Swiss Steak


Swiss steak is a method of slow-cooking a relatively tough cut of beef, such as a round steak. The meat is browned, and then braised in a tomato sauce. According to The American Century Cookbook, recipes first starting showing up for Swiss steak in the 1930s. Reynolds Wrap Aluminum popularized it in the late 40s by promoting the recipe as a use for its foil. You can cook this steak on a stove-top (which is the method we describe here), or wrap it in foil and place on a cookie sheet and cook it in the oven. The “Swiss” in Swiss Steak has nothing to do with Switzerland, but refers to the process of tenderizing a tough cut of meat. The following is my mother’s method for making Swiss Steak.

Swiss Steak Recipe



  • One 2 to 2.5 pound round or top round steak, about an inch thick
  • A couple tablespoons of flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp grapeseed oil, or other high smoke point oil for browning (canola)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups puréed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 2 teaspoons each of fresh thyme, sage, marjoram, or 1/2 teaspoon each of dried

Optional: Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, or green beans



1 Rub flour into both sides of the steak. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a wide, shallow (3 inches), covered pan to medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of oil to coat the pan. Place the steak in the pan, and cook for approximately 10 minutes on each side, enough to brown the steak.

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2 Remove the steak from the pan and set aside. Add onions and garlic to the pan and another tablespoon of oil. Cook the onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes, using a metal spatula to scrape up any steak drippings, mixing them in with the onions. Add half of the herbs to the onions. Return the steak to the pan, placing it on top of the onions. Crowd the onions around and on top of the steak. Sprinkle the rest of the herbs on top of the steak. Add the 2 cups of puréed tomatoes to the pan.

3 Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Use a high lid if available. A high lid will help circulate the steam and moisture from the cooking juices and keep the steak moist. Bring the steak in the tomato purée to a simmer and then lower the heat to the lowest heat possible to maintain a low simmer (we use the warm setting on our electric range).

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4 Cook for 1 1/2 hours. While the steak is cooking, you may want to slightly pre-cook vegetables that you want to serve with the steak. For example, for this dish we steamed 4 small, peeled, quartered russet potatoes and 2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2 inch segments, for 5-10 minutes. (You could use other vegetables, such as green beans, or no vegetables at all.) After 1 1/2 hours of cooking time for the steak, we uncovered the pan, turned the steak over, added the potatoes and carrots, covered the pan and cooked the steak and vegetables for another 30 minutes.

The reason that you might want to pre-cook the vegetables a bit first is that the steak is cooking at a very low heat. You'll have more control over how cooked the vegetables are if you pre-cook them a bit first.


5 The steak should be done after a total cooking time of 2 hours. To check it, you can poke it with a fork. The meat should be quite tender. To serve, remove the steak and slice it on a carving board. Alternatively, you could have started with individual steaks that were smaller. Spoon the sauce over the steak.

Serves 4-6.

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Showing 4 of 32 Comments

  • Margy willett

    So it is a rainy day here and we couldn’t bar que the steak I had out for dinner. So I looked up Swiss steak which I haven’t cooked for ages. I was without any canned tomatoes..but picked a few straight from right from my garden and mashed them up. I also added some green peppers …then the small potatoes and green beans.let it simmer up and dinner was wonderful .thanks

  • Traveler

    Mine is on the stove right now. It’s a great recipe for leftovers and I’m using leftover grilled top sirloin steaks, cut into serving size. This version has chopped celery, onions, crimini mushrooms, carrots and yellow squash. I’ve also added chopped garlic, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, basil and red pepper flakes. The liquid base is pureed tomatoes. After it has cooked for about an hour, I’ll taste to see if I’ll be adding some chardonnay or some dry sherry. Will be serving with medium shell pasta, although this is great with brown rice, too.

  • Steve Myers

    I always thought a recipe was just a start of better things to come

  • Margie

    I add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a half tsp of prepared horseradish. Really gives it a zip and somewhat of a variation on the taste. I’ve made this recipe for years and use tomato soup sometimes if I don’t have tomato puree. Or just a can of diced tomatoes.

  • Espahan

    Swiss steak is an old family recipe but I had almost forgotten it since my kids left home a good while ago, so I went on an Internet search to see if I could find something close to the old one I used to make. After looking all over I found it here. I should have known better. I can always count on your recipes to approximate the old recipes I knew from way back, with maybe a tiny twist to make them new all over again. Thanks, Elise.

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