The Best Hamburger Casserole

This Hamburger Casserole is a better-for-you, homemade Hamburger Helper that is made with sweet potato puree, warm spices, and ground turkey for the perfect and easy weeknight dinner.

hamburger casserole in a baking dish

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Raise your hand if your parents made Hamburger Helper when you were young. ME! It’s meaty, noodly, and cheesy. What’s not to love?

Classic Hamburger Helper (AKA Hamburger Casserole) comes from a box and is essentially noodles and a powdered cheese sauce. Then, you mix in some ground hamburger and call it a meal. While boxed food has a time and a place, we’re here to help you recreate hamburger helper in your own home, while making it healthier at the same time!

hamburger casserole ingredients in dishes

Let’s Make it Healthier!

As you know, most boxed foods are packed with additives and sodium and what we do best is taking classic recipes and making them a little better for you. We lightened the classic hamburger casserole while keeping all the same, wholesome flavors. Here’s how we did it:

Meat: Classic hamburger casserole is made with ground beef, but in this recipe, we used ground turkey. The option is yours to use whatever kind of meat you wish, but turkey packs in the protein with less fat and calories.

Homemade “cheese” sauce:” While there is still cheese in our homemade cheese sauce, the secret ingredient is actually sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes add a touch of sweetness and lots of complex carbs. Want a vegan option? Check out our vegan cheese sauce.

Noodles: Swap the classic white noodle for something a little bit healthier such as a whole wheat noodles or even a chickpea pasta.

What you need

hamburger casserole ingredients in a casserole dish

Can you freeze hamburger casserole?

We don’t suggest freezing hamburger casserole because the noodles will get soggy when defrosting.

Can I brown ground beef the night before?

Ground beef or ground turkey can be browned the night before. Just make sure to store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How do you make hamburger helper better?

In order to make hamburger helper better, we suggest making it from scratch at home. Or, you can always add more spices and/or veggies to make it taste better!

Can you make hamburger helper without the hamburger?

Hamburger helper can be made without ground beef. We suggest subbing another ground meat such as turkey or chicken, but you could even use a bean or lentils to make it vegetarian.

What can you add to hamburger helper?

You can add many things to hamburger helper such as roasted vegetables, shredded cheese, and/or other ground meats.

finished hamburger casserole in a baking dish

More Casserole Recipes

Hamburger Casserole Video

Recipe

Healthy Hamburger Casserole

Do you love hamburger helper? This Healthy Hamburger Casserole is a homemade hamburger helper that is made with sweet potato puree, delicious spices, and ground turkey for the perfect and easy weeknight dinner.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
Author: Lee Hersh
Yield: 6-8 1x
Category: Dinner
Method: Oven
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Turkey

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
  • 3 tablespoons tomato puree

Sweet Potato Cheese Sauce

  • 1 medium sweet potato, cooked and pureed (pumpkin puree works too!)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup Colby jack cheese
  • salt, to taste

Other

  • 16 oz. shells (or any kind of noodle)
  • optional: more shredded cheese for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cook and prepare your sweet potato puree by following our How to Make Sweet Potato Puree post for details. You’ll need about 1 cup. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 16 ounces of shell pasta to boiling water. Cook pasta until it is almost cooked. You want the pasta to still have a bite to it (harder than al dente) as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Strain pasta, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  4. Next, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. When olive oil is fragrant, add ground turkey. Break the turkey up into small pieces. Add in the rest of the ingredients for the ground turkey mixture, mix, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Lower oven temperature to 375ºF and place your sweet potato puree into a blender or food processor with all the ingredients for the sweet potato cheese sauce. Blend until all ingredients are combined and the sauce is nice and smooth.
  6. Spray a large 9×13-inch casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray. Place noodles, ground turkey, and sweet potato sauce into the casserole dish and mix until everything is coated in the sweet potato cheese sauce. Sprinkle with shredded cheese (optional) and place into the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove, let cool for 10 minutes, and sprinkle on fresh parsley.

Notes

  • Nutrition information is for 8 servings.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8
  • Calories: 357
  • Sugar: 2
  • Fat: 9
  • Carbohydrates: 46
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 23
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