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A generous serving of creamy beef and shells on a spoon with two bowls of it in the background.

Creamy Beef and Shells

  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Total Time: 4-6


Creamy beef and shells is a rich and cheesy homemade spin on and flavor-packed upgrade from Hamburger Helper’s hearty family meal.


Units Scale
  • 8 oz. medium pasta shells, about 2 cups
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Brown the ground beef in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until cooked, making sure to break up any clumps. Remove beef and set aside. Drain any excess grease from the pot.
  3. Saute onions in some olive oil until soft. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add flour, cook and stir for about 1 minute.
  5. Pour in the beef broth and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.
  6. Season with paprika, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Reduce heat to medium and add in heavy cream. Simmer gently until the sauce has reduced a little and is thick and creamy, about 5-8 minutes.
  8. Add in beef and pasta and stir gently until the pasta is well coated and heated through.
  9. Stir in cheese until the cheese melts smoothly into the sauce. Do a taste test and adjust seasonings as needed.
  10. Dish and serve hot.
  11. Enjoy!


  • Make it richer – Add some sour cream or cream cheese for more flavor and a richer sauce.
  • Change the protein – Substitute ground beef with ground Italian sausage, ground chicken, or ground turkey.
  • Add some veggies – Add some vegetables like peas, broccoli, or red bell peppers.
  • Add some heat – Add a few shakes of crushed red pepper to spice it up a little.
  • Make it smoky – Try a few dashes of smoked paprika to smoke things up.
  • Add some color – Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or green onions before serving.
  • Scroll up to RECIPE TIPS for more useful tips, suggestions and ingredient substitutions.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins