Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta

5 from 3 reviews

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.


  • 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.)


  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.


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.