Leave it to Texans to take beef to the next level. Chicken Fried Steak is at the tippy top of the Southern comfort food hierarchy, and for good reason. Tender cube steaks, breaded and fried to golden perfection, topped with creamy Country Gravy, and served alongside a heaping pile of buttery Mashed Potatoes.
This is the Ultimate Chicken Fried Steak Recipe. Perfectly seasoned and boasting the ideal beef to batter ratio. A budget-friendly, quick-fix dinner the entire family will love!
WHAT IS CHICKEN FRIED STEAK MADE OF?
Just like fried chicken, Chicken Fried Steak (also known as Country Fried Steak) is made using the same process as fried chicken — hence the “chicken fried” portion of the name. To make this dish you’ll need tenderized cube steaks, a dredge, and oil for frying. If you want to stretch your cube steaks a little further, you can cut them into strips and make handheld, perfectly dippable Steak Fingers!
CHICKEN FRIED STEAK MEAT
The cut of meat used for Chicken Fried Steaks is packaged and labeled as cube steak. Cube steaks come from a much larger cut of beef called beef chuck.
Beef chuck hails from the neck and shoulder area of the cow. Because this is an area that gets a lot of action, beef chuck is a fairly tough cut of meat. Because of this, the beef chuck is cut into thin slices and tenderized. Thinly sliced, tenderized pieces of beef chuck are cube steaks.
CHICKEN FRIED STEAK BATTER
Chicken Fried Steak batter is very similar to fried chicken batter, and undergoes a dredging process before going into the oil. You’ll start with seasoned flour and a milk and egg mixture.
For an extra crunchy breading, add crushed Saltine crackers to the dry mix! The crushed saltines give the batter an easy upgrade in the crust department, making it extra crunchy and completely addictive.
CHICKEN FRIED STEAK GRAVY
Chicken Fried Steak Gravy is also known as White Country Gravy or Cream Gravy. It starts with a roux, but don’t let that word scare you off. A roux is just a combination of butter and flour cooked together on the stovetop. You’ll also need milk, salt, and pepper.
The gravy is extremely easy to make: Melt the butter, whisk in the flour, add warmed milk a splash at a time, and allow the mixture to simmer. Once it has thickened, add the seasoning and serve!
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
- Prep and Season the Steaks – Pat the excess moisture from the steaks using a paper towel. Sprinkle evenly with Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Assemble Dredging Station – You will need 3 breading trays, shallow dishes or bowls for your dredging station. The first tray will consist of a simple seasoned flour — flour, salt, and pepper. The second tray will milk, eggs, and a dash of hot sauce. Lastly, the third tray will consist of seasoned flour, as well as finely crushed Saltine crackers.
- Heat the Oil – For the perfect Chicken Fried Steak batter, it’s important that your oil is at the right temperature before adding your steaks. Add the canola oil to a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and allow to come to temperature (350°-375°).
- Bread the Steaks – One at a time, dredge the steaks in the seasoned flour, then submerge in the egg mixture, followed by a thorough coating in the cracker mixture.
- Fry – Add the steaks to the hot oil, and take care not to crowd the skillet. Fry for 2 minutes on each side, until crispy and golden on each side. Then, transfer to a cooling rack over paper towels.
- Make the Gravy – In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Then, add milk a generous splash at a time, whisking after each addition until all of the milk has been incorporated. Allow the sauce to bubble for about 5 minutes.
TIPS FOR MAKING CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
- Don’t leave all the seasoning to the breading! Show a little love to those cube steaks as well! Season the meat before you begin the dredging process.
- Use finely crushed Saltine Crackers in your batter for extra crunch and flavor!
- Use a thermometer to ensure your oil is between 350° and 375° before adding your steaks to the pan. You could use a candy thermometer, a digital thermometer, or (our favorite) an infrared thermometer!
- Nothing beats cast iron for even heat distribution, which is ideal for frying! The cast iron will ensure your oil stays as close to a constant temperature as it can get. Use a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven for heating your oil and frying your Chicken Fried Steak!
- Rather than placing your meat directly from the oil to a plate lined with a paper towel, place them on a cooling rack instead. The cooling rack will keep your breading from getting soggy while you make the gravy.
- For a smooth and creamy Chicken Fried Steak Gravy, make sure you warm the milk before splashing it into the roux!
How to make perfect chicken fried steak. This recipe features breaded cube steaks, fried and topped with an easy homemade country gravy.
- 2 pounds tenderized cube steaks
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, separated
- 3 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
- 2 teaspoons black pepper, separated
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 3 dashes hot sauce
- 16 Saltine crackers, crushed
- 2 cups canola oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk preferably warmed
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Pat the excess moisture from the steaks using a paper towel. Sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. Pat to adhere and set aside.
Prepare your dredging station by setting out 3 rimmed trays or pie plates. In the first tray, mix together 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and a 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In the second tray, lightly whisk together eggs, milk, and hot sauce. For the third tray, combine 1 1/2 cup flour, finely crushed saltine crackers, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Add the canola oil to a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and allow to come to temperature (350°-375°). Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet, lined with paper towels. Place a cooling rack over the paper towels.
One at a time, dredge the steaks in the seasoned flour, then submerge in the egg mixture, followed by a thorough coating in the cracker mixture.
Add the steaks to the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the skillet. Fry for 2 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden-brown. Transfer to the cooling rack and make the gravy.
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes, but do not allow to brown.
Add milk a generous splash at a time, whisking after each addition until all of the milk has been incorporated. Allow the sauce to bubble for 5-7 minutes, just until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy.
To quickly warm your milk for the gravy, place it in a microwave safe measuring pitcher and heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute.
The cooling rack will help to prevent the bottom of the steaks from becoming soggy while you finish frying the others.