First things first: Hamburger Steaks and Gravy is not the same thing as Salisbury Steak. Well, I’m lying. Kinda. OK, it depends!! Very much on where you’re from and what’s been passed down as ‘fact’ in your family.
The truth is that Hamburger Steaks and Salisbury Steaks (Chopped Steak, too) are derivatives of Germany’s Hamburg steak, which is minced beef shaped into a patty and served as a steak, so it’s not surprising the terms are used interchangeably all over the world or that their definitions overlap.
In my home there are two major differences between them: Salisbury steaks are more like mini meatballs, usually contain breadcrumbs and other ingredients, and the gravy usually includes ketchup or some other tomato sauce which sweetens it a bit. Hamburger steaks generally don’t contain any additives you wouldn’t find in an actual hamburger, and there’s no tomato anywhere in the gravy: just fat, flour, liquid, and seasonings.
Fun fact: the only Salisbury Steaks I’ve ever had were in TV Dinners as a kid and I always hated them. I think that’s why my nose scrunched up when people call Hamburger Steaks Salisbury Steaks.
Sidebar: Holy shit have I gotten better at writing recipes! This recipe for Hamburger Steaks and Gravy with Fried Onions was originally in my first ebook As Seen On IG and was the catalyst for my decision to sell the ebooks because every time I made it on Instagram so many folks would request the recipe as well as a tutorial on making the perfect gravy. Anyway good lord it’s so vague and simple, I’m glad to be transitioning to the site so I can flesh it out!
Hamburger Steaks and Gravy Ingredients
Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this Hamburger Steaks and Gravy recipe:
- Ground beef: As always I use Butcher Box‘s lean ground beef which is 85/15. This way I don’t have to add oil to the pan to assist with the searing process. As of this moment, they’re offering 6 pounds of meat for free in your first box, so it’s a great time to check them out if you’d been considering it.
- Egg: Optional, but since we don’t want to pack the patties too tightly it makes it much easier for them to stay in one piece during the cooking process. The egg also traps more moisture inside so you can cook the Hamburger Steaks and Gravy longer without them drying out.
- Smoked paprika, garlic powder, seasoned salt, cracked black pepper, Worcestershire sauce: Our flavorings. We keep it simple. I always add cayenne, too, but we’ve discussed why I don’t generally add that to written recipes.
- Vidalia onion: If you can’t find Vidalia onions just use any sweet onion. If you can’t find sweet opt for yellow. If you can’t find yellow then white, and if you can’t find white then purple. Sweet onions have more moisture and a milder flavor, which is perfect for this. I use one whole onion: half of it minced and mixed into the meat, the other half cut into thin slices and fried up after the steaks before the gravy.
- Flour: For our gravy. Can’t make gravy without a roux! Well, you can, but who wants to? Not me!
- Browning sauce: Optional. Also for our gravy, if you want to deepen the color. It’s just burnt sugar pretty much, and just a drop or two will turn the lightest gravy a beautiful brown. It does have a flavor so you can’t use it too much. If you let your roux brown deeply enough you won’t need it.
- Beef broth, water: Also for the gravy. To be honest with you I generally just use water. I think the pan drippings from the Hamburger Steaks along with a lil’ seasoned salt flavor it just fine.
- Butter: Also for the gravy. If you use meat with a higher fat percentage you won’t need as much.
- Equipment: I love my flat whisk, also called a roux whisk for making gravy, but it’s not necessary. As long as you’re deliberate you can get away with a wooden spoon or spatula, too. Other than that and a skillet with a non-stick surface, you’ll only need the basic stuff like knives and measuring equipment:
How to Make Hamburger Steaks and Gravy
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of this Hamburger Steaks and Gravy recipe:
- Prepare the onions. The recipe calls for one large Vidalia onion, half sliced and half minced. I do this because I love onions. I mix the minced onions into the meat, and I pan-fry the sliced onions for my gravy, and as a topping, too. Feel free to do just one or the other. If I had to pick one or the other I’d say put the onions in the patty: the flavor and moisture they add is *chef’s kiss*.
- Make the meat mixture. Grab a large mixing bowl add your ground beef, egg, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, minced onion, half of the seasoned salt. Combine thoroughly, making sure the seasonings and onion are distributed throughout the meat. Pinch off about 3 tablespoons of meat and form into balls between your palms. Flatten slightly, then use your knuckle or finger to make an indentation in the center of the patty. Like a belly button! This will help them cook more evenly, and is optional. The patties will shrink as they cook so make them a little bigger than you want them on your plate.
- Preheat your skillet. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. It should be pretty deep too because we’re making gravy in it. After the pan has been heating for 2 minutes add the Hamburger Steaks in a single layer, with a bit of space between them. Don’t crowd the pan because you want them to sear up nicely. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Flip the patties and continue to cook uncovered for another 5 minutes or so, until cooked through to your liking. Transfer the patties to a plate to rest while you continue cooking patties until they’re all done. Make sure to save the pan drippings between each batch: pour them into a small heatproof container and sift out any burned bits.
- Fry the onions. Once all the steaks are done reduce the heat to medium and add in the butter. Once the butter has melted, and sliced onion. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are browned and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the pan, letting the excess butter drip of, and let drain on paper towels.
- Build the roux. And we’ve reached the more complicated portion of this Hamburger Steaks and Gravy recipe: the gravy. If you reserved any, go ahead and return the pan drippings to the pan. Let it heat for 30 seconds, then sprinkle the flour over the surface of the pan. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to mix the fat and flour. It will start to brown and form a paste. The paste will begin to loosen up when it’s completely incorporated, and that’s good. This is your roux. Don’t be worried if it seems thin or runny: it will do its job as long as your measurements are correct (remember to weigh flour). Reduce the heat to medium and stir or whisk your roux constantly while it cooks until it’s a nice deep peanut butter brown. This should take 5-7 minutes or so.
- Make the gravy. Pro tip: make sure the liquid is warm before adding it to the gravy. This will help prevent lumps and the flavors meld together more easily this way too. Grab a whisk if you’re not using one already and begin to slowly pour 1 cup of liquid into the roux, whisking constantly. After the cup is added whisk until well combined. You’ll probably be surprised at how quickly the liquid is consumed. After you have it whisked in there well go ahead and slowly whisk in the second cup. Again, whisk until combined well, then slowly whisk in the final cup of liquid. Reduce heat to medium-low and taste it. Add more seasoned salt if needed. Bring the gravy up to a light simmer, then stir in the fried onions, reserving as many as you’d like for topping instead. Next, add hamburgers back. Turn them over to coat in the gravy, then cover the pan with a lid and let everything cook together for 6 minutes.
- FINISH HIM! Crack some black pepper all over the Hamburger Steaks and Gravy with Fried Onions. Serve with your desired side – see below for suggestions – with the fried onions on top. Dassit!
What To Serve With Hamburger Steaks and Gravy
I think this Hamburger Steaks and Gravy recipe goes great with plain ol’ white rice and that’s how I usually serve it, but in case you’re looking for other options, check these out:
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