Eating Well Made Easy: Gluten Free Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak has been an American staple since the Civil War. When food was in short supply for the soldiers and many were dying from digestive complaints, Dr. James Henry Salisbury found that his special beef patties were both nourishing to soldiers and easy to prepare in mass quantities. Today, most people have no idea of its origins. Salisbury Steak is thought of as a warm, savory comfort food with roots in grandma’s kitchen.

Growing up, my family used to eat at Luby’s Cafeteria after church on Sundays. In this southern establishment, Salisbury Steak was my go-to order. There, it was served like a thin, juicy hamburger with cheese, swimming in a watery gravy. But that’s not quite what Dr. Salisbury intended when he invented this recipe over a hundred years ago.

During the Civil War, Salisbury Steak patties were simple, but filling. They were made from beef, salt, grated onion, bread crumbs, and beef stock. The gravy wasn’t thin and watery, but a deep, rich, caramel colored sauce. Because the patties were cut with bread crumbs, they cooked quickly and held together well.

To pump up the flavor, these patties contain more than just bread crumbs and grated onion.

When I set out to update this recipe for my own kitchen, I knew I wouldn’t be using bread crumbs. My kitchen is gluten free by necessity. I thought of my recipe for meatloaf, which includes shredded veggies. This seemed like a positive option because veggies act as a binder and also add nutrients to the patties. Ironically, Dr. James Henry Salisbury thought that vegetables were toxic, as the soldiers in his care had trouble digesting them. He would likely frown, but I’ve included them in this recipe.

For the patties, I used grated zucchini, minced onion and garlic, chopped parsley, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, salt, pepper, and an egg.

After mixing the above ingredients together, I added chickpea flour to help bind the patties.

The ground beef is the last patty ingredient to be added.

Because of the addition of shredded vegetables, I needed much less flour/breadcrumbs than Salisbury’s original recipe calls for. When I did need something as a binder or thickener, I opted for chickpea flour. Nutritionally, chickpea flour contains a notable amount of natural folate, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. It also contains more protein than wheat flour, and is much lower on the glycemic index.

I am able to make 8 patties with this recipe.

In a large pan, I cook the patties five minutes on each side.

They should have a nice, brown crust when done.

I would rate this recipe as “easy” with the caveat that I found it to be messy. My kitchen was a bit of a disaster when I was done cooking. There was a bowl for mixing patties, a plate for making patties, the pan for cooking, another plate for resting the cooked patties, plus the dirty cutting board, and of course another pot for mashed potatoes. Who wants to eat Salisbury Steak without a bit of mashed potatoes? All in all, I’d say it was worth it. Many compliments were shared upon serving.

Enjoy the recipe and make it your own!

Gluten Free Salisbury steak

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


For the Patties:
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 medium zucchini, shredded (wide shred)
– 1/8 onion, minced (save the rest of the onion for later)
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
– 1 tbsp sugar free ketchup
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– sea salt
– ground white pepper
– 2 tbsp chickpea flour
– 1 lb ground beef
– 2 tbsp olive oil

For the Gravy:
– 2 tbsp unsalted butter
– remaining onion, sliced
– 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
– 1 tbsp chickpea flour
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 tbsp tomato paste
– 1 c beef stock
– sea salt
– ground white pepper


1. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, shredded zucchini, minced onion and garlic, chopped parsley, ketchup, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Add the chickpea flour to the mixture. Stir to combine.
3. Add the ground beef. Stir and mash to combine. Divide and separate the mixture, forming 8 patties. Set aside.
4. Heat a large pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and heat the oil. After spreading the oil across the pan, add the patties. Cook in batches if need be. Cook for five minutes on the first side. After five minutes, flip the patties and cook another five minutes. (While the patties are cooking, gather all the ingredients necessary for the gravy.)
5. When the patties are done, remove them from the pan. Add the butter to the pan, and turn the heat down a bit.
6. When the butter is melted, add the onions and stir to gather the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When the onions are almost translucent, add the mushrooms and fresh thyme. (Remove the leaves from the stems and use only the leaves.) Stir.
7. When the onions and mushrooms are mostly cooked to your liking, sprinkle the chickpea flour over the mixture. The mixture will begin to look cakes and may stick to the bottom of the pan.
8. Once combined, add the balsamic vinegar and tomato paste. Continue to stir. Add the beef stock and stir until the gravy takes on a smooth texture without lumps of tomato paste or chickpea flour. Salt and pepper to taste.
9. Set the burner on low. Add the patties back to the pan, nestling them into the gravy. Allow the pan to simmer for five minutes or so, and then serve.

Salisbury Steak is nice served over creamy mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

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Here on, Jennifer Taylor Schmidt writes beef recipes for the busy, natural homemaker. It is possible to seek optimal health with limited time and money. Join Jennifer in future posts as she explores the possibilities found in a 1/4 and a 1/2 beeve. You can also find her thoughts and personal health journey on

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