The meatball version of Salisbury steak! Tender, savoury meatballs made with ground beef (mince) flavoured with garlic, Worcestershire, ketchup, mustard and bouillon cubes (better than salt!) served in a mushroom gravy. Ridiculously delicious!
Salisbury steak meatballs
There’s a good number of meatball recipes on this website. Sixteen, to be exact. So to say that these Salisbury steak meatballs have shot straight into the top 3 is a big call – but I’m standing by it!
Think – savoury seasoned juicy tender beef meatballs smothered in a wickedly tasty mushroom gravy. It’s got even more flavour than ordinary Salisbury steaks even though we use the same ingredients. Why? Because there’s so much more surface area on 22 meatballs vs 5 large Salisbury steaks. More surface area = more browning = more flavour on the meat itself plus more flavour in the gravy which is made in the same pan after searing the meatballs.
Ingredients in Salisbury steak meatballs
Here’s what you need. Note: I’ve broken it up into groups so there are repeat ingredients, so it looks like more than you actually need!
For the meatballs
Beef mince (ground beef) – Lean is fine here, though I generally just go standard beef because fat = flavour!
Alternatives: Chicken, pork, turkey or lamb should all work equally well here.
Panko breadcrumbs – Adds bulk and absorbs moisture so the mixture isn’t too wet to form meatballs.
Onion – A key flavour base in most of my savoury dishes! My secret for extra tasty, extra soft meatballs is to grate the onion over the breadcrumbs so it soaks up the juices. It softens the panko which makes the meatballs juicier and more tender. Plus, if you use diced onion you’d need to cook it separately beforehand. When it’s grated, there’s no need!
Panko breadcrumbs are easy to find these days in the Asian and breadcrumb aisle of grocery stores. Ordinary breadcrumbs (smaller and finer, like sand) can also be used but the meatballs will not be quite as tender.
Worcestershire sauce – The sauce auto-correct has to fix for me, every single time! 😂 For savoury flavour.
Beef bouillon cubes or powder – Better than salt! Use powder or crumble a cube. (Tip for Aussies – Oxo brand crumbles easily, other brands are a bit hard).
Ketchup – Adds a touch of sweetness as well as flavour.
Dijon mustard – For flavour. Substitute with any other plain smooth mustard, though not hot English (too spicy!) or wholegrain.
Egg – Holds the meatballs together.
For the sautéed garlic mushrooms
Olive oil AND butter – Oil for browning the meatballs, then butter for flavour when sautéing the mushrooms. We can’t use butter to brown the meatballs as it will burn.
Mushrooms – Just ordinary white mushrooms. If yours are very big – or you’re using big mushrooms like portobello or BBQ/flat mushrooms – just cut the slices into smaller pieces.
Garlic – For flavour. Hard to find a mushroom recipe on my website without garlic in it!
For the gravy
This recipe uses a simple, lump-free technique for making gravy where we make a slurry by mixing the flour with a little water. Then just pour that into the beef stock and watch as the gravy magically thickens!
Beef stock gives the gravy the lovely deep brown colour. My recipes are written for low-sodium beef stock and homemade beef stock. So if you have full-salt beef stock, just reduce the salt then add it at the end only if required.
Flour – To thicken the gravy.
Dijon mustard – Used to add flavour to the gravy. As above with the meatball mixture, substitute with any other smooth mustard (avoid hot English mustard!).
How to make Salisbury steak meatballs
Mix salisbury meatball ingredients then roll balls.
Sear meatballs, remove, sauté mushrooms, then add gravy ingredients.
Return meatballs into the gravy then finish cooking by simmering in the gravy so they absorb the tasty gravy flavour, and the meatball juices add flavour into the gravy. Win, win!
1. Salisbury meatball mixture
Grate onion over panko breadcrumbs – My secret trick for extra soft, extra tasty meatballs! (Dubious? Read the glowing reviews in Italian Meatballs!). Put the panko breadcrumbs in the bowl first then grate the onion using a box grater straight onto it. The juices will soak into the breadcrumbs, which makes the meatballs softer. Plus, because the onion is grated rather than chopped, there’s no need to sauté the onion separate!
Meatball mixture – Add all remaining meatball ingredients.
Mix with your hands. Nothing beats using your hands. Get right in there to mix it up well!
Ready to roll – At first, the beef mince will be kind of crumbly and you’ll have streaks of the mustard etc throughout. But keep mixing with your hands – it only takes around a minute – until all the ingredients are mixed through it and it becomes sticky, almost like dough.
Now, it’s pretty well known throughout my team that I don’t have the patience for meatball rolling. Love eating ’em, but hate rolling ’em. So here’s the fastest way I’ve figured out (so far) for how to roll reasonably evenly sized meat balls.
Scoop up the mixture (tightly packed) using an ice cream scoop with a lever, then dollop the lumps on a tray or board. Continue until all the mixture is used.
Roll balls – Once you have the right number of meat mounds and they are (roughly) the same size, roll them into balls. Roll fairly firmly so the balls will not fall apart when you are cooking them.
Sear meatballs, just until nicely browned on the outside. They can (should!) still be raw inside. We will finish cooking them in the gravy (maximum flavour, ultra tender balls!).
Remove the meatballs on a plate and set aside while we make the mushroom gravy in the same skillet.
How to make the mushroom gravy
And here’s how we make the mushroom gravy.
Sauté mushrooms in the butter until softened. Add the garlic towards the end else it will burn before the mushrooms are ready.
Add beef stock into the mushrooms.
Gravy thickener (slurry) – In a small bowl, mix the flour with 2 tablespoons of water, the Worcestershire sauce and Dijon Mustard until it’s lump free (this is a slurry).
Add slurry into gravy – Then pour the slurry straight into the beef stock, stir it in (it will go cloudy). In the next steps as the liquid simmers, the gravy will magically thicken as the liquid heats up (photos below)!
ℹ️ This method of using a slurry is a handy way to make lump-free gravy. The usual method would call for adding flour into the cooked mushrooms, then adding the stock and stirring to dissolve the flour in. For this recipe, the gravy was a bit lumpy because of the volume of mushrooms we’re using. And it was difficult to remove the lumps, even using a whisk. So I chose to use this slurry method instead.
This slurry method is actually a variation of a classic French cooking technique to thicken sauces, soups and stews called beurre manié. I use it in traditional French dishes such as Coq au Vin and Beef Bourguignon.
Return meatballs into the gravy then leave to simmer for 5 minutes until the gravy thickens.
Proof of tender, juicy insides:
Leftovers will keep for 4 days in the fridge. Actually, like with stews, the flavour of the gravy improves with time. It also freezes perfectly, fully cooked, which is handy to know.
And lastly, in case you’re worried you won’t be able to sleep tonight until you know, the other 2 meatball recipes (currently) in my top 3 are:
Italian Meatballs – this will never budge from the #1 spot); and
– Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Salisbury steak meatballs with mushroom gravy
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (Note 1)
- 1/2 onion , peeled (brown/yellow)
- 500g / 1 lb beef mince (ground beef)
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp ketchup (or Aussie tomato sauce)
- 1 beef bouillon cube , crumbled (Note 2)
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tsp dijon mustard OR 2 tsp dry mustard powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp / 30g unsalted butter
- 250 g / 8 oz mushrooms , sliced
- 1/4 tsp each cooking/kosher salt & pepper
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 cups beef stock , low sodium
- 1/4 tsp each cooking/kosher salt & pepper
Gravy thickener (slurry):
- 3 tbsp flour (all purpose / plain)
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- Grated onion – Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Using a standard box grater, grate the onion over the panko so it soaks in. Mix through.
- Meatball mixture – Add remaining Meatball ingredients and mix well with your hands until thoroughly combined.
- Roll balls – Roll 20 to 22 balls (1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture). I use an ice cream scoop with lever, handy!
- Slurry – Mix ingredients in a bowl until smooth. We will use this to thicken the gravy (no lumpy gravy, yay!)
- Brown meatballs – Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Cook meatballs, using tablespoons to roll (to minimise deforming) until browned on the outside but still raw inside. Remove onto a plate and set aside.
- Sauté mushrooms – Melt butter in the same skillet still on high. Cook mushrooms until they start to soften (~ 2 minutes). Add salt, pepper and the garlic, then cook for a further 2 minutes until the garlic is golden and mushrooms are soft.
- Make gravy – Add beef stock, salt, pepper and slurry, then stir to combine.
- Simmer meatballs – Once the liquid starts to simmer, add meatballs and any juices pooled on the plate. Adjust heat to medium so it's simmering gently and cook for 5 minutes until gravy is thickened and meatballs are cooked through.
- Serve over mash sprinkled with parsley if desired.
Ball shaped food is delicious…
…and meatballs are the king of them all! Here’s my “top 3”:
Life of Dozer
When Dozer spies leftovers on a random cafe table, I stand no chance of holding him back. #Scavenger