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Healthy Hamburger Helper (Low Carb & Keto Friendly)

This HEALTHY HAMBURGER HELPER is a one skillet dinner that is reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood meals – Cheeseburger Macaroni! There is ZERO pasta in this low carb one dish dinner – instead this recipe includes cauliflower for a healthier alternative. 

wooden spoon scooping hamburger helper out of a skillet

I’m not going to lie, you guys.

I LOVE Hamburger Helper! The Cheeseburger Macaroni version is an all-time favorite for both me and my kiddos and lately we’ve all been craving it.

After I perfected my cauliflower mac and cheese, I knew that I had to work on some low carb hamburger helper and woah. This is so darn good! 

The real question: did my kids like this low carb version of hamburger helper? 

low carb cheeseburger macaroni recipe.

The answer: Yep! My son didn’t even question the cauliflower, but he’s a teenage boy so he eats anything and everything. My daughter is the picky one in the family and she ate two helpings of this. She did say that she preferred the kind from a box, but that she wanted me to make this low carb version again too. 

I call that a win! 

How to make this low carb hamburger recipe: 

browned beef in skillet.

You’ll start by browning your beef. I prefer to use lean beef, but whatever you like is fine.

Once the beef is browned, you’ll add all of your remaining ingredients to the skillet. This couldn’t be easier.

You’ll need cauliflower that you’ve chopped into macaroni sized pieces, cream, water, sugar free ketchup, mustard, and a few spices. 

cauliflower and beef cooking

There won’t be a lot of liquid in the skillet, but bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. You’ll want to cook this until the cauliflower is nice and tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat, add in a couple handfuls of shredded cheddar, and pop the lid back on to let the cheese melt.

Stir and serve!

white plate of low carb hamburger helper

This really is an easy one dish dinner and it was such a hit with my family. It totally satisfied my hamburger helper craving and I can’t wait to make it again on a busy night.

We served this with a side salad. Top it off with homemade ranch, homemade Italian dressing, or homemade thousand island dressing.

healthy hamburger helper on a wooden spoon

More low carb kid-friendly recipes:

Fathead Pizza: Everyone loves pizza night!

Ranch Grilled Chicken: This marinade is so easy and so flavorful!

Keto Taco Casserole: Perfect for Taco Tuesday!

Air Fryer Pork Chops: So simple and always a hit!

Keto Spaghetti: My kids love this spaghetti squash recipe.

cauliflower and beef  on a white plate

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Healthy Hamburger Helper

This low carb version of hamburger helper uses cauliflower instead of pasta. This recipe is kid-friendly and perfect for a low carb or keto diet!

Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 16 ounces cauliflower, chopped into macaroni sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar free ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley

Instructions

  1. Brown ground beef in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat, crumbling it as it cooks. Drain grease.
  2. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the skillet with the beef, except for the grated cheese and parsley. Stir well.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is as soft as you’d like, stirring every couple of minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheddar cheese, and cover for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir well and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 339Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 153mgSodium: 1078mgCarbohydrates: 10gNet Carbohydrates: 7gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 25g

All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information is accurate.

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59 thoughts on “Healthy Hamburger Helper (Low Carb & Keto Friendly)”

  1. Hello. This looks delish. I LOVED hamburger helper when I was younger. Question about two ingredients in here: sugar free ketchup… I never have that on hand. Would using regular taste pretty much the same (I assume you just use sugar free for healthiness). It’s only 1T for the whole thing so I wouldn’t think it would matter much? Mustard? I cannot stand mustard. At all. However, it’s a VERY small amount in here. I’m just curious if the combo of what you have here is to make it taste like the boxed stuff or you just like mustard? If it helps it taste like the box, I’ll add it. Sometimes what you don’t know about a food is OK (If the box had mustard powder or something and I never knew it). HA! THanks.

    1. Karly Campbell

      Hi Betty! I use the sugar free ketchup to cut the carbs. You can use regular if it doesn’t bother you. As for the mustard, I don’t think it tastes like mustard in the final dish – it’s such a small amount overall. I do think it helps give it the cheeseburger vibe. My daughter also hates mustard but has never commented on it here, but if you’re worried about it I don’t think it’d hurt to skip it.

    2. Melissa Olvera

      Hi, The mustard does make the cheeseyness more cheesey! Taste more like the original dish. ๐Ÿ™‚ hopethis helps!

    1. Karly Campbell

      I’ve only made this as directed, but I assume it would work. The mixture just won’t be as thick.

  2. Loved this. Omitted the ketchup and mustard both. Used tobasco on it after dishing up. It was delish.

  3. donna j helms

    Made this tonight. Some BIG problems though with the nutritional information. 41 g. of fat = 369 calories alone, so how could the serving just have 339 calories? This doesn’t account for the calories from carbs and protein. I put all the ingredients into a carb manager recipe app. The total for all ingredients were as follows…….a whopping 3724 calories (931 per serving)….286 g of fat (71.50 per serving)…..251 g of protein (62.75 per serving)…..and 27 g carbs (6.75 per serving). I don’t know how you could be this far off on this recipe, and no one questioned it. That being said, it was easy to make, and tasted good.

    1. Karly Campbell

      Hi Donna! My recipes are calculated automatically based off a USDA database of information. Sometimes things are a bit off (hence the disclaimer in every recipe), but I don’t believe they’re off that much. The fat grams for example…a pound of lean beef has around 23g of fat. 2 cups of cheese has around 80. Cream has around 60. That breaks down to around 40g of fat per serving, which is what my nutrition card states. My guess is that you entered different products into Carb Manager than I used (I specifically call out lean beef in the recipe and I’d guess you didn’t use lean beef). Either way, the nutrition info is there as a courtesy and is based on the products I used. It will definitely vary if you use different products. Glad you enjoyed the recipe either way.

      1. You are so kind in your responses, and seem to have the patience of Job. I just found your website and I am loving all these new Keto dinner ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

        1. Karly Campbell

          Thanks, El! My kids would disagree about that patience thing though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Agree with this. It doesn’t matter what specific ingredients. 1 g of fat has 9 calories….therefore 41 g of carbs has 369 calories. If you include the protein (1 g protein = 4 calories, so 25 g would be 100 calories) and carbs (1 g carb = 4 calories, so 10 g would be 40 calories), the total calories should be 509 based on the carb, protein, and fat count you provided. The math just doesn’t add up. Not trying to be a jerk, just maybe the calculator you’re using is incorrect.

    3. Why do you go go crazy dismantling everything you eat with charts and measuring devices? What a time consuming, very
      unfun” thing. Eat good, well-prepared food and use your common sense.

  4. I did a steamer bag of cauliflower in the microwave (4 cups), and mashed it up before adding. Couldnโ€™t find my onion powder, so I used a heavy sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning – very good!

  5. Eating this now. It is so good!!

    Only changes I made were Sriracha instead of ketchup, no mustard and fresh garlic and onion too, tossed in when the meat was browning. Made it for me, but 3 out 4 kids like it!

  6. I made this last night and loved it! I’m doing Keto so didn’t drain the grass-fed fat, it’s wanted! Also forced into a couple small changes: no ketchup so used bbq sauce. Had only 4 oz of cheddar (1 cup) so also used 4 oz of cream cheese. Satiety maxed! Intermittent fasting will work great with this one. Froze the left-overs. This will be part of my bi-weekly meal prep. Thanks!!

  7. Wendy Vaughan

    I made this for my lunch this week. I noticed once i added my shredded cheese that it got greasy looking and reheating it the next day, i am mopping the grease off of the plate. I did drain my hamburger, i am wondering if the greasy comes from the cheddar cheese? i used mild cheddar. Is there a cheddar or brand that you don’t have the greasy problem with?

    1. Karly Campbell

      Hi Wendy! I normally grate my own cheese. I use whatever brand is on sale and haven’t had an issue with that.

  8. I saw this and decided I was making it. I tasted it when it was done and thought it was very good. My husband was a little late getting home, so it sat for about an hour, just on a cold burner, not a hot one. When I went to serve it, I was sad to see that the cheesiness had turned to yellow water. I guess it has to be served immediately, which I didn’t know. But it was still really good, and I will make it again.

    1. Karly Campbell

      Hi Dani!

      Cauliflower has a lot of liquid in it, so I’d guess that as it sat it released a lot of that. Hopefully it was better once reheated.

    2. Dani, I think I can help you! I’ve made this a few times for my husband and I, we really enjoy it, but were having the same problem. This is what I’ve started doing and practically eliminated that orange and watery buildup. After setting the meat aside to drain, I cook the cauliflower for about 5 minutes (or however long it takes to shred the cheese) in the same pan with a bit of salt to draw out more moisture. I used cauliflower, that’s just what I had on hand. I returned the meat, added the seasonings, added the cream, omitted the water, and added the cheese. It came out just as creamy as before, but didn’t have that extra water/grease that solidified when it cooled. I didn’t let it simmer for the 10 minutes, so it didn’t taste as flavorful, but that also could’ve been my poor ingredient estimating. Hope this helps if you try it again!

    3. One trick I learned along the way as a Keto cauliflower user…if you microwave cauliflower in an open container it releases a lot of its moisture..so you could partially cook it in the microwave to let the moisture out then add to the pan I would think to help that from happening in the future.

    1. Tammy Duell

      Have you made any other “hamburger helper” recipes like lasagna using cauliflower, sauce and mozzarella?

      1. Karly Campbell

        I have a low carb skillet lasagna that uses cabbage, but haven’t tried it with cauliflower.

  9. My husband & I both really like this, I wasn’t sure he would since he isn’t a big cauliflower fan but he said I could make this often! I added more cauliflower to my portion since I love it. A keeper for sure!

    1. Karly Campbell

      The ketchup, salt, and cheddar all have sodium. I believe the majority is coming from the cheddar.

      1. Candace Daniels

        I always ticker with recipes, hope you don’t mind.
        I deleted the ketchup & mustard & heavy cream, added cooked bacon, onions & a little bit of chicken broth.
        1st I browned my cauliflower in the bacon drippings with the onion, removed from heat. Cooked my beef, then added everything else. Topped with chopped bacon.
        I love this, definitely will make again.

    1. Karly Campbell

      I believe you’re looking at the sodium content, not the carb content. There are 10g carbs and 3g fiber, making it 7 net carbs per serving.

  10. Mickey Ferris

    I was excited about this until I saw the 1,078 mg’s of carbs…..is this correct?

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