Country Fried Steak, also known as Chicken fried steak, is a Southern food classic but is so easy to make at home. Tenderized round steak, or cube steak, is breaded and fried to a crispy golden brown. The pan drippings are used to make a flavorful creamy milk gravy to smother the steaks. Serve with mashed potatoes for a decadent comfort food dinner.
Why this recipe is so great:
- Pure comfort food. Sometime we all just need a breaded fried tender steak smothered in the most delicious gravy. Similar to fried chicken, but with beef!
- Easy to make. Since nothing needs to be done in advance, this is a simple dinner that can be prepared any night of the week.
Exact quantities are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
- Round steak: This is an inexpensive cut of meat. If you can find cube steak, which is essentially pre-tenderized round steak, it will save you a step in the recipe.
- Coating: You'll be dipping the steak in a flour mixture with salt, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper along with an egg wash buttermilk mixture.
- Gravy: Along with the pan drippings and some butter, you'll add some flour, heavy cream, and milk to make the gravy.
How to make Country Fried Steaks:
Detailed step by step instructions are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
Prep the steaks:
- Pound: Place the round steaks in a resealable plastic bag and use a mallet to thin and tenderize the steaks. Plan on hitting them hard because this is a rather tough cut of meat.
- Prepare ingredients: Once all the steaks have been flattened, prepare the flour mixture and egg wash in flat bottom containers that are big enough to fit the entire steak.
- Coat steaks: Press the steaks into the flour mixture, then coat in the egg wash, and then coat in the flour mixture for a second time.
Fry the steaks:
- Heat oil: Make sure the oil reaches 350°F before adding the steak. Ideally this can be checked with a thermometer, however you can test by adding a pinch of flour. If it immediately sizzles, the oil is ready.
- Fry: Cook the steaks one at a time. Use tongs to place the steak in the oil, cook for two minutes, flip, cook for another two minutes, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
- Keep warm: Since the steaks are cooked one at a time, they need to be kept warm and crisp in the oven while the remaining steaks and gravy are cooked.
Make the gravy:
- Add butter to drippings: Once all of the steaks are done cooking, discard excess drippings and add some butter.
- Roux: Add the flour to the oil butter mixture and whisk continuously until it thickens and turns golden brown.
- Add milk and cream: Combine the milk and cream and pour them into the roux, continually whisking. Once the gravy thickens, it is done and it can be seasoned with salt and pepper.
Recipe tips for perfect results:
- Tenderizing and flattening steaks: If you don't have a meat mallet, you can use a variety of objects including a rolling pin, wine bottle, the bottom of a heavy pan, or a rubber mallet. Round steaks are incredibly tough, however, and you have to pound much harder than you would a chicken breast. For that reason, I recommend a mallet and be prepared to hit hard. Continue pounding the roast until it doesn't "fight you back", meaning it feels tender when you hit it.
- Keeping steaks warm: Since the country fried steaks are large enough to be cooked one at a time prior to cooking the gravy, preheat oven to 200°F to keep steaks warm and crisp prior to serving.Use a wire rack over a baking sheet or directly on the oven rack to keep both sides crisp, but foil or a pan can be used. If your toaster oven is large enough, use that instead.
- No need to deep fry: Restaurant versions of Chicken Fried Steak are deep fried. When cooking at home, you can use less oil by spooning the hot oil over the top of the steak prior to flipping it. This will ensure the steaks are equally browned on both sides.
- Cook time: If the oil temperature is right, the steaks will cook for exactly two minutes on each side. For best results and to avoid forgetting about them, use a timer.
- Temperature of oil: For best results, measure the temperature of the oil with a thermometer to verify it is at 350°F. You can also verify it is hot enough by adding a small amount of flour. If it does not sizzle and turn golden brown, the oil is not hot enough. If it burns, or the oil starts to smoke, the oil is too hot. Oil temperature may tend to fluctuate during cooking process, so adjust heat as needed.
- Reheating: For best results, store gravy and country fried steak separately before reheating. To reheat, wrap the steaks in foil and place in the oven or toaster oven at 300°F until heated through. Remove from foil at the end to help crisp. Warm the gravy in the microwave at 50% power in 1 min increments or in a pot on the stove over low heat.
- Nutritional information: Serving size is based on one whole steak with lots of gravy. Recipe makes plenty of gravy - enough to smother your steak as well as the mashed potatoes. You can easily get 8 servings out of this recipe by cutting the steaks in half.
Serve this recipe with:
- Mashed Potatoes - there's just no alternative when making Country Fried Steaks!
- And a vegetable to balance it all out like Wilted Garlic Spinach or Garlic Parmesan Oven Roasted Asparagus.
If you’ve made this or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out. I love hearing from my readers!
Country Fried Steak
Country Fried Steak:
- 1 ½ pounds round steaks (or pre-tenderized cube steaks (4 steaks))
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs (beaten)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more to season meat)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ cup Oil (peanut, olive, canola or avocado oil (amount will vary but you need enough to cover the bottom ¼ inch of your pan))
- ¼ cup pan drippings (reserved after making the country fried steak (roughly 4 Tablespoons))
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour ((roughly 4 Tablespoons))
- ½ cup heavy cream (can omit)
- 2 cups whole milk (amount can vary depending on your preference )
- Salt (to taste)
- Freshly ground pepper
Prepare the steaks:
- Pound the steaks: Flattening one steak at a time, place steak into a large resealable plastic bag and use a meat tenderizer mallet to pound them to a uniform ¼ inch thickness.
- Sprinkle a little salt over both sides of each steak. Preheat oven to 200°F.
- Prep the coating: Using two flat bottomed dishes large enough to fit the tenderized steaks, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk in one dish and combine the flour with the salt and seasonings in the other.
- Coat the steaks: Press both sides of each steak into the flour mixture. Shake off excess. Dredge both sides into the egg mixture. Shake off excess. Then, set steak in the flour mixture for a second time, ensuring that the entire surface is well coated by shaking it around. Flip to coat both sides, but take care not to pull off any coating. Transfer to a clean plate or large cutting board while you finish remaining steaks.
Fry the steaks:
- Heat the pan: Over medium high heat, heat pan with oil until the oil reaches a temperature of 350°F.
- Cook steak: Carefully place one prepared steak in the hot oil. Use a large metal spoon to transfer excess hot oil in the pan to the top of the steak. Fry until you see the edges of the steak turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Use tongs to carefully turn the steak in the pan and cook for another 2 minutes (no need to spoon hot oil on top of already cooked side).
- Transfer to rack: Use tongs to lift fried steak out of pan and allow any excess oil to drip off. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess grease and then a wire rack placed over baking sheet and keep warm in preheated oven until all steaks and gravy are finished and ready to serve.
- Fry remaining steaks: Follow same process to cook remaining steaks and transfer each on to the rack in the oven to keep warm until done. Adjust heat, if needed, to maintain an oil temperature of 350°F.
Make the gravy:
- Reduce amount of oil. Transfer all but ¼ cup of the drippings to a glass or metal bowl. Do not discard in case more is needed later. Add butter to pan.
- Make the roux. Reduce heat under pan to medium low. Sprinkle the flour over the hot oil and whisk to combine. Flour should absorb all of the oil and will turn golden brown over the low heat when whisked continually. If mixture seems too greasy once mixed, add a bit more flour. If mixture is to dry, add additional reserved drippings. Cook about 5 minutes while continually whisking, until the roux is a light brown.
- Finish gravy: Combine milk and heavy cream. Slowly pour into roux, whisking the entire time. Continue to heat and whisk until gravy reaches desired consistency. If gravy doesn't thicken, slowly increase heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
How to serve Country Fried Steak:
- Serve each chicken fried steak with a side of mashed potatoes and smother everything with the warm gravy.