Meals in a box like Hamburger Helper are tasty and comforting for the whole family. What makes them so special? Not only are they quick to make, but you can still make them if they are missing a key ingredient. Well, a key element in many Hamburger Helper products is milk. But what if you’re out of milk or trying to avoid dairy? Does that mean your dinner dreams are over?
The good news is that making a flavorful and delicious hamburger helper is possible without cow’s milk. You can easily substitute it with other ingredients like water or broth. This quick and easy swap allows you to still enjoy the delicious flavor of classic American dishes without the hassle of finding a substitution.
So, can you make a hamburger helper without milk?
Let’s say you ran out of milk at your mountain lodge and forgot to bring some. Can you still make a Hamburger Helper? The answer is yes! You can use water, broth, or even cream in place of the milk. However, using the cream will produce a thicker sauce and richer flavor.
So if you’re looking for that classic American meal but don’t have access to any dairy products, you can still enjoy a delicious Hamburger Helper with your unique twist. Experiment with different recipes and ingredients, and you may find a new favorite meal!
With Hamburger Helper, anything is possible. All it takes is some ground beef, seasoning, liquid of your choice, pasta, and creativity to create fantastic comfort food that your whole family can enjoy. So don’t worry if you forgot the milk at home, or even if you can’t find it in your mountain lodge – with Hamburger Helper, you’ll still be able to make a delicious meal in no time!
The good news is that you have a variety of options.
Option 1 A cup of red wine
A few surprises are inside the packet of mystery powder in every Hamburger Helper box. All one needs to make a delicious meal is the box’s contents, some ground beef or turkey, and water or broth – no milk required!
The seasoning mix inside the box includes spices such as beef bouillon, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and other herbs and spices, and a thickening agent. Some varieties also include cheese powder for added flavor. Regardless of what you use in place of the milk, the magic packet will guarantee a thick and flavorful sauce that will coat the pasta and ground beef or turkey.
Follow these steps:
Sauté mushrooms and carrots until tender and put them aside. Sauté one finely diced yellow onion just before it caramelizes. Set aside.
Brown 1 pound of ground beef or turkey in a pan and season with some dried thyme; keep it simple; remember, salt is plenty in that magic packet. Brown the meat until cooked through, stirring occasionally.
Put the vegetables back into the pot, add a cup of red wine like Merlot, Pinot Noir, or a Chianti or you can use (unsalted) broth if you are avoiding alcohol, and let it reduce until nearly dry (but not too dried).
Add 2 cups of hot water and the contents of the Hamburger Helper packet, stirring to combine. Turn the heat down after bringing it to a boil. Cover with a lid and let it simmers for 10 minutes until the pasta is just al dente. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or pepper as desired.
Add a couple of tablespoons of butter at the end. Turn off the heat. Serve up with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. That’s right, Beef Bourguignon Helper! Enjoy your delicious, comforting meal without milk.
Enjoy a delicious, hearty meal with a twist! Instead of red wine, use white wine. It adds a subtle flavor that can turn an ordinary dish into something extraordinary. You’ll get the same great taste without worrying about running out of milk. Plus, it’s great to use any extra white wine left in the fridge. Make sure you use enough liquid to get the right consistency, and don’t add too much, or it can overpower the other flavors in your dish.
Option 2 A can of beer
Let’s say you don’t have any wine; what do you do?
The first thing to do is caramelize a bunch of yellow onions in a skillet. You can do this with a bit of oil, butter, or even just some cooking spray. Caramelizing the onions will give your meal an incredible depth of flavor and add some much-needed sweetness.
Once you have the onions caramelized, remove them from the pan. It’s time to bring out the ground beef, brown the meat and finish with thyme and bay leaf.
You can bring back the caramelized onions in the pan with the browned beef. Pour in a can of beer and reduce the liquid to almost dry. Why reduce the beer to nearly dry? As a result, the meal will be incredibly flavorful.
What kind of beer to use?
Any beer you have on hand, whatever tickles your fancy. Any beer will work fine, from lagers to ales, as long as you reduce it down until almost dry.
Meantime, let’s get the pasta cooking in a separate pot. Remember to season with salt. Al dente is the way to go! Add the pasta to the beef and beer mixture as soon as it is ready.
Now, with the beer-and-onion mixture reduced, add your Hamburger Helper packet mix and some water or broth. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it do its thing, occasionally stirring to prevent sticking.
Finally, add the cooked pasta to the beef mixture and stir it together. Turn off the heat and add some butter for extra richness and creaminess. You can also season the dish with salt and pepper if needed. Top it with some grated cheese for a delicious finish!
It’s time to enjoy your meal! Serve with a side of steamed vegetables and some crusty bread – if you forgot to bring milk home, this might be one of those meals.
Are you looking for a creamy finish? Add some cream or half and half to the mix. This will give your dish extra velvety richness and cut through any bitterness in the beer.
Option 3 Diced tomatoes or tomato paste
Let’s say you don’t have any of those things mentioned above. Is there a can of diced tomatoes or tomato paste in your pantry?
Caramelize the onions. Set aside. Then brown the beef, throw in some garlic, and add your favorite spices like cumin, oregano, basil, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, etc., and season it to taste.
Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes to the meat mixture. Stir in the Hamburger helper packet mix. Add some water or low-sodium broth, add the pasta, and simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente and the sauce has thickened.
If you have a can of beans. Throw them in the last few minutes of cooking. Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread for a complete meal!
Other alternatives for milk to use for hamburger helper
Whether you’re trying to simplify Hamburger Helper or just looking for a substitute for milk to add to the mix, there are plenty of options. Here are just a few ideas that can work:
1 Substitute water + butter:
Since you already have pasta and meat in the ingredients, adding water instead of milk is also an option. This might make a slightly less creamy dish, but still tasty enough when appropriately cooked.
What’s the ratio to use:
If you want the fat content as close as possible to milk, use one tablespoon of butter and mix it with every cup of water to maintain that 1:1 ratio.
2 Use broth:
For a more flavorful meal, replace the milk with your favorite type of broth. The broth is rich in proteins and minerals and adds a nice flavor to the dish without overpowering its other ingredients. Plus, it won’t change the fat content too much, so it’s an excellent choice for those who want to keep their meal as healthy as possible.
What types of broth to use:
The type of broth that you choose will depend on your preference. For example, beef or chicken broths are popular, but vegetable broths can also work with the right spices and herbs.
What’s the ratio to use:
When replacing the milk with broth, always use the same volume, so use one cup of broth for every cup of milk that your recipe calls for.
3 Cream cheese
Cream cheese adds a delicious creamy texture to the dish. It also provides additional fat and protein, which makes the meal more satisfying. Additionally, it has a milder flavor than milk, making it ideal for dishes like a hamburger helper that don’t need a strong dairy flavor.
Plus, most people have cream cheese in their refrigerator, so they can grab it and go! So, if you need a substitute for milk in your quick and easy dinner, reach for cream cheese. You won’t be disappointed!
What’s the ratio to use:
Instead of using the recommended amount of milk, use half a cup of softened cream cheese and up to ¼ cup water for every 1 part of milk called for in the recipe. It makes a delicious creamy sauce that pairs perfectly with the seasonings and noodles of Hamburger Helper.
To help incorporate it all together, whisk the mixture until smooth and creamy. Add ¼ cup sour cream and cream cheese if you want something more decadent. Now, you will have a deliciously creamy and cheesy Hamburger Helper that your whole family will love! With this substitute, you don’t have to worry about running out of milk while cooking dinner.
With a little creativity, you can create flavorful meals with just about any ingredients. For example, add some grated cheese or diced tomatoes to add flavor, texture, and color to your dish. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other ingredients as well.
4 Evaporated milk
Evaporated milk is a great substitute for regular milk when making Hamburger Helper. It’s thick and creamy and adds just the right amount of richness without being too heavy. Plus, it helps bind all the flavors together in the dish.
Since evaporated milk has been cooked down and is typically canned, you don’t have to worry about it spoiling or going bad. All you need is a can of evaporated milk, and you’re ready to make a delicious, comforting meal in no time! Plus, evaporated milk has a slightly sweeter flavor compared to regular milk, which helps add an extra layer of depth to the dish.
What’s the ratio to use:
Use a 1:1 ratio of evaporated milk to regular milk. So, for every cup of regular milk that the recipe calls for, you can use one cup of evaporated milk instead. Remember to adjust for the extra thickness in the dish by adding a bit more liquid if necessary. With this easy swap, your hamburger helper dinner will surely be a hit!
5 Sour cream
You won’t believe how delicious your dish will turn out with just a few spoonfuls of sour cream! Sour cream provides a richness and depth of flavor that milk can’t offer, making for an even more delicious meal. Its high-fat content also helps to thicken the sauce, ensuring it has the perfect consistency to coat all the pasta in your dish. Plus, sour cream adds a subtle tangy taste that’s surprisingly complementary when paired with the classic hamburger helper spices.
What’s the ratio to use:
A mixture of 75% sour cream to 25% water is the best ratio when substituting milk for sour cream at a 1:1 ratio. This combination will create a creamy sauce perfect for coating the pasta in your dish. Additionally, the consistency won’t be too thick that it’s hard to stir and mix with other ingredients.
6 Heavy cream
Heavy cream is a fatty dairy product that adds richness and thickness to the Hamburger Helper. It can help create a fuller, creamier texture in dishes. Heavy cream also contains approximately 20 percent butterfat, and when added to the recipe, it will bring out more flavor, making your meal tastier and richer.
What’s the ratio to use:
To replace one cup of cow’s milk, use ½ cup of heavy cream and ½ cup of water. This will create the same creamy texture as straight dairy in the recipe.
Adjusting the amount of seasoning or spices in your dish when using heavy cream is unnecessary – go with what the recipe calls for. However, you may need to reduce the cooking time slightly as heavy cream can take longer to cook into the dish.
If you use heavy cream in your recipe, we recommend topping your dish with extra cheese or fresh herbs for a flavor boost! Enjoy!
7 Greek plain yogurt
Greek plain yogurt has a thick consistency similar to sour cream but with much lower fat content and more protein. The texture of Greek yogurt makes it an excellent substitute for milk in recipes such as Hamburger Helper.
It will provide the same creamy texture as milk but without the added calories, making it a healthier choice. Plus, it helps thicken the dish, giving it a creamier and thicker consistency. The Greek yogurt also adds an extra boost of flavor to your meal. This makes it an incredibly delicious alternative to milk!
What’s the ratio to use:
To substitute the 1:1 ratio of milk called for in the recipe, use 75% plain greek yogurt + 25% water. This combination will provide an equal amount of liquid as the milk and have a similar texture. The water helps thin out the Greek yogurt to make it easier to work with. Depending on your desired consistency, you can adjust the ratio accordingly.
What about other substitutes?
Some people prefer to avoid dairy entirely and may want to substitute a non-dairy alternative.
Here are some great options to try in place of milk:
1 Oat milk:
Oat milk is creamy and thick, providing a similar texture to cow’s milk. It also has a mildly sweet flavor which will be just enough to make your hamburger helper even more delicious!
Does it alter the taste?
Not really – it will still taste the same as if you’d used cow’s milk. The slight sweetness of oat milk adds a hint of flavor to the dish, making it even more enjoyable!
Ratio to use:
Use a 1:1 ratio of oat milk when replacing cow’s milk in the hamburger helper recipe.
You can add a teaspoon of butter to make it even more creamy and flavorful!
The main benefit of using oat milk instead of cow’s milk is that it is dairy-free, making the dish suitable for those with lactose intolerance or other dietary restrictions. It also adds a slight
2 Coconut Milk:
You’ll notice a strong coconut flavor that stands out but also offers a strong base flavor. Coconut milk has a rich, creamy flavor that adds a unique sweetness to the savory dish. Its creamy texture helps to thicken the sauce and make it more hearty.
Coconut milk also works great as a dairy-free alternative, allowing individuals with certain allergies or dietary restrictions to enjoy the dish. Lastly, coconut milk can be found in various forms, such as canned or powdered, making it easy to pick up and use.
Ratio to use:
Generally, use a 1:1 ratio; however, if you prefer less coconut flavor, you can use slightly more or less coconut milk depending on your taste.
It is important to note that using coconut milk instead of cow’s milk may change the cooking time and texture of the dish. It can also reduce the amount of fat compared to using cow’s milk.
3 Almond milk (unsweetened)
Even though almond milk is slightly thinner than cow’s, you can still use it to make a delicious and creamy hamburger helper dish. You’ll notice that the almond milk adds a slightly nutty flavor to the meal, which can be pretty enjoyable.
Plus, its natural sweetness will offset any sourness from the cheese in the dish. Furthermore, it’s healthier than cow’s milk and is naturally lactose-free, making it perfect for those with allergies or intolerances. Just be sure to use unsweetened almond milk, as the sweetened variety will make the dish too sweet.
What ratio to use:
When using almond milk in the hamburger helper recipe, use a 1:1 ratio of almond milk instead of cow’s milk. This will ensure that the consistency of the dish is not compromised. However, if you prefer a thinner consistency in the final dish, try using slightly more almond milk than usual.
Tips for success:
When substituting almond milk for cow’s milk in your hamburger helper recipe, it’s important to remember that it won’t thicken the same way that cow’s milk does. To get the desired thickness, you’ll need to add additional thickening agents, such as flour or cornstarch. You can also try adding more cheese or a little cream for a richer flavor and texture.
Additionally, it’s best to use unsweetened almond milk in this recipe not to overwhelm the flavors of the other ingredients. Finally, remember to season your dish with salt and pepper! It will help bring out all the delicious flavors of your hamburger helper meal.
4 Soy milk (unsweetened)
Most people are familiar with soy milk, which can be controversial, depending on your views on soy. But soy milk can be an excellent alternative to replacing milk in a Hamburger Helper recipe. Soy milk is full of protein and calcium, so your meal will still contain essential nutrients even if you don’t have cows’ milk on hand.
Plus, soy milk won’t overpower the dish’s other flavors because of its mild flavor. It’s also lactose-free, so if you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity, this is an excellent way to get the same creamy texture without any adverse effects. It can also act as an emulsifier, binding all ingredients together. The consistency is usually thicker than almond or rice milk, adding a richer flavor to the dish. So grab some soy milk and give your hamburger helper an extra boost!
What ratio to use:
The amount of soy milk used to replace the cows’ milk in a hamburger helper recipe will depend on the type of dish you’re making. For a standard beef-based meal, use a 1:1 ratio of soy milk to cows’ milk. This means you would use 1 cup of soy milk for every cup of cow’s milk called for in the recipe. For a lighter dish, you may want to reduce this ratio and use ½ cup of soy milk for every 1 cup of cow’s milk. As always, adjust the amount according to your taste.
5 Cashew milk (unsweetened)
Cashew milk adds an extra layer of creaminess and richness to the dish. It is slightly thicker than cow’s milk, giving the recipe a nice creaminess.
Additionally, its unsweetened version is low in calories and fat while providing a great-tasting flavor to the final dish. You can also use it with other recipes like macaroni and cheese or casseroles to add flavor and moisture. And, unlike regular dairy milk, cashew milk is lactose-free and has much less fat, making it kinder to those who are lactose-intolerant or have dietary restrictions.
What’s the ratio to use:
Use a 1:1 ratio for the cashew milk, meaning one cup of cashew milk in place of one cup of regular dairy milk. This can be adjusted based on personal preference but should make a noticeable difference in flavor and texture.
If you want to give your meal an extra kick, consider adding some sautéed vegetables or a splash of hot sauce. This will add a nice flavor and texture to your dish and a healthy dose of vitamins. For extra creaminess, stir in a spoonful of sour cream or plain yogurt. That way, you’ll still get the creamy texture milk provides, but with a bonus!
Meals in a box are great because they’re easy to make and can be customized to suit different preferences. And with a few simple swaps like replacing milk with broth, you can easily transform a classic American dish into something extraordinary! So the next time you forget your milk at home, don’t fret – grab some broth and get cooking!
Tips on making hamburger helper taste better
- If you’re looking for a classic flavor, use broth instead of milk.
- If you want a richer flavor, use cream instead of milk.
- You can mix water and cream for an extra creamy dish to make the perfect sauce.
- And if you’re feeling adventurous, try experimenting with different spices or herbs to give your hamburger helper a unique flavor.
No matter what ingredients you have, Hamburger Helper is always a great way to make a quick and delicious meal for the whole family! So don’t let forgetting your milk stop you from enjoying this classic American dish. With just a few adjustments, you can make a delicious hamburger helper with the ingredients you have on hand. Give it a try and see what amazing creations you come up with!
How to make hamburger helper from scratch
One Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper is the perfect comfort food! It’s like the classic favorite Cheeseburger Macaroni we all know and love but made from scratch in one pot. This version is rich and cheesy and tastes much better than the boxed version. Best of all, it’s easy to make and perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.
One Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- ½ tbsp tomato paste (or 1 tbsp ketchup)
- add a pinch of sugar (for tomato paste)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- a pinch of cayenne
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1½ cups elbow macaroni
- 3½ cups broth (low-sodium) or water
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1 tsp hot sauce (optional)
Brown the beef:
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Remove grease from the pan.
Caramelize and add the seasoning:
- Upon browning the beef, reduce the heat and saute a finely diced yellow onion before it caramelizes.
- Keep the heat down and stir in the tomato paste (or ketchup), and sprinkle a pinch of sugar (optional). Add the seasonings, elbow macaroni, and broth to the pan and stir well to combine. You can add the hot sauce, but this is optional.
- Place a lid on the pot and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
- Take the pan off the heat and fold in the sour cream.
- Bring the pan back to a simmer and add the shredded cheese to the saucepan.
Please note that all nutrition information are just estimates. Values will vary among brands, so we encourage you to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.