Meatball version of Salisbury Steak! Soft and salty ground beef (ground beef) meatballs seasoned with garlic, Worcestershire, ketchup, mustard and bouillon cubes (better than salt!), served with a mushroom sauce. Incredibly delicious!
There are tons of meatball recipes on this site. Sixteen, to be precise. So to say that these Salisbury Steak Meatballs went straight into the top 3 is a big call – but I’m behind it!
Think – Spicy, juicy and tender beef patties in a delicious mushroom sauce. Even though we use the same ingredients, it has more flavor than regular Salisbury steak.
For what? Because 22 meatballs have a lot more surface area than 5 large Salisbury steaks. More surface area = more browning = more flavor from the meat itself and more flavor from the sauce made in the same pan after the meatballs are roasted.
Ingredients in Salisbury steak meatballs
This is what you need. NOTE: I’ve split this into groups so there are duplicate ingredients, so this looks like more than you actually need!
FOR THE MEATBALLS
- Ground Beef (Ground Beef) – Lean cuts go well here, although I usually stick to standard beef because fat = flavor!
- Substitutions: Chicken, pork, turkey or lamb should work equally well here.
- Panko Breadcrumbs – Adds bulk and absorbs water so mixture is not too wet to form meatballs.
- Onions – the key flavor base in most of my savory dishes! My secret to extra delicious, extra tender meatballs is to grate the onion over the breadcrumbs and let it soak up the juices.
This softens the panko, making the meatballs more juicy and tender. Also, if you use chopped onions, you have to cook them separately beforehand. When it’s ground, it’s not necessary!
- Panko breadcrumbs are easy to find these days in the Asian and breadcrumb sections of grocery stores. Regular breadcrumbs (smaller and finer, like sand) can also be used, but the balls won’t be as soft.
Worcestershire sauce – must fix autocorrect sauce for me every time! For salty.
- Beef bouillon cubes or powder – Better than salt! Use powder or crushed cubes. (Tip for Australians – the Oxo brand is crumbly, other brands are a little trickier).
Tomato sauce – Adds a touch of sweetness and flavor.
- Dijon mustard – seasoning. Substitute any other regular smooth mustard, but avoid strong English mustard (too spicy!) or whole grain mustard.
- Eggs – Assemble the meatballs.
FOR THE SAUTÉED GARLIC MUSHROOMS
- Olive oil and butter – Use oil to brown the meatballs, then season the mushrooms with butter when cooking. We cannot use butter to cook the meatballs because it will burn.
- Mushrooms – Just regular white mushrooms. If your mushrooms are large – or if you are using large mushrooms such as portobello mushrooms or grilled/flat mushrooms – simply cut the slices into smaller pieces.
- Garlic – seasoning.
Hard to find mushroom recipes without garlic on my site!
FOR THE GRAVY
This recipe uses an easy lump-free sauce making technique where we make a porridge by mixing flour with a little water. Then pour it into the beef broth and watch the sauce thicken like magic!
- The beef broth gives the sauce a nice dark brown color. My recipes are written for Low Sodium Beef Broth and Homemade Beef Broth. So if you have fully salted beef broth, just reduce the salt and only add more at the end if needed.
- Flour – thickens sauces.
- Dijon Mustard – Used to add flavor to sauces.
As with the meatball mixture above, substitute any other smooth mustard (avoid strong English mustard!).
How to make Salisbury steak meatballs
- Mix the ingredients for the Salisbury meatballs and roll them into balls.
- Meatballs are charred, removed, mushrooms are sautéed and sauce is added.
- Return the meatballs to the sauce and simmer in the sauce to allow it to absorb the delicious salsa flavors that the meatball juices add to the sauce. Win, win!
1. SALISBURY MEATBALL MIXTURE
- Shredded onion over panko breadcrumbs – my secret to extra tender, extra flavorful meatballs! (Have questions? Read the rave reviews in Italian Meatballs!). First put the panko breadcrumbs in a bowl, then grate the onions directly on a box grater.
- The juices will seep into the crumbs, making the meatballs softer. Plus, since the onions are ground rather than chopped, there’s no need to sauté the onions individually!
- Meatball Mix – Add all remaining meatball ingredients.
- Mix by hand. There’s nothing better than using your hands.
Get in there and mix it up!
- Ready to Roll – ground beef will be a little crispy at first, with drizzles of mustard etc. everywhere. But keep mixing with your hands – it should only take about a minute – until all the ingredients are well combined and thick, like dough.
Now it’s well known in my team that I don’t have the patience to roll meatballs. I love eating them but hate rolling them.
So here’s the quickest way I’ve found (so far) to roll fairly uniform sized meatballs.
- Use an ice cream scoop with a lever to scoop out the mixture (tight), then scoop out the lumps onto a tray or plate. Continue until all the mixture is used.
- Roll into balls – Once you have the right number of piles of meat and they are (roughly) the same size, roll them into balls. Roll up tight enough so the balls don’t fall apart while baking.
- Meatballs fried until golden on the outside.
They can (should!) still be raw on the inside. We will finish cooking in the sauce (for maximum flavor, super soft balls!).
- Put the meatballs on a plate and set aside while we prepare the mushroom sauce in the same pan.
HOW TO MAKE THE MUSHROOM GRAVY
And here’s how we make the mushroom gravy.
- Saute mushrooms in butter until tender. Add the garlic last or it will burn before the mushrooms are ready.
- Add beef broth to mushrooms.
- Sauce thickener (dough) – In a small bowl, mix the flour with 2 tablespoons water, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard until there are no lumps (mud ).
- Add the porridge to the broth – then pour the porridge directly into the beef broth, stirring (it will become cloudy).
In the next step, when the liquid boils, the sauce will magically thicken as the liquid heats up (below)!
This method of using porridge is an easy way to make lump-free broth. The usual method is to add flour to the cooked mushrooms, then add the broth and stir to dissolve the flour. For this recipe, the sauce was a bit lumpy due to the amount of mushrooms we used. And it is difficult to remove the mass even with a whisk.
So I chose to switch to this pulp method.
This boiling method is actually a variation of a classic French cooking technique for thickening sauces, soups and stews called beurre manié. I use it in traditional French dishes like Coq au Vin and Boeuf Bourguignon.
Return the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
Service! Serve Salisbury Steak Meatballs and Mushroom Gravy over mashed potatoes (or low carb mashed cauliflower), pasta, or rice!
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days. In fact, like stews, the flavor of broth improves over time. It also freezes perfectly and is perfectly cooked, which is easy to tell.
Finally, if you’re worried you won’t be able to sleep tonight until you find out, 2 more meatball recipes are (currently) in my top 3:
- Italian Meatballs – that’ll never change from #1 ); And
- Swedish Meatballs, Vietnamese Bun Tea Meatballs, Roast Pork Meatballs and Moroccan Meatballs (tied for 3rd place). Don’t make me choose!