Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

The cheesy, creamy Instant Pot Hamburger Helper is one of the simplest, most satisfying meals you can create on a busy night. Cooking it in the Instant Pot not only saves on dishes since it’s all cooked in one pot, but it also takes no time at all.

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper is one of the most comforting easy dinners. One of my favorite things about the Instant Pot is meals like this one. I can cook everything in one pot and it cuts down on the time I stand next to the stove significantly.

A few years ago, I shared my Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta recipe. I thought it would be a perfect recipe to recreate in the Instant Pot and make it even faster. The ingredients for this meal are my all time pantry and freezer staples already, so it’s a meal I can cook anytime I want something easy or didn’t meal plan.

Sautéing the ground beef with onions and garlic is really easy, but that is the most “time consuming” part of the recipe, so you can imagine how ridiculously simple it is to put it together. The combination of the ground beef, aromatic onion and garlic, dry and fresh herbs and the cheesy pasta is so satisfying and hearty. It’s like Macaroni and Cheese with beef, or homemade Hamburger Helper, but way better:).

How to Make Instant Pot Hamburger Helper Video:


Ingredients for Instant Pot Hamburger Helper aka Cheeseburger Pasta
  • Ground beef: ground sirloin, ground chuck or any other ground meat will work here.
  • Onion and garlic – these aromatic vegetables are a must to add so much flavor to the recipe.
  • Salt, ground black pepper, dry herbs – season to taste with salt and pepper and add any dry herbs and spices that you like, such as Italian seasoning, Herb de Provence, paprika, granulated onion/garlic, dry parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary, pepper flakes, etc.
  • Pasta – My favorite types of pasta to use in this recipe are elbows, shells, corkscrew, etc.
  • Chicken broth – using chicken broth adds another layer of flavor to the dish, instead of using plain water. Instead of chicken broth, you can also use vegetable broth or beef broth.
  • Half n half – In the US, we have this sold in all grocery stores. Essentially, it is equal parts whole milk and heavy cream. I think it’s the perfect combination to be used in this recipe. Heavy cream alone is a bit too rich, and just milk sometimes doesn’t have enough fat content and can end up curdling. I have never used dairy free alternatives, but you are welcome to try.
  • Tomato Sauce – use any store bought tomato sauce or homemade tomato sauce.
  • Grated Cheese – Any cheese that melts well will work for this recipe, such as cheddar, colby, monterey jack, gruyere, etc.
  • Fresh herbs – Parsley is perfect for this recipe, but yo can also add some green onions, dill, basil, thyme, etc.

Can You Cook Raw Pasta in the Instant Pot?

Absolutely! Since you add the raw, uncooked pasta right into the Instant Pot, the gluten doesn’t get washed off as much as it would it you cooked it in a large pot of water first.

This means that it creates a creamy coating for the meal naturally and you don’t need to add the additional time and calories of making a roux (butter and flour sauce) to get the results of a creamy, velvety sauce to coat the pasta. Isn’t that wonderful?

Pasta overcooks really quickly, so keep that in mind and err on the side of caution and turn it off right away, releasing the steam as soon as the pasta is cooked through. Remember that it will also keep cooking a bit even after it is turned off.

How To Make Hamburger Helper in the Instant Pot

Step by step tutorial for how to make Homemade Hamburger Helper in the Instant Pot
  • Use the “Saute” function to brown the beef. Adjust the heat to “High”, add the oil and then add the beef. Cook for about 5 minutes until it’s browned. If there are still a few pink spots in the beef, that’s ok.
  • Add the onion and garlic to the browned beef. Season everything with salt, ground black pepper and any herbs and spices that you like. Mix to combine and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the onions are tender. If the bottom of your Instant Pot chamber is starting to get too brown, add just a bit of water and scrape down the bottom, releasing all the brown bits.
  • Turn off the “Saute” function. Add the pasta, tomato sauce, broth and half n half. Mix to combine, making sure all the pasta is completely submerged. Cover the Instant Pot with the lid (make sure the sealing ring is in it), turn the sealing valve to “Sealing”.
  • Cook on the Manual or Pressure button, High Pressure for 4 minutes.
  • Release the pressure as soon as the pasta is cooked. Release the valve very slowly and carefully. Don’t wait for the pressure to release naturally or the pasta will be really overcooked.
  • Stir in the grated cheese and mix to combine until all the cheese is melted and incorporated into the pasta.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley. If you don’t serve the pasta right away, you may want to add a bit of liquid (water, broth or milk) to loosen it up first.
Instant Pot Hamburger Pasta
Cheeseburger Pasta

Helpful Tips:

Ground Beef Substitutions:

You can use any ground meat that you like instead of ground beef. Ground chicken, turkey, pork, or even sausage can all be used in this recipe. Sausage will have a lot more fat than ground turkey or chicken, so drain the excess grease from the sausage and use more oil to brown the turkey or chicken. You can also omit the meat, if you prefer. 

More Tomato Sauce?

I added a small amount to the recipe. It adds just enough sweetness and acidity to complement all the other ingredients, but the end result doesn’t really have a strong “tomatoey” flavor. You may not even know it’s there. If you want more of a tomato sauce flavor, add more sauce and give it a more distinct tomato flavor.

How Much Cheese to Add to Hamburger Helper:

Cheese is completely a matter of taste preference in this recipe. You can also use as much or as little cheese as you like. Most of the time, I use only 4-6 oz, and it’s just enough for us, but you can use the full 8 oz or even more, if you like it really cheesy.

How to Serve, Store and Reheat Hamburger Helper

We just love serving the pasta right away with a simple salad or pickles, garnishing with fresh herbs. The longer it stands, the thicker it will be. You can add some broth, water or cream to thin it out again.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days or freeze up to 3 months.

To reheat, I always add some water, broth or cream to thin it out and you may also want to add a little bit more cheese to freshen it up.

What to Serve With Hamburger Helper:

How to Reheat:

My favorite way to reheat pasta dishes is on low heat in a skillet, covered. Add a little bit of water, broth or milk to it to loosen it up and make it creamy again.

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 10 reviews

The cheesy, creamy Instant Pot Hamburger Helper is one of the simplest, most satisfying meals you can create on a busy night. Cooking it in the Instant Pot not only saves on dishes since it’s all cooked in one pot, but it also takes no time at all.

  • Author: Olga’s Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x



1/2 Tablespoon olive oil (or avocado, grape seed, etc.)

12 oz. (3/4 lb) ground beef

salt, ground black pepper, to taste

dry herbs, to taste (Italian seasoning, paprika, dry parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary, chives, granulated onion/garlic, pepper flakes, etc)

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups chicken broth 

3/4 cup half n half (equal amounts whole milk and heavy cream)

1/2 cup tomato sauce

8 oz elbow pasta (you can also use small shells, corkscrew pasta and similar shapes)

68 oz grated cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, colby, provolone, gruyere, etc.)

1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley


  1. Heat the oil in the Instant Pot chamber using the “Saute” function, adjusting the heat to high. Add the ground beef, sautéing it for 3-5 minutes, until it is browned. 
  2. Add the onion and garlic, seasoning with salt, ground black pepper and any combination of dry herbs and spices that you like. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and tender. 
  3. Add the pasta, tomato sauce, chicken broth and half n half to the Instant Pot, mix to combine, making sure all the pasta is submerged in the liquid. (You can add a few pinches of salt, depending on how salty your broth and tomato sauce are. If they are salty enough, you may not need to add any additional salt.)
  4. Cover the Instant Pot lid, making sure the sealing ring is in place and the sealing valve is turned to “Sealing”. Cook on High Pressure (Manual mode or the Pressure button) for 4 minutes.
  5. Slowly and carefully release the pressure by turning the sealing valve to “Venting”. (Do not wait for the pressure to release naturally, on its own because the pasta will be way too overcooked by that point).
  6. Add the grated cheese to the pasta, mix everything to combine until the cheese is melted. Add a few Tablespoons up to 1/4 cup water, milk or broth to the pasta if it seems to be too thick. The additional liquid will loosen it up and make it creamy again. This is a great idea when reheating this dish.
  7. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve hot.  

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!


Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.