Instant Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper

This is one of our go-to recipes for busy weeknights. It’s made with ingredients that are easy to keep on hand, so there are no worries if you didn’t have time to plan ahead! It tastes even better than the classic flavor we all know and love, and in the Instant Pot, it comes together in only 25 minutes and with only one pot to clean up.

Learn to master the Instant Pot! New Instant Pot Master Class. [learn more]

And now for the best part: No mystery boxes here! Just hearty ingredients that come together in a snap. And despite that, it’s also quite inexpensive to make. Easy on the budget AND no mystery packets? That’s what I call awesome!

Want to pack an extra punch of nutrition? Folding in finely chopped spinach just before serving is a great way to boost Vitamin C, folic acid, iron, and calcium. It looks pretty, and we bet even the pickiest eaters won’t stop to ask once they taste the creamy goodness.

For best results, do NOT use cellophane-wrapped “cheese product”. It’s almost half water and fillers. Not only is it not particularly good for you, but it also won’t yield the creamy texture you want in this dish.

It tastes even better than the classic flavor we all know and love.


For pot:

  • 1 lb ground beef (preferably 93% lean)
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 16 oz elbow macaroni

For sauce:

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 10 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 oz American cheese, cut into strips (from the deli, not the kind that comes in cellophane!)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
  • Additional shredded cheese for garnish, if desired


  1. Using the display panel select the SAUTE function.
  2. Add ground beef, onion powder and garlic powder to the Instant Pot. Cook and stir until no pink remains.
  3. Stir in pasta and broth, then secure the lid, making sure the vent is closed. Select CANCEL to turn off the pot.
  4. Using the display panel select the MANUAL function*. Use the +/- keys and program the Instant Pot for 4 minutes.
  5. When the time is up, quick-release the remaining pressure.
  6. Stir in half and half, then stir in the cheese, a little at a time, until melted. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
  7. Just before serving, fold in chopped spinach, if using. Top with additional cheese for garnish, if desired.

*The MANUAL and PRESSURE COOK buttons are interchangeable.