Comforting Skillet Hamburger Gravy

published Jun 14, 2022
Hamburger Gravy Recipe

This comforting gravy is tasty served over flaky biscuits or simply split baked potatoes.


Prep7 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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A photo of crumbled ground beef in a thick and creamy sauce, poured over an open biscuit on a white plate, with more biscuits in a platter on the side.
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Hamburger gravy is a cozy, warm blanket of a meal. My mother made different versions of this growing up. Sometimes she made it with ground beef, and other times she made it with canned or rotisserie chicken. Sometimes she used an all-milk gravy, and other times she added a can of green chiles for a Southwestern twist. Any version of tender meat simmered in a flavorful gravy and poured over a carb is total comfort food in my book.

This version makes use of that ubiquitous pound of ground beef that always seems to be in the fridge, waiting to become dinner. 

How Do I Make a Flavorful Hamburger Gravy?

  • Carefully brown the beef. Let the pan preheat until very hot. Break the ground beef up into smaller pieces before adding it to the hot skillet. Let it cook undisturbed until it’s well-browned, and only then attempt to stir. 
  • Use low-sodium stock. Controlling the sodium means you can focus on flavor, not just salt.
  • Skip the skim milk. Whole milk provides the most satisfying gravy.
  • Umami boost. A few spoonfuls of Worcestershire and soy sauces stirred in at the end up beef up the flavor.

What Is the Difference between Hamburger Gravy and SOS?

SOS is a military favorite, sometimes mocked but beloved by many. The two dishes are quite similar, created as a way to stretch a pound of meat to feed many mouths.

  • Hamburger gravy is a popular Midwestern dish. It is ground beef swimming in a sauce made from a combination of beef broth and milk or cream.
  • SOS, or “stuff on a shingle,” can be anything from canned tuna to ground beef to chipped beef in a sauce that is typically just made from milk (the “stuff”). It’s served over toast or biscuits (the “shingle”).

What Do I Serve with Hamburger Gravy?

Hamburger gravy is served over any starchy side (think: mashed potatoes, egg noodles, biscuits, hash browns, or toast). A quick side salad or steamed green veggie rounds out the meal.

Hamburger Gravy Recipe

This comforting gravy is tasty served over flaky biscuits or simply split baked potatoes.

Prep time 7 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves


  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried rubbed sage

  • A couple gratings whole nutmeg

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup

    low-sodium beef broth

  • 1 cup

    whole milk

  • 2 teaspoons

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    soy sauce

  • 1

    bay leaf


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break up 1 pound lean ground beef into pieces and add to the pan. Let cook undisturbed until well browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir, breaking the meat up into smaller pieces, and continue to cook until no more pink remains, 1 to 2 minutes more. Meanwhile, dice 1/2 medium yellow onion and mince 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage, and a couple gratings whole nutmeg. Cook until the onion is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute to cook the floury taste out.

  3. Slowly pour in 1 cup low-sodium beef broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup whole milk, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and add 1 bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.