Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast (S.O.S.)

Creamed chipped beef on toast with glasses of orange juice for breakfast.

Creamed chipped beef is an easy recipe combining chipped beef gravy over toast. It comes together in minutes with a few everyday ingredients. Traditionally known as S.O.S. or “shit on a shingle,” This hearty recipe for chipped beef is an American classic served to enlisted men for the last hundred years. This version of creamed chipped beef on toast makes a hearty, inexpensive meal to feed the whole family.

A plate of creamed chipped beef on a slice of toast with a glass of orange juice.

What is creamed chipped beef?

Creamed chipped beef is a hearty, filling dish with a touch of nostalgia. A creamy bechamel sauce flecked with dried beef and served over toast. It’s pure comfort food.

This recipe has been around since World War II and was served to troops because it was cheap, filling, made with primarily shelf-stable ingredients and served 100 men. Here’s the original recipe for creamed chipped beef on toast from a 1945 Navy cookbook.

This recipe is closer to home than a WWII mess-kitchen cookbook. My Dad had chipped beef on toast weekly in the Navy. Of course, being a salty dog, he called it shit on a shingle (S.O.S.), and so did most of his brethren.

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Ingredients to make the chipped beef gravy recipe including milk, flour, dried beef, butter, half and half and parsley.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • You can make creamed chipped beef in ten minutes using a single skillet.
  • It’s cheap. Just toast and chipped beef gravy.
  • It’s filling. A stick to your ribs, kind of meal.
  • Kids love it – there are no vegetables.
  • Use everyday ingredients for creamed chipped beef.
Chopping beef on a cutting board.


  • Dried Beef – Carl Buddig beef is the most popular brand for this recipe because the dried beef isn’t too salty and can be used straight from the package. It’s found in the refrigerated deli section of the market.
  • Butter – I recommend unsalted butter as the beef will have plenty of sodium.
  • All Purpose Flour – To create a roux with the melted butter and form the base for the white sauce.
  • Black Pepper – Freshly ground is best.
  • Cayenne Pepper – This is optional, but it gives the chipped beef gravy a spicy kick.
  • Milk – You can use whole milk, low-fat, or skim, though whole milk is standard.
  • Half & Half – This is optional but makes a more decadent dried beef gravy. If you want a lighter sauce, substitute milk.
  • Toast – you can use any white, wheat or sourdough bread.
  • Parsley – purely for aesthetic reasons (and it is optional.)

How to make creamed chipped beef on toast

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet with 2″ to 3″ high sides over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the flour, black pepper and pinch of cayenne pepper to the melted butter and whisk together to form a paste (called a roux).
  3. Cook the roux for about one minute, stirring constantly to cook the flour.
  4. Whisk in the milk and half and half and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, cook it for one minute until the sauce (béchamel) thickens.
  5. Stir the chopped beef into the cream sauce.
  6. Spoon creamed chipped beef mixture onto the toast. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


What is creamed chipped beef made of?

Dried beef in a creamy white sauce known as a bechamel.

Why is creamed chipped beef called SOS?

SOS is short for “shit on a shingle” or “same old stuff.” This dish was a constant in the armed forces because it was cheap to make and fed a platoon.

What’s the difference between chipped beef and dried beef?

They are the same thing. The beef is preserved by drying and curing it. It’s packaged and sold thinly sliced. Find it in the canned foods aisle.

What’s the best dried beef for SOS?

Carl Buddig is a popular brand and is often used for chipped beef.
Hormel also sells dried beef in jars and pouches. It should be soaked to remove excess sodium.
Armour has dried chipped beef in a jar. It needs to be soaked to remove excess salt.
Carsons Dried Beef – sold in pouches and should be soaked to remove excess sodium.

I was spooning up a bit of the sauce on a wooden spoon.

Everyone has their own “special touches” to their creamed chipped beef recipe. I’ve added cayenne pepper for a bit of heat and tingle. Here are some other options.


  • Dry Mustard – A teaspoon added to the roux gives the creamy chipped beef béchamel sauce a tangy quality.
  • Ground Nutmeg – Nutmeg is a classic spice with white sauce (béchamel). It adds a nutty warmth that’s not dominant but brings a soft flavor to the background. You only need a pinch of nutmeg; don’t overdo it.
  • Worcestershire Sauce – Worcestershire Sauce is the answer if you want to go deeper with the umami flavor. A few solid dashes (¼-½ teaspoon) will flavor your chipped beef gravy.
  • Garlic Powder ½ teaspoon of garlic powder is another way to season the sauce.
  • Evaporated Milk – Some people swap regular milk or half and half for evaporated milk. Personally, the flavor is too institutional for me.
A skillet of creamed chipped beef garnished with parsley.


  • Soak dried, shelf-stable beef (meat that doesn’t need to be refrigerated) in water for 10-20 minutes to remove some sodium. Otherwise, the creamed chipped beef recipe will be too salty.
  • You can adjust the consistency of the chipped beef gravy by adding more milk. If you want it to be thinner, whisk in extra milk, about ¼ cup at a time, until you have the thickness you want.
  • You can cut the recipe in half or double it depending on how many people you feed.
A serving of the chipped beef recipe on a plate with a yellow border.

More one-pan recipes you might like:

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Creamed chipped beef on toast with glasses of orange juice for breakfast.
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4.71 from 31 votes

Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast (S.O.S.)

Serve classic chipped beef gravy over toasted bread for a rich, delicious, and fairly economical meal that’s ready in minutes.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword bechamel, dried beef, toast
Dietary Restrictions Egg Free
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4


  • 6 ounces dried thinly sliced beef roughly chopped into bite sized bits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 4 slices bread toasted
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley chopped, optional


  • Melt the butter over medium high heat in a medium skillet with 2-3″ high sides.
  • Sprinkle the flour, black pepper and cayenne pepper over the flour and whisk until the flour is completely mixed with the butter and no dry bits remain.
  • Cook, whisking constantly for one minute.
  • Whisk in the milk and half and half and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Cook for one minute, again, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the skillet.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the beef to mix well.
  • Place a piece of toast on each plate and divide the creamed chipped beef over the toast. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


Serve this as a breakfast or brunch, lunch or dinner. It’s comfort food.
Recipe can be halved or doubled.


Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 1237mg | Potassium: 211mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 430IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 174mg | Iron: 7mg

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a pin of creamed chipped beef in a skillet.

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  1. 5 stars
    Just like my Mom used to make

  2. 5 stars
    I recently made this and my husband and I really liked it. Brought back memories of when I was a kid. I am keeping this recipe for future meals. Thanks for a great recipe.

  3. Rich Bistyga says:

    5 stars
    My mom would make this with ground beef and me and my brothers would fight over it. I was in the Navy as a cook and made it with ground beef and with dried beef. Not one complaint no matter how o made it.

  4. 5 stars
    Made it this morning. This is just like I remember!

  5. 5 stars
    Love it, know it. I normally use the Armor or Hormel beef in a jar, but…I’m going to try with Buddig beef since my Mom just bought some. I was thinking, didn’t I see you could use this? Yep, right here. I’ll give it a go to compare with the jarred dried beef.

    I’ve made it plenty of times over my 40+ adult life. I like lots of fresh ground pepper in mine. The dry mustard, nutmeg and Worcestershire was the ticket to make it even better. I use heavy cream I thin out as I don’t like regular milk for some odd reason. 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 water. I like a more meaty sauce and yep, dump on a toasted shingle.

    My mom says her mom added peas…I think that might be a good add in (like tuna casserole), I’ll try it, maybe.

    Your photo’s are great and I appreciate how difficult it would be to make it look tempting – Good Job!

  6. 5 stars
    I make this using leftover pot roast, wouldn’t go out and buy anything specific to make this. Saute up some onions, mushrooms when those are done add some flour and stir up. Add pot roast juice, seasonings (paprika, parsley, dash Worcestershire) cream or 1/2+1/2. Heat to simmer, serve over toast with the leftover pot roast vegetables.

  7. 5 stars
    One of my favs! We used the jarred stuff Armor. We always boiled it for a minute after we cut it up then drained and rinsed.

    1. 5 stars
      I also recall the 4 packs of Buddig for a buck and tried this with Buddig beef, nah…not a fan. And I put frozen baby peas in it…again it’s okay but it detracts. However, I’m sticking with the dried beef in a jar (like Kathy) and rinse it off a bit in hot water but I’ve never boiled it and probably won’t add that step. I like my SOS dish salty apparently.

      Your sauce though…amaze balls. Thanks.

    2. 5 stars
      Can not find Carsons dried beef. Anywhere. I wanted to try that. Got a link or something?

  8. 5 stars
    Acouple of months ago I found that the meat shop at my local (PA) farmer’s market makes this daily homemade! I suppose some part of my brain pushed it out but for some reason after I found out that they made it daily I figured I would get a small tub and give it a shot!
    I found out that theirs is not salty at all and had a lot of meat in it and I LOVED it!!!
    I now have this once or twice a week for breakfast over English muffins and I love it! It’s filling and good and not salty at all..

  9. 5 stars
    I have left-over corned beef from New Years. Do you think I could substitute and add salt?

  10. Ali Grotts says:

    5 stars
    A retired sailor told me that on his ship they were served SOS with pork and beans in the recipe. Maybe crushed and added to the sauce? Has anyone had this in the military?

    1. Mauricia Ann Proper says:

      5 stars
      Maybe they meant with pork and beans on the side! I’m Air Force, and I think we would have revolted had they messed with our SOS by adding the pork and beans to the gravy and meat! ?

  11. SSgt. Jim Lovelace says:

    5 stars
    This dish is “old school” I ate it in boot USMC boot camp and throughout my career. Loved it and always looked forward to it.

  12. Nola+Martin says:

    5 stars
    I remember Dad talking about this during his WWII army service. Growing up mom made a version of SOS. I’m sending this post to her & will let you know her response. Fun post Lisa!

  13. Uncle Buck says:

    5 stars
    Great homage to your Dad! I can still taste it now. It is the one dish he was really good at, well besides hot dogs and beans.

  14. 5 stars
    What a fun vintage recipe! I haven’t had SOS in ages! Can’t wait to make it again!

  15. 5 stars
    Pure nostalgia. Love it!

  16. Erica Schwarz says:

    5 stars
    “Shit on a shingle” LOL – I never knew that! Loved the history less, and I totally appreciate that some of the best food are hardest to photograph. I LOVE anything in a creamy gravy and can’t wait to give your recipe a try.

  17. 5 stars
    My dad still uses the SOS name for this recipe. Makes me laugh every time. It’s so easy to make. Quick lunch idea.

  18. Katherine says:

    5 stars
    Worcestershire sauce and mustard are such a great addition to the sauce!

  19. Sarah Holt says:

    5 stars
    Never heard of this before but I love anything creamy, sounds delish!