara sauce, and tender elbow macaroni mixed with melted mozzarella cheese, it's a simple yet delicious meal for the whole family!
Hamburger Helper, a popular kitchen shortcut from General Mills, has been making mealtime happy since 1971. Add ground beef to its pasta blend, seasonings, and sometimes veggies for a quick, budget-friendly dinner. While this boxed meal is still an American classic, this recipe offers a unique twist on an old favorite!
Hamburger Helper With Italian Flavors
Hamburger Helper with a twist adds Italian-inspired ingredients instead of using ground beef and cheddar cheese!
- Ground Beef: Adds a beef flavor that brings the dish a richer, more robust flavor.
- Marinara Sauce: Swapping out the traditional cheese sauce for marinara introduces a tangy, sweet, and aromatic element.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Mozzarella offers stretchiness and a milder, creamier taste instead of cheddar.
Making hamburger helper lasagna is super simple and quick! Just brown the Italian sausage, add onions and garlic, then pour the marinara sauce and chicken broth with the macaroni. Let it simmer until the pasta is cooked. Mix in the mozzarella cheese until it's melted and gooey. Top with some fresh parsley, and that's it!
Easy Weeknight Dinner Recipe
- Time-Saving: This recipe takes roughly 30 minutes from start to finish. Great for busy weeknights.
- One-Pot Meal: Everything cooks in a single skillet, minimizing cleanup.
- Simple Ingredients: The recipe uses everyday ingredients like Italian sausage, marinara sauce, and elbow macaroni.
- No Cooking Skills Needed: The recipe steps are straightforward and easy for everyone.
- Garlic and Onion - These aromatics provide a foundational flavor, giving the sauce depth and a slight sweetness.
- Seasonings (salt, pepper, Italian seasonings) - Salt and pepper enhance the overall taste, while Italian seasonings contribute a blend of herbs that infuse the dish with traditional Italian flavors.
- Canned Diced Tomato - Offers a mild acidity and chunky texture, bringing a fresh and slightly tangy flavor to the dish.
- Chicken Broth - Adds moisture and a savory note, helping to cook the pasta while enriching the sauce's flavor.
- Whole Milk - Provides creaminess and smoothness to the sauce, balancing the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Elbow Macaroni - The core starch of the dish absorbs the sauce's flavors and adds a satisfying, chewy texture.
- Fresh Parsley - Used as a garnish, it adds a burst of color and freshness.
How To Make Hamburger Helper Lasagna
Cook the hamburger and onion: Add the ground beef and chopped onion over medium heat in a skillet. Break up with a spatula and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Drain off any excess oil.
Make the sauce: Turn down the heat to medium-low. Add the minced garlic and season the sausage with salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Add diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, chicken broth, milk, and pasta. Mix until combined and cover.
Cook the pasta: Let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. Stirring occasionally.
Add cheese: Once the pasta is cooked, stir in shredded cheese and cook until melted through the dish.
Garnish and serve: Plate while hot, then add a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Enjoy!
- Choose high-quality Italian sausage for a richer flavor; spicy sausage adds an extra kick.
- Season with salt and pepper throughout cooking to enhance taste.
- For a thicker sauce, drain excess liquid from canned diced tomatoes.
- Simmer the sauce on low heat to blend the flavors without burning.
- Use low-sodium chicken broth to keep the dish from becoming too salty.
- Stir pasta regularly while cooking in the sauce to prevent sticking.
- Gradually add milk, stirring well for a creamy texture without curdling.
- Test elbow macaroni for doneness a few minutes before the suggested cooking time to make sure it is not overcooked.
Flavor Variations and Substitutions
- Swap hamburger with ground turkey or chicken for a lighter, leaner option.
- Replace marinara sauce with a creamy Alfredo sauce for a richer version of the dish.
- Add bell peppers and mushrooms while sautéing the onions for added texture and a veggie boost.
- Use gluten-free pasta to make the recipe for those with gluten sensitivities.
- Add crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce for a spicier kick, adjusting the amount as needed.
- Incorporate spinach or kale during the last few minutes of cooking for a green, nutritious twist.
- Substitute mozzarella with Parmesan or a blend of Italian cheeses for a more complex cheese flavor.
- Stir in a splash of red wine into the sauce for added depth.
- Experiment with different pasta shapes like penne or rigatoni.
- Garnish with fresh basil instead of parsley for a traditional Italian aroma and taste.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Keep any leftover lasagna in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 4-5 days. Make sure it cools down to room temperature before storing.
Freezing: Freeze the lasagna in a freezer-safe container. It can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Reheating: To reheat, thaw the lasagna in the refrigerator if frozen, then warm it in a microwave or in a skillet over medium heat. Add a splash of water or broth to keep it moist. Heat until it's thoroughly warm.
You can easily make this recipe vegetarian by substituting the Italian sausage with a plant-based meat alternative or additional vegetables like zucchini and eggplant.
To avoid overcooked pasta, cook it until it's just al dente, as it will continue to soften slightly when you add the cheese and let the dish rest. Also, stirring occasionally during cooking helps maintain an even texture.
If the sauce is too thin, let it simmer uncovered for a few extra minutes to reduce and thicken. A small amount of tomato paste can also help thicken the sauce without altering the flavor.
More Easy Pasta Dinner Recipes
- Balsamic Pasta Salad
- Creamy Chicken Stroganoff
- Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta
- Creamy Tuscan Sausage Pasta
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Homemade Hamburger Helper Lasagna
- Over medium heat, cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet until browned. About 5-7 minutes. Drain off excess grease.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add garlic, salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, chicken broth, milk, and pasta. Mix until combined and cover. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. Stir occasionally.
- Stir in shredded cheese and cook until melted.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.