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Country fried steak is a classic American recipe for breaded, pan fried cube steak with pan gravy. Make this recipe for dinner or breakfast!
Country Fried Steak
People often confuse country fried steak and chicken fried steak Both dishes consist of battered and fried beef steak covered in gravy. However, there are some distinct differences that set them apart:
Chicken fried steak
- Served with a peppery white gravy, often on the side
- Has a crispier coating
- More popular in Texas and the Midwest
Country fried steak
- Typically made with cube steak
- Smothered in a traditional brown gravy
- The meat is often cooked in gravy so the coating is infused with the flavor
- More commonly found in the South
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Cube steaks – These are simply sirloin steaks that have been put through a mechanical tenderizer. They may also be labeled as breakfast steaks, swiss steaks, or minute steaks. You can also make your own by pounding sirloin steaks with a meat tenderizer.
- Buttermilk – If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own from whole or 2-percent milk. Simply stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 1 cup of milk and let it sit for a minute to curdle. Then, it’s ready to use!
- Tabasco – While there are slight differences in flavor and heat between hot sauce brands, any of them will work in this recipe.
- White pepper – This has a milder flavor than black pepper and is also more visually appealing since it blends into the breading. However, you can substitute a smaller amount of black pepper if needed.
- Frying oil – Use any neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point. Oils like avocado, canola, and grape seed are the most common, but peanut and safflower are also great choices.
Video: How to cook cube steak
To see the process of making country fried cube steak from start to finish, watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Marinate and dredge the tenderized steaks, then fry and serve with a delicious homemade gravy.
Instructions and tips
- Marinate the cube steaks.
Allow the meat to marinate for at least an hour, if possible. Although, it’s good quality sirloin that’s already been tenderized, cube steaks do have a good amount of connective tissue. The buttermilk marinade helps to break those fibrous tissues down.
- Add breading and chill the steaks
- Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients, to ensure that there are no clumps of flour.
- Be sure to coat both sides of the meat with breading.
- Double dip (optional): After the first dredge, place them back in the buttermilk, letting any excess drip off, then coat them again in the dry ingredients.
- Refrigerate: Place the steaks on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment and refrigerate for 15 minutes. This helps the coating to adhere to the meat. Otherwise, the breading on your country fried steak may fall off in the oil.
- Pan fry in oil.
- Use a heavy bottomed pan. I think cast iron skillets are best for pan frying, but any heavy skillet will work fine.
- Preheat the cooking oil, and use a food thermometer to ensure that the oil reaches 350° F.
- Make the brown gravy.
- To make the pan gravy, you’ll first need to make a light colored roux, by cooking butter and flour in your saute pan.
- Incorporate the liquids a little at a time. Don’t add all of the liquid to the pan at once or the gravy may separate.
If you like country fried steak, you’ll probably also enjoy Salisbury steak with mushroom gravy. The flavors are similar, and it’s just a simple to make! The recipe is from my mom’s recipe collection, so I can assure you, it’s a delicious meal!
- Storing fried cube steak – Keep any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
To freeze, allow the steaks to cool before wrapping in layers of plastic wrap and foil and placing in a freezer-safe storage bag.
- Reheating – The best way to reheat this easy chicken fried steak is in a pan on the stove to keep the coating crispy. You can also place the steak on a wire rack over a baking sheet in the oven, or in an air fryer if you have one.
- Preparation – If you are good at multitasking, you can make the gravy while frying the steak so they’re ready around the same time. Otherwise, be sure to place the steaks in a low-temperature oven to keep them warm while the gravy is cooking.
What to serve with country fried steak
This recipe, first published on Kevin Is Cooking July 20, 2013, was last updated with new content on Dec 15, 2021.
Country Fried Steak
For the Steaks:
- To a large bowl deep enough to hold all the steaks, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and Tabasco. Set aside.
- To another wide bowl to dredge the steaks in, whisk together flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, salt, garlic powder and white pepper.
- Place the steaks in the buttermilk marinade, turning to coat each, for an 1 hour.
- Using tongs or a fork, first dredge the steaks into seasoned flour, be sure to coat each side then back into buttermilk marinade (allow excess to drip off) and back into seasoned flour. Gently place on a lined baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Add oil to cast iron skillet or deep frying pan and heat to medium high. Once oil is hot, fry each steak turning until golden brown on each side.
- Drain steaks on a paper towel lined platter. Tent with foil to keep warm and repeat with remaining steaks. Keep warm in a 250°F oven while you make the gravy.
- Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium. Whisk in flour and cook for 3-4 minutes (should be a golden brown).
- Whisk in the beef stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low, allow to thicken until it coats the back of a spoon.
- Season with salt to taste and spoon gravy on top of steaks. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot with mashed potatoes or polenta if you prefer.
- Cube steak is sometimes labeled as breakfast steak.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.