This cheeseburger macaroni recipe is made in one pot for a fast, easy, kid-friendly, and comforting weeknight dinner! It's ready in just 30 minutes.
You may also like my Cheeseburger Soup for more of these delicious flavors.
Why you'll love it
I know that you guys already love making our popular Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe, but this easy cheeseburger macaroni might even rival it in your household. It's like a cheesy hamburger helper yet elevated. With crispy bacon. This recipe has all your favorite cheeseburger flavors but in pasta form! The fact that it's made all in one pot is the cherry on top.
This is a fun recipe that is fantastic for picky eaters without resorting to opening a box, and cheesy comfort food that's simple to make with quality ingredients that you can actually pronounce is always a winner. It's like a cheeseburger and mac and cheese had a baby, and it's perfect.
Ingredients for it
- Bacon - what's a cheeseburger without bacon!? It's easy to cut up with these kitchen shears.
- Ground beef - I use at least 90% lean
- Onion - a tasty aromatic base to the sauce
- Tomato paste and tomato ketchup - for that rich tomato flavor in the sauce
- Yellow mustard - we're getting all the burger vibes here
- Garlic powder - for a hint of garlic
- Worcestershire sauce - it's not overpowering and enhances savory taste. Don't skip it!
- Broth - beef broth is deep and rich for the sauce
- Pasta - macaroni is the classic choice. I wouldn't sub for anything else in this recipe because it could throw the proportions off
- Cheddar cheese - use a good-quality block of your favorite sharp cheddar
- Pickles - I included pickles for the full burger experience, but they are totally optional since I know not everyone likes them. But it isn't as crazy as it sounds. Try my Dill Pickle Soup Recipe next if you're a fan of pickles!
How to make cheeseburger macaroni
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, fry the bacon pieces until crispy. Transfer the bacon to a plate and leave the fat in the pot. Add the ground beef and onion and cook until the beef has browned, then spoon out excess fat.
Stir in the ketchup, tomato paste, mustard, seasonings, and beef broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in the macaroni once it's boiling.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the sauce has reduced (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add in the cheddar and cooked bacon, and then serve and top with pickles if desired!
- This recipe will feed 4-6 people depending on how hungry people are and what else it's served with.
- One pot recipes can vary depending on your particular stove and ingredients, so if you seem to be running out of liquid with a lot of time still left, feel free to add in a bit more. Try 1/2 cup at a time.
- I recommend grating your own cheddar for best results. It melts and tastes so much better. I use this grater, and it only takes me a few minutes to grate the two cups of cheese for this recipe.
Substitutions and variations
- I don't recommend swapping the variety of pasta since it could affect the liquid measurements. You're welcome to try, but keep a close eye on it in case you need to add more liquid.
- You could swap the ground beef for sausage meat or ground turkey.
- Want to give it some heat? Add some red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce.
What to serve with it
- It's a hearty meal by itself, but a slice of crusty bread or a dinner roll is always a good idea.
- For something lighter, try a side salad with mixed greens and this Homemade Ranch Dressing or this Creamy Cucumber Salad.
- This Quick Stovetop Asparagus is a great side dish to pair with it so kids get their veggies! Broccoli with Cheese Sauce works too.
Leftovers and storage
- This recipe will soak up the liquid the longer you leave it. Leftovers will definitely be more dry (but still yummy) than when it's just cooked. The pasta releases starch as it cooks, thickening the sauce, and the pasta also absorbs the liquid.
- Keeping that in mind, it'll keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container no problem. Simply reheat over a low heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally. Add in a little more broth if you like.
- I wouldn't freeze this one. Cooked pasta doesn't thaw well and keep its texture.
Questions about this cheeseburger pasta recipe? Let me know in the comments below. As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you've made one of my recipes!
One Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni
- 4 strips bacon cut into small pieces
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped pickles optional
- Cut the bacon up (use kitchen shears to do this quickly) and add it to a soup pot/Dutch oven. Fry it over medium-high heat until crispy (about 10 min). Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate but leave the bacon fat in the pot.
- Add the ground beef and onion to the pot. Cook it, breaking it up with your spoon as you go along, until browned (about 8 minutes). Spoon out most of the excess fat.
- Stir in the tomato paste, ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Once it's boiling, add in the macaroni. Reduce the heat so it's not boiling like crazy (a rapid simmer is good). I cooked mine over medium heat. Let it cook uncovered until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed (about 13-15 minutes). Stir it every couple of minutes so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
- Take the pot off the heat and stir in the cheddar and cooked bacon (I reserve some for topping the bowls). Season with salt & pepper as needed, and let it sit for a few minutes to absorb more of the liquid (if needed) and for the flavors to meld more. If you want to have a layer of cheese on top, stir in about 3/4 of the cheese and then sprinkle the rest on top and cover the pot so it melts faster.
- Serve with the chopped pickles if using.
- Serves 4-6 depending on how much people eat/what else you serve it with.
- Troubleshooting tip: As with any one pot pasta, ingredients, pots, and stoves vary. If you're running out of liquid (like it's close to sticking and burning) when you still have a while to go before the macaroni is cooked, add in more broth or water, 1/2 cup at a time. The pasta will soak up the sauce quite quickly, so if it seems too liquidy, just wait a little bit longer.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.