Salisbury Steak vs. Meatloaf: 3 Ways They’re Different & Nutritional Comparison

Salisbury Steak vs Meatloaf Differences

Salisbury Steak vs. Meatloaf: 3 Ways They’re Different & Nutritional Comparison

When looking for a scrumptious hearty meal to feed your family, you may come across Salisbury steak and meatloaf. Both of these main courses are filling and classic comforts. However, since the main ingredient is ground beef, many are unsure of the difference between Salisbury steak and meatloaf. Aren't they the same thing? The short answer is no. Although Salisbury steak and meatloaf have very close similarities, they are, in fact, different. This article will explore the main differences between these two savory meals.

Salisbury Steak vs. Meatloaf: What Is the Difference?

The primary difference between Salisbury steak and meatloaf is that meatloaf is baked into a loaf while Salisbury steak is typically shaped into oval patties and served with gravy. Salisbury steak uses ground hamburger but is shaped to resemble a steak. On the other hand, meatloaf is often mixed with ingredients like bread crumbs, onions, and eggs and can even use different meats like turkey or pork.

Another important difference is flavor. As noted earlier, Salisbury steak received most its flavor from a gravy (often mushroom) that accompanies it. Meatloaf often has ketchup or a barbeque glaze on top the loaf that gives it a distinctly different flavor.

Let's look at each of these American comfort foods individually. We'll dive deeper into differences in their preparation methods, ingredients, and history.

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Salisbury Steak vs Meatloaf Nutrition: Calories, Fat, and Protein Per Serving

Meatloaf vs Salisbury Steak Nutritional Comparison
Nutrition comparison of Salisbury steak and meatloaf


The image above gives you an idea of how meatloaf and Salisbury steak compare nutritionally. Both foods tend to be heavier in protein and fat and lighter in carbohydrates. However, it's worth noting that the meat used in either food can create big differences in calories. For example, meatloaf made with turkey as a meat would be far leaner than other recipes. Likewise, Salibury steak using ground beef that's 10% fat or other leaner ratios would also have fewer calories.

Another variable in calories for either dish is the toppings. Salisbury steak gravy can be quite variable, and is often rich and relatively heavy in calories. Meatloaf that's covered in a thick ketchup or barbeque sauce topping will have added carbohydrates.

What Is the Texture Difference Between Meatloaf and Salisbury Steak? 


The texture of meatloaf is smoother than Salisbury steak. The cooking method is a contributing factor. Meatloaf topping consists of different glazes, including ketchup, tomato sauce, or another type of glaze. Since the glaze has a smoother texture than the gravy, it also contributes to the texture difference.

Ground beef is the main ingredient in both meals, so they can become quite crumbly. Therefore, binding agents like breadcrumbs, oats, or crackers are imperative.

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury steaks look like smashed-down hamburgers. Their appearance is similar to miniature steaks and has a rougher texture than meatloaf. Salisbury steak is typically served with mashed potatoes and smothered in delicious brown gravy.  

Salisbury steak cooking on a stove top pan
The most popular way to make Salisbury steak is by pan-frying on the stovetop and smothering it with mushroom gravy.

©from my point of view/Shutterstock.com

What are the Flavor Differences Between Meatloaf and Salisbury Steak? 

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury steak has a robust beefy flavor because it is primarily ground beef. While the binding ingredient, whether crackers, oats, or bread crumbs, may change the texture slightly, it does not significantly change the Salisbury steak's flavor. The Salisbury steak is also doused in gravy. This gravy is typically mushroom gravy, or it can be another brown gravy you prefer. Therefore, the sauce will slightly change the Salisbury steak's flavor. However, most Salisbury steak lovers will agree that this meal gives you a robust, hardy, comforting, and beefy flavor.


The flavor of meatloaf will change depending on the ingredients that are used. Meatloaf is very versatile. There are endless recipes out there today using a variety of different ingredients. You can find meatloaf recipes using several different types of meat, adding vegetables, using several kinds of glaze, and even meatloaf recipes that use fruit. All this variety will change the flavor of your meatloaf. Although it depends on what glaze and ingredients you use in your meatloaf, the meal still has a robust, satisfying, meaty flavor. 

Turkey meatloaf with spinach and mushrooms.Meat roll with kumquat and orange sauce.Copy space
Meatloaf is very versatile, and there are endless recipes out there today! This one pictured is a stuffed turkey meatloaf. Yum!


What Is Salisbury Steak?

Dr. James Henry Salisbury is the one responsible for the creation of Salisbury steak. He first came up with Salisbury steak as a health remedy for soldiers. He was a huge advocate of eating food that can heal our bodies. However, he noticed the soldiers were not healing as fast, some even becoming ill due to the conditions and food. He knew they needed protein from meat, but how would they make enough meat-based meals while remaining economical for all the soldiers? That is where chopped beef and Salisbury steak comes in. 

Salisbury steak is mainly a hamburger patty, although some recipes include pork:

  1. Bind the ground hamburger with egg and breadcrumbs, oats, or crushed-up crackers.
  2. Add the seasonings that you want. Then smash down with either your hand or spatula, then form a steak shape.
  3. Fry the steaks on the stove for ten to 15 minutes, and cover with a hearty gravy.

Many people enjoy eating Salisbury steak alongside comforting vegetable sides or mashed potatoes.

Salisbury steak dinner with mashed potatoes
Salisbury steak is delicious, served with mashed potatoes and covered in mushroom gravy.


How Long Does it Take to Cook Salisbury Steak?

The primary way to cook Salisbury steak is by pan-frying it. However, some people still cook it in the oven or broil it. Pan frying is by far the most popular way. It is cooked on the stove over medium-high heat for at least five minutes on each side or until the redness in the center is gone. After cooking, the gravy is poured over the Salisbury steak, and you can serve it hot. Salisbury steak cook time is much shorter than meatloaf.

What are the Ingredients for Salisbury Steak?

As I stated before, there are many ways to make Salisbury steak. However, here are the basic ingredients that you will need.

Basic Salisbury Steak Ingredients

  • Beef, usually around 1.5 pounds
  • Canned soup for the gravy- most use French onion soup for the gravy or a mushroom-based soup
  • Bread crumbs, oats, or crushed crackers 
  • One egg for binding
  • Seasoning of your choice 
  • Flour
  • Ketchup 
  • Worcestershire sauce 

What is Meatloaf?

Meatloaf started appearing in recipe books in the 1800s. Then it gained popularity around the Great Depression. That is because meatloaf is very versatile, can feed many people, and lasts long. So meatloaf recipes were tweaked, and often scrapes were used to make food last longer. 

Meatloaf is a mix of meats, consisting typically of ground beef, sausage, or pork. 

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  1. Mix vegetables or fruit inside the meatloaf with the meat. 
  2. Then bind the meatloaf with eggs and crushed-up crackers or breadcrumbs. 
  3. Next, add your desired seasoning to the meat mixture. Form into a loaf and place in a loaf pan. 
  4. Finally, top the meatloaf with your favorite glaze. 
  5. Cook in the oven for at least an hour.

The glaze is usually tomato-based. However, sometimes it can have a base of something else, like fruit juice. For example, my great-grandma would make our family's favorite meatloaf, still a staple in our house today, with apricot juice and brown sugar as the glaze!

Homemade ground meatloaf with ketchup and basil. Top view
Meatloaf is a hardy loaf of beef that is also very versatile and simple to make.


How Long Does it Take to Cook Meatloaf?

Meatloaf is precisely what it states, a loaf of meat. Therefore it is bound with binding ingredients and shaped in a loaf pan or mold. The glaze is poured over the top of the meatloaf, then put in a preheated oven of 350°. Most meatloaves require a cook time of at least one hour, although some cook longer. You will know it is done when no pink is left in the middle. Serve this dish while hot for the best experience. 

What Are the Ingredients for Meatloaf? 

There are endless recipes out there for meatloaf. We even have some fantastic meatloaf recipes on our website. However, if you are about to make your very first meatloaf, here are the basic ingredients you want to have on hand.

Basic Meatloaf Ingredients

  • Ground beef, start with two pounds. 
  • Egg
  • Onion
  • Milk 
  • Bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ketchup 
  • Brown sugar
  • Mustard

Are Salisbury Steak and Meatloaf the Same Thing?

Both Salisbury steak and meatloaf have a base of ground hamburger. They also both have a sauce. However, Salisbury steak and meatloaf are different. They are both hardy and filling dinners, usually served with vegetables and potatoes. However, Salisbury steak is more like a hamburger patty without the bun, with a few additions and gravy added to it. It cooks on the stovetop and takes less time than meatloaf.

On the other hand, meatloaf is a loaf of very versatile meat. It can have several different types of meat, including pork or sausage, with various ingredients, like onion, vegetables, and fruits. The glaze is typically a tomato base, although it doesn't always have to be. 

In Conclusion

Infographic comparing Salisbury steak and meatloaf.
Both of these dinners are quite similar, but there are a few key differences to know.
  • Salisbury steak is shaped into patties, while meatloaf is baked into a loaf. Despite being patty-shaped, it isn't common to put Salisbury steak on a sandwich. If you want to try it that way, though, nobody is stopping you!
  • Ground hamburger is the meat you need to use if you want to make Salisbury steak, while you can use ground beef, ground turkey, or even ground chicken in meatloaf. Meatloaf also typically has breadcrumbs added, too.
  • Salisbury steak is coated with gravy, while meatloaf usually has ketchup or BBQ sauce on it. You can leave the ketchup or BBQ sauce off, if that's your preference, but you may find your meatloaf is a bit dry if you do.

These dinners are inexpensive, excellent for large families, and have many of the ingredients you already have on hand. If you are trying to decide between Salisbury steak and meatloaf, it all comes down to personal preference. The main question is, which one do you prefer? How much time do you have, and what do your taste buds enjoy? These dinners are classic comfort meals for your family that take basic ingredients. You can not go wrong with either one! 

Salisbury Steak Recipes

Meatloaf Recipes

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Turkey Meatloaf

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  • Author: Moms Who Think



1 cup grated zucchini
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 pounds ground turkey


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a strainer placed over a medium bowl, combine zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 30 minutes, then press as much liquid from the zucchini as possible.

3. In a mixing bowl, stir zucchini, onions, eggs, Worchestershire sauce, 1/4 cup of the ketchup, mustard, 1 tsp. salt, garlic, thyme, pepper and oregano.

4. Add the bread crumbs and ground turkey, mix well.

5. Place mixture into loaf pan, packing firmly. Brush remaining ketchup on top.

6. Bake turkey meatloaf for 1 hour, then cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

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