Instant Pot Hamburger Helper
Hamburger Helper. It’s been about a gazillion years since I’ve had it. My dad used to make it for dinner sometimes and as a kid, I’m pretty sure that I thought it was the best dinner ever.
Making macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot/pressure cooker is so easy and delicious, I thought it would be easy to make an IP version of the classic boxed favorite! And I’m proud to report, this was every bit as delicious and comforting as I remember and even though I haven’t had it recently, much better given that it’s made with fresh ingredients!
A couple of things to note before you start making this recipe! First, you have to freshly grate your cheddar cheese. Seriously. You may be tempted to buy pre-shredded cheese, but I can tell you it’s not going to melt the way you want it to. Shredded cheese often contains other ingredients to prevent clumping and impacts its ability to melt. So, get out the grater for this one. I promise it’s worth it! It only takes a few minutes and you can do it while the pasta cooks.
Second thing to note, even though there are 4 cups of water in the pot, you might get the burn notice as this is cooking. There’s a few ways to avoid this. First, make sure your pot is clean before cooking. Then, after browning your beef, you will pour a little water in and really try to scrape up those browned bits off the bottom of your pan with a spatula.
Finally, once I pour the macaroni in, I don’t bother stirring it all in with the beef and water. I just make sure most of it is covered. I think the macaroni not being directly on the bottom also helps avoid that warning.
One other thing – I’ve seen a lot of Mac and cheese or other recipes like this that call for broth over water. I’ve made it both ways and I prefer using just plain water. I don’t like the saltiness that broth adds or the flavor. Mac and cheese shouldn’t taste…brothy, IMO. So I like to use water, but if you would rather use a low-sodium beef broth, you totally can!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 4 cups water
- 16 ounces dry elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, freshly shredded*
- 1/2 cup milk
- Turn on Instant Pot and set to sauté function. Add the olive oil and let heat. Then add in the ground beef. As the beef cooks, crumble up the beef with a spatula. Add the salt and continue cooking until the beef is lightly browned, about 7 minutes.
- Pour in 1/2 cup of the water and scrape any browned bits from the beef off from the bottom of the pot as best you can (this will help avoid a burn warning when pressure cooking). Hit the 'Cancel' button to turn off the Sauce function.
- Stir in the remaining water, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, garlic powder, and mustard powder. Pour in the macaroni over the beef (you do not need to stir in with the beef). Break the butter up into a few pieces and divide on top of the macaroni. Place and lock the lid of the IP and set valve to sealing. Set to Manual for 5 minutes.
- Once the time is up, do a quick release. Carefully remove the lid from the Instant Pot. Stir in the cheese, 2 cups at a time, until combined and melted. Stir in some milk, a few tablespoons at time, to thin the cheese until the macaroni reaches your desired consistency. Serve.
Do not use pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheese contains other ingredients that prevent clumping and result in the cheese not melting as smoothly.
Serving Size:approx. 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 478 Total Fat: 29g Saturated Fat: 14g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 109mg Sodium: 580mg Carbohydrates: 21g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Protein: 32g