My homemade hamburger helper lasagna tastes just as good as the boxed stuff, except it's nutritious and loaded with veggies and protein. The weeknight dinner your family will love!
What if I told you that you could recreate the comforting hamburger helper lasagna of your childhood from scratch? And with a nutritious punch?
That's right, this is the homemade adult version of the boxed classic. I still go for the original box every now and then, but getting older means I also love making hidden veggie mac and cheese and tossing spinach into all my recipes. Why not throw in some extra veggies for some colour, fibre and variety?
Even if your family just loves the classic hamburger helper, I promise they'll still love this recipe. It's warm, filling and has the same meaty and cheesy bites as the original. Weeknight dinner plans sorted!
Why This Recipe is Dietitian Approved
- One pan. I love my one pan recipes because it's minimal dishes and minimal clean-up. Exactly what you want on weeknights!
- Iron-rich. Ground beef is a great source of bioavailable iron for all my iron deficient friends.
- Hidden veggies. It's hard to believe there's around 6 cups of veggies in this hamburger helper lasagna, especially when it's hidden between delicious cheesy pasta. Perfect for anyone who doesn't LOVE veggies, but still makes an effort to get them in.
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Yellow onion
- Ground beef
- Salt and pepper
- Onion powder
- Italian seasoning
- Marinara sauce
- Beef broth
- Mafalda pasta
- Mozzarella cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Fresh basil or parsley
In a large pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add garlic, onion and shredded carrots and zucchini. Saute, stirring frequently until fragrant and onions appear translucent in colour (about 3-4 minutes).
Add ground beef, salt, black pepper, onion powder and Italian spice blend. Cook until ground beef is no longer pink in colour (about 5 minutes). Drain excess oil if desired. Stir in spinach and cook until leaves just begin to wilt (this will happen quickly).
To the pan, add marinara sauce, milk, beef broth and dry pasta. Stir. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes UNCOVERED (this will help create a thicker texture).
Stir in both cheeses. Garnish with basil or parsley if desired.
Substitutions and Variations
To make gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta.
To make dairy-free: Use a dairy-free cheese and plant-based milk.
To make vegan: Follow the dairy-free swaps and sub the beef for lentils, crumbled tofu or plant-based meatless crumbles as your protein. Vegetable broth can be used instead of beef broth.
To make nut-free: This recipe is naturally nut-free.
Missing an ingredient? Try these:
- Ground beef: Swap for ground turkey or ground chicken.
- Beef broth: Swap for chicken broth or vegetable broth.
- Vegetables: These are optional, but highly recommended. Feel free to use another shredded vegetable you have on hand.
- Pasta: Mafalda is the classic shape used in hamburger helper lasagna, but any shape works. I have not tested rice or quinoa in this recipe.
Leftover hamburger helper lasagna can keep in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container. You can also freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container, pre-portioned containers, or an oven-safe dish covered with foil.
If you chose to freeze your lasagna in an oven-safe dish, bake it with the foil on for an hour at 375F, until the centre is hot. Alternatively, defrost overnight in the fridge and bake with foil on for 45 minutes at 375.
Don't forget to measure your pasta. Too much pasta will lead to a dry hamburger helper, while too little pasta will create a soupy hamburger helper.
Although optional, I love adding additional spinach at the very end for extra veggies! Spinach wilts very quickly so a large amount can be reduced very quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mafalda! It's the thick, ribbon-like noodle they use in the regular box. I got mine from Amazon but you might be able to find it at an Italian grocery store.
Nutrition-wise, the original boxed stuff is a little higher in sodium that I'd choose for an everyday option. There's nothing wrong with enjoying it as a convenient meal every once in a while, but I prefer to make my own from scratch. This homemade version is still yummy, but with a little more fibre and color to leave you feeling great.
More Weeknight Dinner Recipes
One pan, super easy and healthy? Try these:
PS. I love seeing my recipes in action! If you decide to make this hamburger helper lasagna, don't forget to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram- @nourishedbynic or leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it!
Homemade Hamburger Helper Lasagna (One Pan + Quick)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic pressed
- 1 cup yellow onion diced (about ½ of one large onion)
- 1 cup shredded carrots about 2 large carrots
- 1 cup shredded zucchini about 1 large zucchini
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon italian spice blend
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 2 cups low sodium beef broth
- 4 cups spinach
- 10 oz dry mafalda pasta about 2.5 cups
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- ½ cup cheddar cheese shredded
- Fresh basil or parsley for garnish
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add garlic, onion and shredded carrots and zucchini. Saute, stirring frequently until fragrant and onions appear translucent in colour (about 3-4 minutes).
- Add ground beef, salt, black pepper, onion powder and Italian spice blend. Cook until ground beef is no longer pink in colour (about 5 minutes). Drain excess oil if desired. Stir in spinach and cook until leaves just begin to wilt ( this will happen quickly).
- To the pan, add marinara sauce, milk, beef broth and dry pasta. Stir. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes UNCOVERED (this will help create a thicker texture).
- Stir in both cheeses. Garnish with basil or parsley if desired.