Ask Jo: Follow up on the Hamburger Post

Every so often I get questions from blog readers that I think other blog readers would like the answer to as well.  When that happens, I answer the questions here on the blog.  Today is one of those days.

All of the question and comments I’m addressing today are relate to a recent hamburger post I wrote.  I showed this picture of our freezer full of meat.  On reader commented that she liked the dividers.    That made me smile and laugh.  Hubby made these dividers a long time ago.  It was his idea.  The pieces interlock.  They were made out of complete scrap but we love them.  It keeps the meat divided and makes it really easy to find what I’m looking for.


In the post I was also lamenting about missing hamburger.  I had listed that one of the things I missed making was hamburger gravy.  A blog reader asked what hamburger gravy was and could I share the recipe.  I’ll be honest.  This comment surprised me.  I thought hamburger gravy was a universal, everyone made it thing….apparently not.

To check myself I asked Hubby if his mom made hamburger gravy because mine sure did and I do too.  He said his mom did too.  That’s not a very good test sample as our moms were pretty similar, both were farm wives, both lived in relatively the same area, and both were in the same age range.  Curiously do others of you make hamburger gravy and/or did you mom’s make hamburger gravy?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Anyway, I made hamburger gravy the other night for supper and snapped some photos as I did….Here’s how I do it:Be forwarned…this really isn’t a real recipe.  It is a picture guide to how I cook…

I start by browning the hamburger.  Use however much you want…this is forgiving.  In the days when all the kids were home, I used 2 pounds and made the gravy thinner.  Now that they are gone, I use two pounds.  The gravy is thicker and we have leftovers.

Add an onion to it when it’s almost done.  When I have them, I add mushrooms too but that’s not what mom did.  Don’t drain the hamburger.  Throw in a handful of flour.  Stir it up and absorb the grease.


Add some milk.  I also add a can of Cream of Chicken (or Mushroom) soup.


Stir it up.  Add a few dollops of sour cream.  If you’re feeding a lot, add more milk.  If you’re feeding fewer and like thick gravy, add less milk.  Here’s when I add spices too…a little pepper, a little onion powder…whatever your family likes.


Enjoy eating it over mashed potatoes-bread or noodles.

I think this is a “pre-hamburger helper” recipe.  It’s super fast and universal.

In complete disclosure my mom didn’t add the sour cream.  I started that.  That’s mostly because my family takes on sour cream as it’s own food group..honest.

Anyway…as I wrote this, Kelli called me.  Her husband Jason was in the vehicle with her.  We tested him and found his mom did not make hamburger gravy.  Hmmm….could it be an older generation thing?  Could it be a Southern Minnesota thing.  Tell me…curious minds want to know how many of you grew up eating hamburger gravy.

130 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Follow up on the Hamburger Post”

  1. Hamburger gravy, one of my husband’s favorite meals! My mom and grandma made this and it has served our family many times. I’m wondering if it is a Scandinavian dish, as my family is of Swedish heritage. I’ve lived in Eastern Oregon all my life.

  2. From Southern Wisconsin – did not have hamburger gravy at home, but we did have something similar at school lunch. They added cans of mixed vegetables and served it over baking powder biscuits. Very tasty!

  3. Hi Jo, I grew up in middle Georgia & my mom never made hamburger gravy. We lived in the sticks, raised cows (less than 20), but never butchered them, & hamburger meat was not readily available to us. The gravy sounds good & maybe I will try it! You amaze me with the number of quilts you make. Happy New Yea!

  4. I make steak gravy using minute steak that I break up & brown in butter & then after it is brown I add flour to totally cover the steak. Then I add milk & cook until thickened. We serve it over bread or mashed potatoes. So good.

  5. We had something similar except call it cream of mushroom soup, brown onions, brown the hamburger strain meat add cream of mushroom soup serve over potatoes. My mom was from sault ste, marie mi. Her mom made it; my mom moved to Missouri she made it I make it; now my son makes it for his family.

  6. Yes, I grew up with hamburger gravy. Mom would put leftover vegies in it. There were 9 kids in the family and had to stretch the meals. Most of the time we had it over mashed potatoes. YUM! Oh I live in Colorado.

  7. Yes, my mom who is 84 made hamburger gravy, and I (57 yrs) do too. I grew up and still live in northern Indiana, Mennonite and Amish country.

  8. I grew up all over being an Army brat. My Mom grew up in PA and central NY. She always made hamburger gravy when I was growing up. But hers did not contain milk. Just meat, onions, water & I believe she thickened it with cornstarch. She did make a milk gravy with dried beef in it which our family called SOS. She also made codfish gravy the same way, with salted cod in a box and a raw egg thrown in at the end. I hated SOS but loved the codfish gravy. My Mom is gone now. Hadn’t thought of hamburger gravy in a long time, I will have to make it soon. I wish I remembered how she made the codfish gravy, altho only her & I liked it, so…

  9. Jo,
    I live and grew up in St. Paul and my mom who lived on the farm in SW MN made hamburger gravy but not very often as my dad was in the service and it reminded him too much of S.O.S. (you decide what the initials stand for). This is one thing I haven’t made. I will have to think about it:)

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hello from western Pennsylvania! Yes, my mother and my grandmother both made hamburger gravy. We had 4 kids at home, so anything my mom could do to stretch meat to make a meal out of it is what needed to be done. My mother’s family was Polish and my Grandma’s family was from the “old country” Czechoslovakia and came here in the early 1900’s. I wonder if this was something that they made during the lean years of the depression. I still make it from time to time. My husband and I like it, but the kids – not so much (but then again, they are fast food junkies).

  11. Hi, I am from southeast Texas and we did not eat hamburger gravy. It sounds delicious and I think I will try it this weekend.

  12. I grew up in California – my parents were from Utah and Idaho. My mom would make hamburger gravy and it was one of our favorite meals growing up. She would brown the hamburger and onion and then mix flour and milk in a Tupperware shaker thing and pour that into the pan, season with salt and pepper and simmer until thickened. Served over boiled potatoes with ketchup on top if you wanted. :)

  13. I’m from Texas. My mom’s family is from the Fort Worth area and my father’s is from San Antonio. Neither side served hamburger gravy. We did eat turkey gibblet gravy with turkey and chicken gravy with fried chicken.

  14. No hamburger gravy as part of childhood here in Illinois, but when I looked for recipe for hamburger stroganoff, it was very similar. I made that a few weeks ago and thought it good and now will add this variation into rotation.

    I get my beef from a farmer and she sells me a package each month of various cuts. For our family of 3, it works well. She also sells me chickens and her nephew sells me eggs. The neighboring farmer sells me produce 6 months of the year and his sister sells me fruit 4 months of the year. I eat well for living in Central IL and am on a first name basis with my food providers!

  15. Born & raised in Orlando, Fl. My mom, made hamburger gravy a lot. She made brown gravy. When I married, my husband preferred milk gravy. It’s still a staple in our empty nest home.

  16. Yes, I grew up on Hamburger Gravy in NW Missouri. Maybe it was more a sign of the times, simpler times. It was a fast, cheap, filling dish. I have to admit I don’t make it anymore.

  17. Hi Jo – I was born and raised in California, and I’ve never heard of hamburger gravy either. Sounds delish though! I’ll have to add this to my list of recipes I want to make!

  18. Michelle Hansen

    I am from nothernish Utah and I grew up eating spuds and hamburger gravy, or rice and hamburger gravy or even noodles and hamburger gravy. I still make it to this day. My kids ages 30 – 12 are, and have grown up on hamburger gravy. My mother grew up on the eastern side of Utah as a very POOR farm county girl and guess where she learned about it? From her mother!
    So not new to our area or exclusively your are. Which sounds really good for dinner really soon!

  19. Frances Higgins

    We had “gravy” with everything else, but not hamburger. I grew up in western Kentucky.
    I will try your type gravy.

  20. Hi, I live in England and lots of things you cook with aren’t available here. Never heard of hamburger gravy. What you call hamburger meat we call mince. We also weigh in grams so having to convert tbsp and cups means a trip to goggle lol x

  21. HI, Jo. My mom made hamburger graveyard over mashed potatoes, but ours is different. Yours is a bit “stroganoff style” ours not so much. We brown the burger with onion and Mrs. Dash seasoning. When that’s done we add a cup or two off water ( depending how much burger we used) and add two or three beef bouillon cubes. Then stir in some flour/water gravey to thicken. Simmer for five minutes or so and serve over mashed potatoes…….think I’ll make some for supper!

    1. This is the recipe I learned from my mom. We had it quite often. Later, after marriage and six kids, it was a welcomed recipe.
      We are from Massachusetts. Just north of Boston.

  22. Grew up in south central Wisconsin and had this regularly, both at school and at home. At school it was called hamburger gravy (over mashed potatoes), and at home we called it hamburger stroganoff, although my dad called it S.O.S. or S–t on a Shingle (he grew up eating it on toast). We all loved it! Wish I could eat it now, but haven’t found a dairy-free, gluten-free option.

  23. My parents are from Osage Iowa and they raised a family in a small town in Minnesota, Afton. We had hamburger gravy over noodles quite often. I think my mom found the recipe could stretch hamburger a long ways to feed 8 of us and it was filling and warm on a cold day. I have never added sour cream but have added some cheese on occasion.

  24. Janelle Merillat

    Born and raised in Michigan! Yup! We do Hamburger gravy! We also do sausage gravy! Try it sometime! It’s wonderful with warm biscuits!!!

  25. No hamburger gravy growing up at my house, but they made it at school and I couldn’t get enuf on mashed potatoes.

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