Chicken fried steak, a classic Southern comfort food, is a delightful dish where tenderized steak is breaded, fried, and served with creamy country gravy.

Its crispy exterior and juicy interior, complemented by the rich gravy, make it a favorite for many. Let’s explore how to create this mouthwatering meal at home!

Chicken Fried Steak and Country Gravy

Prep/Cooking Time:

  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes


For the Steak:

  • 4 beef cube steaks (about 6 ounces or 170 grams each) or Veal*
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (240 milliliters)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For the Country Gravy:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (60 grams)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (40 grams)
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk (600 milliliters)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Or you can save time on the gravy by using a prepackaged country gravy. For example, my favorite is “Southeastern Mills” Peppered Gravy Mix. They also have other flavors such as Sausage flavored, or regular style.


  1. Prepare the Steak: Season the steaks with salt and pepper. In a shallow dish, mix flour with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. In another dish, whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
  2. Dredge and Fry: Dip each steak first in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, and again in the flour mixture. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the steaks for 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Make the Gravy: In the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve: Place fried steaks on a plate and pour gravy over them.

Best Tips:

  • Steak: Use a meat mallet to tenderize the steak evenly.
  • Breading: Ensure the breading coats the steak well for a crispier crust.
  • Frying: Maintain a consistent oil temperature to avoid soggy or burnt steaks.
  • Gravy: Stir continuously while adding milk to avoid lumps.

Optional Ingredients:

  • Add cayenne pepper to the flour mixture for a spicy kick.
  • Mix in some grated Parmesan cheese with the flour for extra flavor.

Vegetarian Suggestions:

  • Replace beef steak with large portobello mushrooms or seitan for a vegetarian version.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Serve with mashed potatoes, green beans, or cornbread.
  • A side salad or coleslaw complements the richness of the dish.

Nutrient Information (Per Serving):

  • Calories: ~600 kcal
  • Protein: 35g
  • Fat: 35g
  • Carbohydrates: 40g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Note: Nutrient values are approximate.

Saving Leftovers:

  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: Reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep the breading from falling off the steak?

Keeping the breading intact on chicken fried steak can be a bit challenging, but with the right techniques, you can ensure a crisp, well-coated steak every time. Here are some tips:

Dry the Steak:

Before beginning the breading process, pat the steak dry with paper towels. Removing excess moisture helps the flour stick better.

Tenderize Properly:

If the steak is too thick, it can cause the breading to fall off during cooking. Tenderize the steak to an even thickness using a meat mallet. This also creates a rough surface for the breading to adhere to.

Season and Flour First:

Season the steak with salt and pepper, then dredge it in flour. This initial flour layer acts as a primer, helping the egg mixture stick to the steak.

Egg Dip:

After the flour, dip the steak in the egg mixture. Ensure the steak is fully coated, as the egg acts as the glue between the flour and the final breading.

Final Breading:

Dredge the steak in the seasoned flour again. Press the flour mixture firmly onto the steak to ensure it sticks. Shake off any excess.

Rest Before Frying:

Let the breaded steak sit for 10-15 minutes before frying. This resting period allows the coating to set and adhere better to the steak.

Correct Frying Temperature:

Heat the oil to the right temperature (around 350°F or 175°C). If the oil is too hot, the outside will cook too quickly, leaving the inside raw and causing the breading to separate. If it’s too cool, the breading can absorb oil and fall off.

Avoid Overcrowding the Pan:

Cook in batches if necessary. Overcrowding can lower the oil temperature and cause the steaks to steam rather than fry, making the breading soggy.

Gentle Flipping:

Flip the steak gently and only once if possible. The less you move it, the less likely the breading is to come off.

Drain Properly:

After frying, place the steak on a wire rack over a baking sheet. This allows excess oil to drain away without making the bottom of the steak soggy.

By following these steps, you’ll help ensure that your chicken fried steak retains its delicious, crispy breading throughout the cooking process.

What’s the Difference with Veal Instead of Beef?

When preparing chicken fried steak with veal instead of beef, the recipe remains largely the same, especially in terms of the breading and frying process. However, there are a few adjustments and considerations to keep in mind due to the differences between veal and beef:

  1. Tenderness: Veal is generally more tender than beef, especially the cuts commonly used for chicken fried steak. This means you may not need to tenderize the veal as much as you would with a tougher beef cut.
  2. Cooking Time: Because veal is more tender and often thinner, it usually requires a shorter cooking time than beef. Overcooking veal can make it tough and dry, so it’s important to watch the cooking time closely.
  3. Flavor: Veal has a milder flavor compared to beef. Some people might find it necessary to adjust the seasoning in the breading to compensate for this difference. You might want to use slightly less robust spices and herbs to allow the delicate flavor of the veal to shine through.
  4. Ethical Considerations: Some people choose not to consume veal due to ethical concerns about how veal calves are raised. It’s a personal choice and one to consider if you’re cooking for others.
  5. Cost: Veal can be more expensive than beef, particularly in regions where it’s not as commonly consumed. This could be a consideration if you’re preparing the dish for a large number of people or on a budget.

In short, while the basic steps of breading and frying remain the same, adjustments in tenderizing, cooking time, seasoning, and considerations of cost and ethics come into play when substituting veal for beef in a chicken fried steak recipe.

Why is it called “Chicken” Fried Steak?

The term “chicken fried steak” refers not to the ingredients but to the method of preparation,  similarly to how fried chicken is made.

Therefore it is called “chicken fried” because the beef steak is breaded and fried in the same style as traditional fried chicken.

The process involves tenderizing a cut of beef, usually a cheaper or tougher cut like cube steak, then coating it in seasoned flour and frying it until it’s crispy.

The result is a steak with a crispy, fried outer coating akin to that of classic Southern fried chicken, hence the name.

This name highlights the cooking technique rather than the primary ingredient. It’s a classic example of Southern American cuisine, where different cooking methods are often cross-utilized for various types of meat, creating unique and beloved dishes.

Certainly chicken fried steak embodies the ingenuity of Southern cooking, turning economical cuts of beef into a tender, flavorful meal with a method typically reserved for chicken.

What is the difference between chicken fried and country fried steak?

Chicken fried steak and country fried steak are often used interchangeably in many regions, but there can be subtle differences in preparation and presentation, depending on local traditions and personal preferences.

The main distinctions, when they do exist, are usually found in the coating and the gravy:

  1. Coating:
    • Chicken Fried Steak: Typically has a crispier, more well-defined coating, similarly to what you would find on traditional fried chicken. The breading is often thicker and can include more seasoning.
    • Country Fried Steak: The coating can be simpler and less pronounced, often more like a dredge in seasoned flour without the additional layers of breading found in chicken fried steak.
  2. Gravy:
    • Chicken Fried Steak: This is usually served with a white, creamy gravy, often called a country or peppermilk gravy. The gravy is a significant component of this dish and is known for its rich flavor.
    • Country Fried Steak: It might come with a brown gravy, often made from the pan drippings. This gravy is typically thinner and less creamy than the white gravy served with chicken fried steak.
  3. Preparation and Presentation:
    • Chicken Fried Steak: This might be presented more like fried chicken, with a focus on the crispy texture of the coating.
    • Country Fried Steak: It’s often presented in a more rustic style, with the emphasis on the steak itself rather than the breading.
  4. Regional Variations:
    • The terms and their interpretations can vary significantly by region. In some places, the terms might be used synonymously without any distinction.

It’s important to note that these distinctions are not strict, and you might find variations that blend these characteristics or use the names differently.

The key to both dishes is a tenderized steak that’s breaded, fried, and served with gravy, making them both beloved comfort foods with very similar flavors and textures.

The Origin of Chicken Fried Steak:

The dish that inspired chicken fried steak was originally made with veal. Its roots are in the Wiener Schnitzel, a traditional Austrian dish that is typically made with veal.

When German and Austrian immigrants came to the United States, particularly to Texas, they brought this culinary tradition with them.

However, veal was less available and more expensive in the United States, especially in Texas, where beef was more plentiful due to the large cattle industry.

As a result, these immigrants adapted their traditional recipe to use the more readily available and affordable beef, while still employing the tenderizing and frying techniques used in making Wiener Schnitzel.

In other words, over time, this adapted recipe evolved into what is now known as chicken fried steak. It reflects the adaptation and fusion of immigrant culinary traditions with local ingredients, a common theme in American cuisine.

The “chicken fried” aspect of the name was later adopted due to the similar cooking method to that of fried chicken, a staple in Southern American cuisine.

Above all, it’s a testament to the fusion of cultures and the evolution of comfort food across continents.

Sharing this history might make for intriguing dinner table conversation.

In the meantime, you may also be interested in these other beef recipes.


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