Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta

The creamy and cheesy pasta dish made all in one skillet has the taste of a cheeseburger – with an abundance of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce and cheddar cheese. Serve some pickles on the side and this Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta is the perfect weeknight dinner.

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta - an easy dinner made in one skillet with cheesy pasta, ground beef and tomato sauce

Skillet dinners are some of my favorite. Why? Less dishes to wash, very easy to prepare and most importantly, you’ll have a meal on the table in half an hour. What’s not to like? 

Even better, this particular recipe makes use of the ingredients that you probably already have in the house, so you can avoid an unnecessary trip to the grocery store. Bookmark this one, busy mamas! It really does remind me of a juicy cheeseburger, all beefy and cheesy. The smooth and silky sauce brings it all together and fresh herbs always add freshness to any dinner. 

Ingredients for the Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta:

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta Ingredients

For the most simple version of this dinner, I use some of the most basic pantry ingredients.

Ground Beef – What Other Meat Can You Use?

I like to use sirloin ground beef, which has a lot of flavor but is also pretty lean. I didn’t have to drain it at all.

Of course, you can use any ground beef you like, or any ground meat for that matter (ground chicken, ground turkey, ground pork, ground lamb, etc.).

If you use a ground meat that has more fat content, you may have a lot of drippings. You will need to drain most of it off, or your finished dish will be very greasy.

Onion and Garlic

These aromatic vegetables add additional flavor to the pasta dish and I always have some on hand.

Tomato Sauce

You can use homemade tomato sauce or any store-bought tomato sauce that you like. You can even used canned tomatoes, such as diced tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes. If you use canned tomatoes, make sure to puree them in the food processor or blender first.

Chicken Broth and Milk (Can You Use a Substitute?)

I use chicken broth – you can also use vegetable or beef broth. You can even use water in a pinch, but broth will give the pasta dish much more flavor.

I use whole milk in this recipe. You can also use half and half or heavy cream, which will make the pasta much richer. You can also use alternative lactose free, dairy free milk, like almond milk, coconut milk, etc.

Elbow pasta

Elbow pasta is a classic shape to be used for this recipe. You can also use other medium sized pasta shapes, like fusilli, corkscrew, penne, shells, rigatoni, rotini, etc.

Cheddar Cheese

You can also use any combination or type of cheese that melts well, like colby, jack, provolone, mozzarella, romano, parmesan, gruyere, etc.

Herbs and Spices

I like using both dry and fresh herbs in this recipe. I add dry herbs in the beginning of the cooking process and garnish with fresh herbs right before serving. This will create a depth of flavor and add freshness too.

What Other Ingredients Can Be Used In This Skillet Pasta Dinner?

Go shopping in your fridge and pantry and adjust this recipe to whatever you happen to have on hand.

Use any ground meat or sausage that you like, add bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and any kind of cheese that melts well. To make it really taste like a cheeseburger, add some pickles and serve with some fresh chopped tomatoes. 

How To Make Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta Tutorial - step by step pictures cooking cheesy pasta and ground beef dinner
  1. In a 12 inch nonstick skillet, heat oil and then brown the ground beef.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and salt and ground black pepper to taste. Cook until the onions are softened, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Pour in the tomato sauce, thyme (you can also use rosemary, oregano), dry herbs and spices to taste. (I like using Italian seasoning, granulated onion and garlic, dry parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, etc.)
  4. Also pour in the broth and milk. Cover the skillet and bring everything to a boil.
  5. Add the pasta, and cook, UNCOVERED, at medium high heat, for about 10 minutes, until the pasta has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through. At this point, try the pasta, if it needs to be cooked longer, you may need to add a bit more water, broth or milk.
  6. Add the shredded cheese and stir to combine. Serve, garnishing with fresh herbs, like parsley, oregano, etc.

What Type Of Skillet Is Best For This Recipe?

It is important to cook this dish in a 12 inch nonstick skillet. The larger skillet is important because there is more surface area, which will help the sauce to reduce properly. That’s also why you have to cook the pasta uncovered. If you leave it covered, some of the liquid will not evaporate and you will be left with a watery sauce.

Cheeseburger Pasta Dinner made with a ground beef goulash cheesy sauce

Freezing and Reheating Cheeseburger Pasta

This dish freezes really well. If you plan to freeze it, undercook the pasta a bit, since it will soften when frozen and then when being reheated.

Freeze the pasta dish in a freezer ziplock bag or in an airtight container for 3-6 months.

To reheat, thaw and then heat up in the microwave or in a skillet on the stovetop. Add a bit of liquid, when reheating, either water, broth or milk, to loosen up the sauce. You can add a bit more cheese and fresh herbs before serving.

A bowl of homemade hamburger helper pasta or beef goulash pasta
Print

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta

  • Author: Olga’s Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Entree

Description

The creamy and cheesy pasta dish made all in one skillet has the taste of a cheeseburger – with an abundance of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce and cheddar cheese. Serve some pickles on the side and this Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta is the perfect weeknight dinner.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tablespoon oil
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt, ground black pepper
  • 14 oz tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 23 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz (approximately 2 cups) elbow pasta
  • 46 oz. shredded cheese (cheddar, colby, jack, etc)
  • fresh herbs (green onion, parsley, etc.)

Instructions

  1. In a 12 inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil, add the ground beef and cook on medium high heat until the meat has browned.
  2. I like to use sirloin ground beef, which has a lot of flavor but is also pretty lean. Of course, you can use any ground beef you like, or any ground meat for that matter (ground chicken, ground turkey, ground pork, ground lamb, etc.). If you use a ground meat that has more fat content, you may have a lot of drippings. You will need to drain most of it off, or your finished dish will be very greasy.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper to the browned meat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until the onions are tender.
  4. Add the tomato sauce and the thyme. You can also use crushed tomatoes instead of the sauce and also use Italian seasoning instead of the fresh thyme. Pour in the broth and the milk. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the pasta, cook, at a simmer, for about 10 minutes, uncovered until the pasta has cooked through. At this point, check the consistency of the pasta. You might want to add more liquid if it’s too thick. Discard the thyme stems.
  6. Off the heat, add the shredded cheese and stir to combine. Serve with more cheese (if you’d like) and fresh herbs, such as green onion or parsley.

Notes

It is important to cook this dish in a 12 inch skillet and also to cook the pasta uncovered. As the pasta cooks, the liquid will reduce and be absorbed into the pasta. The starch from the pasta will thicken the sauce. The larger skillet is important because there is more surface area, which will help the sauce to reduce properly. That’s also why you have to cook the pasta uncovered. If you leave it covered, some of the liquid will not evaporate and you will be left with a watery sauce.

This is an updated version of the Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta recipe that was published originally on November 6, 2014. The recipe is the same with new photos.

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta dinner

30 Comments

    • olgak7

      It’s definitely comforting, Natasha.
      I do have my appetite back about twice a week, so I thoroughly enjoy those moments when they happen:). That’s ok, though. I’m already 24 weeks, so it will soon be over with.

  • Vitaliya

    This turned out absolutely delicious Olga! What a brilliant idea for an easy night dinner!!!!!! It was so quick and easy to make!!! Keep these kind of recipes coming! Valik even took it to work with him and had some for lunch and usually he just was sandwiches! Thank you for the recipe!

  • veta

    Hi, Olya!
    First of all, I want to thank you for this recipe because for busy moms,, like me, it just perfect. It is easy, fast and delicious!!!!
    I made it couple minutes ago and half of the skillet of pasta is gone. My kids approved it!!! Even my 7 years old said that it tastes like from restaurant!!! Big THANK YOU, GIRL!!!!!! May God bless you!! I hope we’ll see more recipes like that! Easy and delicious!

  • Stacy

    Hi Olga,
    I have a couple questions. If I freeze it, would I need to do anything differently. Also, when I’m ready to use it, how long would I need to bake it for and what temperature? Thank you in advance. I love your recipes!

    • olgak7

      Hi Stacy.
      If you want to freeze it, just cook the pasta for a shorter amount of time so that it doesn’t get overcooked and mushy.
      To reheat, defrost it, then reheat it in a skillet or in the oven (350-400F) and the time depends on your oven and how cold it is when you put it in. Basically cook it just until it’s warm all the way through.

  • Andrea

    I love this recipe! We make it at least once a month.
    I was wondering if you have ever tried using whole grain pasta? I was thinking about parboiling it before adding it to the skillet. What do you think?

    • olgak7

      Hi Andrea,
      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoy this recipe. I have never tried using whole wheat pasta. I don’t think you need to parboil it. Just cook it until it’s cooked through the way you like it. If you need to, add more liquid.

  • Irina

    Hi Olga,

    Lovely recipe and pictures, can’t wait to make it. I was wondering if it’s possible to use cooking cream instead of milk? Would it be the same measurement? Thank you!

  • Galina P Torchilo

    Thank you for posting this recipe in your fb post recently! That’s how I saw it, and decided to try. It is so good and so easy to make, I doubled the recipe, so we can eat it for a couple of days ))

    • olgak7

      No, the pasta cooks with the sauce, right in the skillet. The starch from the pasta actually creates a sauce consistency, so you don’t have to use additional flour or butter to make a roux for the sauce.

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