The best and easiest recipe for Instant Pot hamburger helper, made with just a handful of simple ingredients and no-prep work. You can even used plant-based meat to make vegetarian hamburger helper.
So, why exactly is this is the best and easiest recipe for Instant Pot hamburger helper?
- No prep-work, except sautéing ground meat
- Homemade flavor from simple ingredients
- On the table in 30 minutes
This recipe for homemade hamburger helper beef pasta will satisfy a craving for the hamburger helper of your childhood. But this time it's homemade and slightly healthier.
Still, it's an incredibly easy dinner to get on the table. I have to admit, I was surprised myself that such simple ingredients could make such a flavorful one-pot pasta.
Plant-Based or Vegetarian
It's easy to make plant-based or vegetarian hamburger helper simply by substituting your favorite plant-based ground meat. I've done this many times with either Impossible or Beyond ground "meat" and it's just as delicious!
You can also simply leave out a ground meat product and make plain pasta from this recipe - still yummy and flavorful!
To add more vegetables, saute mushrooms instead of meat and/or stir in frozen peas after the pasta is cooked.
Step 1: Saute the ground meat (or plant based meat) until no longer pink. Season with garlic powder, smoked paprika and salt.
Step 2: Add water, ketchup, Dijon mustard and elbow macaroni
Step 3: Cook for 5 minutes on high pressure, instant release
Step 4: Stir in sour cream and grated cheddar cheese
See recipe card below for exact measurements
Storage & Meal Prep
This meal will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. It's decent cold, but tastes best if reheated in the microwave. When serving leftovers, you'll probably need to add more salt and a grind of black pepper to punch up the flavor.
You can freeze leftovers if absolutely necessary, but honestly, pasta doesn't freeze all that well. The texture will be softer once it's defrosted.
If you're in the mood for comfort food, you can also use your Instant Pot to make these delicious pasta recipes:
Questions & Answers for This Recipe
This recipe has only been tested with elbow macaroni, so stick with that for the best results. However, the odds are pretty good that other short pasta shapes that can cook in 5 minutes will also work well (such as penne or small shells).
If the pasta you choose is not cooked completely after 5 minutes, you can set the lid back on the Instant Pot and the pasta will continue to soften in the residual heat.
You don't have to, but can if you want (I don't bother). The extra fat that ground beef releases does make the pasta slightly more oily.
This pasta is quite good even without the sour cream and grated cheese.
Yes, you can use other types of cheese instead of cheddar. Velveeta melts incredibly well and will bring the flavor of the dish even closer to the boxed version.
You can if necessary, but honestly, pasta doesn't freeze very well. The texture of the macaroni will be softer after defrosting.
Yes, you can add up to 2 pounds of ground beef if you want the meal to have more protein.
No, frozen ground beef won't work for this recipe. The ground beef needs to be almost fully cooked before the macaroni is added and Instant Pot is set to cook for 5 minutes on high pressure.
Instant Pot Hamburger Helper
The best and easiest recipe for Instant Pot hamburger helper, made with just a handful of simple ingredients and no-prep work. Use either ground beef or plant-based meat.
Total Instant Pot Cooking Time: 13 minutes to reach pressure + 5 minute cooking time + instant release
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 10
- Total Time: 30 minutes total
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Instant Pot
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: American
- 2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds ground beef or plant-based meat
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups water
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (regular or stone ground)
- 16 ounces (one box) elbow macaroni
- ⅓ cup sour cream, plus more to taste
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more to taste
- Press the saute button and warm the oil.
- Add the ground meat or plant based ground meat.
- Saute the meat until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. As the meat cooks, season it with garlic powder, smoked paprika and salt. Use a spatula or spoon to break the meat into small pieces.
- Add water, ketchup and mustard. Mix well.
- Add the macaroni. Stir again. Make sure all of the noodles are submerged in the water.
- Secure the lid and program the Instant Pot to cook for 5 minutes on high pressure.
- When the cooking time is complete, instantly release the pressure.
- Mix the pasta really well, using a rubber spatula to scrape up any sauce that is on the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in sour cream and cheddar. Add salt to taste.
- Transfer the hamburger helper to another dish as soon as possible. It will continue to cook if left in the warm pressure cooker, and you don’t want the noodles to get too soft.
This recipe was tested in a 6-quart Instant Pot
You can add as much sour cream and cheddar cheese as you like. I prefer only a small amount of cheese, but if you like a really cheesy pasta then add as much as you like!
Keywords: Instant Pot hamburger helper, homemade hamburger helper, vegetarian hamburger helper, homemade hamburger helper