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Classic Amish Poor Man’s Steak: A Family Favorite

amish poor mans steak

Introduction to Amish Poor Man’s Steak

Amish Poor Man’s Steak is a dish that epitomizes the essence of Amish culinary tradition, blending simplicity with heartiness. This meal, deeply rooted in the Amish way of life, offers a glimpse into a culture that values frugality and resourcefulness.


Definition and Origin

Amish Poor Man’s Steak is a testament to the ingenuity of the Amish people in creating fulfilling meals from modest ingredients. The dish essentially transforms a hamburger patty into a steak-like experience. Amish communities, known for their simple, self-sufficient lifestyles, originated this recipe as an economical alternative to traditional steak. The name itself reflects the dish’s humble beginnings – a “steak” accessible to those who couldn’t afford the luxury of real steak cuts. It’s a classic example of making the most out of limited resources, a principle deeply ingrained in Amish culture.

Cultural Significance in Amish Communities

In the Amish community, where they avoid extravagance and embrace simplicity, Amish Poor Man’s Steak has a special significance. It’s not just a meal; it’s a reflection of the community’s ethos. The Amish are known for their frugal yet fulfilling lifestyle, and this dish is a perfect embodiment of that philosophy. It’s a culinary symbol of their ability to create something delicious, nutritious, and satisfying, without relying on expensive or lavish ingredients. This dish is a reminder of the importance they place on community, family, and the joy of sharing a home-cooked meal.

Overview of Ingredients and Cooking Method

The beauty of Amish Poor Man’s Steak lies in its simplicity. The primary ingredient is ground beef, which is more affordable and readily available than steak. This is combined with common pantry staples like cracker crumbs, milk, onions, and a blend of seasonings. The mixture is then shaped into patties, which are coated in flour and fried to create a crispy exterior. Finally, these patties are baked in a rich gravy, often made from cream of mushroom soup, which adds depth and flavor to the dish. The result is a hearty, comforting meal that is both easy to prepare and satisfying to eat.

The ground beef is mixed with other ingredients, formed into patties, and then fried. For a richer flavor, the patties are often smothered in homemade cream of mushroom soup, enhancing the dish’s taste and texture.

Detailed Recipe and Preparation for Amish Poor Man’s Steak

Amish Poor Man’s Steak is a delightful dish that combines the heartiness of a traditional steak with the practicality and simplicity of Amish cooking. This recipe is perfect for those looking to enjoy a comforting, homemade meal without the expense of high-end cuts of meat. Here’s how to make this savory dish.

Ingredients List

To prepare Amish Poor Man’s Steak, you will need:

  • 2 pounds ground beef: Choose a leaner variety for a healthier option.
  • 1 cup saltine cracker crumbs: These add texture and help bind the patties.
  • 1 cup milk: This helps to moisten the cracker crumbs and adds richness.
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped: Adds a subtle flavor.
  • Seasonings: 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. These seasonings enhance the meat’s flavor.
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup flour: For coating the patties before frying.
  • 3 tablespoons butter: For frying the patties.
  • Gravy: 1 or 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and 1 soup can full of milk. This creates a rich, creamy gravy for the steak.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the Meat Mixture:
    • In a large bowl, mix together the cracker crumbs, milk, chopped onion, and seasonings.
    • Add the ground beef to the mixture and combine thoroughly.
  2. Form the Patties:
    • Shape the meat mixture into eight thick patties.
    • For uniformity, you can use a burger press or simply shape them with your hands.
  3. Coat and Fry the Patties:
    • Roll the patties in flour, ensuring they are evenly coated on both sides.
    • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium/high heat.
    • Fry the patties for a few minutes on each side until they are nicely browned. This step is not to cook them through but to give them a nice sear and lock in the juices.
  4. Bake the Steak:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
    • Place the browned patties into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
    • In a separate bowl, mix the cream of mushroom soup and milk. Pour this mixture over the patties in the baking dish.
    • Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-55 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 10 minutes.
  5. Serve:
    • Serve the Amish Poor Man’s Steak hot, ideally with a side of mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. You can also use the steak’s gravy as a delicious topping for the sides.

Tips for Perfecting the Dish

  • Choosing the Right Meat: While traditional recipes call for ground beef, you can experiment with other types of ground meat for different flavors.
  • Refrigeration: For easier handling, refrigerate the patties for about an hour before frying. This helps them hold their shape better.
  • Gravy Thickness: Adjust the thickness of the gravy to your preference by altering the amount of milk. More milk will result in a thinner gravy.
  • Seasoning Adjustments: Feel free to tweak the seasoning amounts to suit your taste. Some prefer a more pronounced garlic or onion flavor.
  • Serving Suggestions: While mashed potatoes and noodles are classic sides, you can also serve this dish with steamed vegetables or a fresh salad for a lighter option.

This recipe for Amish Poor Man’s Steak is not just about creating a meal; it’s about bringing a piece of Amish tradition into your kitchen. Enjoy the rich flavors and the simplicity of this beloved dish.

Nutritional Information for Amish Poor Man’s Steak

While hearty and flavorful, Amish Poor Man’s Steak carries certain nutritional aspects that one should consider, especially if they are mindful of their diet.

Caloric Content

A typical serving of Amish Poor Man’s Steak can be quite calorie-dense, primarily due to the ground beef and the creamy gravy. On average, a single serving can contain around 400 to 500 calories, with a significant portion coming from fats and proteins. The flour and cracker crumbs also add to the calorie count, primarily as carbohydrates.

Nutritional Benefits and Concerns


  • Protein-Rich: The ground beef in the recipe is a good source of protein, essential for muscle building and repair.
  • Iron and B Vitamins: Red meat is a natural source of iron and B vitamins, crucial for energy production and red blood cell formation.


  • High in Saturated Fats: The use of ground beef and butter can contribute to a high saturated fat content, which might be a concern for heart health.
  • Calorie-Dense: Due to its high fat and carb content, this dish can be quite high in calories, which might not be ideal for weight management.

Dietary Considerations

For those with specific dietary needs, here are some adjustments:

  • Gluten-Free Option: Replace the flour and cracker crumbs with gluten-free alternatives. Gluten-free all-purpose flour and gluten-free crackers are readily available in most stores.
  • Low-Carb Option: For a lower carbohydrate version, you can reduce or eliminate the cracker crumbs and use a low-carb thickener instead of flour. Also, consider a low-carb alternative for the cream of mushroom soup or make a homemade version with low-carb ingredients.

While Amish Poor Man’s Steak is a delicious and satisfying dish, it’s important to consume it in moderation, especially if you’re watching your calorie intake or have specific dietary restrictions.
You can modify it to fit various dietary needs with some adjustments.

Variations and Serving Suggestions for Amish Poor Man’s Steak

You can adapt Amish Poor Man’s Steak to suit different tastes and dietary preferences because it is a versatile dish. Whether you’re looking to switch up the protein source or seeking the perfect side dish, there are numerous ways to enjoy this hearty meal.


Alternative Ingredients (Different Types of Meat)

  • Turkey or Chicken: For a lighter version, ground turkey or chicken can be used. These meats are leaner and offer a different flavor profile while still absorbing the rich gravy flavors.
  • Game Meats: If you have access to game meats like deer or elk, they can provide a unique, gamey twist to the traditional recipe. These meats are also leaner and richer in certain nutrients.
  • Vegetarian Options: For a vegetarian variant, consider using a meat substitute like textured vegetable protein (TVP) or a blend of mashed beans and lentils. These alternatives can mimic the texture of ground beef when seasoned and cooked similarly.

Side Dishes and Pairings

  • Mashed Potatoes: A classic pairing, creamy mashed potatoes complement the rich gravy of the steak perfectly.
  • Buttered Noodles: Simple buttered noodles offer a delightful contrast in texture while also serving as a great vehicle for the gravy.
  • Steamed Vegetables: Lightly steamed vegetables like green beans, carrots, or broccoli can add a pop of color and a dose of nutrition to the meal.
  • Fresh Salad: A crisp, fresh salad can balance the richness of the dish, making the meal feel lighter and more balanced.

Creative Serving Ideas

  • Over Rice: Serve the steak and gravy over a bed of fluffy rice for an interesting twist.
  • Open-Faced Sandwich: Place a patty on a slice of toasted bread, smother with gravy, and serve as an open-faced sandwich.
  • Mini Sliders: Shape the meat mixture into smaller patties and serve as sliders for a fun, bite-sized version of the traditional dish.
  • Stuffed Bell Peppers: Stuff bell peppers with the meat mixture, top with gravy, and bake for a stuffed pepper version of Poor Man’s Steak.

Incorporating these variations and serving suggestions can transform Amish Poor Man’s Steak into a dish that caters to a wide range of tastes and dietary needs. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or experiment with these ideas, this dish is sure to provide comfort and satisfaction.

Historical and Cultural Context of Amish Poor Man’s Steak

Amish Poor Man’s Steak is deeply embedded in the rich tapestry of Amish culinary traditions, reflecting both the community’s history and its values. This dish, like many Amish recipes, is born out of necessity and practicality, showcasing the community’s skill in creating fulfilling meals with limited resources.

Amish Culinary Traditions

The Amish, known for their simple, self-sufficient lifestyle, have a culinary tradition that emphasizes homegrown, seasonal ingredients. Their cooking is characterized by hearty, wholesome meals that are meant to fuel a day’s hard work. Amish Poor Man’s Steak fits perfectly into this tradition, utilizing basic, readily available ingredients to create a satisfying and nourishing dish.

Economic Factors Influencing the Dish

Economic practicality plays a significant role in Amish cooking. The concept of Poor Man’s Steak arose from the need to enjoy a hearty, steak-like meal without the expense of actual steak cuts. Ground beef, being more affordable, became a clever substitute, embodying the community’s ethos of frugality and resourcefulness.

Comparison with Other Traditional Amish Meals

Similar to other Amish dishes like chicken pot pie, shoofly pie, and scrapple, Amish Poor Man’s Steak is about making the most of what is available. These dishes are all about comfort and sustenance, often featuring ingredients that are staples in Amish pantries. The common thread is the emphasis on simplicity, family, and community, which is at the heart of every Amish meal.

In essence, Amish Poor Man’s Steak is more than just a dish; it’s a reflection of a culture that values simplicity, community, and the joy of sharing a meal made with love and care.


Amish Poor Man’s Steak, a beloved traditional dish, often raises questions about its preparation and ingredients. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you perfect this hearty meal.

What is the best type of ground beef for this recipe?

The best type of ground beef for Amish Poor Man’s Steak is typically a leaner variety, such as 90/10 or 85/15 (indicating the percentage of lean meat to fat). Leaner ground beef provides enough fat for flavor and tenderness while avoiding excess grease. However, if you prefer a juicier steak, a slightly higher fat content, like 80/20, can be used.

Can I make Poor Man’s Steak with other types of meat?

Absolutely! While traditional Poor Man’s Steak uses ground beef, you can easily substitute it with other types of ground meat for variety. Ground turkey or chicken are excellent leaner options, while ground pork or a mix of meats can add a different flavor profile. For a gamey twist, ground deer or elk meat can also be used.

How can I make this dish healthier?

To make Amish Poor Man’s Steak healthier, consider the following adjustments:

  • Use Lean Meat: Opt for leaner cuts of ground beef, turkey, or chicken.
  • Reduce Butter: Minimize the amount of butter used for frying, or use a healthier oil like olive oil.
  • Low-Fat Dairy: Choose low-fat milk for mixing with the meat and in the gravy.
  • Whole Grain Options: Substitute regular cracker crumbs with whole grain or gluten-free alternatives.
  • Increase Vegetables: Add more chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, or bell peppers to the meat mixture for added nutrients and fiber.
  • Serve with Healthier Sides: Pair the steak with steamed vegetables, a fresh salad, or whole grain sides instead of traditional mashed potatoes or noodles.

By incorporating these changes, you can enjoy a healthier version of this classic Amish dish without sacrificing its comforting flavors.

In conclusion, Amish Poor Man’s Steak is not just a dish; it’s a culinary journey into the heart of Amish culture. It’s a reminder of how delicious and fulfilling simple, unpretentious food can be. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly meal or want to try something new, this dish is sure to satisfy. For an authentic experience, pair it with creamy Amish mashed potatoes, and enjoy a meal that is both comforting and rich in history.

amish poor mans steak

Classic Amish Poor Man’s Steak: A Family Favorite

Amish Poor Man's Steak, a beloved rustic classic, is a testament to the Amish community's ingenuity. Despite its humble origins, this dish bursts with rich flavors that will transport you to a simpler time. Made from budget-friendly ingredients, it's a comfort food champion that warms hearts and bellies alike. Join us on a journey to explore this timeless recipe.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course dinner
Cuisine amish
Servings 4 people


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a mixing bowl, combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, chopped onions, and milk.
  • Form into oval patties and dredge in flour.
  • In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Brown patties on both sides, then remove them.
  • Using the same skillet, whisk in flour to make a roux.
  • Gradually add beef broth, stirring until the mixture thickens.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Return the patties to the skillet, simmer for 20 minutes, flipping once.


Can I use ground turkey instead of beef?
While it changes the flavor slightly, ground turkey is a suitable alternative.
Can I make this dish ahead of time?
Yes, it reheats beautifully, making it a great option for meal prep.
What side dishes pair well with Amish Poor Man’s Steak?
Mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables complement it perfectly.
Can I freeze leftovers?
Absolutely, just store them in an airtight container for up to three months.
Can I use homemade beef broth?
Homemade broth adds an extra layer of flavor, but store-bought works just fine.
Amish Poor Man’s Steak, born out of necessity, has become a cherished tradition. Its affordability and deliciousness have made it a staple in countless homes. With its hearty taste and straightforward preparation, it embodies the Amish spirit of simplicity and togetherness. Whether you’re seeking comfort or a taste of the past, this dish promises both. So, gather your loved ones, savor the aroma, and relish a plate of this timeless classic. Create memories around the table with Amish Poor Man’s Steak, and let it remind you of the simple pleasures in life.
Keyword Amish Poor Man’s Steak
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