A healthy homemade hamburger helper inspired recipe using cauliflower gnocchi with ground beef, delicious spices and flavors, that come together for the perfect one pot meal.
Everyone loves a good comfort food meal that’s served straight out of one large skillet. One pan meals mean less dishes and easy serving for the whole family too.
I will confess, I never actually grew up eating boxed Hamburger Helper. But, I had this idea for a while now using Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi to create a healthier homemade version in place of traditional pasta.
Cauliflower gnocchi is incredibly versatile as a healthier alternative. It’s worked incredibly well in my cauliflower gnocchi nachos, pizza gnocchi skillet, and even this delicious cauliflower gnocchi chicken soup.
This recipe was made in 30 minutes, uses fresh ingredients, spices, and lean ground beef and works so well for a fast and easy dinner. Not to mention, it makes the perfect meal prep or leftovers to have throughout the week.
Grab all the recipe details, options for ingredient substitutions and more below. Let’s dive in.
- Large Skillet (I used my everyday Le Creuset Dutch oven pan)
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Measuring cups and Spoons
- Ground Beef: I used lean ground beef for this recipe but you could also sub with ground turkey if you prefer.
- Cauliflower Gnocchi: You can find this style of gnocchi in many health food stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and more. Swap with regular gnocchi if desired.
- Olive Oil: This will help crisp your cauliflower gnocchi as well as help with cooking your veggies and beef.
- Onion: Use yellow onion for this recipe, diced small.
- Fresh Garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can sub with garlic powder and add to your spice rub. However, fresh always adds more ample flavor and is my favorite way to go.
- Spices: Paprika, Chili Powder, Salt, and Pepper
- Tomato Sauce: Use canned tomato sauce or a jar sauce. I liked Rao’s brand because it’s a little lower carb and has a ton of flavor already (which brings more to the dish).
- Beef Broth: Standard beef broth works best here.
- Heavy Cream: You only need a little for this recipe, but if you prefer half and half or a dairy free milk, feel free to substitute here or use additional beef broth instead.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese: Adds a creamy texture and flavor to give it that traditional hamburger helper flavor.
One Pot Preparation:
This obviously isn’t the most complicated dish because it can be made efficiently and all in one pan, and I love one pan meals (like this easy skillet pork stroganoff). That being said, I do have some helpful tips for the best recipe outcome!
Start by preheating your pan (I used a Dutch oven) to medium high heat to sear and brown the cauliflower gnocchi. I find that pan frying it in olive oil and stirring occasionally over a 6-8 minute period works best.
You want the gnocchi to be golden brown but not over cooked. Be careful the gnocchi doesn’t stick too much to the bottom. If you get some browning on the pan, no stress it will deglaze!
If you plan on using traditional potato gnocchi instead, you will need to bring it to a boil first before sautéing it. You do not need to boil cauliflower gnocchi!
Once the gnocchi has browned, remove it from the pan for the moment and set it aside. To the pan, add in a little more olive oil and add the onions and garlic.
Sauté the veggies for a few minutes until tender and translucent then add the ground beef. Sauté your ground beef and season it with salt and pepper at this point to amp up the flavor.
After the beef has cooked through, add you paprika and chili powder. Allow the spices to cook with this mixture and become aromatic.
Next you will want to deglaze the pan. Pour in the beef broth to start and use the spatula to scrap against the bottom of the pan. This adds flavor and will also help slightly thicken the mixture.
To this you can add in your tomato sauce and heavy cream. Sir everything together until fully combined and lightly bubbly. Make sure your ground beef is broken up nicely as well.
After all the ingredients have been added to your pot (the cauliflower gnocchi should still be sitting off to the side) you should slowly add in the cheddar cheese.
Adding it in a little at a time allows it to fully melt and help thicken the beef mixture. When your cheese is fully added, toss all the crispy cauliflower gnocchi back into the pot and fold it all together.
Serve the whole pot up with a little parsley for color if desired and dig on in.
How long can you keep in your fridge?
This tastes best reheated within 3-5 days but should be good to eat for up to 7 days after cooking. Store in a container and reheat on half power in your microwave for a few minutes until heated through.
Cauliflower Gnocchi Cheeseburger Skillet
- 1 Bag Frozen Cauliflower Gnocchi
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Small Onion diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 Lb. Ground Beef
- 1 tsp. Paprika
- 1 tsp. Chili Powder
- 1/3 cup Beef Broth
- 1/4 cup Tomato Sauce (I used Rao's)
- 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese shredded
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat 1 tbsp. of the olive oil into a Dutch oven pan or skillet to medium heat and pour in the frozen cauliflower gnocchi (it doesn't need to be boiled first like traditional gnocchi).
- Let it cook in the skillet 5 minutes or so until all sides are nice and golden brown, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the pan. Remove once brown and set aside.
- Using the same skillet, add the remaining oil and then add your onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until aromatic then add the ground beef.
- Cook the ground beef all the way through until brown and season with some salt, pepper, and then add in the paprika and chili powder. Cook for an additional minute.
- Next, add in the beef broth. If you have browning on the bottom of your pan use your spatula and the liquid from the beef broth to scrap and deglaze the pan at this time as well.
- Add in the tomato sauce and heavy cream. Stir until everything is thoroughly combined.
- Slowly add the shredded cheese in, a little at a time and mix it so it melts. Repeat until the cheese is fully incorporated.
- Toss the browned cauliflower gnocchi back into the skillet and fold it in gently so it's one mixture. Remove from the heat and serve!