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Simple, Comforting Smothered Steak with Onions

by | Jul 8, 2021 | Recipes

Smothered Steak is a simple and comforting stovetop classic. It brings a rich and meaty flavor to the table that simply can’t be beat! Whether you pair your smothered steak with creamy mashed potatoes or lighten it up with a fresh garden salad, its comfort food at its easiest.

Close up photo of smothered steak served in a large bowl.

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Recently, I was looking through a cookbook that was once my Grandma’s to dog-ear recipes that sounded yummy and relatively easy to make. I love looking through the old cookbooks because they’re like informational time capsules. You get to see what was popular at the time, or at least popular enough to be included for publication. Sometimes recipes of yore seem so foreign while others feel like they would fit in with today’s modern life seamlessly.

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INGREDIENTS    SWAPS    TIPS & TRICKS    HOW-TO    RECIPE

Using Convenience Products as Time Savers

From garlic presses to Instant Pots to convenience products like ready-made and boxed food items, if it saves us time in the kitchen, we generally love it. While doing my research, I came across multiple recipes for smothered meats that sounded delicious. Some recipes called for the cook to make her own gravy out of the pan drippings and flour. Others leaned toward the use of timesavers like packaged gravy mix.

I’d forgotten how easy smothered steaks, pork chops, and the like are to make. They don’t take any kind of special skill and the meat always comes out fork tender. What’s not to love about a recipe where you can brown your meat, add in a braising liquid, walk away for 15-30 minutes and come back with a dish ready to serve?

Overhead close up of smothered steak with onions in a white bowl.

I’m Pro-Convenience If It Means Less Stress

Every time I try making gravy from scratch I get nervous. It seems silly, I know, but it’s true. When a recipe calls for me to make gravy from scratch, I’m instantly reminded me of the time that my Dad tried his hand at making gravy. We’d both seen my Grandma make homemade gravy with ease. She would expertly combine flour with her pan drippings bit by bit until it was just right.

However when my Dad tried, it ended up a lumpy disaster. I don’t say disaster lightly either. The man’s gravy was blackened lumps of flour that he literally tried to strain through a fine mesh sieve. Oof! Was I scarred for life? You betcha! So every time I go to make gravy, I’m nervous that today will be the day I end up with gravy like my Dad’s. Because of this, I’ll always lean towards the easier gravy option. For me, it means less stress over the what-ifs.

Overhead photo of smothered steak in a white bowl.

Find a Baseline & Then Make It Your Own

Looking at the various recipes I’d found, I took the elements I liked and left the rest on the table so to speak. Then, I mashed those elements together and made tweaks here and there to come up with my own version. A lot of recipes for smothered beef steak are made with both mushrooms and onions. I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms and I have a picky eater in the home who doesn’t really like them either. So, I left them out. But, I love sautéed onions and so, for me, they fit perfectly in this dish. To my shock, and pleasant surprise, my picky eater (who downright loathes onions) said he actually liked them in this dish—success!!

The next time you’re looking for a stupid simple meal that’s full of flavor and is in the vein of “set it and forget it”, give my Smothered Steak with Onions a try for dinner. Once you see how moist and tender the meat comes out in this style of braising, you will be hooked!

Gonna try out this recipe?

Leave a star rating or review in the comments to let me know what you think!

Ingredients For Smothered Steak with Onions

  • Thinly Cut Steak – More affordable cuts of steak like bottom round, eye of round, or sirloin are great for this dish.
  • Onions – They’re a flavor enhancer and will somewhat breakdown, helping give the dish some body.
  • All-Purpose Flour – The flour will act as an initial thickener in the braising liquid, and give it a silky smoothness.
  • Cornstarch – Because the packaged gravy mix is diluted so much, the cornstarch is needed to thicken things back up once the meat is tender.
  • Packaged Low-Sodium Brown Gravy Mix – Using pre-packaged gravy mix is a foolproof way for creating a gravy and, in this dish, it bumps up the beefy flavor.
  • Warm Water – Needed to braise the steak in, and warm temperature water mixes better with the packaged gravy mix and flour than cold temperature water.
  • Olive Oil – I like to pan sear the steaks in olive oil to get a good crusty browning at the steaks’ edges. This also creates a fond at the bottom of the skillet that will help flavor the onions as they sauté.
  • Garlic Powder – Brings another layer of savory to the dish.
  • Black Pepper – Seasons the steak and the onions, as well as cuts through some of the sodium of the gravy mix.

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Pinterest graphic for smothered steak with onions recipe.

Recipe Notes

Storage – Store leftover smothered steak in an airtight glass or plastic container in the fridge. Stored properly, leftovers of this dish will last for up to 7 days.

Reheating – I prefer to reheat this dish in the microwave, just be careful of the times you use. I typically with pull the leftovers out of the fridge about a half hour before I’m going to eat. Then, I zap them in the microwave for 1 minute to start and check to see if it needs more time. If it does, I turn the steaks over and then put them back in for another 30 seconds. I then check it again and basically repeat this process until it’s as hot as I’d like.

Servings & Nutrition – One serving of this Smothered Steak with Onions is 1 steak with 1/4 of the onions and gravy. This Creamy Fresh Dill Potato Salad recipe makes 12 servings. Each serving has approximately 276 calories, 16 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of protein, 22 g of fat, and 1 g of sugar. For the full recipe and additional nutritional information, please see the recipe card below.

How to Make Smothered Steak with Onions

Step 1. Mix the garlic powder and black pepper, then sprinkle the steaks with the seasoning mixture.

Step 2. Place a large pan over a burner on medium-high heat and add oil to the skillet. Once the oil has warmed through, a 2 steaks to the pan making sure to not overcrowd. Cook steaks 1-2 minutes on each side and then remove to a separate plate. Repeat process with remaining 2 steaks.

Step 3. Add remaining oil to the hot pan. Then, add in the onions and sprinkle with any spice mixture remaining from Step 1. Cook the onions for approximately 10 minutes.

Step 4. Sprinkle in the flour and the packaged gravy and stir to coat the onions. Add in the warm water and stir to thoroughly mix. Be aware that the mixture will be soupy.

Step 5. Add the reserved steaks back into the pan, nestling them into the soupy onion mixture so that they are covered as much as possible. If there are any drippings on the plate where the steaks had been resting, add them in too.

Step 6. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the soupy onion/gravy mixture has thickened. This should take 10-12 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to ensure the soupy onion/gravy mixture has thickened to your liking. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.

Close up photo of smothered steak with onions served in a bowl.

If you make this recipe, tag me in your photos on Instagram—I love seeing what you guys decided to make!

Frequently Asked Questions

What side dishes do you recommend serving with smothered steak and onions?

This dish screams comfort food to me, so I tend to serve it with corn even though that’s doubling up on the starches. Another option I like to eat this dish with is green beans or a salad when I’m trying to lighten things up a bit.

Could I serve this dish over pasta instead of potatoes or rice?

Certainly! You could also use a wooden spoon to break the meat apart into bite-sized pieces and create a beefy onion gravy that you ladle over the pasta. When I was a kid, we used to have something similar for dinner sometimes and it was always delicious.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

close up of smothered steak

Simple, Comforting Smothered Steak with Onions

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes

This stovetop classic is a simple, timesaving dish that brings big flavor. If you're looking for comfort, pair with creamy mashed potatoes or rice. If you're looking to lighten things up, serve with fresh veggies or a side salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lb thinly cut steak (cut into 4 pieces of approximate equal size)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 pkt low-sodium brown gravy mix
  • 2 cups warm water
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions

1. Mix the garlic powder and black pepper. Sprinkle steaks with the seasoning mixture.

2. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to large pan over medium-high heat. Let heat through for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 steaks to pan and cook each steak 1-2 minutes per side. Remove steaks to plate and set aside.

3. Repeat Step 2 until you have cooked all remaining steaks.

4. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then add in the onions and season with remaining spice mixture. Cook onions for 10 minutes.

5. Add in flour and gravy packet, stir to coat onions.

6. Add in 2 cups of warm water and stir to thoroughly mix; mixture will be soupy.

7. Add reserved steaks and any drippings to the pan, making sure to submerge the steaks as much as possible.

8. Bring to a boil and cook until gravy mixture has thickened (approximately 10-12 minutes).

9. Remove from heat and serve Smothered Steak with Onions with mashed potatoes or white rice.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 631Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 165mgSodium: 392mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 46g

This nutrition data is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. Please keep in mind that your specific nutritional values may vary based on the brand of ingredients you use to make this recipe.

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Hey there! I’m Krystal, the sassy-mouthed, self-taught, home cook behind the content here at Sweet, Savory & Sassy. I have a deep love for sharing food with people and showing folks just how easy it really is to make dishes that will bring a little extra joy to those you love. There’s nothing like making something special for friends and family and seeing their face light up in delight during that first bite!
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