What is Chipped Beef?

Malcolm Tatum

Sometimes referred to as dried beef, chipped beef is simply sections of meat that has been thinly sliced and cured with smoking or salting methods to dry out the meat. Just as with beef jerky, this type of beef can be stored for long periods of time, making it an ideal way to keep a ready source of meat protein handy without the need for refrigeration. Typically, chipped beef is cut into thin round or rectangular sections that are about the size of a saltine cracker. While in the past it was usually sold in airtight aluminum cans, this cured beef can often be purchased and flash sealed pouches.

Navy beans, which are often served with chipped beef.
Navy beans, which are often served with chipped beef.

When paired with gravy, chipped beef can be used as a main dish over rice, or to make a quick and easy open face sandwich. However, there are a number of other ways to use it. Perhaps the single most popular method is preparing chipped beef on toast. This is the simplest of meals, requiring only a toasted piece of bread and the beef placed on top. Variations can include the inclusion of gravy, while others simply use a little ketchup. This sliced beef can also be used as meat stock in vegetable soups. Since the beef is already cooked, it can be added after the vegetables have simmered from some time.

Chipped beef may be prepared on toast.
Chipped beef may be prepared on toast.

While chipped beef is dried, it is not a tough cut of meat at all. In fact, some people enjoy eating it as a snack, placing a section or two on a cracker. Others will use it in hot cheese dips made of cheese, tomatoes, chili peppers. Chipped beef can also be used to dress up legumes such as black-eyed peas, pinto beans, and navy beans.

While chipped beef has long held a reputation of being a meat that was produced for people with no cooking ability, the fact is that many cooks keep a container of two of it around the house. While the pre-mixed cans of chipped beef with gravy can be somewhat less than desirable, using dried versions and making gravy from scratch will yield a superior result.

Low-quality meat is typically used to make chipped beef.
Low-quality meat is typically used to make chipped beef.

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Discussion Comments


I have a great chipped beef recipe that uses the ubiquitous canned product to make a kind of beef stroganoff. It has that tart zing of stroganoff and it is served over egg noodles.

It was one of my favorite things to make when I was living alone. It was quick, cheap and tasty which was my biggest criteria for most of the things I ate back then.


When I was a kid my mom taught a continuing education class one night a week. On those nights it was dad's responsibility to feed all the kids.

He was a terrible cook so he almost always made chipped beef on toast. It also helped that he loved it and my mom hated it so he took her absence as an opportunity to put some on the dinner table. I liked it when I was younger but as I got older it started to gross me out. Luckily mom stopped teaching her class and we rarely saw chipped beef again.


I now some people that hate chipped beef but I have always found it to be pretty tasty. To me it just tastes beefy. People seem to get hung up on what part of the cow the beef comes from but that seems silly. Once it is all mixed in it tastes no different and what part of the chicken do you think your McNuggets come from?

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