Hamburger, Potato & Tomato Skillet Dinner: Easier! Faster!

If you’re looking for a quick, one-pan meal idea for hamburger, there’s no need to turn to a box on the shelf. My hamburger, potato & tomato skillet dinner is the most popular recipes on Urban Cottage Life and I’ve just made it even easier and faster for you! Where I live, the kids are heading back to school next week, and this is definitely the time to have an easy solution for dinner in your recipe collection.

Hamburger Skillet Dinner with Potatoes & Tomatoes | ©

We all need a few super-quick and -easy, family-approved dinners for those days when you have to get dinner on the table in a hurry without a lot of fuss. Yes, even empty-nester food bloggers!

When my kids were young, I used to buy that packaged dish that you add to a base of browned hamburger — you know the one! I mostly cooked simple meals from scratch, but I wasn’t above some shortcuts for convenience. And hey, something that all three kids liked was a dish to be repeated. A few years ago, though, I came up with a meal based on a similar idea, but entirely from scratch.

Hamburger, Potato & Tomato Skillet Dinner

A few years ago I noticed that my version of this hamburger skillet dinner was one of the most-viewed recipes on the blog. So, I took another look at the recipe and found a few ways to make it even easier and even faster. The whole thing is ready now in about 45 minutes, including prep time. And that’s with 25 minutes of cooking time during which you can set the table, read the mail, open a bottle of wine or beer … or do all three. Here are the improvements that make this popular recipe even better now.

Hamburger Skillet Dinner with Potatoes & Tomatoes | ©
  1. No peeling of the potatoes — just buy the cleanest ones you can find and give them a quick scrub.
  2. No pre-cooking of the potatoes — now I add a bit of water to the mixture and cook the potatoes completely in it.
  3. Cooking time is reduced by up to 15 minutes or so.

This Hamburger, Potato & Tomato Skillet Dinner is so satisfying … it’s comfort food that takes me back to my childhood and the days when my kids were little. And it makes a big amount of dinner. If you don’t have four people around your table, it’s the kind of dish that refrigerates well for a day or two and tastes even better reheated.

Hamburger Skillet Dinner with Potatoes & Tomatoes | ©
Hamburger, Potato & Tomato Skillet Dinner
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
If you’re comfortable multi-tasking in the kitchen, you can prep the veggies for this meal while browning the hamburger. If you’d rather focus more in the kitchen, no problem — just cut up the onions, garlic and potatoes and then move on to cooking the hamburger. 
Category: Main Course
Keyword: hamburger skillet dinner
Servings: 4 servings
Author: © Marlene Cornelis/Urban Cottage Life 2017 – 2019
  • 1 lb lean hamburger
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic  minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried red chili pepper, depending on your heat tolerance
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 28-oz can tomatoes, diced or whole
  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup water
How To Make This Recipe
  1. Place the hamburger in a large skillet with high sides (mine is 10 inches in diameter and about 3 inches deep), over fairly high heat. There's no need to add oil, and you can start with the skillet cold. Use a heat proof spatula to break up the meat, and move it around from time to time until it's browned. It doesn't have to be completely cooked at this stage, as it will continue to cook.

  2. Add the onion and garlic, and stir for a couple of minutes, until the onions start to turn translucent. Now add the tomato paste, along with the basil, oregano, pepper and salt and and cook, stirring, for a minute or so (this mellows that harsh rawness). No worries if a dark crust is starting to form on the bottom of the pan … that means flavour!
  3. Stir in the can of tomatoes with their juices, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen and incorporate all the goodness there into the mixture. Add the potatoes and water and stir again. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, checking a couple of times to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Check a potato cube for doneness — ideally they’ll be cooked through but not soft, but really, it’s how you like your potatoes that counts! If the potatoes are still too firm, cook for about 5 minutes more, adding a bit more water if the mixture seems too dry. If the mix seems too juicy, finish cooking with the lid off.
  4. And there you go, dinner is ready! Be prepared to dish out seconds.
Recipe Notes

About the hamburger … I’ve learned that not all lean ground beef is the same. When I buy it from my favourite market it’s not necessary to drain off any fat. I recently made this with hamburger from a different source, and it definitely was too fatty. Use your judgment!

A tip: buy tubes of tomato paste (yes, like toothpaste!). You can squeeze out the amount you need, recap and pop into the fridge until next time. I mean really, who ever uses up leftovers from those little cans?

More Easy Dinners …

Looking for another easy dinner but one that’s meatless? How about this Green Bean, Tomato and Chickpea Salad? If you have pasta on your mind, Pasta with Garlic, Red Chili & Lime is the most popular recipe on the site right now. And this Chicken, Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans substitutes beans for pasta with delicious and nutritious results.

First published 2017 05 29
Updated 2019 09 07
Republished 2020 09 10


      • Thanks for stopping by, Angela. By all means, you could use jarred pasta sauce. Your favourite brand would have all the seasonings that you like already incorporated. It’s all about tweaking a recipe so it works for you!

    • Looks great but can I use 1/4 lb of ground turkey and 1/4 lb of ground beef and 1 more potato?Also, can I use Italian seasoning that has marjoram and sage in addition to basil and oregano? I’m trying to cut down on meats and can’t have pepper.

      • The beauty of a recipe like this is that you can easily adapt it to meet your needs. I think the changes you’ve asked about could work well. Enjoy!

  1. Prepared this dish last week for dinner. Ron and I both loved it! Its quick and easy with ingredients that are always in my kitchen. I even served it right out of the skillet! Thanks, Marlene!

  2. I have made this several times now and am planning to make it today. I just wanted to say thanks. I have been looking for a dish to compare to my grandmother’s. she called it tomato gravy. This is the closest I have found.
    It is very good and my 48 year old daughter said finally,lol. And took it in her lunch the next day,too.

    • Oh wow, Laura, this is wonderful to hear. Thank you for letting me know! I’m glad my recipe brings back memories of your grandmother’s.

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