The Flavorful Difference Between Salisbury And Hamburger Steaks

When it comes to cooking dinner, you certainly cannot go wrong with any sort of steak, including Salisbury steak or hamburger steak. Both of these gravy-smothered dishes are classic meals that have been popular for generations, and while they are very similar, there are key differences between the two delicious recipes.

Let's start with a bit of history, which is one of the first differences between these two. Hamburger steaks were made popular in the U.S. when German immigrants brought the dish, known as Hamburg Steak, across the pond in the late 19th century. Meanwhile, Salisbury steak originated in the U.S. way back during the Civil War by Dr. Salisbury who created the meal for soldiers on the front lines.

Both use ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper and have some sort of gravy, but the differences in taste and recipe between the two start there. Hamburger steaks typically only use salt and pepper for seasoning, while Salisbury steaks take the flavor profiles to the next level with ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and fresh garlic cloves.

Hamburger steaks are simple yet delicious

While hamburger steaks are prepared with ground beef, salt, and pepper, some recipes also include garlic powder or onion powder. But when it comes to other seasonings, most allow the beef to do all of the talking with its meaty flavor highlighted by the simple savory and peppery taste. 

You typically pan-fry hamburger steaks, like you would with Salisbury steaks, and then make a simple gravy to smother on top. The gravy is traditionally made up of beef stock, white or yellow onions, and mushrooms. When it comes to the mushrooms, using canned button mushrooms or fresh ones is really up to you. No matter what sort of veggies you go for, the gravy is important because it adds layers of flavor and ensures the meat isn't dry.

Hamburger steaks can be served on their own, but it's common to serve with mashed potatoes because it pairs well with the extra gravy spilling onto the plate, giving you a creamy and meaty flavor in just one bite.

Salisbury steaks take flavor to another level

Salisbury steak takes the flavors to the next level with Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, ketchup, and fresh garlic cloves. A variation of spices like onion powder and garlic powder are also commonly used. Another key difference is that these steaks also use egg and bread crumbs for binding, similar to meatloaf. But unlike meatloaf, these steaks are served individually, similarly to hamburger steaks.

When it's time to cook, Salisbury steaks are fried on each side in a pan with a bit of oil, then removed to make the gravy. Gravy is also a mainstay and typically includes mushrooms, onions, and beef stock or broth, similar to the gravy traditionally used with hamburger steaks. Once the gravy is thick, you return the meat to the pan to complete cooking, and serve with a spoonful of the creamy mixture on top. You can serve with a garnish of fresh herbs like parsley on top of your favorite mashed potatoes or rice if that's more of your thing.