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Hamburger Gravy - The Southern Lady Cooks

This hamburger creamed gravy is wonderful over toast, biscuits, rice, pasta, potatoes and grits!  I love it over mashed potatoes.  Some people make this with chipped or dried beef, too. This was an Army staple, thus the SOS name.  I can remember having this gravy for breakfast over toast when I was a child.  An easy and economical dish.

Hamburger creamed gravy will quickly become a favorite.

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 clove minced garlic

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cups milk (I use one 12 ounce can of evaporated milk and enough water to make 2 cups)

Brown ground beef, onion and garlic until beef is cooked.  Drain.  Put hamburger back in skillet and add flour, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and milk.  Simmer until gravy thickens.  Makes 6 to 8 servings. Enjoy!

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4.91 from 10 votes

Hamburger Creamed Gravy

This Hamburger Creamed Gravy, also known as SOS is a classic. Serve it over toast, biscuits or rice. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, southern
Keyword: Hamburger Creamed Gravy


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups milk I use one 12 ounce can of evaporated milk and enough water to make 2 cups


  • Brown ground beef, onion and garlic until beef is cooked. Drain. Put hamburger back in skillet and add flour, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and milk. Simmer until gravy thickens. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Hamburger Creamed Gravy
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Tips, tricks & recipes to cook Southern food just like Grandma used to!




  1. I can’t wait to make this! My father passed away whenI was 14 and this sure does bring back memories. He served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Being from a large family, he was asked to cook sometimes and this was one of his most popular dishes. I have fond memories of waking up to the smell of this gravy cooking. He made it with chipped beef and also at times used ground beef. It was served over toast. I’m getting tears just thinking about my brother and I scooting up to the table, eager to dig in to a yummy plate full on a cold weekend morning. Well, I’m making this for my kiddos this week. Thank you for the recipe!!!

  2. My dad made this all the time when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite breakfast meals but he called it S… on the shingles he finally started calling it hockey on the weather board so we could say it and ask for it we thought it was a funny name but a delicious meal.4 stars

  3. Reading these comments and realizing no one eats it over mashed sweet potatoes! That’s the only way we enjoyed hamburger gravy growing up (and I never heard it called sos). Maybe the sweet potatoes is a Pennsylvania Dutch thing. Anyway it was always one of my favorites growing up. My husband likes his on toast better even though we grew up in the same area. Maybe it’s a Mennonite thing!5 stars

  4. This was a staple for us growing up and all five kids LOVED SOS. My ex-Marine dad told us it stood for, “save our stomachs.”
    Mama didn’t put onions or garlic but did use Pet milk – such a distinctive flavor. This is still one of my most favorite comfort foods. Always on buttered white bread toast preferably, just like home. Thank you for this special memory.5 stars

    • The Southern Lady says:

      Thank you so much for sharing!

      • We grew up eating this.! My parents called it “Creamed Beef and Gravy on Toast”.
        However, they never used garlic, onion or Worcestershire. We cooked the ground beef, added added salt and pepper. Then added the flour/pet milk/water mixture.
        One thing we’ve never seen anyone do that we did, was sprinkle chili power over each serving. My family loves it that way. You should try it! It’s very delicious! I’m going to try your recipe and see if it’s just as tasty. Thanks for sharing!!5 stars

  5. My mother used to make this with chipped beef when I was a child. I made it for my husband when we were first married and he wouldn’t even taste it. Years later, when he finally tasted some I made for our children, he loved it. When we had a large family with very little money, I used to make it for our children and just put a can of Veg-All in it. I served it over baked potatoes. It made a good filling meal for very little money.5 stars

  6. Trish Tilley says:

    why use the evaporated milk vs fresh? just wondering if there is a true difference.

    • Anita Hardy says:

      Trish, for some reason using canned milk gives the gravy a richer flavor. I personally always use Milnot and it seems to have a richer flavor than plain milk. Hope this helps.

  7. Cindy Kimbrell says:

    This regularly on the menu, growing up. I haven’t thought of it in years! Does this dish freeze well?5 stars

  8. Yvonne Jensen says:

    the simple things in life make me the happiest. followed recipe (did butter the toast) and it was delish!5 stars

  9. My son learned to make SOS in Boy Scouts, and made it for us years ago. We were from Michigan, and never had heard of it. We loved it on biscuits or toast. Tomorrow I will serve hamburger on homemade mashed potatoes. I will skip the garlic and onions .5 stars

  10. Diana Roberts says:

    I have made this for years and my kids loved it on toast when they were growing up. I never added anything but salt and pepper to mine, however I was taught to add the flour to the ground beef before it got completely browned so the flour would cook some with the beef. Browning the flour a little gives more flavor to the gravy and eliminates the raw flour taste. I also freeze it with great results. Since I live alone I can make a batch and get several meals out of it.

  11. The original SOS had two versions; Army & Navy. The Army version was creamy hamburger gravy over either toast or biscuits. The Navy version has tomatoes included with hamburger but no biscuits or toast and is served in a bowl. If you look at the original military recipes, they start with 35 lbs of hamburger. lol I’m not sure how chipped beef over toast ever got included in these SOS recipes?
    The term SOS or more accurate SOSOS is a distress term meaning Save O Save Our Ship!5 stars

  12. Terrie, I don’t know if you’re still looking for an answer almost six years later, but I’ve been making this for around 57 years, and about the time I was 12, my father suggested I put in some ground sage, and some ground curry, just about a level teaspoon of each. Both are “warm”-flavored spices, and both add a fabulous taste that isn’t overt or obnoxious, but does make the gravy seriously delicious. I still add those two spices to it to this day, and everyone who gets to eat it loves it 🙂

  13. Jack Thacker says:

    So easy, so good! I served it with Shredded Potatoes. A quick and delicious meal

  14. My boyfriend calles it “Spoonburger”. 🙂

  15. I never drain any meat that I’m using for gravy. Usually add a little butter as leaner meat doesn’t have enough grease to make a good gravy..yes I’m from the south

  16. I didn’t use garlic, I’m not fan of it, other then that I made the recipe exactly. I have only one comment, I think that 1 teaspoon of pepper is a bit much. It came out really spicy and hot. I did what I could to salvage it, I added more milk and flour and a little hamburger grease. It came out okay , I will keep this recipe for sausage gravy as well hamburger but be warned, cut down on the pepper and as you go….

  17. This is the only thing I would eat for breakfast growing up. Now my Yankee of a husband loves it too.

  18. I grew up eating SOS on toast. My kids eat it on rice. Its a yummy quick meal after we’ve had a lofng hard day at work. It is one of my daughter’s favorite meals.

  19. Roughly how much does this make?

  20. Another dish called SOS is chipped beef. I use the dried beef that comes in the glasses, make a white cream sauce using corn starch.. I serve it over crisp toast with grated hard boiled eggs on top.

  21. Love SOS. My kids liked it when they were growing up. Might fix some next week.

  22. My husband was 21 yrs. Army So every now an then he’d make SOS. His comment was always we’re eating Army style tonight. I still make it once in awhile. So this brought back some memories Thanks !
    He used chipped beef not ground beef.

  23. enjoyed it as a kid ,, it was what we called one of our
    poor meal before my dad got paid dinners…

  24. I served for 25 years in the military service and have eaten tons of SS. What I observed during military breakfasts, men complained in every manner possible about how awful SOS was while shoveling it into theor mouths as fast as possible and often asking for seconds.

  25. My Mama always made this with fresh green peas and pearl onions added and she served it over mashed potatoes. To me this reminds me of summer. Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes with the world. I enjoy your site so much. I have learned so many new things from you as well as having been reminded of things I had long forgotten about.

  26. A really easy version that I make that everyone raves about is take one pound or 1 1/3 pound of hamburger, brown in the pan, then add one can of Campbells cream of mushroom soup with the one can of water, then cook to a boil and let simmer a little bit. It comes out a really good hamburger gravy. You don’t taste the mushroom soup that much. It is so easy.

  27. My Grandma always made this and we ate it over biscuits (homemade of course) and I loved it! My Mother also made it and taught me how to make it..

  28. Just taught my daughter, 15, to make this. She ;loves making it. Last weekend, she made it for dinner. while her boyfriend was here. She also made home made mashed potatoes, and cowpeas. She’s a very good student.

  29. My mom used to make this for us as kids only she would add canned sweet peas to it.

  30. My father used to make this back in the 1960’s. He added chopped hard boiled eegs to it. Thanks for the memories.

  31. Have been making this for years but have never used onion in it. My husband would not eat it. I love it but am trying to be careful with what I eat.

  32. Mother fixed this a lot when we were kids. I have offered it on a baked potato bar and guys ate it up. We have substituted sausage, bologna, boiled eggs, baked turkey or chicken as well as ham or chipped beef. Usually served it over toast or biscuits.

  33. To be even more proper, I’d call it ‘stuff’ on a shingle these days, lol. Being from the east coast of Virginia, it was served up in cafeterias mostly on toast, and served a lot with chipped beef as the meat.

  34. I wasn’t born in the south by grew up here, my parents were Northern transplants, so while my Mom cooked mostly northern food my Dad embraced Southern living and made SOS quite often. Oh so good…especially for us little girls who loved being able to say “SOS” We got such a giggle out of it! Thanks for sharing!

  35. One of these comments said something about $**% on a shingle, but I think I can use me some SOS right now.

  36. can you make a batch of this up and freeze it? If so,how long can it stay in the freezer?

    • I have never tried freezing it. Maybe, someone else can tell you.

      • It freezes well but if you let it thaw completly before heating it up in a pan, it will get a little watery. Keeps for quite a while in the freezer.

      • Mountain Mama says:

        I usually make large batches and freeze it in ziploc baggies by the serving. The guys throw the baggies in boiling water and shazaam, instant warm breakfast! When it’s done this way, it stays as thick as I make it.

  37. My mom made this weekly – served with fried potatoes. Between that and 6 years in the Navy I see it and want to make it. I’ll have to ask my husband what he thinks – he did 20 years in the Navy!

    • My mom use to make this and would add fried potatoes (usually leftover) & green peas. We always had it over toast or sometimes biscuits. We called it [email protected]%# on a shingle. I make it for my family quite often because we all love it. It’s comfort food for me. I’ve never tried it with chicken, but I’m going to next time I make it for a nice change. It’s great with sausage (sweet & spicy kinds).

  38. Wow I was amazed when I passed your page and saw “SOS”
    My dad used to make this for me when I was a child and it was soooo good. I make it once in a while when I want to remember those good ole days! Thanks for posting this receipe!

  39. Suzanne Warner says:

    My Dad was a Marine in WWII and he told me the term “SOS” meant sh$t on a shingle. I’m sure you already knew this.LOL! Suzie


  40. I’m from Florida and we always had SOS with chipped Beef.

    Kenny G


  41. We call it SOS as a shortened, and more ‘proper’ name for ( blank ) on a shingle. I have always used dried beef torn up in it, but look forward to trying this. I have also cut up left over ham for the meat, a little chopped up green pepper, and added chopped up hard boiled eggs to the gravy.

    • mannyrain says:

      as a Navy brat, you are correct. SOS is typically made with chipped/dried beef. I grew up with the hamburger version as my father was an NCO with 4 children and could not afford the dried beef. I will say, however, that I prefer SOP. The P stands for pile. Or in other words, mashed potatoes. Home made, of course.

    • Dave Perkins says:

      I’m an army vet who has made this for years. My dad was in wwII and said it was made with chipped beef (probably due to refrigeration issues)
      I don’t drain the hamburger. Icook burger and add flour and cook it like a roux. Add milk, bring to boil and adjust thickness with more milk or cornstarch &water

  42. LOVE SOS!!

  43. Sometimes the simplicity of a recipe DOES result in a great meal!! Thank you for posting, I send all these recipes to my daughter, she loves them!! Keep it up!!

  44. I LOVE SOS..I MAKE IT ALL THE TIME! OMG…WE HAD THIS ALL THE TIME WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL. I ONLY WISH I COULD RECAPTURE THE FLAVOR MY DADDY HAD IN HIS!!!!! Still to this day I can’t figure out exactly what he put in his! Thanks for Sharing!!!!!

  45. I had forgotten all about this recipe. We use to eat it all the time as kids.

  46. Linda Rogers says:

    I must be hungry! This looks good to me!

  47. I had biscuits and gravy for the first time in Wichita – over here we call the bicuits scones – so it was a bit strange because we eat scones with strawberry jam and cream – but pretty delicious for a breakfast!

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5 Secrets to Old-Fashioned
Southern Cooking


Tips, tricks & recipes to cook Southern food just like Grandma used to!