As someone who enjoys simple, quick, and budget-friendly meals, cube steak is one of my go-to’s. Cube steak is made from top round or top sirloin beef that has been tenderized by pounding or needling. This breaks down the tough muscle fibers, resulting in a cut of meat that is affordable, cooks up fast, and works well in a variety of dishes.
When it comes to cooking cube steak, the frying pan is my preferred method. With just a hot skillet, some oil or butter, and 10-15 minutes, you can have a tasty main course or sandwich filling ready to eat. But the key is knowing just how long to cook cube steak in a frying pan to get it browned on the outside while still being juicy on the inside.
In this article, I’ll walk through step-by-step how to fry cube steak, including exactly what temperature and cook times you need for perfect doneness. I’ll also share some extra tips for getting the best results. So read on to become a cube steak frying pro!
Preparing Cube Steak for the Frying Pan
Before cube steak hits the frying pan, there are a couple of steps I recommend taking to prepare the meat. This will ensure great flavor and texture once cooked.
First, season the cube steak on both sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and any other spices you enjoy. Rubbing the seasonings evenly over the surface will make the steak extra flavorful.
Next, for some added crispy texture, bread or flour the cube steak lightly on each side. I prefer using all-purpose flour for breading when I pan fry, but crushed crackers, panko breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or other coatings would work too.
The flour or breading will form a nice crispy crust when fried, while still allowing the seasonings to shine through. Just dredge each cube steak lightly in flour, coating both sides evenly while shaking off any excess.
With the steaks prepped and seasoned, it’s time to fry!
Frying Cube Steak to Golden Brown Perfection
The first step to perfect pan fried cube steak is getting a nice golden brown sear on both sides. This requires getting the frying pan hot before adding any oil or butter. Here are the basics:
- Heat your skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until very hot. I like using cast iron or stainless steel for frying cube steak.
- Once hot, add just enough cooking oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. My favorites are vegetable, canola, avocado, or light olive oil. Clarified butter also works great.
- Once the oil shimmers, carefully add the cube steaks to the pan without overcrowding. Only fry 2 steaks at a time in a standard 12-inch skillet.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until the cube steaks are nicely browned with a crispy crust. Use metal tongs to carefully flip them halfway through.
- Transfer the browned cube steaks to a clean plate and set aside while you quickly sear the remaining steaks in batches.
Browning the cube steak well before finishing the cooking is crucial for maximum flavor and texture. Don’t rush this step! But once they all have a good sear, it’s time to finish cooking them through.
Finishing the Cook Time Over Lower Heat
The cube steaks should only need about 8-12 more minutes in the pan after browning to reach perfect doneness. But to prevent overcooking or burning, the heat needs to be lowered before finishing.
Here’s what to do next:
- Return all the browned cube steaks to the pan and lower heat to medium or medium low.
- Cook for 4-6 minutes, occasionally gently flipping steaks.
- After a few minutes, start checking doneness by pressing on steaks with tongs or making a small cut to peek inside. When done, they will feel firm but still tender and not hard.
- Ideally, use an instant read meat thermometer to test for accuracy. Cube steaks are perfectly cooked when reaching an internal temperature of 145-160°F.
- Once steaks reach desired doneness, transfer back to the clean plate to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. The temperature will continue rising slightly.
The nice thing about frying cube steak is that some variations in cook times or temps is totally fine. Since the meat is tenderized, it remains tasty whether cooked medium or well done. So use the visual and touch tests to gauge when they are done to your preferences.
With the total cook time only taking 10-15 minutes start to finish, frying cube steak in a pan really can’t be beat for speed and convenience!
Tips for the Best Pan Fried Cube Steak
Over the years, I’ve pan-fried a lot of cube steaks! Here are my top tips for ensuring success:
- Pat steaks dry before seasoning and frying for better browning.
- Use tongs instead of a fork when flipping to avoid piercing and losing juices.
- Cook in batches without overcrowding for even browning.
- Maintain consistent heat during cooking by adjusting burner temp.
- Let meat rest 5-10 minutes before slicing for juicy results.
- Pair pan fried steaks with rice, gravy, veggies, or bread for easy meals!
While cube steak isn’t the fanciest cut, it cooks fast, takes well to flavors, and is budget-friendly. With the simple frying pan method above and 10-15 minutes cook time, juicy, crispy steaks can be on your plate anytime.
Quick Recap on Frying Cube Steak
To recap the key steps, frying cube steak in a pan takes just 10-15 minutes for delicious results:
- Season and flour cube steaks
- Sear browned over medium-high heat, about 2-3 minutes per side
- Lower heat and finish cooking 8-12 more minutes, flipping occasionally
- Check for 145-160°F internal temperature
- Let rest 5-10 minutes then serve and enjoy!
From fast weeknight dinners to easy entertaining dishes, cube steak is perfect for the frying pan. I hope these tips help you achieve brown crust and tender texture. Now grab a skillet and a pack of cube steak to fry some up tonight!