This classic, old favorite recipe goes by many names: S.O.S. (don't ask, please), creamed hamburger, chipped beef, or even hamburger gravy. But among the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, it has the peculiar distinction of being called "creamed hamburg." In fact, in many of the Amish recipes from Lancaster County prior to, say, 1980, most of the time hamburger is referred to as "hamburg."
In doing some cursory research online, references to Hamburg Steak began occurring sometime in the mid-1800s. The meat "Hamburg" is uncooked ground beef, where "hamburger" is the patty version of uncooked hamburg. The past half century or so, though, people just call it ground beef or hamburger. Hamburg seems to have fallen out of favor as a term. The Amish, however, often lag behind on cultural customs, so not surprising to see a cookbook from the 1980s still calling it Hamburg.
So, in that vein, I will share a recipe with you from an Amish cookbook for "creamed hamburg." Very easy, tasty, traditional Amish skillet supper that has many variations in popular culture. My Dad was in the military (navy) and I think I remember hearing him talk about SOS (otherwise known as chipped beef or creamed hamburger) being served. Here are some photos and the recipe for Lancaster Creamed Hamburger.
📋 Step-By-Step Creamed Hamburger
Very basic ingredients, but you can use this recipe as a "base recipe" and add in extra items of your choosing. I like seasoning mine with black pepper, onion powder, or garlic powder. Sometimes I'll also add a splash or teaspoon worcestershire sauce for flavor.
The above photo is cooking the "hamburg" over a medium high heat. You don't ever need to drain this for the recipe, the grease will incorporate into the flavor and add to the taste! But use a large skillet that will give you plenty of room to work with. And, by the way, this recipe would work just as well with turkey burger or chicken burger.
Add milk. Most Amish cooks - and you should also - would add whole milk to this to make it creamier. I mean, if you only have skim or two percent, it'll work, but whole milk works best. This simmer stage is also where you could add some mushrooms. To me, everything is better with mushrooms!
This is after it has all been cooked and spooned into a bowl. Stir it well and then pile onto some toast and sprinkle cheese. Good stuff! You can use any kind of cheese, but a nice mild Cheddar is my preference.
Serve with some vegetables on the side. Green beans, peas, or some corn are probably my favorite veggies to eat on the side. I think I like corn best because I can sort of mix it up in the SOS, but you can easily do that with peas also. And for your toast, well, yes, grab a slice of store-bought bread and use. But if you have the time and bandwidth, bake your own bread, I love this homemade honey bread, and use a slice of that for more Amish authenticity!
❓ Creamed Hamburger FAQ
Yes, for a leanier version, feel free to swap out hamburger with ground turkey or ground chicken. Venison and ground sausage are also options
Well, I said, don't ask. But it appears to have military origins. The Pennsylvania Dutch love this dish (which is why it is featured here), but I don't think they call it S.O.S. You can read more here from Atlas Obscura.
🥩 More Amish Hamburger/Ground Beef Recipes
🖨️ Amish Creamed Hamburger
Amish Creamed Hamburger
- 1 pound hamburger
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 /2 onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1 /2 cups cold milk
- 2 - 3 tablespoons flour
- Melt butter, add hamburg, onion, and salt.
- Brown hamburger. After browned place over on pan and let cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes.
- Take from heat and add flour
- Stirring add milk and cook until thick. Serve on toast.