Ground Beef Gravy

1 large onion, diced
1 1/4 lb lean ground beef
1 cup water
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons oil
mashed potatoes* or egg noodles for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and water to form a paste. Set a side. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the ground beef and saute, breaking up any large chunks with your spatula, until almost cooked through. Drain excess fat if necessary. Stir in the flour/water mixture. This will thicken the juices to form a sauce. When the meat is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, add salt and pepper to taste and serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. I like it with mashed potatoes best.

*This is not the recipe to get creative with your mashed potatoes. A little milk, maybe some butter, mash with a potato masher, that’s it.

My thoughts:

Ellie is hosting a fun food blogging event that’s all about nostalgia. I have a lot of memories surrounding food and some of my favorites are of my grandpop’s cooking. My grandfather lived in a separate apartment in our house when I was growing up, and while we didn’t share meals, he always ate dinner early and made enough extra for me have some as an after school snack. My favorite foods he made were stew (using up leftover vegetables), pan fried chicken thighs with home fries and ground beef gravy. The sort of wholesome, thrifty fare you would expect from someone born in 1914. Recently my mother has been experimenting with recreating some of his special dishes as he is not cooking as often as he used too, and started with ground beef gravy. I have never been able to find much mention of origins of ground beef gravy but it strikes me as one of those meat stretcher dishes that became so popular during the Great Depression and then again during WWII. It is basically ground beef and onion, thickened slightly with flour and served over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is oddly comforting. Some times Grandpop would vary it a bit, adding bacon to the meat or even a sprinkle of bouillon, but simple is best.


  1. My husband has been asking for this recipe for a long time and my recipes do not remind him of the Catholic school lunch ladies! I will have to try it!

  2. I agree, simple is best. This dish looks great – I can’t wait to try it!

  3. My mom used to make this all the time and would serve it over white sandwich bread. It wasn’t my favorite meal (ick…soggy bread) but it was one of the ones I remember the most!

  4. Sounds like a nice quick meal to be able to make, and I can imagine it being a hearty stomach-warmer for cold winter nights – especially with some traditional mashed taters! Thank you so much for taking part 🙂

  5. That looks so good!

  6. Ooooh! Mince and Tatties! This is definately on my list of comfort foods…I like to add a bit of minced carrot and thyme…just a bit of worchestershire…SOOO good! Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful comforting and kid friendly meal! 🙂

  7. You know, it is so fny! I remember my grandfather cooking breakfast for us. He was in the National Guard for a long time and he used to make us chipped beef gravy on toast (SOS) and we would always ask for him to make it because we could say the s-word!

    Sounds like great family recipe!

  8. ooohhhhh. This brings back so many memories of the school lunches we ate at Tampa Grade School. I loved ground beef gravy on mashed taters. The only problem was they didn’t serve it often enough! Thanks for reminding me of some very good times in my life.

  9. My grandma use to make this often when I was little. I can still remember it – and how much I liked it. She always served it with mashed or fried potatoes.

    Nice story about your grandfather =)

  10. I was also going to say I’m pretty sure this dish has military ties! It’s not hard to imagine making it in large quantities to feed thousands of hungry troops, no?

    Looks great. I love that kind of food!

  11. This sounds really good.

  12. Wow my mom made this all the time when I was little. My sister and I loved it! My mom would also serve it over rice, but mashed potatoes are best. Later I learned that she cooked this because it was really cheap and we were poor, but it was so yummy we never knew the difference.

  13. We call it hamburger gravey at my house. MMM Sometimes we have it over a baked potato and sometime when I want to get fancy I chop some mushrooms and add them to the meat.

  14. I made this last night for my ground beef loving husband, he was quite happy.

  15. A lovely post. Some of our fondest food memories are of the simplest, most comforting foods.

  16. Deborah Eley De Bono

    Nice post. This is SOS if you were in the military and my dearly beloved loves it. I’ll have to make him up a batch. Thanks for the recipe.

  17. Fascinating how the simplest of foods evoke such memories-for you and apparently lots of others. That is what is so cool about a Nostalgia event like Ellie’s. Thanks for sharing.

  18. My dad used to make this! He called it Ground Meat Gravy, and it was something he learned from his West Virginia mom. I’ll have to give it a try, for nostalgia’s sake.

  19. Memories from my grade school days in a tiny Washington Coast town. Eight grades in four rooms and this was the lunch we always asked the cook to prepare for us. I believe she added a little sage to it; OH SO GOOD! Thanks for the memory.
    Now it is major comfort food!

  20. I am a new fan of your photos and recipes, just wanted to express my condolences and share that this is a great recipe, our family called it hamburger gravy, it was served over white, minute rice, usually for us when i was little, I will keep making this knowing that a little girl and her grandpa in maryland liked it too!and I will try it on mashed potatoes !

  21. Brenda McFarlane

    this is a great reciep, i served this to my family and now my grandkids.Now my grandkids are asking their parents to make it,what does that tell u? yum