Most cuts of steak feature smooth, cleanly trimmed surfaces that reveal the fiber and marbling of the meat. It’s not the case with Cube or Cubed steak, which has a visibly textured surface instead. Available in both beef and pork, this unique cut has a lot to offer when cooked in certain ways. If you’ve ever enjoyed Chicken Fried Steak, you’ve had beef Cube steak. Also known as Swiss steak or Minute steak in some countries, this delicious tenderized piece of steak is a great way to switch up your dinner routine.
What is Cube Steak?
Cube steak is generally beef, while cubed pork steaks also exist. It’s a cut of meat usually taken from the Top Round roast or Top Sirloin which is then tenderized so it develops a textured surface. Machines are usually used for the process, but some Cube steaks are still made by hand instead. You can transform a thin cut of Round or Top Sirloin steak into a Cube steak by hammering it yourself with a metal meat tenderizing mallet. Cube steak is not made from ground meat, but rather a whole cut. Yet the tenderizing helps keep it from toughening up when fried or slow-cooked and then smothered in gravy. With the right treatment, you can also cook Cube steak on the grill.
What to Know When Buying Cube Steak
It’s easily confused for ground beef in many markets because they both tend to come packaged in similar plastic buckets or Styrofoam trays. The surface texture can also look confusing mixed in with ground products. Make sure you’re picking up Cube steak if that’s what your recipe specifies. Smaller and thinner Cube steaks will be more tender and cook quickly, but larger cuts often work well for long-cooking slow cooker recipes. If you’re buying meat from a market that mixes beef and pork together in the same display, look for a rich red color because pork Cube steaks will have a light pink color.
Different Methods of Cooking Cube Steak
Cube steak responds best to slow and low cooking because of its tendency to toughen. It’s often added to stew after being cut up, or simmered in a gravy so it stays moist and juicy. But perhaps the most popular way to cook Cube steak is by breading and deep frying it. This is also known as Chicken Fried Steak.
Cube Steak on the Grill
It’s not one of the most commonly grilled types of steak, but Cube steak can turn out well when cooked over a low to medium heat setting and marinated or basted to add moisture. It will turn out firmer than if cooked more slowly, but you can complement the texture by slicing it before serving or cutting it into pieces to add to other dishes. The key is to only cook each side for about 3 minutes. This should leave the thin interior medium to medium well without requiring much time at all.
Cube Steak in the Oven
Putting the Cube steak in the oven gives you the perfect opportunity to cook it low and slow. Set the oven at about 300 degrees F and sear the cube steaks in a pan for just 30 seconds a side. Then place them in a Dutch oven or other lidded roasting pan. Add beef broth to almost cover them, then place the lid on it and roast for an hour. Take it out, mix the drippings up into a thick gravy, then cook another 45 minutes in the gravy for a meal that’s fit for a king.
Cube Steak on the Stove
On the stovetop, you’ll get the best results by filling a large frying or saute pan with a high heat oil to a depth of about ½ inch. Bread the Cube steaks and fry them, flipping them every 5 minutes or so until both sides are well browned and the meat is done inside. When you cook Cube steak this way, don’t forget the pepper gravy.
Cube Steak in Crock Pot
Tend, slow-cooked Cube steak is extra easy in the slow cooker. Simply use the same method as the oven technique by adding beef broth or other liquids until the meat is covered. Cook for 4 to 6 hours on medium or 8 hours on low. Avoid high heat settings since they can toughen the meat. You can sear the steak before it goes in the crock pot as well.
Cube Steak in Air Fryer
If you want to reduce the amount of oil needed, try breading the Cube steaks and putting them in the air fryer. You’ll still need to spray the breaded steak with oil, but it’s far less needed per steak than for traditional frying. Cook the steaks for 8 minutes at 400 degrees F. This method works best to cook Cube steak that’s pounded 1/4th of an inch thick or thinner.
How to Season Cube Steak for Best Flavor
Salt and pepper are the most popular seasonings for cubed steak, perhaps with the addition of garlic powder. For smothered steaks in gravy, consider onions and mushrooms as a flavoring as well as a topping.
Tips to Perfect Cube Steak
- Making your own Cube steak requires little more than a mallet and some time. It gives you more control over the steak you start with and the finished texture.
- Don’t overcook the steak if using a higher-heat cooking method. Keep it medium to medium well inside when grilling or smoking.
- Serve fried Cube steaks fresh out of the pan so they’re crispy. This particular method of cooking requires good timing, while smothered steaks tend to stay just as tasty when reheated.
Oven Cooked Cube Steak Recipe
Whip up a simple and tender Cube steak dish by slow-cooking the meat in the oven, first in broth and then in a rich gravy.
- 1 pound of Cube steak, typically 3 to 4 steaks
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- ½ lb of button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons of high-heat cooking oil
- ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 stick of butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups of low-sodium beef broth
- Pinch of dry thyme
1. Let the Cube steak come to room temperature, which takes about 10 minutes. Heat a cast iron pan on the stove with the oil. Sear the steaks for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Set the steaks aside and cook the onions and mushrooms until they are starting to soften and brown slightly. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Move the steaks to a Dutch oven or lidded roasting pan. Sprinkle on the seasonings, patting them into the meat.
3. Pour in the 2 cups of beef broth. Cook for 1 hour with the lid on. Remove from the oven and remove two cups of liquid from the pan. If there aren’t two full cups, add more broth to make up the difference.
4. In a saucepan, melt the stick of butter and stir the flour in. Stir regularly as it cooks over low heat, moving it around to prevent scorching. When this mixture is a light nut brown color, pour in the 2 cups of liquid a little at a time. Keep stirring until the gravy is glossy and thick, mix in the thyme, then remove from heat.
5. Cover the steaks with the thickened gravy, then cook for another 45 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.
Avoid salting the steak itself since the gravy will have plenty of sodium and can be salted at the end if desired.
Cube steak may become your new favorite family dinner after you experiment with new ways of cooking it. Give it a spin between luxury meals of finer cuts like the Tomahawk steak.
Cube Steak FAQs
Cube steak is widely used for Chicken Fried Steak and the smothered gravy-rich dish known as Swiss steak.
The Cube steak is already tenderized if it’s roughly textured, but letting it warm to room temperature before cooking and avoiding overcooking will keep it from toughening. You can also pound it more with your own tenderizing mallet.
Oven Cooked Cube Steak
- 1 lb cube steak (typically 3-4 steaks)
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp high-heat cooking oil
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 stick butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- pinch dry thyme
- Let the Cube steak come to room temperature, which takes about 10 minutes
- Heat a cast iron pan on the stove with the oil. Sear the steaks for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Set the steaks aside and cook the onions and mushrooms until they are starting to soften and brown slightly
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
- Move the steaks to a Dutch oven or lidded roasting pan. Sprinkle on the seasonings, patting them into the meat
- Pour in the 2 cups of beef broth. Cook for 1 hour with the lid on. Remove from the oven and remove two cups of liquid from the pan. If there aren’t two full cups, add more broth to make up the difference
- In a saucepan, melt the stick of butter and stir the flour in. Stir regularly as it cooks over low heat, moving it around to prevent scorching. When this mixture is a light nut brown color, pour in the 2 cups of liquid a little at a time. Keep stirring until the gravy is glossy and thick, mix in the thyme, then remove from heat
- Cover the steaks with the thickened gravy, then cook for another 45 minutes
- Serve with mashed potatoes or rice