Dairy Free Hamburger Helper
Say hello to the perfect weeknight dinner with this homemade dairy free hamburger helper! Made in just one skillet with simple ingredients, it’s fantastic for both kiddos and adults alike. Jam-packed with flavor, it features a creamy, “cheesy,” tomato-y sauce that brings it all home. Egg free with a gluten free option.
Did you grow up eating classic boxed pasta dinners?
They were a complete and total staple at our house as a kid … long before my dairy allergy came into play.
And while I haven’t enjoyed those versions in YEARS, you just can’t beat the convenience.
So today, we talk about this easy, one pot, homemade version of hamburger helper that’s creamy, “cheesy” and totally satisfying.
Yes, it may take a bit more effort than the kind from the box but it’s still incredibly simple to pull together and is totally safe to enjoy as there’s no milk or cheese involved!
Making it the perfect, cozy, comforting, weeknight dinner that is sure to please the entire family.
How To Make
So, let’s chat about how this easy dish goes down:
Brown meat. First up, we’ll cook some ground beef in a large skillet until no longer pink, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Soften onion. Next, we’ll add some chopped onion to the pan and cook until tender, before stirring in fresh garlic and tomato paste.
Add all other ingredients. We’ll add diced tomatoes, broth, uncooked pasta and plenty of seasonings to the skillet and give it all a good stir.
Simmer until tender. We’ll bring the mixture just to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the pasta is tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed.
Stir in extras. Finally, we’ll mix in the cooked ground beef plus a touch of dairy free sour cream for the perfect finishing touch.
How To Serve
While this dish is plenty filling all on its own, I like to serve with a bit of extra veggies on the side. Such as:
- a simple green salad
- roasted green beans
- roasted / sautéed broccoli
- sautéed mushrooms
- roasted / sautéed zucchini
You could also go classic and enjoy with some crusty bread or even dairy free garlic bread.
Tips & Tricks
- You can absolutely use ground pork, ground turkey or ground chicken instead of the beef. Really any ground meat will work. The flavor of the final dish will change slightly but it will still be delicious.
- I’ve listed the hot sauce as optional but it really doesn’t add any heat to the pasta – just a touch of extra flavor. Now, if you DO want some heat, feel free to add more at the end to taste (or additional pepper or even red pepper flakes).
- I like to use pasta shells for this recipe since they’re fantastic for absorbing the creamy sauce. BUT any small-ish shape will do the trick – I tested this once with penne and that worked great too.
- Finally, if for some reason your pasta isn’t done cooking and the skillet is dry, add a bit of extra broth (or even water) and keep simmering until al dente.
How To Store
Fridge: Let cool to room temperature then transfer to an airtight container. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Additional Dairy Free Dinner Recipes:
- Dairy Free Baked Ziti
- Dairy Free Salmon Pasta
- Dairy Free Shepherd’s Pie
- Dairy Free Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Dairy Free Meatballs
- Dairy Free Chicken Alfredo
- Dairy Free Stuffed Peppers
Did you make this recipe? Rate and review it down below! I’d love to hear from you.
- 1 pound ground beef (I use 80/20 but any will work)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 ¾ cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth
- 8 ounces uncooked whole wheat pasta (any smaller shape)*
- ½ cup dairy free sour cream**
- Set a large nonstick skillet (that has a lid) over medium heat. When hot, add in the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
- Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan (if there’s not enough fat, add in some olive oil) then set the skillet back over medium heat. When hot, add in the onion and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Stir in the nutritional yeast, paprika, dijon, hot sauce, salt, pepper, tomatoes (with their juices), broth and pasta.
- Bring the mixture just to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer fairly vigorously for about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally (and more frequently toward the end of the cooking time), until the pasta is tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Stir in the ground beef.
- Let the pasta stand uncovered for about 5 minutes (any excess liquid will absorb during this time).
- Stir in the dairy free sour cream, then taste and season with additional salt, pepper or hot sauce as desired (I usually add more salt to make the flavors pop). Serve!
*You can use any smaller pasta shape here - just make sure it has a 10 to 12 minute cook time (according to package directions).
To keep this gluten free - use a gluten free pasta with a similar cook time. I tested this with Jovial’s Gluten Free Pasta Shells and they worked great.
To keep this egg free - make sure your pasta doesn’t contain egg.
**If you don’t want to make your own, store-bought dairy free sour cream can be substituted for the homemade version.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 324Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 351mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 29g
Nutrition data shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator and is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a substitute for a medical professional’s advice.