Chicken Fried Steak

What evil genius came up with the idea for chicken-fried steak? Just when I’m trying to be good, eating my greens, avoiding sweets, the notion to make chicken-fried steak takes hold in my brain and doesn’t let go until the deed is done. This isn’t Lenten food, dear brain, what are you doing?

Chicken-fried steak, if you are unfamiliar with the dish, is a Southern favorite—tenderized beef cutlets, dipped in egg and flour and fried, much like fried chicken, but with steak. It’s usually served with a creamy country gravy, made with some of the drippings from the pan. It’s made most often with cube steak, or steak that has already been tenderized, or a cheap cut like round steak, which you have to pound thin with a meat mallet.

Of course, as is the case with almost any regional dish, variations abound. If you make chicken-fried steak at home, what is your favorite way to prepare it? Please tell us about it in the comments.

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Chicken Fried Steak Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 4 quarter-pound cube steaks (pre-tenderized) or round steaks
  • A sprinkling of salt for pre-salting the meat
  • 2 cups of flour for breading
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt for breading
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Canola oil, rice bran oil, or other high smoke point oil or fat for frying

Gravy:

  • 3 Tbsp pan drippings
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

 

Method

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1 If you are using round steak instead of the pre-tenderized cube steak, you will need to pound the steaks thin or they will be way too chewy. (Already tenderized cube steaks can also use some meat mallet attention to get more thin.) Place each steak between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, rubber mallet, rolling pin, or empty wine bottle, beat the steak until it is very thin, less than 1/4-inch. As you beat the steak, you will want to turn over often, and spread out the plastic wrap which tends to wrinkle as you work.

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2 Sprinkle a little salt over the meat. Preheat the oven to 200°F.  In the oven put a wire rack over a baking sheet. This will keep the finished steaks warm and dry while you cook the gravy.

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3 Prepare two wide, shallow dishes such as a pyrex casserole dish. In the first  whisk together the eggs and milk. In the second, whisk together the flour, salt, cayenne, and garlic powder. Working one at a time, dredge a steak into the flour. Using the heel of your hand, press the flour into both sides of the steak. Lift up the steak, shake off the excess flour and dip the steak into the egg wash, coating it on both sides.  Lift the steak out of the egg wash, shake off the excess egg wash, and then dredge the steak again in the flour. Again, press the flour into the steak on both sides. Set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining steaks.

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4 Pour enough oil in a large frying to cover the bottom by 1/4-inch. Heat the oil to 350°F or when you drop a little flour into the oil it sizzles. If the oil doesn't sizzle it isn't ready, if it burns, the oil is too hot, reduce the heat. Working one at a time, lay a flour-egg-coated steak into the hot oil. Gently shake the pan a little to wash a little hot oil on the top of the steak. Or you can use a metal spoon to spoon some of the oil over the steak. This sets the coating. Fry until you see the edges of the steak turn golden brown, about two minutes. Carefully turn the steak over in the pan, and fry for two more minutes. Once both sides of the steak are golden brown, tip the steak up with a metal spatula to drain the excess oil. Remove it from the pan and place if on the wire rack in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining steaks.

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5 Turn off the heat of the pan. Pour out all but about 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour and turn the heat on to medium. Let the flour mixture cook until it's the color of milk chocolate, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

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6 When the flour fat mixture is smooth and a lovely milk chocolate color, slowly add the milk and cream, whisking constantly. Note that the mixture will seize up initially, and will loosen as you whisk in more liquid. Add milk to your desired thickness for gravy. If the gravy is too thick for you, add more milk. If it's too thin, let it cook longer. Season with salt to taste. Season with lots of black pepper, to taste.

Serve chicken fried steak with the gravy and a side of mashed potatoes.

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Links:

The Texas State Historical Association on the origins of Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak on Simply Recipes

40 Comments

  1. KalynsKitchen

    This is not something I indulge in often, but I do love it. There’s a Greek-American Cafe by my old house that did an amazing Chicken Fried Steak and a few times a year I just had to have. Yours looks fantastic!

  2. Emily @ Life on Food

    Holy moly! This dish needs a spot in my house.

  3. Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen

    Great instructions and a beautiful presentation Elise. This is one of my indulgent breakfasts I allow myself once every year or two.
    Sam

  4. Glen

    Dont mess around with cubed or tenderized steaks. Go for the good cuts. I make mine with thin sliced ribeye…or New York strip sliced thin. Great taste and definitely not chewey. Might even try sirloin…much better choice than round.

    • MoonDust

      I have never had a chicken fried steak that used “the good cuts”, nor did they need to… this is one of the best ways to utilize/dress up those “lesser” cuts, if you will, so that a delicious finished product can be achieved without breaking the budget.

  5. Martie Allen

    When we make this dish we sometimes substitute boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, that has been pounded thin. We then just call it chicken fried chicken. Yummy.

  6. kATIE

    OMG – I am not a big fried food person, but will always eat chicken fried steak with milk gravy. Yum! Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Padaek

    Wow – another really tasty looking dish! I love fried chicken and I’m pretty sure I’ll love this fried steak! The creamy sauce look and sound delicious too. Thank you.

  8. Renee

    Very good idea! We haven’t had this in a long time. And really – there’s nothing wrong with eating steak dipped in eggs with a milk gravy! :)

  9. Emily

    This is a standby in my family! My mom taught me to use crushed Saltine crackers for the outer layer of the breading, so good!

    • Martie

      My mom taught us to use crushed saltines also, very yummy. Gives the crust more crunch.

    • Michele

      We use a crushed saltines and flour mixtures with lots of pepper and double coat the meat, which in our house is always cubed venison. It’s leaner and since all my boys hunt much cheaper. :)

  10. Andrew Hillman

    I love fried chicken. I love steak. Why not! I’ve always wanted to try this out. Wish me luck!

  11. Lori

    I prefer to use the cube steak because I like the meat to be really tender. To the breading flour, I add some season salt, garlic powder, and lemon pepper. To the egg, I add a little worcestershire sauce. I like a lot of breading on mine, so I actually dredge it on the egg and flour TWICE! Comes out super yummy!

  12. Candice

    This looks great! I have been trying to find a recipe like this and now I cant wait to try it.

  13. Michael Stone

    In the Southwest you may find it smothered with green chile sauce!

    • Richard McDearman

      If you are ever in Amarillo Texas, try Green Chile Willy’s. They use Hatch and other New Mexican chiles in the gravy for the best chicken fried steak and chicken fried chicken I have ever eaten. Few restaurants here in TN serve cfs, so my wife and I make it a point to eat it at least once every time we visit Texas.

  14. Vince Fazio

    The chicken breast one is pretty healthy way or patty up some ground buffalo. My daughter is gluten free and I use gluten free bread crumbs and arrowroot to thicken the gravy. Chicken broth too. Has to be lactose free! Tastes great

  15. Sandra

    this is one of the dishes that are a special treat for me!! thanks for sharing.

  16. Phylis OKeefe

    Love chicken fried steak !! This is also very good with pork cube steaks.
    These are the same as beef cube steaks, but pork. They stay very juicy and tender.

  17. Leslie Scalfano

    In my family we often used a mix of milk and buttermilk for the gravy, makes it a little tangy.

  18. Dorothy Sandaker

    I too make mine wih chicken breast pounded thin. Make my gravy like yours only I substitute canned milk for the whipping cream. In fact I made this meal for supper tonight before I found your recipe. Served with Mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. Yummy.
    Dorothy

  19. Daryl Stephens

    I couldn’t remember how to do this. We had it pretty often when I was growing up. Now I’m going to have to try it. There is a new restaurant in my home town that serves chicken fried steak with some kind of sourdough breading. I don’t know how you’d make it, but it is wonderful.

  20. Debra

    Can I use a flank steak for this dish?

    • Elise

      You can, but take note when eating it to try to slice it against the grain. (Otherwise even with extra tenderizing flank steak will be tough.) This will be difficult as the breading will hide the direction of the grain of the meat.

  21. francisco aragon

    I have a question about the title(chicken fried steak) and the pictures show beef (cube steaks and round steak) . Why?
    thank yoy for your answer

    • Elise

      Hi Francisco, “chicken fried steak” is made with beef! It’s just prepared in a manner similar to how we often prepare fried chicken, thus the name.

      • francisco aragon

        thank you for your answer. In Mexico the name is “milanesa”

        • MZ

          In Argentina, it is also called milanesa. My family used to serve it with a garnish of chopped parsley and lemon wedges to squeeze over the steaks.

  22. ShadowsGathered

    Elise, I found this recipe while looking at your rice pilaf recipe… this is going to be on next week’s menu… it looks marvelous, and I love me some chicken-fried steak with the creamy gravy… I usually make my gravies with broth & cornstarch, but where chicken-fried steak is concerned, NOTHING but milk & flour gravy (with 2 tons of black pepper) will do! I’ll be sure to report back on my results… and while I’m here, I want to say that I used your recipe for rice pilaf for tonight’s dinner… it was awesome… first time I’ve ever tried cooking it and this is my keeper recipe… I won’t even look at others… even my picky sister said, “This rice is the bomb.”… thank you so much for that recipe and this one!

  23. Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    I love going to family restaurants—-often ones where the waitresses are older—–and ordering chicken friend steak. It is such a stand by, the cooks have it down pat. I like the little kick of cayenne that you put in the breading. The picture is wonderful, because it looks just like a most excellent chicken fried steak. This is one of the times I allow myself gravy too. Sigh.

  24. Amy

    Try it with venison. I never thought it was possible, but it’s even better than traditional CFS.

  25. Kevin

    We have been using tenderized pork cutlets in place of cube steak for years and this dish is always a hit with sides of mashed potatoes, whole kernel corn and of course gravy.

  26. A.A. Bruisee

    I like to mix the spices with the egg/milk mixture. And douse the fried steak with lots of Crystal Sauce before pouring the gravy on.

  27. Gordon

    Oh MY! That was simply the BEST! :) I used the boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of the steak, my goodness was this delicious! Thank you Elise for this slice of my childhood brought back to life!

  28. Tracy Watkins

    As a HUGE HUGE HUGE fan of your beef short rib recipe, I’ve been looking at all your others. I like chicken fried steak and have found that letting the beef soak in milk for a few hours prior to frying makes it more tender. It also helps the breading adhere and you don’t have to use egg. You can even spice up the milk anyway you like – I always use cayenne. Thank you for this great blog!

  29. MIchael

    Holy Cow this was excellent! I made it with sirloin steak, pork loin, and chicken breasts. I called it my chicken fried smorgash. We are all now recovering from fried carbohydrate overload.

  30. Cathy Sperry

    Wow! Great recipe. I love Cracker Barrel’s Chicken Fried Steak but this over rides all. Love it! Thanks from my hips. This will be my go to comfort food.

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