This dinner recipe is quick, easy, and cheap, passed down from my grandma to my mom and now served to my own kids. I’ve been eating this simple but deliciously savory and filling meal my entire life, and this Depression-era recipe is surprisingly good, despite how easy and affordable it is to make!
What Makes This Recipe So Good
- Ground beef with gravy (or maybe you know it as hamburger gravy?) is one of those childhood-throwback, ultimate-comfort-food, transports-me-instantly kind of recipes. It was passed down from my grandmother to my mom, from my mom to me, and now I’m making it for my own kids. I mean, a giant bowl of meat-and-potatoes smothered with a rich, savory gravy? How could the whole family not like it?
- Not only is this recipe easy, satisfying, and delicious, it’s also super budget-friendly. With a couple of simple swaps, you can make it even easier and even more budget-friendly, too! Just use instant mashed potatoes instead of making your own, and use a can or two of store-bought beef gravy instead of making gravy from scratch. In fact, my mom pretty much always used canned gravy!
- Because ground beef and gravy is so basic and versatile, you can serve it with pretty much anything. A bed of creamy, fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes is a non-negotiable in my opinion, but you can replace them with rice, noodles, or mashed cauliflower if you want. Need a little green on your plate, too? Asparagus, broccoli, green beans, even Brussels sprouts will all compliment this dish really well.
- Mushrooms would be a great addition to this ground beef and gravy dish, making it almost like a beef stroganoff of sorts. Just add the mushrooms, halved or diced, to the skillet when you add the onions and beef broth.
- If you keep your ground beef in the freezer and forget to take it out early enough to defrost, don’t worry. It can go in the skillet frozen and it’ll turn out just fine! Just flip the frozen ground beef over periodically and break it up as it thaws.
- Gravy’s pretty forgiving. Too thick? Add a little more broth. Not thick enough? Simmer a few minutes longer or add a touch more cornstarch. Make too much? Oh, who am I kidding. You can never make too much gravy.
Check Out These Delicious Dinners, Too
- Marry Me Chicken (Chicken in a Sun Dried Tomato Cream Sauce)
- Whole30 Fried Chicken and Mashed Potato Bowl with Gravy
- Egg Roll in a Bowl Meal Prep (Whole30, Paleo, Keto)
- Hibachi Steak with Fried Rice and Vegetables
- Dreamy Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
- Southern Smothered Potatoes
For the Mashed Potatoes
- medium pot
- Small saucepan or small microwaveable bowl
- 2 whisks
- Potato masher or fork
- Small bowl
- Large skillet
- Large wooden spoon
For the Mashed Potatoes
- Fill medium pot with water and salt well. Heat pot over medium-high heat until water boils rapidly, then add cut potatoes. Boil potatoes 7 to 8 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with tines of fork.
- While potatoes boil, add butter and milk to small saucepan. Heat saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until butter is completely melted. Alternately, add butter and milk to microwave-safe bowl. Microwave ingredients in 30-second bursts, whisking well between each, until butter is fully melted.
- When potatoes are fork-tender, carefully drain all liquid from pot. Return pot to stovetop to rest on unused burner.
- Use potato masher or fork to mash potatoes to desired consistency. Gradually stir in butter-milk mixture, making sure to incorporate all liquid into mashed potatoes. Once combined, season potatoes with garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir well to incorporate, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set potatoes aside until ready to serve.
For the Ground Beef and Gravy
- Add cornstarch and ¼ cup beef broth to small bowl. Whisk ingredients together until smooth and fully combined. Set aside.
- Heat large skillet over medium heat. When pan is warm, add ground beef. Cook and crumble beef until no longer pink, then drain any liquid from pan and discard.
- Add 1 ½ cups beef broth, chopped onion, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to skillet with ground beef. Stir gently to incorporate ingredients, then simmer uncovered 5 to 10 minutes or until onion is tender.
- When onion has softened, slowly add cornstarch mixture to skillet, whisking gently until fully incorporated. Increase heat under skillet and bring mixture to boil. Once boiling, cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until liquid has thickened to form gravy.
- Divide mashed potatoes evenly between serving bowls. Top bed of mashed potatoes with ground beef and gravy. Serve warm with extra gravy if desired.
- Ground Beef: For a lighter dish, use lean ground beef or even ground turkey or ground chicken. Turkey and chicken won’t have as much flavor but you can offset that with the broth and seasonings, or even add bouillon cubes.
- Mashed Potatoes: To make this recipe even easier, use instant mashed potatoes instead of homemade.
- Gravy: You can use 1-2 cans of beef gravy rather than making your own. That’s usually what my mom did!
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.