Old Fashioned Homemade Salisbury Steak with onion gravy is delicious classic comfort food. Homemade from scratch like grandma would cook, this is a quick and easy dinner the whole family will love.
Salisbury steak is a classic American dish with ground beef patties seasoned in various manors and served with brown gravy over mashed potatoes or noodles. Comfort food from out of the past.
This is another request by my wife, but this time, she even remembered the recipe for Salisbury steak and gravy she made, but details like exact measurements were missing. We both had the same vision.
After searching for an old-fashioned Salisbury steak recipe, she found one at Cincyshopper based on Pioneer Womans Salisbury Steak Meatballs.
All the right ingredients but not quite there—I had a plan, and it just needed a few touches. The recipe called for gravy mix and no onions in the gravy, but I can fix that. A few more changes and we both felt it was just right—the recipe we remembered.
An excellent comfort food. A high four or a low 5. I was in the mode for a classic, so a 5—all with just one pan.
🐄What is Salisbury Steak?
The odd history of Salisbury steak starts with Dr. Salisbury in the late 1800s. He advocated a meat-heavy for health. He also felt fruits and vegetables were not healthy. His version of Salisbury steak was quite different from what has evolved over the last hundred years.
Salisbury steak saw its heyday in the 1950s with frozen TV dinners. A horrible version usually served with carrots and peas. But grandma's homemade version was a wonderful treat that seemed unrelated to that frozen version.
Salisbury steak is similar to meatloaf in its spices and bread component. It can include egg, but this version does not. It differs from meatloaf in cooking method—fried patties vs. a loaf. And Salisbury steak is served with gravy, and meatloaf is usually topped with a tomato product like ketchup.
The term hamburger steak is sometimes used but incorrectly. It will not have starch as bread crumbs added. Hamburger steak is usually just basic seasoning with salt and pepper.
Lastly, some people confuse Salisbury steak with Swiss steak. But Swiss steak is made with real steak but usually a tougher cut like round or sirloin and then braised in liquid to tenderize.
Ground beef is most commonly used. The standard 80/20 fat mixture works well for this recipe. But lean ground beef also works well due to the bread crumbs helping keep the patties moist and tender.
You can use substitute ground meat like ground turkey or chicken.
Onions and Mushrooms
Use one or both in the gravy.
Onions: Caramelized onions are one of the primary flavors in this recipe. The onion should be cooked entirely in the first phase of the recipe. Do not add raw onion to the gravy and think you can cook it well.
I like to use vegetable oil to caramelize the onion since I use higher heat and butter can smoke.
Mushrooms: Precook the mushrooms similar to the onions since they will not have time to cook later in the recipe.
Seasonings, breadcrumbs, ketchup, mustard, and Worchishire sauce. Flour for the gravy.
👨🍳How to Cook Salisbury Steak
Precooking onion and mushrooms.
Use a large non-stick skillet. Non-stick is not required, but this is a one-pan recipe with multiple things going in and out of it. Non-stick will make your life easier. Cast-iron will work well here, also.
Add oil to the pan over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add the onion and mushrooms—cook until caramelizing. Work on the meat mixture.
For this recipe to go smoothly, first cook the onions and mushrooms. Remove from the pan.
Make the Salisbury steak patties.
The meat mixture for the patties is made with seasonings, breadcrumbs, ketchup, mustard, and Worchishire sauce.
Form patties of ¼ to ⅓ pound each from the meat mixture. ½ pound patties are generally very thick and are hard to cook thoroughly on the stovetop.
Once the patties are formed, compress a quarter size around and just under ¼ inch deep area on one side. The dimple will help prevent the patties from puffing up during cooking and will allow more even cooking.
Cook the patties.
Do not cook over high heat; you will burn the outside before the center reaches 165°, the minimum safe internal temperature. Medium-high heat is suggested.
When done cooking, move to a plate and tent lightly with foil while working on the gravy.
Make the gravy.
The recipe uses a slurry method that is an easy way to make gravy at home. Flour is whisked into a liquid and dissolved completely, which is then slowly added to a boiling fluid, usually a broth with meat drippings, while mixing continuously. After a few minutes, it will thicken into gravy.
Please see How To Make Gravy at Home for more details on doing the gravy with the slurry method.
Some recipes will use corn starch to make the gravy. It is easy, but gravy made with cornstarch can turn jello-like when refrigerated.
Finishing the dish.
After the gravy is thickened, add in the caramelized onion and mushrooms. Gently add the cook patties into the mixture. Simmer a few minutes to bring everything up to the same temperature.
Salisbury steak with gravy is usually served over or next to a starch. The usual is mashed potatoes, but pasta, like egg noodles, is also an excellent combination. Rice is a third option.
I like to combine with a standard simple vegetable that compliments this old-fashioned dish—peas, green beans, or corn are my everyday choices. A plain old-fashioned dish demands a basic side dish.
Other ground meats like ground turkey or chicken are good choices. Most of the flavor comes from other ingredients.
Salisbury steak with gravy is best stored sealed in an airtight container refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Seal the leftovers airtight in your freezer for 3-4 months.
Serving and Storage
📖Comfort Food Recipes
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Note while the pictures are for five servings, the discussion, and the recipe is set for four servings.
If you want caramelized onions in your gravy, start by thin slicing a small onion. Cook with 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat until nicely brown. About 7-8 minutes. Set aside in a bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 pound of ground beef with ⅓ cup breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons ketchup, 1 teaspoon mustard and Worcestershire sauce, and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. If not doing the onions, then add ½ teaspoon onion powder.
Divide the hamburger mixture into 3-4 equal portions. A quarter-size indent in the middle of one side prevents puffing up of the patties and makes cooking evener.
Place steak patties in a large frying pan with a teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Flip about every 5-6 minutes until an internal temperature of 165°. About 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness, the pan, and your burners.
Whisk 4 tablespoons flour with 1 cup beef broth. Remove the Salisbury steak to a plate and lightly tent. Pour out most of the liquid, leaving about 3-4 tablespoons of liquid. Allow the pan to cool some. Add 1 cup beef broth and bring to a light boil over medium heat.
Slowly add the flour-broth mixture while continuing to whisk. Add 1 teaspoon ketchup and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Whisk until nicely thickened, a few minutes. If using the caramelized onions or mushrooms, add them to the gravy and mix well.
Add the steak back into the mixture and simmer for a few minutes until everything is hot.
Serve mashed potatoes or as you wish.
Homemade Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy
- 1 pound ground beef
- ⅓ cup bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder - optional, use if not doing onion in gravy
- 1 onion - small
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 2 cups beef broth
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon ketchup
- ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms - optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- If you want caramelized onions in your gravy, start by thin slicing a small onion. Cook with 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat until nicely brown. About 7-8 minutes. You can cook the optional mushrooms instead or in addition with the onions. Set aside in a bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 pound of ground beef with ⅓ cup breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons ketchup, 1 teaspoon mustard and Worcestershire sauce, and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. If not doing the onions, then add ½ teaspoon onion powder.
- Divide the hamburger mixture into 3-4 equal portions. A quarter-size indent in the middle of one side to prevent puffing up of the patties and make cooking evener.
- Place steak patties in a large frying pan with a teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Flip about every 5-6 minutes until an internal temperature of 165°. About 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness, the pan, and your burners.
- Whisk 4 tablespoons flour with 1 cup beef broth. Remove the Salisbury steak to a plate and lightly tent. Pour out most of the liquid, leaving about 3-4 tablespoons of liquid. Allow the pan to cool some. Add 1 cup beef broth and bring to a light boil over medium heat.
- Slowly add the flour-broth mixture while continuing to whisk. Add 1 teaspoon ketchup and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk until nicely thickened, a few minutes. If using the caramelized onions or mushrooms, add them to the gravy and mix well.
- Add steak back into the mixture, simmer for a few minutes until everything is hot.
My Private Notes
- Use the ground meat you like. Make the patties ¼ to ⅓ pound. ½ pound will not cook well
- Don't chop the onion. Cut into rings and maybe cut the larger ones in half.
- You can easily use mushrooms in place of or in addition to the onions in the gravy.
- Use the depression in the center of the patties. It will help prevent them from puffing up during cooking, and they will cook more evenly.
- Be sure to cook the patties to 165° minimum.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally published September 25, 2016. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.