French Onion Salisbury Steak

Recipe Video Pin
1 hour
4 servings

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Elevate your dinner game with my easy French Onion Salisbury Steak with gravy, this method, a modern twist on the classic, promises gourmet flavor on a ground beef budget! Serve this over mashed potatoes, with corn pudding, or a simple green salad!

Beef patty in an onion gravy, with mashed potatoes.

When nostalgia meets gourmet, you get the beefy comfort food known as Salisbury Steak with onion gravy, also called hamburger steak. Taking inspiration from the Lipton onion soup mix ground beef steak my mom used to make, and TV dinners of the past, this French onion steak recipe is a marriage of ordinary ground beef patties and a sophisticated wine and onion reduction.

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You can now relish an elegant Salisbury steak dinner without hours of labor, even on busy weeknights! As far as ground beef recipes go, if you’re looking for quick and easy, don’t overlook this Traditional Cottage Pie, a classic Meatloaf with Creamy Onion Gravy, or a pot of Hearty Meatballs in Marinara Sauce! If steak with mushroom gravy appeals, Beef Tips in Creamy Mushroom Pan Sauce is about to become your favorite find!

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe!

·         The Merging of Two Classics – French Onion Soup and ground beef Salisbury Steak offers eaters a dual culinary experience in a single bite!
·         Herbs de Provence – Enriches the traditional French Onion Soup profile, its primary component: thyme.
·         Serving Atop Cheese Toast – Recreates the classic charm of French Onion Soup’s baguette crouton.
·         Red Wine and Onion Gravy Recipe – Brings an unparalleled depth as the wine’s rich undertones meld with the caramelized onions, creating an aromatic sauce that’s nothing short of a culinary journey.
·         The ‘Hearty Things Up’ Approach – Complementing the dish with mashed potatoes anchors the meal and introduces a creamy, earthy element.


French Onion Salisbury Steak Ingredients

Ground beef takes center stage in this method, along with a handful of pantry items like tomato paste, beef broth, and dried herbs. I’ve made some profile notes on other ingredients below which is worth a read.

For the Hamburger Steaks

All ingredients necessary to assemble the ground beef hamburger steaks for French Onion Salisbury Steaks.
  • Beef: Choose an 80/20 beef mix for this dish; it ensures moist patties and a richer sauce from the beef juices.
  • Scallion: Adds onion essence without overpowering the dish.
  • Parsley: Fresh parsley adds color and a subtle herby freshness.
  • Herbs de Provence: The heart of this dish; a fragrant blend of dried herbs, typically containing thyme, lavender, and rosemary. Thyme (fresh or dried) is an acceptable substitute.
  • Red Wine: A good quality wine you’d also enjoy drinking will intensify the the onion gravy.
  • Beef Broth: Provides the foundational liquid for the sauce. Opt for low-sodium broth to better control the salt content.
  • Onions: Sweet varieties, like Vidalia, give the gravy balance with some sweetness.

For the French Onion Cheese Toast

All ingredients necessary to assemble the cheese toast for French Onion Salisbury Steaks.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Shredded parmesan gives a salty, nutty flavor. Ensure it’s freshly grated, NOT shaken from a can.
  • French Bread or Baguette: Thick slices, preferably slightly stale work best, acting as a sponge for the sauce.
  • Swiss Cheese: Shredded Swiss cheese introduces a cream element which pairs well with the savory notes going on. Ensure it’s freshly shredded.
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See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.

Substitutions and Variations

When making substitutions, keep in mind that texture, cooking time, and flavor may change.

  • Beef – Substitute ground chicken or turkey for lighter Salisbury steaks, though it may alter the flavor profile. For a variation mix ground pork with beef for a richer, nuanced taste.
  • Scallion – Substitute fresh chives. For a variation use a mix of white and green parts of the.
  • Herbs de Provence – May use thyme, fresh or dried or food-grade dried lavender buds.
  • Red Wine – Substitute beef broth mixed with a splash of balsamic vinegar for depth without alcohol.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Substitute Romano or Asiago for similar salty, nutty flavors.
  • Baguette – Substitute thickly sliced ciabatta or sourdough. For a variation, use store-bought frozen Texas Toast and prepare according to package directions, omitting all ingredients for the cheese toast.
  • Swiss Cheese – Substitute Gruyère or Emmental for similar creamy textures and flavors.
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Tip: Grab for The Cast Iron!

Using a well-seasoned skillet or cast-iron pan can add additional flavors to the French onion hamburger steaks.


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This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!

Can Any Part of This Recipe Be Made Ahead?

Certainly! Prepping some elements of the French Onion Salisbury Steak ahead of time can simplify the cooking process. With components ready in advance, final assembly becomes quicker and easier!

  • Patties – Form the ground beef patties into oblong patties after mixing with scallions, parsley, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate them in an airtight container using parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking.
  • Brown Gravy with Onion – Make the onion gravy up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight. To reheat, add the onion gravy to the skillet after browning the beef patties.
  • Cheese Toast – Prepare the garlic butter up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate. Pull from refrigeration 1 hour before ready to use to soften.

Step By Step Instructions

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Tip: Caramelize the Onions

For added depth, and if time permits, consider caramelizing the onions in this homemade Salisbury before continuing to assemble the brown gravy.


Hands adding spices and ingredients to a bowl filled with ground beef for Salisbury Steaks.

Assemble the Patties

Step 1. Combine 1 1/4lbs ground beef together with 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped white and green parts scallion, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked pepper. (Image 1) 

Step 2. Split the mixture into half. Then, divide each half again. This ensures roughly equal portions. Shape the portions into oval patties, about the size of hamburgers but slightly oblong, with a thickness of 3/4″ to 1″. This form complements the shape of the cheese toast. (Image 2)

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Tip: Make Ahead!

To make ahead, form the patties and refrigerate in an airtight container using parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking for up to 1 day.


Hands sprinkling flour over hamburger steaks and browning them on each side in a pan.

Brown the Hamburger Steaks

Step 3. Place 1/4 cup of flour in a shallow dish. Dredge each patty in the flour, tapping off any excess back into the dish. Reserve the remaining flour as it will be used to thicken the French onion gravy shortly. (Image 3)

Step 4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a single tablespoon of butter in a deep sided skillet or cast iron over medium-high heat. Add patties and sauté 3 minutes on each side until browned. Do not cook all of the way through. (Image 4)

Step 5. Remove from pan to a plate and cover with aluminum to keep warm. (Image 5)

Step 6. Add 2 cups of sliced onions to the pan. Do not wipe the pan clean before adding the onions, as all of the visible fond or ‘brown bits’ in the bottom of the pan will help ‘build’ the gravy. (Image 6)

Onions being sauteed in a skillet on a stove before having tomato paste added to thicken them for a French onion gravy.

Sauté the Onions for the Steak Gravy

Step 7. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, stir, and sauté 1 minute more. The onions should resemble (Image 7) before you stir in 2 tablespoons of garlic. While sautéing, use the back of a spoon to scrape up the fond in the bottom of the pan.

Step 8. Make a well in the center of the pan amidst the onions. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to the well. Sauté until paste begins to brown. (Image 8) Allow the tomato paste to brown and slightly burn. Keep moving the paste around the well using a metal spatula to keep it from burning completely.

Step 9. Sprinkle onions with flour you have reserved from dredging the beef patties. Cook 1 minute. (Image 9)

Step 10. Stir in 1/2 cup of a hearty red wine and use the back of a spoon to again scrape the fond. Add a single teaspoon of Herbs de Provence and season with Kosher salt or 1 to 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce if you feel you need it. I personally like to give it a healthy pinch at this juncture, though it is not required. Add 2 cups beef broth. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. (Image 10)

Hands spreading herbed butter onto thick slices of French bread, followed by shredded cheese.

Assemble the Cheese Toasts

Step 11. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place four slices of thickly cut bread onto the baking sheet. Combine 2 tablespoons of softened butter with 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic, and 2 tablespoons of shredded Parmesan cheese. I like to mix it into a paste using the tines of a fork. Spread evenly onto one side of each slice of bread. (Image 11)

Step 12. Sprinkle the shredded Swiss evenly over the butter. Bake until bread is quasi-crisp, and the cheese is bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes. (Image 12)

Step 13. Return the steaks and all accumulated juices to the onion gravy. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and allow to stand for an additional 5 to 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. (Image 13)

Step 14. To assemble, serve each steak atop a cheese toast. Ladle the red wine and onion sauce over the beef. Garnish with parsley and additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Pour remaining onion gravy into a gravy boat to be passed tableside. It’s AMAZING spooned over mashed potatoes! (Image 14)

How to Serve French Onion Salisbury Steak

Presentation

  • Plating: Place a hamburger patty atop a cheese toast and spoon some onion steak gravy over the top much like you would a mushroom gravy. Garnish with parsley and additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Accompaniments

  • Sides: Keep the side dishes simple, given the French onion gravy is quite rich. I like to serve alongside mashed potatoes and with a simple vegetable such as green beans.

Serving Occasions

  • Dinner/Lunch: This dish is elegant enough to serve to guests. Think heavy lunch or dinner and offer extras such as a tossed green salad and simple dessert.

Pairings

  • Wine: A glass of the same red wine used in the gravy pairs seamlessly, heightening the rich flavors of the dish.

Jenny’s Recipe Pro Tips

  • Use the same pan to brown the steaks and prepare the onion gravy, building flavor from the beef drippings and reducing the number of dishes to clean.
  • Pre-shape and freeze the patties. On a busy weeknight, you can pull out as many as needed, allowing them to thaw while you prepare other ingredients.
  • Use boxed wine for cooking, reserving pricier bottled wine for drinking. Ensure the cooking wine is drinkable, but it doesn’t need to be top shelf.

Recipe FAQs

What’s the difference between Salisbury steak and French onion Salisbury steak?

The latter is inspired by the flavors of French Onion Soup and usually features a richer sauce.

Can I use white wine instead of red wine?

Yes, though it will alter the taste slightly. If using white wine, choose a dry variety. Old Vine Zinfandel’s serve as great alternatives to red wine and are a better overall choice to using white wine.

How should any leftovers be stored?

Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze the steak and sauce separately. Thaw overnight before reheating on the stovetop.

More French Onion Recipes to Oodle Over!

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After trying this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts! Consider leaving a star rating in the recipe card located below or sharing your feedback in the comment section. Your reviews and comments are highly valued and appreciated.

Recipe

Beef and onion Salisbury steak on a plate with mashed potatoes and kernel corn.

French Onion Salisbury Steak

Jenny DeRemer
This French Onion Salisbury Steak is a fusion of nostalgic TV dinners with a gourmet twist. Featuring a succulent steak drenched in an onion and red wine gravy, it's a heartwarming dish that's both delicious and easy to make.
5 from 3 votes
Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 4 servings
Calories 655 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 ¼ pound ground beef I prefer 80/20 for this dish so the beef juices give some body to the sauce and also so the patties will hold together
  • 2 tablespoons garlic fresh minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons scallion fresh chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley fresh chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup flour **reserve what you do not use after dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups onions sweet like Vidalia's, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence may substitute fresh or dried thyme
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth use beef stock or bone broth for a richer sauce
  • 1 tablespoon parsley fresh, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese shredded
  • 4 thick slices French bread Or baguette, cut diagonally and on an angle to yield the most expansive slice possible
  • 2 tablespoons butter room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon garlic minced fine
  • ¼ cup Swiss cheese shredded

Instructions
 

  • Combine the ground beef, parsley, scallion, salt and pepper. Divide evenly into four portions by first halving, then halving each half. Shape each into 3/4"-1" thick oval patties, about the size and thickness of hamburgers.
  • Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge each patty and reserve any remaining flour.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a deep-sided cast iron skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add beef patties. Sauté 3 minutes on each side until browned. Do not cook all of the way through. Remove from pan to a plate and cover with aluminum to keep warm.
  • Add onions to the pan and sauté 5 minutes. Scrape up the fond or 'brown bits' in the bottom of the pan as the onions cook down. Sprinkle with sugar and sauté 1 minute more. Stir in garlic.
  • Make a well in the center of the pan amidst the onions. Add the tomato paste to the well and sauté until the paste begins to brown. Allow the tomato paste to brown and burn slightly. Keep moving the paste around the well using a metal spatula to keep it from burning completely.
  • Sprinkle onions with reserved flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the wine and scrape the fond. Add Kosher salt if desired. Add Herbs de Provence and stir, scraping the fond again. Add the beef stock. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes while preparing the cheese toast.
  • To prepare the cheese toasts, preheat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet.
  • Combine softened butter, garlic, and shredded Parmesan into a paste using the tines of a fork. Spread on one side of each slice of bread. Sprinkle the shredded Swiss evenly over the butter. Bake until bread is about halfway to crisp and cheese is bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Return the hamburger steaks and all accumulated juices to the French onion gravy. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to stand for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  • Serve steaks atop cheese toasts with the red wine and onion sauce ladled over. Load all remaining French onion gravy into a gravy boat to be passed tableside. Garnish with parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Video

Notes

Buying Guide for Beef: When selecting beef for this dish, focus on freshness. The color should be bright red without excess liquid in the package. Organic or grass-fed beef provides richer flavors.
Storage and Freezing Instructions: Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. For more extended storage, freeze the steak and sauce separately. Thaw overnight before reheating on the stovetop.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 655kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 31gFat: 47gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 1321mgPotassium: 760mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 903IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 173mgIron: 5mg
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Recipe Rating




13 Comments

  1. THIS! What a fabulous and EASY recipe. I went a bit off trail and added in sliced mushrooms to the brown gravy and received a unanimous ‘it’s awesome, mom!’
    Thank you for a favorite new meal!5 stars

  2. This looks so incredibly satisfying!! I love onions. Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party. Hope your week is going great.

  3. Hi Jenny! I’m absolutely loving your site, after accidentally finding it on another blog. Quick question. Is the sodium content for both the steaks and the cheese toast together? I have to follow a low sodium diet for health reasons, and if I can lower the sodium content of this dish by skipping the cheese toast, this meal will be going on my weekly meal plan, because it looks absolutely delish!!

    1. Deanne, in fact, the sodium count is for both the steaks and the cheese toast. I also lessen the salt I use, so oftentimes will substitute a low-sodium tomato paste as well as a low-sodium beef broth. Because I do both of these things, I also forgo the teaspoon of salt, instead adding 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire. This offers that salt flavor without actually adding additional salt. If you want to skip the cheese toasts, consider a slice of baguette, Texas toast – whatever – but rubbed with raw garlic, then lightly toasted, then simply sprinkled with herbs BEFORE loading the steak and gravy on top. Rosemary is my go-to for a beef entree like this one!

      Please be sure to let me know how you enjoy this dish should you choose to assemble it. I would also love to know what alterations you make as there are other readers who will want to know the same! 🙂 Jenny

    1. Thank you Jhuls! My family asks for this at least twice each month and I don’t complain because it’s so easy! Thank you also for hosting Fiesta Friday and sparing some space for the new kid on the block – Jenny

  4. This looks delicious! I do have a question: the cook time at top of the recipe says 20 min, however if I read the recipe right, the patties cook for 10 min one side, 10 min on the other, then 10 min in the gravy? So are they supposed to cook for 30 minutes, or am I reading it wrong?

    1. Thank you for begging clarification! You will want to cook the patties over high heat for 3 minutes each side. This gives them a good browning, but will not cook them through. After the gravy is complete, the remaining 20 minute simmer in the gravy will cook the patties the rest of the way and allow them to remain nice and juicy. If you feel like you need to go longer per side, I would not go much beyond 4 minutes otherwise you run the risk of drying out your beef patties, something not even the gravy can rescue 🙂

      Please let me know how you and yours enjoy this recipe – it has been a go-to for me for over a decade. If you don’t have the ingredients for the garlic bread, I have cheated before and used frozen store bought Texas toast! Also, any sauce/onions leftover can be frozen and added to chili later which is somehow absolutely game-changing…..

  5. OMG, this looks soooo good Jenny!! I am going to try this using ground turkey & venison and mashed cauliflower on the side. Hopefully it will be weight watchers approved with those changes! 🙂

    1. Anne, I’d like to know how it turns out, but I’d also LOVE to see a pic or three if you have your phone handy when you get it plated!

    1. Cathy, this IS a tasty one! If you plan to make it, please let me know how it turns out – I’d love your take on it!