Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

I bought an instant pot out of frustration one afternoon. The husband had been underway for a few weeks. The toddler needed to be held if I was in the kitchen. And it was hot in southern California! I reached out to Facebook friends for info on meals to cook with one hand while holding a 25lb (at the time) toddler. Everyone who responded said “INSTANT POT!” So, I dragged the boys to the NEX, picked up the first one I could find, and bought it. This is not my normal style. I like to read reviews and compare prices but I was tired and hot and my arms were burning from holding a wiggling 25 pound toddler for hours. Honestly, I didn’t even know what an Instant Pot was or how the worked. (Eekkkk!) But I watched a short video about how to get started, with the sound on as loud as it would go so I could hear it over the screaming toddler in my burning arms, and got started.

I’ve since fallen in love with The Pot. I have found that chicken comes out much juicier and tender than when cooked in a crock pot. I love that I can forget to take out meat and throw frozen anything into it 30 minutes before dinner time. I also like that I can saute. But, none of that is what this post is actually about. It’s about the hamburger helper!

This is a super simple but tasty recipe. My husband calls it “the hamburger helper that actually tastes good.” It’s versatile in that you can change the pasta, meat, or cheese, and it will still be good. Here’s what I usually do:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5lb ground beef
  • 2 cups broth (whatever kind you have on hand)
  • 8 oz whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1tbsp onion powder
  • 1lb shell macaroni
  • 16oz decent quality cheddar cheese, shredded

How to:

  1. Saute the ground beef.
  2. Once it’s browned, turn off instant pot and pour in broth, milk, seasonings, and macaroni. Mix it together a little. The liquid should cover the majority of beef and macaroni. If it’s too low, the macaroni won’t cook all the way so add a little more broth or milk.
  3. Put the top on the pot. Set to manual for 4 minutes.
  4. When the 4 minutes is up, do a quick release.
  5. Once all the pressure is released, open the lid and stir in the cheese.
  6. Enjoy!

Variations:

1. I’ve used penne and elbow macaroni. Both are good but as a family we have decided that shells are our favorite.

2. I’ve also used heavy cream instead of milk – still turns out great.

3. I used Kraft cheddar one time because I had some leftover from another meal I made and it did not turn out very well. I recommend Tillamook or something else that has flavor. It makes a world of difference!

4. I usually have chicken or vegetable broth on hand. Both work well. You can use beef broth too. I imagine water would work just fine too but I would at least triple the seasonings.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family. Let me know what you think!

-KB

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