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Grandma’s SOS

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This vintage chipped beef on toast with peas is frugal but delicious.  Sometimes the best recipes are born out of necessity and this one is a really quick and comforting dinner. SOS is on the table in less than 15 minutes!

toast covered with creamed chipped beef and peas.

This classic dinner recipe is still a favorite of my grandma’s.  I would imagine if your parents or grandparents were from a certain era, they know about it too. 

Some people may have their own little twists they like to put on it, mine is the addition of peas.  Though mushrooms would be great too.

It is a great cheap and easy meal that is quick to get on the table.  Served up some creamed beef on toast for a tasty blast from the past.

The way I came upon this recipe is still cracking me up.  Grandma used to ride along with me every once in a while when I would go on a work trip.

It worked out great for both of us.  I got somebody to talk to on some of the many drives around the state.

Then I drop her off at a Barnes and Noble (if it is next to a Michael’s all the better!) and I collect her and her purchases when it is time to go home.  She got some fun out of town shopping time at some of her favorite stores and I got a travel companion.

Being left at a store all day might not sound like fun to you, but you should know my grandma.  She doesn’t know a stranger and will have a half dozen new friends by the time I get her.

Plus they have coffee, food, and books.  What more do you need?!

Usually she is sad that I am ready to go already.  I don’t think she has ever once been anxious for me to come get her.

Usually she has a handful of treasures and several great stories.  One time a couple of years ago, she had a couple of handcarts piled up and waiting for me to load up when I got there.

No kidding!  She had Christmas darn near wrapped up with all the games and books she couldn’t pass up.

Making quick butter and flour roux in skillet with whisk.

It was tradition on these trips to discuss what we were planning to make for dinner on the way home.  We both mentally walked through our refrigerators and pantries and decide what we are going to throw together.

One time, she had finally decided on making salmon patties if she had the salmon.  I got a phone call later that night saying she did not have the salmon so she ended up making (cover little eyes here!) shit on a shingle.

I thought she was making a joke and told her “oh no! poor grandpa!”  It turns out that “SOS” is a real thing and not just her being funny.

beef in milk gravy with peas in skillet ready to be served over toast.

Her mom made it for their family when she was growing up.  She makes it fairly regularly to this day.

My parents were talking about it this weekend.  They thought it was funny I didn’t know what she was talking about, because apparently they made it for me when I was little too.  Who knew?

SOS is basically just chipped beef in a cream sauce served over toast (the shingle).  It seems to normally be served just like that.

My mom and grandma both put peas in theirs.  My dad said when he made it in college he would add a can of mixed vegetables.

I don’t remember eating it growing up, but now I am intrigued.  Shit on a shingle it is!

What Meat Do You Use for SOS?

There are several kinds of beef you can use to make chipped beef on toast. They each taste different, but all of them are good.

The most obvious choice is chipped beef. It was a great preserved option during the great war, when this recipe became popular.

My family actually prefers the flavor with beef lunchmeat. The little packages of Buddig beef lunchmeat work great, but anything similar will do.

creamed chipped beef with peas served over toast.

You can even use ground beef if you would like. Just brown it and season it with salt and pepper.

You can use the grease in the pan to cook the flour, just add the flour and let it cook for a few minutes before adding the milk.

There are so many tasty ways to enjoy the creamed beef on toast, so feel free to be creative. And if you have a favorite way that is different than ours, please let me know in the comments.

More Favorite Recipes From Grandma

Some of those vintage frugal recipes that were born out of need are classic comfort food favorites to this day.  Along with SOS, we still enjoy favorites like scalloped corn.

My grandma also gave us our favorite Kelly’s cheese soup and pumpkin bars.  What are some of your favorite recipes from grandma?

toast covered with creamed chipped beef and peas.

Grandma’s SOS

Servings: 4 Servings
Author: Carlee
S.O.S. also known as creamed beef on toast is an old-school meal. This classic recipe was made popular by military families years ago, but is still a nostalgic favorite today. Chipped beef on toast with peas is a perfect meal for busy nights, or for when you need to stretch a dollar.
5 from 12 ratings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small package chipped beef chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas thawed
  • 4 slices toast
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Melt butter in a skillet. Stir in flour and cook for a minute or two
    2 Tablespoons butter, 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Whisk in milk until smooth. Cook over medium low heat until it starts to thicken
    1 cup milk
  • Stir in peas and beef and cook until just warm. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
    1 small package chipped beef, ½ cup frozen peas
  • Serve over toast
    4 slices toast


You can use browned ground beef instead of chipped beef if you prefer.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 187kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 8gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 482mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating

Carol M

Wednesday 6th of March 2024

We put peas on ours as well and slice up some green olives to put on top.


Wednesday 6th of March 2024

Yay! I love that we both do the peas. I think they really add something to it.


Sunday 26th of March 2023

Yum! We add peas and sometimes hard boiled eggs. Hearty and filling


Monday 27th of March 2023

I'll have to try it with hard boiled eggs, we love eggs!

Twirly Girly

Saturday 18th of June 2022

This is my comfort food! If you want to elevate it a bit, serve it in a savory Dutch Baby (a.k.a. German pancake). I have two 6.5" cast iron skillets that are the perfect size for making individual Dutch Babies. These smaller Dutch Babies cook in a 425° oven in 12-15 minutes:about the same amount of time it will take to make the creamed chipped beef with peas!


Saturday 18th of June 2022

That sounds perfect!


Monday 28th of February 2022

SOS, Your Grandmother's recipe made me smile. My dad was in the Air Force so we had SOS a lot. The Enlisted Military should be paid a lot more, sadly they aren't and SOS is a less-costly dinner to make. My dad was the cook in the family and he passed away on active duty in 1966 during the Vietnam War. I was a teenager and sadly I did not get his recipe from him. So I am thrilled to get your grandmother's and try it. We only had it with hamburger meat, so that's what I will use too. Thank you kindly for your Gr. Mother's recipe and for sharing all your other recipes. My family has enjoyed them all. Your son is cute too.


Monday 28th of February 2022

I am so service you dad was lost in active duty. I hope this brings a small piece of him back to you. I have seen it done with hamburger as well, I will do it that way next time in your family's honor.


Sunday 28th of February 2021

Wish you had a link to follow you on Pinterest. i had SOS for 24 years in the Army and still make it with sausage or hamburger, but never had I even heard having peas in it. i will most definitely try it. Thank you


Sunday 28th of February 2021

I hope you enjoy the peas in it! You can follow me at Pinterest here: Thank you!