What Is Cube Steak?

Everything you need to know about this bargain cut, including the best ways to cook it.

Updated on July 24, 2023

Related To:

Ree Drummond's Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy from Comfort Food, as seen on The Pioneer Woman, Season 1.

REE_DRUMMOND_CHICKEN_FRIED_STEAK_GRAVY_H.tif

Ree Drummond's Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy from Comfort Food, as seen on The Pioneer Woman, Season 1.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

By Alice K. Thompson and Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen

Have you ever picked up a package of ground meat at the supermarket only to realize it's cube steak? Both tend to be sold in shrink-wrapped containers, and the steak's waffled surface looks a lot like ground beef, but the two are quite different. Read on to learn exactly what cube steak is, how best to cook it and you can make the most of this bargain cut.

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Photo by: BWFolsom

BWFolsom

What is Cube Steak?

Also known as minute steak, cube steak is an inexpensive, flavorful cut of beef that’s pre-tenderized by a process of pounding and cutting.

It comes from the top or bottom round, a tough portion near the rump of the cow usually used as stew meat. But cube steak has been pounded with a textured mallet or tenderized mechanically, a process that breaks down the muscle fibers, making it tender enough to pan-fry on the stove. You can, of course, use cube steak exactly as you would use stew beef, slowly simmering it to tenderness, but you’ll get the most value and convenience by searing it like a steak. An extra bonus with cube steak? Its textured “cubed” surface means nooks and crannies that hold anything you coat it with—seasonings, breading or marinades—particularly well, giving you super-tasty results.

How Do You Cook Cube Steak?

Think of cube steak like the chicken cutlet of the steak family: A cut that does best when cooked quickly over high heat. Cube steak has very little marbling (internal fat), so it can dry out easily, becoming tough and losing flavor. Remember its alternate name “minute steak” and aim to cook it just a minute or two (or maximum three) on each side. The simplest way to cook it? Season it with salt and pepper, dust it with flour and sear it in a very hot pan with a little oil until it’s just browned on both sides.

Cube steak is also famously breaded or battered and pan-fried for the comfort-food favorites chicken-fried steak or country-fried steak. Saucy accompaniments like brown or white gravy, mushrooms and caramelized onions are traditionally paired with cube steak to complement its firm texture. The steak is also perfect for searing and using in dishes like tacos, steak and eggs, sandwiches and more. You can grill it, too; just be careful to keep it from overcooking and drying out. For more inspiration, see some of our favorite cube steak recipes below.

Is Cube Steak Inexpensive?

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Photo by: Adam Gault/Getty Images

Adam Gault/Getty Images

Cube steak is a comparative bargain in the steak world. Prices vary considerably, but you can expect to pay about a third less for it than flank or skirt steak, and about half of what rib and strip steaks cost. It’s typically priced just a bit above other inexpensive beef offerings like ground beef and sirloin.

Can You Make Your Own Cube Steak?

Can’t find cube steak? You can make your own in a few minutes. All you need is a meat tenderizer, usually a mallet with a spiky, waffle-like head, and a cutting board. Here’s how:

Step one: Trim the steak. Start with round steak that you’ve trimmed of large strips of excess fat and cut into the desired portion size, usually 4 to 6 ounces.

Step two: Tenderize. One at a time, lay the pieces on a cutting board and gently pound them with a meat tenderizing mallet until they’re slightly flattened.

Step three: Flip. Turn over the steak and pound the other side gently. You can flip it again and keep pounding until the steak is about 1/4-inch thick and nicely textured all over. Repeat with your remaining steaks.

That’s it! You can cover the steaks with plastic wrap before pounding them if you like; this can stop spattering if your meat is wet and keep the steak from sticking to the mallet, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Classic 100 Chicken Fried Steak

Classic 100 Chicken Fried Steak

Photo by: Caitlin Ochs

Caitlin Ochs

How Do You Freeze Cube Steak?

Cube steak isn't hard to find and is easier on the wallet than other steaks, so stocking up and stashing it in the freezer is a smart move if you want to cut meal costs. First, remove it from its packaging, since that’s not airtight and won’t stop freezer burn. Wrap each steak in several layers of plastic wrap and slip them into a resealable freezer bag. Label and date the bag so you won’t forget what’s in it and use the steaks within 6 months. To thaw, transfer the steaks to the fridge and defrost overnight.

Recipes with Cube Steak

Weeknight Cooking

Photo by: RYAN DAUSCH

RYAN DAUSCH

A double coating of delicious breading gives cube steaks an extra-crunchy golden crust. A white country gravy is a nice contrast and makes this dish an American classic.

Cube Steak Vaca Frita Black Bean Chalupa w Chillied Mango

Photo by: Petrina Tinslay

Petrina Tinslay

Yes, you can grill cube steak, and with excellent results. Here, the grill is heated to high and used first to grill corn-on-the-cob, then to sear cube steaks for just a few short minutes to keep them juicy. Classic Greek salad ingredients make it a complete meal.

Weeknight Cooking

Photo by: RYAN DAUSCH

RYAN DAUSCH

Seared for just 1 minute per side, this cube steak is about the fastest cooking meat you’ll encounter. It gets topped off with saucy slaw and served on small hero rolls for a version of the popular pan con bistec.

Cube steak cooked with onion, garlic and lime is the star of these crunchy tostadas. The corn tortillas are baked, not fried, so they crisp up without a lot of excess oil. Chili-spiced black beans and a refreshing mango salsa round out the dish.

Bacon, onions caramelized with beer and buttered egg noodles make this cube-steak recipe comfort food at its best. Use a whole 10-ounce box of peas instead of just the half cup called for to make it a complete meal.

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