You see both ground beef and cube steak in the meat department: What’s the difference and what one do you purchase? These two types of beef may look similar on the shelves, but they’re entirely different cuts. Cubed steak often doesn’t get the fame it deserves, so we want to give you a proper introduction to this interesting cut of beef and how to work with it.
What is Cube Steak?
Cube steak is also known as cubed steak, so you might hear it referred to in either way, but they’re both the same thing. This cut gets a bad reputation for being a low-end cut, but that reputation isn’t warranted. It actually looks very similar to ground beef, which is the #1 selling beef in the business.
Interestingly, cube steak is like elevated ground beef. The cut comes from the round, or rear end, of cattle, so it’s typically a top sirloin or top round, which can be a bit tougher than other beef cuts. Rather than getting ground up and made into a patty like ground beef, the beef cut is tenderized manually or with a tenderizing machine. That’s how the meat gets its famous marks on the top, making it look somewhat like ground beef. In fact, it’s easy for people to accidentally buy a package of cube steak when they meant to purchase ground beef, and vice versa.
The texture of cube steak is very different from ground beef, though. It can become chewy if you don’t cook it right. But, if prepared correctly, you can have some really tender and flavorful burgers, country fried steak, and other delightful dishes, giving you a lot of versatility in your steak meal planning.
How to Cook Cube Steak
If you’ve never bought cube steak before, you are probably a bit lost with what to do with it. That’s okay – we’re here to help. Go pick up a package from the grocery store, or you can even make your own from our Premium Angus Top Sirloin (this video from Ted the Butcher shows you how to tenderize beef like a champ!) and get ready for some new tastes.
Best Cooking Methods
The key to cooking cube steak is to keep it as tender as possible so it doesn’t end up chewy with your final product. Although some people like to bake theirs, it’s not a method we recommend for this cut. Instead, try one of these other options that will lock juices in to give them a pleasant texture:
- Sautéing: Give your steaks plenty of room away from each other in a pan with a little bit of oil to keep them tender as they cook. This is an excellent method for preparing cube steak in gravy, allowing the mixture to cook slowly and work its way into the meat.
- Pan frying: When you’re making country fried steaks, this is the method to choose. Heat up some oil and, without crowding the pan, give your steaks a few minutes on each side to cook until the breading gets browned and crispy.
- Braising: Braising is a slow-cooking method that starts with a good sear and ends with a slow cook that tenderizes meat, as you would do for a pot roast. If you plan to put your steaks in the slow cooker for an all-day cook with some gravy, this is the perfect method.
What can you do with cubed steaks? You have a number of options, but here are a few tried-and-true meals to create:
One of the most popular ways to eat this cut of beef is also the simplest: Topped with a yummy gravy does the trick for most people. With this method, the gravy ends up being the star, so you can experiment with your favorite types, like a simple brown mushroom gravy or a creamy, buttery, milk-based gravy that’s reminiscent of Southern comfort food. Braising or sautéing are both perfect cooking methods for this meal.
Country Fried Steaks
Cubed steak is a go-to for country fried steaks, which features yummy, crispy breading around the meat, usually topped with white gravy. The meal is simple to make, and you can pan fry your steaks in just a few minutes. Serve with some mashed potatoes topped with the same gravy and you’ll have a meal the whole family will love.
Although not a popular option for some burger enthusiasts, you can make burgers from cube steak instead of ground beef. Some people choose to use the already-formed patties as burgers, while others chop the meat up and add in their spices to create burgers from scratch (we prefer the latter method!). Cubed steak gives a much beefier flavor than most ground beef, but you just have to be careful not to overcook your meat. Top with Swiss cheese and caramelized mushrooms for a savory burger.
Conclusion: All About Cooking
Hopefully you have a favorable opinion of cubed steak and are ready to try something new! This cut of beef is one that isn’t taken as seriously as it should be. It packs a lot of flavor into each bite and can create some delicious meals for the family. Be sure to check out our other steak recipes for more exciting ideas that’ll get you rethinking tonight’s dinner.
Cube Steak FAQs
Cube steak is one of the cheapest cuts of steak, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. In fact, this cut is popular for budget-friendly meals, like country-fried steaks and burgers. Be mindful about how you cook with it to avoid cooking it for too long over direct heat.
Cube steak works well for various dishes, like gravy-topped steak, steak over mashed potatoes, and country-fried steak. Some people also replace ground beef patties with cube steak for their burgers.
What is cubed steak, exactly? It comes from the round area of the animal, so it’s highly exercised and, therefore, can be tough. It’s important to cook cube steak quickly over direct heat or slowly over indirect heat to prevent it from overcooking and becoming chewy.
Learn how to prepare a cube steak to prevent it from being tough to eat. The best way to cook cube steak for tenderness is slowly and evenly, so a slow cooker can do the trick when you have ample time to spare. However, braising, pan-frying, and sauteing also work. Just be sure to cook with enough liquid to keep the steak moist.
Cube Steak with Gravy Recipe
- 4 4-6 oz cube steaks, tenderized
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp butter, divided
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 14-oz can beef broth
- 1 tbsp minced onion
- Heat 2 tbsp of butter in skillet on medium heat. Add onion and sugar and cook for about 5 minutes until tender, browned, and translucent. When finished, transfer onions to a plate.
- Combine flour, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and salt in a shallow bowl. Dredge each steak in the flour mixture, ensuring that all sides are covered. Reserve leftover flour.
- Heat 1 tbsp of butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add steaks, cooking for 4-5 minutes on each side until crisp and browned. Move steaks to a separate plate.
- Add remaining butter to the skillet along with the rest of the flour. Whisk thoroughly. Add beef broth and whisk together. Add caramelized onion and minced onion; stir.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the gravy thickens, stirring occasionally.
- Return steaks to the pan, covering them in gravy. Simmer for 2-3 minutes before serving.