Learn how to cook cube steak perfectly so that it’s tender with a great crust. Serve it on its own, or make some real comfort food with onions, gravy, and a side of mashed potatoes.
Cube steak is a budget-friendly cut of beef that comes already-tenderized but can still be a bit dry and chewy. Most people counter that by smothering it in gravy. But, there’s another way! I’ve figured out the technique to make cube steak tender and juicy on its own so that you can use it in all kinds of recipes.
Learn more about how to cook cube steak perfectly below or click here to head straight to the recipe.
What Is Cube Steak?
Cube steak, sometimes called “cubed steak” or “minute steak” is a thin, economical cut of beef. It’s usually from the top or bottom round, that has been mechanically tenderized by a machine that punctures and breaks apart the tough meat fibers, leaving behind a cube pattern in the process. You’ll often see this prepared as “country fried steak” or “chicken fried steak” on restaurant menus.
Without this cubing process, the slices of beef would be too tough and chewy to enjoy as a quick-cook meal and would require a long, slow braise to tenderize the meat.
Cube steaks can be found in just about any grocery store, often where the steaks are sold.
Getting Tender Cube Steak
Even with the mechanical tenderizing process, cube steaks can still be a little tough, chewy, and dry. I tested a few different versions of cooking cube steak to find the best one. I pan-fried in oil as well as browning in the pan, then adding some stock. Those versions were okay, but ended up chewy and even a little dry.
To keep them moist and tender, first dredge the steaks in all-purpose flour. The flour not only helps to form a flavorful outside crust on the steak, but it also helps retain moisture by locking in juices. I was skeptical but this was truly the best way to cook cube steaks.
How To Cook Cube Steak
To make the cube steaks, sprinkle salt evenly over each side of each steak, and then dredge each steak in all-purpose flour. Shake off any excess flour and set the steaks aside and get the skillet ready for pan frying.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer or ripple in the pan. Add the cube steaks and let these cook, undisturbed, for three minutes. If any sticking occurs, use a spatula to gently lift any part that may have stuck to the pan.
Flip each steak and cook for three minutes more, which will give you a well-done (but not overcooked) steak. A medium-rare or rare cube steak will always be chewy, so it’s best to cook this all of the way through.
At this point, the steaks are ready to serve as they are, or with a gravy.
What Pan Should I Use?
The cast iron skillet is probably the only pan that could cook all four steaks at once because of how the heat is distributed. It keeps a constant temperature up the sides of the pan, whereas even stainless can’t really do that very well. This also helps with browning and evaporation. In a stainless, even an AllClad or similar, steam would take over with this much crowding.
It’s important to keep the heat at medium-high the entire time – nothing will burn because the steaks are not in the pan for very long.
If a cast iron pan isn’t available these should be cooked in a 14-inch stainless or non-stick pan, or cooked in batches in a 10 or 12-inch stainless or non-stick pan.
A pan gravy can be made in the same pan the steaks were cooked in. If making your own pan gravy, first remove the steaks from the pan so the outside crust on the steaks doesn’t become soggy, and then make the gravy according to your favorite recipe. It’s popular to serve cube steak with a gravy with mushrooms or onions, often along with mashed potatoes.
Once the gravy is ready, the steaks can be nestled back into the pan just before serving, or they can be served with the gravy on the side. I prefer to serve the gravy on the side because the gravy softens the crust on the steaks, but if you prefer a softer texture to the outside of the steaks, you’ll enjoy the steaks nestled in the gravy.Print
Learn how to cook cube steak perfectly so that it’s tender with a great crust. If desired, finish with a delicious gravy.
Listen to learn how to make this recipe, along with some great tips from Christine:
- 4 cube steaks
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp. cooking oil
- Season cube steaks evenly on both sides with the salt.
- Dredge each side of each steak in flour, shake off excess and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Place cube steaks in pan. Cook 3 minutes each side. Serve immediately.
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