Move aside, Hamburger Helper, this one pan bacon cheeseburger ground beef pasta combines extra lean beef with pasta shells, burger sauce, and two layers of cheese to make a skillet full of deliciousness. It’s easily customizable to be as healthy or hearty as your, well, heart desires.
Putting the Bacon in Bacon Cheeseburger Ground Beef Pasta
Like many great recipes before it, this pasta and ground beef combo starts with pan frying bacon. The recipe calls for center cut (and leans lower calorie), but any bacon works.
Dicing the raw bacon and starting it in a cold pan allows the fat to render gradually, creating the optimal environment for evenly crispy bacon.
The remaining bacon fat is the perfect canvas for diced onion. If you’re looking for a shortcut and less prep, my original cheeseburger ground chicken pasta recipe uses onion powder in place of freshly diced onion.
Once the onion picks up some color after a minute or two, it’s time to make room for the ground beef. I like to add the salt and pepper on top of the beef while it hangs out for a few minutes browning on the first side.
Once you’ve achieved a nice crust on the bottom, break it apart and mix everything together to finish cooking the beef. It’s a simple base that doesn’t require any additional seasoning.
But don’t worry, the burger sauce flavor bomb is coming.
Pasta vs Impasta
The recipe calls for pasta shells, and I typically use a higher protein chickpea pasta like Banza for lower calorie recipes like this. But as you may be able to tell in the photo below, plain ol’ wheat pasta shells work great as well.
The calorie differences between chickpea pasta and wheat pasta are minimal. But the carbohydrate, fiber, and protein content vary quite a bit. If you’re not concerned about calorie or macronutrient content, go with classic pasta shells.
What about elbows? Yeah, I guess those would work fine, but I prefer shells due to their ability to hold little pockets of beefy burger goodness.
Burger Sauce and Cheese
Once your pasta hits the just shy of al dente phase, it’s time for the burger sauce and cheese. You can get creative with your sauce. I like to add pickled jalapeño instead of relish for a spicy kick. Have fun!
There should be a little remaining beef broth or cooking liquid as the sauce and cheese go in. The starch from the pasta will work wonders for making a perfectly creamy cheese sauce.
I like to split the cheese into two portions. One for going in with the sauce, and one for broiling or melting on top of the ground beef pasta. Melting it on top makes for a more appealing dish and creates some great added texture.
Of course, you could throw all the cheese in at once and serve your creamy ground beef pasta just like that. Just don’t forget the crispy bacon pieces and a little garnish of fresh parsley and more relish or diced jalapeño peppers.
What to Serve with Ground Beef Pasta
Speaking of Hamburger Helper, you could treat this hamburger pasta combo in a similar fashion as far as pairings go. Here’s a handful of ideas:
- Grilled Bread or Garlic Bread
- Air Fried Green Beans or Brussels Sprouts
- Simple Garden Salad
- Dinner Rolls
- Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
You get the picture. Add vegetables are great, but bread is essential.
And that should be everything you need to know. Have a question I forgot to answer? Leave it in the comments at the bottom of this post. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy your cheesy hamburger and bacon pasta!
Before you get to the printable recipe card below. I’d like to highlight another awesome meat sauce option in my pumpkin bolognese. It’s a high volume sauce that you can use to make classic pasta, mac and cheese, melts, and more.
- 3 slices Center Cut Bacon, diced
- 1 Sweet Onion, finely diced
- 1 pound Ground Beef (96/4)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 8 oz Pasta Shells*
- 2 1/2 cups Beef Broth
- 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
For the Burger Sauce
- 1/4 cup Sugar Free Ketchup
- 3 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Light Mayo
- 2 Tablespoons Diced Pickled Jalapeño or Relish
For the Cheese
- 6 oz Shredded Colby Jack or Cheddar Cheese, divided
- Mix the burger sauce ingredients together and set aside. Turn on your oven's broiler.
- Add the bacon to a cold pan over medium-high heat. Once cooked, transfer to a paper towel and add the onion to the rendered bacon fat.
- Stir and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes.
- Push to one side of the pan and brown the ground beef on one side in the other half. Add the salt and pepper, break the beef apart, mix with the onions, and fully cook.
- Once the beef is fully cooked, add the broth and Worcestershire. Stir everything together before adding the pasta shells.
- Cook for 6 minutes until the pasta is just shy of al dente before turning off the heat. Add the burger sauce and 4 oz of cheese. Stir everything together and top with the cooked bacon and remaining 2 oz of cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
*Nutrition facts calculated with Banza pasta shells (higher protein chickpea pasta).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: about 8 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 365Total Fat: 16gCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 26g