Meaty Gravy Recipe


This recipe is my own – if I was a 1940s housewife (and had a fridge) I would make up a big pot of ‘Meaty Gravy’ to use as a base for several different recipes or just to have a couple of spoonfuls over mash & veg. It is quite delicious (when you are hungry like me!)..

I used two weeks worth of mince meat rations in this recipe…

I used two weeks worth of mince meat rations (about 1 lb of mince) in this recipe and there should be enough ‘Meaty Gravy’ to use as a pour over addition for 8 meals. Unlike the 1940’s housewife, I am blessed with a freezer so I have portioned it up and frozen it…so I don’t eat it all!

Meaty Gravy

  • 1 lb mince beef
  • cornstarch
  • water
  • thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • old ripe tomatoes (optional)
  • oxo cubes or marmite


Brown mince in pan

Add water (around 600ml) and stir

Add 1 to 2 oxo cubes to your own taste (or marmite) and stir

Add a couple of pinches of dried thyme

Throw in some chopped ripe tomatoes (if you have any that need using up)

Mix up a tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water and pour some into the pan and stir, add more if necessary until thickened.

Continue stirring and cooking on medium/low for around 20 minutes or so

Add salt & pepper as needed

Finally: remove from heat and leave to cool. Should make 8 portions to freeze. This gravu can be used as a base for other dishes like curry where you can add curry powder etc. Personally I prefer a couple of spoons poured over a vegetable dish or mashed potatoes!

37 thoughts on “Meaty Gravy Recipe

  1. MARMITE ~ Love it? Hate it? It’s great for giving a savoury tang to gravies and of course it was used in the 1940’s! In the UK it’s on every supermarket shelf but in Canada you’ll have to look a little harder but usually Atlantic Save Easy stocks them.

    C xx

  2. Marmite: love it! It’s in all the supermarkets in Toronto, I guess we have plenty of Anglos here. I have taught my kids to love it too – 2nd generation English immigrants!

  3. Hehe- they run a very successful marketing campaign for Marmite in the UK saying… You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it…

    It is an acquired taste but I LOVE it!! Must be in the English genes if you have succeeded in teaching your kids to love it!

    C xx

  4. This meaty gravy looks like what my Great grandmother called mince and taties. (She was born in Scotland and emmigrated to Canada in the early 1900’s.) It was minced meat, onions, celery, potatoes and carrots cooked a gravy made with oxo cubes, water and S&P. I add garlic and thyme and more veggies and my family loves it. I have never thought of adding tomatoes but you’ve started me thinking, which is always dangerous. lol

    Congratulations on the weight you’ve lost and keep on going.

  5. Thanks Cathy for leaving your comment and. I originate from the UK (moved to Nova Scotia 5 years ago) and YES YOUR RIGHT mince and taties sounds just like some of the recipes the Scots/English/Welsh & Irish LOVE! One of my personal favourites is a nice meaty gravy poured over a tasty herby mound of mashed potato….

    Mmmmm I may cook that tonight!

    C xx

  6. Pingback: A typical two day meal plan… « The 1940's Experiment

  7. Hi,
    Am new to the site. Found it yesterday. Love what you’re doing. Thought of a tip for you – dry fry the mince until brown and you see the fat running, tip into a sieve over a bowl and the fat that comes out can be added to the fat rations. Refrigerate until needed. I’m going to use it in the pastry for the vegetable turnovers – yum. But my husband says when he was a child he had dripping spread on bread with little bit of salt.
    Well done indeed with the weight loss and the whole 1940’s experiment!

    • Hey great thank you Louise….

      After the triple whammy blip of Chrsitmas, New Year and my birthday I am so relieved to be getting back to this tomorrow 100% to lose the lbs put on this past couple of weeks!

      thank you for reading and posting ypor message!


  8. Hi all,

    Have recently moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia from the South of England. I know that the good old OXO cube is available here but I’ve only been able to find it in sachet form which is not so good, can anyone tell me where I can buy it here PLEASE?

    Many thanks

    Graham Clark

    • Hi Graham

      Pete’s Frootique is near you and you should be able to buy OXO cubes there- he imports quite a few British Goods. In addition you can find Marmite in places like Atlantic Super Store and Atlantic Save Easy in small jars but Pete’s Frootique does giant jars! Just google the name to come up with the web address..

      PS Welcome to Nova Scotia!

      C xx

  9. There are 2 ‘Petes’ – one in Bedford, the other on Dresden Row (Just off Spring Garden Road) in Halifax. I like the one in Bedford best (its bigger) – the produce is exceptional (and not too expensive) and they carry an amazing range of imports.

    Real ‘biscuits’ like Hob Nobs and ‘real’ tea.


  10. what is oxo cubes or marmite? I live in the US and I have never heard of this. I am assuming its some kind of Beef Bouillon Cubes. I’d love to make Meaty Gravy.

    • Oxo cubes = bullion cubes like Wylers or Knor brand.
      Marmite is a distinctive, savory tasting paste in a little glass jar. Can order Marmite online or check out import sections of stores like World Markets, etc. Try first with bullion cubes or bullion powder as cheaper and similar taste. Basically it enhances meaty flavor and adds salt. I recommend holding off on adding plain salt until you see how the bullion cubes affect it.

  11. Hi Kay- yes it’s exactly that.

    Marmite is a yeast extract (a by product of brewing bear sold in a jar) and although suitable for vegetarians tastes spicy and meaty…available during the war

    Oxo was British branded beef bouillon manufacturer in the UK during WWII

    C xx

  12. At 60 years young some of the recipes bring back the Sunday lunches and the sounds of Family enjoying a meal.Speaking of Marmite being an aquired taste we do find it on the Australian supermarket shelves but the preferred is Vegemite described by some as axle grease it like Marmite is an aquired taste. The rumour is that children are force fed this substance from an early age and become addicted to it even to the extent of adding it to boiling water, peanut paste sanwiches and eating it from the jar with a spoon, Marmite seems to have an uphill battle to gain a market share, love the website

    • Yes. in NZ they rave over local Marmite' andVegemite’, but they are just yeasty to me and I liken them to axle grease, too!!! British Marmite (proper!) is sold as Our Mate for some patent reason.

    • If your Aussie Marmite is made in New Zealand it is not the same as British Marmite. They bought the recipe and then added SUGAR !!!. to the recipe. True Marmite is made from Brewers Yeast, salt and vegetables. Bovril was similar but made from Beef extract.

  13. Yummy,I’m going to make this for a few meals this week- in today’s austere times and the environmental impact of eating meat I’m going to try and cut down on my families meat consumption(have to serve 5/7 meals meaty or DH would divorce me, he’s a meat and two veg man, lol!)

  14. I too am from the UK and live in nova Scotia,been here 10 years now,I can just remember the rationing a I was born in 1948,mum always cooked from scratch dad grew all our veg and fruit on the allotment,we never went hungry were very healthy,only ate 3 meals a day and never ate between meals,

    Marmite is available in most supermarkets in the maritimes ,a well as Walmart,Pete’s has a good selection of British food,
    We are lucky as we grow all our own fruit and veg,I preserve most of it by canning in mason jars,gone back to butter instead of becel,use much less and is a natural food,we don’t eat a lot of meat,just had a small bowl of home made soup and fresh baked cheese scones for lunch,and am feeling very full.

    Enjoy this this web site very much and will come back often

  15. my mum has always used bisto, hates instant gravy, it does have a better flavour, i use it now all the time, especially in the wartime cottage pie, yum yum!

  16. Now that you are vegan Carolyn I know you wont be using mince but I do a very similar recipe to meaty gravy using cooked pearl barley instead of the mince ,add the stock cube or marmite (or vegan equivalent)….it cooks up with the colour and texture of mince..I add veg and dumplings to make a lovely stew..and of course it is much cheaper than using meat!….very wartime rationing cheat I think!

      • Just another tip Carolyn…with pearl barley and most other pulses I soak and cook up a huge batch of each one and portion them up in the freezer then when you are doing a meal you can drop them in straight from the freezer and they will take as long as the rest of the veg to cook …saves all that faffing about with remembering to soak overnight and precook…..cheaper than buying tins too!

    • My mom would make something like this but use a can of peas. She’d fry a little onion and then dump the peas into a skillet along with the water in the tin, Stir to boiling, add maybe 1/2 to 3/4 c milk, stir and thicken w/cornstarch & water. Serve over potatoes to toast.

  17. Hi I’m evie I have a school cooking completion at school and I was wondering if i could make the meaty gravy in to a pie and adding the oatmeal pastry over the top if it would work please can you tell me how long to cook it for


    • I believe it would work but you would have to thicken the gravy up with extra Bisto and cornflour so it sets more as it cools xxx

  18. I’m from the US-my mom called this Hamburger Gravy and served it over potatoes, rice or bread. She’d also make a similar dish with a can of peas. Dump the can (liquid and all) into a skillet. Add milk to desired volume of gravy. Add cornstarch mixed with water to thicken. Serve over potatoes. Family favorite – both of them!

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