Salisbury steak as once considered a health food

Do You Eat Low-Carb? Check Out this Vintage Recipe that Was Once Eaten as a Health Food

Salisbury steak is of interest to anyone following a low-carb diet – at least historically, if not as a regular part of the diet. Created by Dr. James Salisbury, the dish was originally intended as a cure for the terrible diarrhea soldiers suffered during the American Civil War. Salisbury believed we should limit carbohydrates and fats, and eat a diet composed mainly of meat. He recommended eating his creation, which he prescribed for treatment of tuberculosis, diabetes, goiter, and other conditions, three times a day!

Salisbury steak was essentially a cake or burger made from ground round, broiled slowly and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper. Salisbury also allowed for flavouring with Worcestershire sauce, mustard, horseradish, or lemon juice.

Most recipes today include onion and mushroom as essential components, though these were not in the original burger. Salisbury recommended a bit of celery instead, “used as a relish.” The celery in my recipe is a nod to the good doctor.

Salisbury Steak Recipe

1-1/2 to 2 lb lean or extra lean ground beef
1 packet onion soup mix
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dry mustard

flour for dredging (optional)
oil for browning

Mushroom Gravy:
1 cup beef broth
1 can sliced mushroom, with liquid
2 tsp dried minced onion
1-2 stalks celery, chopped (optional)
salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce to taste

Mix the ground beef with the onion soup and bread crumbs. Add the egg, milk, and seasonings. Form into patties. If desired, dredge each patty in flour before browning.



Freezing Salisbury Steak

I like to make a double batch of both the patties and the gravy when I cook Salisbury steaks. We eat half right away, and I freeze the second half for later use. If you choose to do this, just brown the patties that you’ll be storing and cook partially only. This allows them to be reheated without becoming dry. Store burgers and gravy together or separately, either in labelled freezer bags or foil/glass baking pans.

When you want to use your freezer meal, defrost in the fridge over night. Heat through in a 350ºF oven for about 30 minutes, or cook on low for about 4 hours in a crockpot. Ground beef is safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 160ºF.

This Salisbury steak recipe is quick and easy, and it’s a good way to stretch ground beef now that it’s gotten so expensive in some places. Add some steamed broccoli or lightly sauteed snap peas, or serve with a salad that contains some dark green, leafy vegetables in order to boost the vitamin content of the meal.




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Salisbury steak as once considered a health food
Dr. Salisbury was a 19th century advocate of the low-carb diet
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Original content © 2014-2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
I originally published this article on Bubblews in April 2014

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

29 thoughts on “Do You Eat Low-Carb? Check Out this Vintage Recipe that Was Once Eaten as a Health Food”

  1. Salisbury Steak was always on my diner menu because it was a customer favorite. Right up there with meatloaf and liver & onions.

  2. I have not made it myself. I always buy it in the nearest resto here. I love it too with potatoes.

    1. We hadn’t eaten it in a while, either Sandy. But I did two batches, so I had one for freezing and cooking up later in the month 🙂

  3. Your recipe sounds so good! I make salisbury steak but usually cook it with peppers and onions. I a quick but delicious meal.

    1. Oh it is, Luciaanna! The flavour is very rich, and it goes so well with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. I always try to add a lot of vegetables, as well, for colour and nutrients.

  4. I have read this Salisbury steak in an Irish and British restaurants when we traveled in Ireland and England but I have not tried it. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I bookmark this for later use. ☺

    1. If you make it, you’ll have to tell me how it turns out for you. Thanks for visiting, Thelma 🙂

    1. It’s so convenient to make Salisbury steak in the crockpot! It almost becomes a one-dish meal. Sometimes I just add the green veg (like snap peas) to the crockpot during the last little bit of cooking, to avoid dirtying another pot.

        1. I love both carrots and corn with my Salisbury steak! When we do carrots, I like to use what in Quebec is known as “macédoine,” or mixed vegetables. The most common mix is green beans, peas, and carrots. Since I can’t eat green beans, I usually prefer peas and carrots.

          My absolute favourite mix used to be sold frozen under the name “spring vegetables” and was a blend of baby cut carrots and snow peas. Delicious in soups, stews or stir fries, and also as a side dish for beef.

  5. As a kid we bought these meals. I have not made any myself in years and since the heart doctor told me to cut out red meat, I better not. BUT I know how good these are 🙂

    1. Andria, you could try to make it with ground chicken or turkey, especially if you’re allowed a bit of pork to mix with it. Most of the flavour comes from the gravy and seasonings.

    1. Lots of foods today also come with health claims, too! Think about green tea, turmeric, or Açaí berries…

      You may have had something similar to Salisbury steak, but under the name of Hamburg steak or a hot hamburger sandwich/plate in a deli.

    1. Angie, I use a blog template (Arcade Basic) that has a customizable header image and featured image. I don’t generally add images to the posts themselves, so the featured image shows up on the Home page for this blog instead. If you click on the blog title you’ll see the home page, and I suspect you’ll see the photo you were looking for 🙂

  6. That sounds delicious. We have it about once a month, however I will try your recipe next time.

  7. I will try this recipe tomorrow as I have some all natural ground beef in the freezer. Looks good and sounds delicious! Thank you for posting this and a great suggestion of green leaf!

    1. Since most folks tend to want mashed potato, fries, or some kind of rice or noodles with a dish like this, I think it’s important to add a dark green or orange vegetable, and maybe an extra serving of vegetables. There’s a good bit of calories, carbs and protein in this meal, even if you go for low-fat options on everything. So it’s missing the colour and the micronutrients.

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