Instant Pot Hamburger Helper With Rice (Dairy-Free)

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper With Rice – a dairy-free, healthier version of classic Hamburger Helper for an amazingly filling dinner.

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper - Dairy-free hamburger helper with rice made in the pressure cooker. Easy, filling, delicious!

When I was a kid, I had the metabolism of a wolverine. Protein, carb and fat-rich meals that stick to your ribcage like Lasagna, Tuna Noodle Casserole, and Hamburger Helper were some of my favorites because I was guaranteed to feel full after those dinners – a rare occasion indeed.

And Hamburger Helper? The relationship was fiery.

There’s something very nostalgic about a childhood meal and most of us begin craving comfort foods in the fall and winter when the weather gets chilly.

Or in my case, all the time. Girl loves to feel FULL! 

Enter: Homemade Hamburger Helper.

What is Hamburger Helper?:

Most of you are already very familiar, but in case you’ve never tried it, Hamburger Helper is a beefy noodle dish in a creamy seasoned sauce, resulting in a dinner that just sticks straight to your ribcage. It is DELICIOUS. 

In order to make iconic Hamburger Helper at home using ingredients that sit well with me, I took many liberties so that I could create a meal I felt good serving both myself and others. This is how it goes..

Instant Pot Dairy-Free Homemade Hamburger Helper with Rice - a cleaner version of Hamburger Helper made in the pressure cooker

How This Recipe Differs From Traditional Hamburger Helper:

  • First and foremost, there is no pasta involved. I swapped it out for rice.
  • The recipe is entirely dairy-free, but you can easily use milk/cream and/or cheese (see Recipe Adaptations) section below.
  • Made in an Instant Pot! Traditionally, my parents made hamburger helper on the stove top, and sometimes finished it off in the oven with more cheese. This recipe requires almost zero effort, hovering, minimal cleanup, and is so QUICK and easy!

Now that you have some background information and know how we’re firing out Version 2.0, lets dive into more details..

Ingredients for Hamburger Helper:

Rice: As mentioned above, I use rice instead of noodles in this Hamburger Helper recipe. I use white basmati rice, which I soak ahead of time so that it gets nice and soft during the pressure cooking process. The end result is a very thick and creamy sauce which absorbs nicely into the rice such that you’re left with an extremely comforting dish that is sure to fill you up for hours.

You can start the recipe by soaking the rice and chop the onion and garlic and begin sauteeing while the rice is soaking. BOOM! Multi-tasking.

Avocado Oil: Used for sauteing the onion and browning the beef, I like using avocado oil because it has a high smoke point and won’t burn while cooking.

Onion & Garlic: Mandatory for adding a lot of comforting flavor to Hamburger Helper. Don’t skip them unless you’re intolerant to them!

Ground Beef:  The all star ingredient of Hamburger Helper is – you guessed it – ground beef! I love using grass-fed ground beef or elk, but you can also go with ground turkey if that’s your preference.

Seasonings: Dried oregano, dried thyme, ground paprika, and sea salt bring nice herby underlying flavor that you don’t necessarily detect but makes the meal more enticing.

Sauce: Beef Broth, Tomato Sauce, and Coconut Milk: This combination results in creamy, tangy sauce that happens to be dairy-free. Tomato sauce is paramount in providing an acidic, tangy balance to the creamy coconut milk. You can use red pasta sauce or replace the tomato sauce with a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. Even diced tomatoes work!

Coconut milk takes the place of milk and cheese in this recipe to give it that iconic creaminess.  You will need a total of 3 cups of coconut milk, which is about 1.5 cans. I use full-fat canned coconut milk to be sure the recipe turns out nice and creamy, but you can go with light coconut milk if that’s your preference.

Cider Vinegar: In order to add a cheesy flavor to the meal, cider vinegar is here to the rescue! When combined with coconut milk, cider vinegar yields the flavor of buttermilk, cheese, or cream. You can use lemon juice or rice vinegar as a replacement.

Now that we’re experts on the ingredients, let’s get into the meat of the recipe (buhdumching).

Pressure Cooker Hamburger Helper made with rice. Dairy-free and easy to make in the Instant Pot

How to Make Instant Pot Hamburger Helper With Rice:

Soak the rice for at least 10 minutes before beginning the recipe. It can soak while the onion is sautéing. (Note: be sure to drain it fully before using).

Add the avocado oil to your Instant Pot and press the Sauté button. Allow it to heat up for a couple of minutes.

Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent and edges begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

Saute the onion in the instant pot

Add the ground beef and brown for 2 minutes per side before breaking it into smaller pieces using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

Brown the beef in an instant pot

Stir in the dried herbs and sea salt.

Seasoning for Hamburger Helper

Add the seasoning to the beef

Add in the (soaked and drained) white rice and stir well.

Add the white rice

Pour in the broth, tomato sauce,1 whole can of coconut milk, cider vinegar, and pure maple syrup . Stir well.

Add the broth, tomato sauce, and coconut milk

Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and press Manual. Adjust the time setting for 10 minutes and be sure the steam vent is sealed. 

Once the pressure cooker goes through its full course, allow it to naturally release (go into keep warm mode) for 5 minutes.

Manually release any remaining pressure using the quick release valve.

Stir the hamburger helper well, and give it a taste. Add more sea salt to taste and if desired, add 1 more cup off full-fat canned coconut milk and stir well. Do note that as the hamburger helper sits, the more the rice will absorb moisture, so if you like your helper on the saucy side, be sure to add some additional coconut milk (or broth) even if you don’t think you need it.

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper with Rice - dairy-free, easy to make and comforting

If desired, stir in 1 to 2 cups mild cheddar or jack cheese (assuming you do dairy).

Serve and enjoy!

Stove Top Instructions:

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can still make this recipe using a large pot (preferably a Dutch Oven) on the stove top!

Soak the rice for at least 10 minutes before beginning the recipe. It can soak while the onion is sautéing. (Note: be sure to drain it fully before using).

Add the avocado oil to your Dutch Oven or stock pot and heat over medium-high.  

Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent and edges begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground beef and brown for 2 minutes per side before breaking it into smaller pieces using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

Stir in the dried herbs and sea salt. Add in the soaked and drained white rice and stir well. Pour in the broth, tomato sauce,1 whole can of coconut milk, cider vinegar, and pure maple syrup . Stir well.

Cover the pot and bring mixture to a full boil. After it has come to a full boil, reduce the heat to low and cook (no peeking!) for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove the lid and stir well. Taste the hamburger helper and add sea salt to taste. If desired, add 1 more cup off full-fat canned coconut milk and stir well. Note: as the hamburger helper sits, the more the rice will absorb moisture, so if you like your helper on the saucy side, be sure to add some additional coconut milk (or broth) even if you don’t think you need it.

If desired, stir in 1 to 2 cups mild cheddar or jack cheese (assuming you do dairy).

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Adaptations:

  • This recipe makes A LOT of food! Cut it in half if serving 4 individuals and you don’t want leftovers.
  • If you do dairy, replace the canned coconut milk with 2 cups whole milk or cream (if you’re a real hero) and add 1 to 2 cups of grated cheese once the hamburger helper has finished cooking. The end result of the richness/creaminess is entirely up to you!
  • Replace ground beef with ground turkey. If you do so, consider adding an extra tablespoon of avocado oil, as ground turkey is very lean and will not be as flavorful.
  • Add ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes for a little heat
  • Replace the tomato sauce with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste or 1 drained 15-oz can of diced tomatoes if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Omit the pure maple syrup to keep this entirely sugar-free.

More Instant Pot Meals:

Hamburger Helper With Rice at your service!

My cookbook, Paleo Power Bowls, is now available! CLICK HERE to check it out. Thank you for your support!

If you make this recipe, please feel free to share a photo and tag @TheRoastedRoot on Instagram!

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper - Dairy-free hamburger helper with rice made in the pressure cooker. Easy, filling, delicious!

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef, hamburger helper, white rice
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Julia

Dairy-Free Instant Pot Hamburger Helper with Rice - a clean and easy approach to hamburger helper.

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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cups white rice soaked and drained
  • 1 (15-oz) can full-fat coconut milk + 1 cup for serving, optional**
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak the rice for at least 10 minutes before beginning the recipe. It can soak while the onion is sautéing. (Note: be sure to drain it fully before using).

  2. Add the avocado oil to your Instant Pot and press the Sauté button. Allow it to heat up for a couple of minutes.

  3. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent and edges begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the ground beef and brown for 2 minutes per side before breaking it into smaller pieces using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir in the dried herbs and sea salt.

  5. Add in the soaked and drained white rice and stir well.

  6. Pour in the broth, tomato sauce,1 whole can of coconut milk, and cider vinegar. Stir well.

  7. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and press Manual. Adjust the time setting for 10 minutes and be sure the steam vent is sealed.

  8. Once the pressure cooker goes through its full course, allow it to naturally release (go into keep warm mode) for 5 minutes. Manually release any remaining pressure using the quick release valve.

  9. Stir the hamburger helper well, and give it a taste. Add more sea salt to taste and if desired, add 1 more cup off full-fat canned coconut milk and stir well. Do note that as the hamburger helper sits, the more the rice will absorb moisture, so if you like your helper on the saucy side, be sure to add some additional coconut milk (or broth) even if you don’t think you need it.

  10. If desired, add 1 to 2 cups of grated mild cheddar or jack cheese once the Hamburger Helper is fully cooked and stir well.

Recipe Notes

**At a minimum, you will need one can of full-fat coconut milk for this recipe. I suggest buying two cans so that you may add 1 additional cup of coconut milk at the end.

 

You can add 1 to 2 cups of grated cheddar and/or jack cheese once the hamburger helper has finished cooking if you'd like.

Instant Pot Hamburger Helper with Rice - gluten-free, dairy-free, healthy version of the classic recipe. A delicious comforting and healthy dinner recipe

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Comments

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Laura!

      I bet it can be made easily on the stove top! I would follow all of the same instructions using a large stock pot (a Dutch oven would be best if you have one), and instead of pressure cooking, simply bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, as though you were making a regular pot of rice. Does that make sense? Let me know if you have any other questions! xoxoxo

      Reply
  1. Jennifer

    i just made this and OH MY!!!!! Julia, this is amazing. its comfort food without all the headaches and guilt for not eating well.

    Wowie!

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      YES! I’m so thrilled you made and enjoyed it! I absolutely love how flavorful and filling it is…definitely one I’m putting on repeat! xoxox Much love, m’dear!

      Reply
  2. Sara W

    I want to make this but I only have long grain brown rice on hand and won’t have any time to get out to do any shopping for over a week. 🙁 But I really want to try it!! Any tips please on adjustments to liquids amounts and cooking time if I were to make it with brown rice instead?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Sara!

      You can use brown rice for sure! I definitely recommend soaking it as long as you can (1 hour minimum, up to 24 hours). Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes and allow it to naturally release for 8 to 10 (leaving it longer is fine too 😀 ) Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Jennifer!

      Ooh, that’s a great question! My guess is yes, although I’m not sure how inviting the texture will be. I think if you enjoy the texture of quinoa, it will turn out fine, but if you feel quinoa needs some extra love, it may not be the best adaptation. Let me know if you try it! xoxo

      Reply

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