Old School Lunch Lady Hamburger Gravy

A few weeks ago while sitting at work I had a strange craving.  It was a lunch I had remembered from elementary school. Hamburger gravy with mashed potatoes.  I decided right then and there I had to have it for dinner. I looked up a recipe and found what I thought was a decent one on Allrecipes.com .

Needless to say, it was an epic fail. Not quite how I remembered it tasting back in the day. All I could envision was a hair netted lunch lady dancin’ round the school cafeteria singing into her wooden spoon MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.”

It tasted horrible. I don’t know who posted the recipe on that site but they should immediately take it down.

Tonight I thought I’d give it another go. I tweaked it to my liking and it turned out and tasted just how I remembered it.  It’s a savory hearty, but more importantly, easy meal after a long day at work. Whips up quickly and you can take short cuts thanks to the miracle of pre-made mashed potatoes and Pillsbury biscuits.

Ingredients: (Feeds 3-4)

1 lb of beef 80/20 fat content

1 10 oz. container Swanson’s beef stock

1 container Simply Potatoes Traditional mashed potatoes

1 small can Pillsbury Biscuits

Pillsbury All Purpose Flour 3-4 Tablespoons

1/4 Cup 2% milk

Salt, Pepper, Onion Salt

Directions: Brown hamburger in skillet. Salt and pepper to taste. Add Onion salt to your liking. Do not drain fat. Add 3-4 tablespoons flour until all juices are absorbed. Then add milk and beef stock. You can add stock to your liking until you get the consistency of gravy you want. Don’t add too much because you don’t want it watery. Then turn on low and let simmer for half hour.

Bake biscuits according to package directions and right before they are brown microwave mashed potatoes according to directions.  Dish up and serve.  The family will love this quick hearty meal. It’s a great comfort food. I think I gave the Lunch Lady a run for her money today.

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37 Comments

  1. avatar

    Talk about your comfort food! I just licked the screen. I did!
    Jean Has Been Shopping recently posted..My Favorite iPhone AppsMy Profile

    • avatar

      Jean, that’s funny! 🙂 I literally licked the plate clean and had to stop myself from having seconds. I’ve been eating like crap lately and it’s swimsuit season. Yikes! Better get out there walking, and riding my bike.

  2. avatar

    I love making this! It`s among my favourite of all “Comfort Foods”. It truly is. It’s also great ’cause I can make this, and my husband will actually eat it, so if I’m home alone, I can cook – and I don’t have to worry about the left overs ’cause he can re-heat and have a good home cooked meal.

    I usually add some peas and corn into it – cooked separately then added later. ^_^

    • avatar

      Hi Sladie, thanks for stopping by. Sorry it took me a bit to respond. I was on vacation last weekend and had a super busy week.

      My boyfriend still refuses to eat this 🙂 Which suits me just fine b/c it means all the more for me. I’ve never been a fan of peas, (used to feed them to my dog under the kitchen table)but it would be great with corn. Sorta like a Sheppard’s pie.

      Hope to see you again. Thanks for your comment.
      Sherrismiles recently posted..Pink Lemonade Hydrangea Rose Cake and CupcakesMy Profile

  3. avatar

    How in heck did you get this to look so good? YUM!
    Kim @ Foodin New England recently posted..Pumpkin Pie SmoothieMy Profile

  4. avatar
    Tiffany M

    I have been looking for the school lunch mashed potatoes & gravy recipe since I was pregnant with my daughter in 2009. I never found it and when I got pregnant with my 3rd I was craving the same thing. You have saved me!!! The only thing I do differently is I make the rhodes rolls instead of the kind in the can. they fluff up perfectly like the kind that you got at school. This is World Class and I can’t thank you enough!!

  5. avatar

    Is it possible to use 90/10 ground beef? I usually use 93/7. My husband has had heart surgery so I need to be careful on the grease.

  6. avatar

    My mother used to make hamburger patties, dredge them in flour, then fry until done. She would then make the gravy using same skillet returning the hamburger patties to the gravy before serving.

  7. avatar

    one can campbells french onion soup
    one can campbells golden mushroom soup
    one package brown gravy mix
    water to dilute a little
    ground beef salt and pepper to taste, fast easy, delicious, we eat this all the time

    • avatar
      Jolene Davis

      Thats all fine and good if you dont mind all the sodium, and preservatives. I prefer feeding my family food that I can pronounce all the ingredients 🙂

  8. avatar

    I thought about this cafeteria meal for years! This and the rubbery grilled cheese sandwiches were my favorite! Thank you for posting!! Yum!

  9. avatar

    Oh yeah! You nailed it! Just like in school….30 something years ago. 😉 And no chemicals or preservatives. Yummmm!

    • avatar

      Con, LOL you made my night! Thank you! Believe it or not, I rarely use the pre-made mashed potatoes anymore and I have learned to make my own biscuits. Soooooo much better. I cringed when I learned all the chemical and poisons they hide in our food. I’m mostly a from scratch girl now and avoid processed foods whenever I can.

  10. avatar
    Jutta Museus

    I like this hamburger gravy over flour dumplings.
    Just mix flour, eggs, water and seasonings (salt and pepper) until a stiff dough forms. Drop by teaspoon (first dipped in the water) into large pot of boiling water, Dumplings are done when they float, takes just a minute or two.
    We call them Wasserspatzen where I come from.

    • avatar

      Hi Jutta. Talk about coincidence! I just posted a recipe on these very noodles. My maternal grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch and my mom made these all the time when we were growing up. I loved them. She used to add them to a roast broth. Very delicious!

      She called them “rubbs” but I researched them further and found the Pennsylvania Dutch called them rivels or rivlets.

      However, you gave me a great idea to use them with the hamburger gravy. I definitely going to try that!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
      Sherrismiles recently posted..Homemade Chicken Soup with RivelsMy Profile

    • avatar

      My mom made them and we called them “sinkers”

  11. avatar

    So happy to know others like hamburger gravy as much as I do!It is a great way to have an economical meal that is tasty and filling for a family.My favorite is to brown ground beef,drain,then mix cream of mushroom with milk to desired thickness.Green beans and/or corn for me!

  12. avatar
    Jessica

    I made this by using a beef bouillon cube and a packet of onion soup mix as a substitute for beef stock and fresh onion. Turned out great! I like adding peas right before serving, too!

  13. avatar

    Gosh, I thought i was the only one who liked this!
    I do & I remember it very well.
    Glad to find recipe 😉
    dawn recently posted..Oatmeal Date BarsMy Profile

    • avatar

      Sherri I was going to make h.b. gravy tonite and thought I’d check the interwebz to see if there was something that sounded better than my regular recipe.I had to laugh when your blog came up cause I replied to your Dicarlo’s pizza recipe awhile ago.Our recipes are similar except I add some worcestershire sauce to the gravy .I don’t know if it’s because we are from the same area ,but we must like the same things. Take care and keep blogging Ohio valley recipes.

      • avatar

        LOL Steve. Yup, I remember you. Hahaha Small inter web! I’m going to try the worcestershire sauce. I think I need to revisit this recipe in general because someone was kind enough to share some secret ingredients that came straight from a lunch lady!

        Hope to see you again!

  14. avatar
    Linda Staley

    My mom worked in the school lunch program. We LOVED the hamburger gravy. There were a few secrets to that great flavor….finely minced onion, finely sliced celery, and Kitchen Bouquet…found at the store in gravies, sauces, etc. 2T per pound of meat.

    • avatar

      Hi Linda. I’m totally jealous you had a mom that worked in the school cafeteria. Thanks for sharing the secret ingredients!!!! I might just try to make Kitchen Bouquet from scratch. Back when I wrote this, I was still eating processed foods, not knowing just exactly what toxic ingredients they use. Now, I mostly make everything from scratch. What a difference fresh ingredients make!

      Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and we thank your mother for feeding us hungry kids day in and day out. Lunch ladies don’t get nearly enough credit for the hard work they do.

    • avatar

      I am a retired teacher and our cooks shared the same ingredients with me. Such great memories from my school days and teaching days.

  15. avatar
    Mark Farmer

    This was one of my favorite meals back in the 60’s at school for lunch, But I also added a large amount of butter (at that time they made there own butter so it was fresh made). my wife re-introduced it to me one day and called it “Wet Meat” her mom made it all the time. she does not use the milk however.

  16. avatar

    Thank you! This is how I remember hamburger gravy, the way my dad used to make it. I’ve been searching the web for a recipe like his because I could never quite get it right by winging it. Most of the other recipes I found were made with all milk instead of mostly broth–more like a creamed hamburger, and not what I was looking for.

  17. avatar

    I was in grade school in the late 1950’s. Mash potatoes with hamburger gravy was my favorite meals for lunch.

  18. avatar
    Marlene Jeleniewski

    I have been searching for this recipe. I was in high school in the sixties and this was my all time favorite comfort lunch food. I loved the huge rolls with butter that they served with a big scoop of mashed potatoes along with the hamburger gravy over top. It carried me through the afternoon and I wasn’t even hungry for dinner after I got home!

  19. avatar

    Thank you. Have been looking for this hamburger gravy for a long time. Just like the one we all liked so well for school lunch. I think the cooks probably made double batches because so many kids wanted seconds. (That was when it didn’t require another lunch punch as long as there was some left after all had eaten). Also when schools were smaller and everyone ate pretty much the same lunch shift.

  20. avatar

    Sherri my m.i.l made this all the time .Now that she’s gone my wife or I make it .We always add a little gravymaster for color and a good dash of worcestershire .Over mashed potatoes with peas on the side and a good dinner roll and we are in comfort food heaven.Love your blog.

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