October 29, 2018

S.O.S. Casserole

A quick and easy casserole recipe made with S.O.S. (creamed beef) gravy topped with buttered toast cubes perfect for breakfast or dinner.

Growing up, Mama made a Tuna Casserole that I LOVED.

Reading that sentence really puts into perspective for me how much times have changed… at least one of my kids would saw his toe off with a plastic spoon before he tried tuna casserole. But I loved it as a child!

Our tuna casserole is topped with buttery bread cubes that bake up golden brown and delicious and boy, lemme tell ya, when I’d see that thing come out of the oven, my mouth would water with anticipation!

SOS Casserole! A quick and easy casserole recipe made with SOS (creamed beef) gravy topped with buttered toast cubes perfect for breakfast or dinner.

I got to thinking about that casserole last week and wondered what else I could cook with a topping like that.

The topping is really just buttery toast cubes so I thought… what dishes do you serve over toast?

And WHAM-O! I remembered S.O.S.! That same kid of mine that would rather saw his toe off than try tuna casserole loves S.O.S.! That makes no sense, right? Kids are weirdos. Seriously, though, he loves it.

SOS Casserole! A quick and easy casserole recipe made with SOS (creamed beef) gravy topped with buttered toast cubes perfect for breakfast or dinner.

The first time I ever served S.O.S., I made his plate first then cut everything up (because he was too little to use a knife and fork back then). I sat down to make my plate, looked over and he’d already cleaned his plate! And was asking for more!

Want more proof that kids are weirdos? He loves S.O.S. but won’t eat sausage gravy over biscuits. And he loves sausage AND biscuits.

So anyway, I decided to make a casserole using a hamburger S.O.S. gravy base then top it with the bread cubes. And it was glorious! I am adding this recipe to my Christmas morning breakfast buffet!

SOS Casserole! A quick and easy casserole recipe made with SOS (creamed beef) gravy topped with buttered toast cubes perfect for breakfast or dinner.

I've heard several theories as to where S.O.S. got its name. Daddy first had this in the Army where they called it "Shit On a Shingle". He said that's what it was called because you put this "gravy looking shit" on a piece of toast that was so stale, it looked and tasted like a shingle.

That makes perfect sense to me.

I've also heard that your guts will be in big trouble when you eat this so you'll be in distress and calling for help (sending out an S.O.S.).

We also make this with dried chipped beef but don't call it S.O.S. (though I know many people do). We call it Creamed Chipped Beef. Mama and I actually prefer this version better but the kiddos love the ground beef one so that's what I make the most!

SOS Casserole! A quick and easy casserole recipe made with SOS (creamed beef) gravy topped with buttered toast cubes perfect for breakfast or dinner.

I’ll include this information in the recipe below, but just in case you ever need it, this is how I make my S.O.S. gravy:

  1. Brown ground beef in a large skillet until cooked through. Pour contents of pan into a colander to drain.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup butter in the skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add 1/2 cup flour to melted butter then stir with a whisk and cook for one minute.
  4. Pour 2 cups of milk into skillet then whisk and cook until mixture begins to thicken.
  5. Pour 2 additional cups of milk, salt, pepper and cooked ground beef into skillet. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened into a velvety gravy.

SOS Casserole! A quick and easy casserole recipe made with SOS (creamed beef) gravy topped with buttered toast cubes perfect for breakfast or dinner.

If you love comfort food casseroles like this one, check out a few of these recipes too!

  • Chicken & Stuffing Casserole - An addictive casserole recipe with Pepperidge Farm stuffing, sour cream and chicken.
  • Smothered Chicken Casserole - Layers of creamy potatoes (think Potatoes Au Gratin) topped with chicken, smothered with cheese and bacon!
  • Sausage & Rice Casserole - a simple recipe perfect for supper, side dishes, potlucks and Thanksgiving (sometimes called Rice Dressing).
  • Pork Chop Casserole - An easy pork chop bake made with rice and French onion soup.
  • Hamburger & Rice Casserole - Ground beef and rice baked together in a classic casserole recipe that's easy to make your own.
  • Chicken Tetrazzini - Classic tetrazzini made with pasta, mushrooms, wine (optional) and cheese. Super easy AND super delicious!

SOS Casserole! A quick and easy casserole recipe made with SOS (creamed beef) gravy topped with buttered toast cubes perfect for breakfast or dinner.

This recipe was shared at the Weekend Potluck and Meal Plan Monday!

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Yield: 6 Servings

S.O.S. Casserole

prep time: 10 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 40 mins


S.O.S. Gravy
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Toast Topping:
  • 10 cups bread cubes (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


S.O.S. Gravy:
Brown ground beef in a large skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper. Once beef is cooked through, pour contents of pan into a colander to drain. 

While beef is draining, melt butter over medium heat in the skillet. Once butter is melted, add flour then cook and whisk for one minute. 
While continuously whisking, pour 2 cups milk into skillet. Cook and whisk for 2-3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.

Add remaining 2 cups of milk, cooked ground beef, salt and pepper to skillet then continue cooking until mixture is almost as thick as you like your gravy (or approximately 5 minutes). We’re under-cooking the gravy just a bit because it will continue to thicken while the casserole bakes. Taste for seasoning then add more salt and pepper if desired. Pour mixture into a 13x9 3-quart baking dish.

Toast Topping:
Drizzle melted butter over bread cubes then gently toss to combine. Arrange bread cubes over S.O.S. gravy then bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bread cubes are golden brown. Serve immediately. 

  • Use a thicker sliced bread if available. I used 9 slices of Sara Lee Artesano Bakery Bread
  • I cut some of the crust off of my bread but that’s totally optional.
  • You don’t have to remove the ground beef from the skillet before adding the butter and flour (plenty folks don’t) but I’ve always found my gravy turns out perfectly smooth and silky if I cook the roux separately and add half the milk before adding the meat back. Plus they pump so much water into meat these days, the pan drippings contain a lot of extra liquid which can throw off the gravy.
  • Feel free to add mushrooms to your gravy (that’s how Mama likes it) or to make this with chipped beef instead of hamburger.

Keep up with my latest shenanigans by following South Your Mouth!

SOS Casserole! A quick and easy casserole recipe made with SOS (creamed beef) gravy topped with buttered toast cubes perfect for breakfast or dinner.


  1. Hi Mandy,
    I'm going back to some of these old fashioned casseroles just 'cause they taste good. And sorta healthy with a few changes here and there.
    I have a question for you. My mom use to make a casserole that we called "Chinese Chicken Casserole" which I loved. I think it had chicken green beans, water chestnuts, cream of Celery soup, soy sauce over a bed of crispy Chinese noodles. Do you remember this or do you know the recipe? Popular in the 60's?
    Thanks....BTW....your Dad's explenation is right on!

    1. I haven't heard of that one but I'm curious! We used to call anything with water chestnuts in it 'Chinese' :o) I do love me a good casserole!

    2. Ok thanks. I'm going to try to reinvent the casserole. I'll let you know how it turns out.

    3. I think some people call it chicken chow mein casserole, or various iterations of that. I've seen it on Food.com and on Just A Pinch too. The crispy noodles go on top of the casserole, but when served often end up underneath the creamy casserole ingredients.

    4. I'm oriental, that is not traditional chow mein lol, sounds like an American mix up. Nothing wrong with that.

  2. Our S.O.S. was made with dried beef. This looks a lot better.

    1. We called this version SOS and the version made with dried beef we called 'Chipped Beef Gravy'. It must vary by region (or maybe military branch - the Navy SOS has tomatoes in it from what I hear). I love both SOS and Chipped Beef Gravy so I don't care what it's called as long as somebody calls me to the table when it's time to eat!

    2. I was thinking of making this with chipped beef? I’m sold now!

  3. My brother liked cheese and he liked macaroni but, he didn't like Mac and cheese! He would eat a chunk of cheese and he'd eat macaroni mixed with tomatoes, okra etc., but not Mac and cheese together! Strange!
    I'm going to make these and add some finely chopped jalapenos!

  4. A small amount of onion powder and a dash of garlic makes a big difference. I have loved SOS since I was in the army.

  5. I'm definitely going to make this, in honor of my grandfather. I heard so much about the original "S.O.S.", which was served to the G.I.s during WW-II, of which he was a veteran. I'm glad that your recipe is in a casserole form, and it sounds pretty good & easy to me. It's definitely not as repulsive as my granddad described it to be, so perhaps the guys were just sick of it. I wish that he were still alive to taste your casserole. I'm sure that he'd love it, just as much as I'm sure my family & I will. Thanks for bringing back some treasured memories of being in the kitchen with my grandpa.

  6. After 40 years bouncing around on the ocean eating plenty of SOS in varied forms. The disgusting part came from old dried up rations powdered milk and too much flour. I make chip beef ground beef and sausage gravy all the same way. I have even been known to use hot sausage. But I can tell you bacon and gravy does not work well Oh and after 9 kids and 3 wives yes kids are weird..........well into their 30's

  7. Hi ! For the Sos recipe do I Just cut the bread and squares and put it over the gravy before putting it in the oven? Or do I toasted the bread and then cut it into squares and then put it in though over the gravy and casserole in the oven?

    1. Arrange untoasted bread cubes over gravy then bake.

  8. Recipe is missing Worcestershire and Beef Bullion cubes. Still good though but could have a much richer taste with my suggestions

    1. Do me a favor...read your comment. Now read it again. Do you understand how condescending you sound?

  9. Hi, just a point of interest. Wonderful idea! Also I was 50 years old before I realized that I could add the flour to un drained beef let it cook for a minute or so then add my milk and let it simmer a bit and get the same results every time! No variance and it’s so good and easy! Just a different way of doing it!


Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy