This Healthier Hamburger Helper is creamy, delicious, easy to make, and loaded with veggies! This one-pot recipe is a perfect hearty dinner. It cooks up in just 30 minutes and can be easily made gluten free!

A bowl of healthier hamburger helper in a bowl with a fork and chopped spinach sprinkled over the top. There is the pot of pasta and a glass of water on the table next to the bowl.

Quick and easy dinners are life, especially ones that are family-friendly. This Healthier Hamburger Helper is definitely going to be added to the rotation. Made all in one pot, with delicious ingredients, and loaded with veggies…it is sure to win over the hearts and tastebuds of all. A homemade version of the classic every 80’s kid remembers, this 30 minute dinner uses simple real food ingredients but is just as flavorful! Plus, it can easily be made gluten free.

Pump up the veggies

Loving the veggie-loaded vibe and want to add more veggies to this Healthier Hamburger Helper? Here are a few ways to get more vegetables into the classic remix.

  • Saute 8oz chopped mushrooms in with the ground meat.
  • Stir in 1 cup frozen riced cauliflower into the pot when you add the pasta.
  • Once pasta is cooked, stir in 1 cup frozen peas.
  • Add 1 cup of grated zucchini to the pot when you add the ground meat.

Did you make this hamburger helper—and have leftover spinach you don’t want to go to waste? Check out How to Store Spinach (and keep it fresh all week long).

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of pasta can I use?

You can use any kind of pasta in this dish, including whole wheat, bean-based, or gluten free. Check the package for cook time and taste the pasta to make sure it’s cooked through before you move on with the rest of the recipe. Some pastas will absorb liquid faster than others, so you may need to add more broth before the pasta is fully cooked.

Can I make this dairy-free?

You can use an unflavored, unsweetened dairy-free yogurt alternative. Leave out the cheese and taste the finished pasta and add more salt and pepper as needed. Or use your favorite plant based cheese. Vegan cheeses melt in different ways, so be familiar with the dairy-free cheese you opt to use. I like Chao brand best for dairy-free melting and taste.

A pot of healthier hamburger helper in a pot with yogurt and cheese on top with a wooden spoon.

Wondering how to store your carrots so they stay fresh as long as possible? Check out my post on How to Keep Cut Carrots Fresh and get the most out of your produce buck!

What can I use if I don’t have lean beef?

You can make this Healthier Hamburger Helper with any ground meat you prefer or have on hand. We like using lean beef so that this one-pot pasta recipe is a bit lighter. However, you can use ground turkey, chicken, or even bison. If you have regular ground beef on hand, you can cook it in a separate skillet and drain off the extra fat. Then add it to the homemade hamburger helper. Easy peasy!

Can I make this vegetarian?

If you are looking for a vegetarian twist, you can make a few small tweaks to this Healthier Hamburger Helper recipe to make it meat free. If you are open to using a plant based meat replacement, brands like Beyond Beef would work great in this recipe. If you’d like to keep the ingredients of your food as simple and natural as possible, I’d suggest replacing the ground meat with cooked brown or french lentils.

Time saving hack! Use your food processor with the “S” blade attachment to finely chop your veggies quickly to make prep done in minutes.

Other quick, veggie-loaded one-pot dinners!

Loving these one-pot pasta recipe and are hungry for more?

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Healthier Hamburger helper in a pot with a wooden spoon.
Hamburger Helper with Veggies
5 from 61 votes

Healthier Hamburger Helper (with veggies!)

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course
This Healthier Hamburger Helper is creamy, delicious, easy to make, and loaded with veggies! This one-pot recipe is a perfect hearty dinner. It cooks up in just 30 minutes and can be easily made gluten free!

Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped or sub 1 cup defrosted frozen spinach
  • 8-10 ounces elbow macaroni or other small-shaped pasta, use gluten free for a gluten free option.
  • 3 cups broth
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt , whole milk or 2% recommended
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions
 

  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot or high-sided skillet. Add onion and carrot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add ground beef, breaking it up into small crumbles. Cook until browned. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and paprika. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds to develop the flavors. Add Worcestershire sauce, spinach, pasta, and then stir in the broth.
  • Cover and bring up to a simmer. Cook until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. If the liquid fully evaporates before the pasta is cooked, stir in an additional ½ cup of broth or water.
  • Remove lid then stir in yogurt and cheese. The pasta will absorb more liquid as it sits, so it’s ok if there seems to be a lot of sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper, as needed.
  • Enjoy warm.

Notes

  • cook time will vary based on type of pasta you use. 
Calories: 316kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 51mg, Sodium: 526mg, Potassium: 537mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 2869IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 171mg, Iron: 3mg