Skillet Supper Series: Homemade Hamburger Helper-Roni (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and More)

gluten free, dairy free, entree, skillet supper, easy, hamburger helper

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Sometimes certain dishes fall off our radars. In many cases, it’s not that we stop liking them. We just forget about them. Such is the case with this Hamburger Helper-Roni. Diane (The Whole Gang) had mentioned long ago that she’d made a homemade gluten-free, dairy-free version of Hamburger Helper that was less expensive, tastier, and far better for you than the boxed versions lining the grocery store shelves. She challenged her readers to come up with their own gluten-free versions. Suddenly I remembered homemade rice-a-roni from The Tightwad Gazette newsletter years earlier. I had previously made that recipe gluten-full and while I enjoyed it then, and Mr. GFE—aka Carnivore Man—loved it, I thought it tasted too much of meat and not much else. It needed “something more.” Fresh Roma tomatoes and zucchini easily supplied the major part of the “something more,” plus I added additional rice, spaghetti noodles, and seasonings. Now I’m happy to say that this dish is back in our regular meal rotation! I think if you give it a try, you’ll see why. 

If you’d like some other delicious Hamburger Helper style meals, be sure to check out Diane’s great recipe—along with a few others—here!

gluten free, dairy free, entree, skillet supper, easy, hamburger helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper-Roni

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.


¾ – 1 pound ground beef (optional, we use ground venison; see notes for vegan option)
about 4 tbsp oil or butter
1 cup rice (see notes)
1 cup gluten-free spaghetti noodles, broken into smaller pieces
about ¼ cup onion, chopped (or ½ tsp onion powder)
3 cups chicken or beef broth (or vegetable broth for vegan option; see notes)
1 tsp dried parsley flakes or other dried or fresh herbs of choice (optional, but they add a lot to the dish)
about 2 tsp or so of minced garlic (or about 1 tsp garlic powder)
about 1 tsp of salt (to taste, omit if using purchased broth)
about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables of choice (chopped, I used fresh tomatoes and zucchini in the version shown) 


Brown and drain ground beef; set aside. 

Wipe skillet and heat oil to medium-high in large, deep skillet. 

Add rice and pasta. Stir well to coat with oil and cook a minute or so. 

gluten free, dairy free, entree, skillet supper, easy, hamburger helper

Add ground beef and seasonings; stir well. 

Add broth and onion. Stir and bring to a boil. 

Add any other vegetables (see notes). Stir and then reduce heat to about medium low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes until rice is tender. Add water in small amounts (1/4 to ½ cup) if needed during the cooking process. 

gluten free, dairy free, entree, skillet supper, easy, hamburger helper

Serve. Makes about six servings. 

Inspired by The Tightwad Gazette 

gluten free, dairy free, entree, skillet supper, easy, hamburger helper

Shirley’s Notes: I like browning ground beef or venison in larger batches, packaging into ¾ to 1 pound packages, so I always have about a pound ready to go for skillet supper meals like this one. I use long-grain white rice for this dish; brown rice will require some adjustment to cooking time and instructions. I would probably sauté the brown rice in oil by itself for a few minutes and then cook it alone in the broth for 10 to 15 minutes before I added any other ingredients. The total cooking time for this dish will be longer if brown rice is used, of course. Therefore, brown rice is a great candidate for cooking and freezing ahead of time so that one can get dinner on the table faster. I suspect that quinoa would be wonderful in this Hamburger Helper-Roni, too. For a vegan option, replace ground beef with protein of choice or more vegetables or just use vegetable amounts as called for and reduce broth as needed. Vegetables that cook more quickly may be added about halfway through the simmering/cooking down process. If you wish, a sprinkle of cheese may be added at the end of the cooking time. Mr. GFE likes fresh Parmesan on his so I added that once I’d plated his food. I enjoy mine with or without cheese.

See other gfe (and gfe-style) skillet suppers: 

Combination Fried Rice 

Sloppy Joes That Don’t Come From a Can or a Package

Saucy Cheesy Chicken Veggie Pasta Skillet Supper

Polynesian Sweet and Sour Sausage Stew

Not just gf, but gfe!

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18 Responses to “Skillet Supper Series: Homemade Hamburger Helper-Roni (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and More)”

  1. Hallie @ Daily Bites on September 28th, 2011 3:07 pm

    This looks like a dish my dad would love. He always talks about his mom’s “goulash” that she used to make when he was a kid…rice or pasta with beef, tomatoes, and cheese usually. Good old comfort food. :)

    • Shirley on September 28th, 2011 10:54 pm

      Hi Hallie–Yes, I could see this dish being referred to as a goulash. :-) “Good old comfort food”… yes, thank you!


  2. Diane-thewholegang on September 28th, 2011 4:25 pm

    This sounds great. I am really loving the one pan meals. Will give this one a try for sure. Thank you for sharing mine too.

    • Shirley on September 28th, 2011 10:58 pm

      Hi Diane–They’re such a treat, aren’t they? No timing of multiple things and only one dish to clean up. ;-)

      Hope you enjoy!

  3. Ina Gawne on September 29th, 2011 9:26 am

    Shirley – you are reminding me of recipes I have not had in years! This sounds ultra yummy, major comfort food! I love rice a roni – used to make it from Bette Hagmans recipe years ago. I must make it again, thanks for sharing!

    • Shirley on September 29th, 2011 3:09 pm

      Ina–I love that I’m giving folks some new/old recipes to re-try! We enjoy this one quite much … there’s something about the combo of rice and spaghetti noodles that works really well. :-) I had no idea that Bette Hagman had made rice-a-roni! I have several of her books for my support group’s library. I’ll have to see if I can find her version!

      Enjoy, dear!

  4. Kalyn on September 29th, 2011 11:04 am

    My mom never made anything like Hamburger Helper, but this sounds like it would be good.

    • Shirley on September 29th, 2011 3:12 pm

      Kalyn–We didn’t have Hamburger Helper growing up, but I admit I used it some in the early days of my marriage. I was a good cook then, but hadn’t yet mastered all non-recipe type skillet dishes. Thank goodness I moved on to make my own such creations and be able to control the ingredients! I think you’d like this one. It’s not very South Beach, of course, but as an occasional indulgence, it might be “just the thing” (especially with some of your amazing garden veggies!). ;-)


  5. Connie on September 29th, 2011 2:58 pm

    Sounds like something fun to try out! I haven’t really had hamburger helper since I was in high school (maybe 15 years?).

    Just an FYI – your link to the fried rice dish links to the sloppy joe dish.

    • Shirley on September 29th, 2011 3:04 pm

      Hi Connie–Welcome to gfe! :-) Many, many thanks for finding my little boo boo! My gfe readers are my best quality assurance folks. It’s when I’m adding multiple links all at once, that these annoying errors seem to occur. :-(

      The “true” Hamburger Helper is something that most of us do not eat any more, thank goodness! But the concept is a good one when used with real food. ;-) Hope you give this recipe a try!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for helping me out!

  6. InTolerantChef on September 29th, 2011 7:48 pm

    This sounds like something we had over here called Rice-a-Riso, that was a mix of rice and risoni pasta with powdered stuff in a box that you would then cook the same way as this. I’m sure yours is much tastier and much healthier!

    • Shirley on October 2nd, 2011 12:31 am

      Hi InTolerant Chef–See … I told you that you are always sharing new terms with me–thanks! I have to say that I kind of like that name, too; it’s memorable. ;-) This does taste better than any other similar dishes I’ve ever had.


  7. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat on September 29th, 2011 10:27 pm

    I grew UP on Hamburger Helper, and I can guarantee that yours tastes sooooo much better! Love the idea of keeping ground beef in frozen pouches for quick skillet dinners. We can always count on you for quick, easy solutions!

    • Shirley on October 2nd, 2011 8:11 pm

      Heather–Finally … someone who has lots of experieince with the boxed stuff. I’d say that you really need to do a review of my recipe, but I suppose you’d be pretty certain even without trying … if you know what I mean. ;-)

      Yes, whenever I have the ready-to-go ground meat, I pat myself on the back. Dinner comes together so quickly. Tacos are probably our favorite way to use a package of frozen ground beef/venison/turkey. :-)

      Thanks for the kind words, dear!

  8. Carol, Simply...Gluten-free on September 30th, 2011 9:29 am

    One pan meals were a Godsend on a weeknight when I was raising my boys – this looks delish!

    • Shirley on October 2nd, 2011 8:14 pm

      Hi Carol–Thanks for sharing your experience as a mom! :-) I think everyone can appreciate the beauty of one pan meals. You know … the frozen food manufacturers sure do market that concept well. I love sharing how we can create such meals at home and feed our families quickly, easily, frugally, and gluten free, too. ;-)

      Thanks, dear! xo,

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