Chicken Fried Steak

DinnerComfort FoodBeefSteak

Classic chicken fried steak, steak cutlets, pounded thin, breaded, fried, and served with country gravy. Chicken Fried Steak is a Southern favorite and is even better with a homemade country gravy.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

A Southern Favorite

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. 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.

Taking Chicken Fried Steak Out of Oil

What cut to use to make chicken fried steak

Chicken fried steak is 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.

Tips for making the best chicken fried steak

  • Pound the steak thin. We use a meat hammer for this, but you could use a rubber mallet, a rolling pin, or even an empty wine bottle. A thin steak will cook more quickly and be less chewy
  • Press the flour into the meat. We dredge the steak cutlet in flour twice, first before, then after an egg wash. The first time you dredge the steak into the flour, use the heel of your hand to really press it in. That way the coating will adhere better.
  • Spoon hot oil over the steaks in the pan. You don’t need to deep fry the chicken-fried steaks. You can easily shallow fry them. Help firm up the coating on top by spooning hot oil over the top before flipping the steaks.
  • Have warming oven. As you fry the steaks one by one, and then make the gravy, keep the finished steaks warm in a 200°F oven.

Use the drippings in the pan to make gravy

Isn’t is all about the gravy? Chicken fried steak is usually served with a creamy country gravy, made with some of the drippings from the pan. After you cook the steaks and while you are keeping them warm, remove all but a few tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add an equal amount of flour and cook for several minutes, until it turns a warm brown color. Then stream in milk to thin the gravy.

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.

Updated July 25, 2018 : Originally published 2014

Chicken Fried Steak Recipe

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  • 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

1 Pound steaks to an even thinness: 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.

preparing sirloin for chicken fried steak with meat hammer thin beef for country fried sirloin

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.

2 Salt meat, preheat warming oven: 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.

3 Dredge steaks in flour, egg, and flour again: 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.

dredging sirloin in flour rolling steak in flour

Lift up the steak, shake off the excess flour and dip the steak into the egg wash, coating it on both sides.

chicken fried steak dredged in flour and egg chicken friend steak before frying

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.

4 Fry the steaks: Pour enough oil in a large frying pan 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.

country fried sirloin in oil frying country fried sirloin

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.

Chicken Fried Steak Cooking in Oil and Crispy Taking Chicken Fried Steak Out of Oil

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.

5 Make a roux with fat and flour: 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.

Making Gravy For Country Fried Sirloin Making Gravy For Chicken Fried Steak With Drippings

Let the flour mixture cook until it's the color of milk chocolate, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

6 Stir in milk and cream to make gravy: 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.

country fried sirloin gravy from drippings adding milk to chicken fried steak gravy

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.

stirring milk into gravy for country fried steak easy chicken fried steak gravy from drippings

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.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to Chicken Fried Steak on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

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Links:

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

Chicken Fried Steak with Homemade Gravy

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

70 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • lueann

    i think it is great. thank you!

  • Steve

    Put the gravy on the plate and then nestle the steak into the gravy. This will keep one side (the top) crunchy.

  • Patti Poarch

    I have tried a few different recipes. This one has been the best by far.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jen Cruz

    I made this last week for my parents. It was by far the best CFS recipe I’ve ever used. Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Cynthia Scott

    Great basic & perfect recipe. I bought porterhouse steak as it was substantially cheaper than the prepared meat. The butcher tenderized it for me & I used the bones to make broth for part of the liquid for the pan gravy. Soooo good.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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