The Best Chicken Fried Steak In The Galaxy

I was fortunate to grow up in the middle of nowhere, although I didn’t see it as a fortune at the time. Looking back of course, having no one to play with but my brother and nothing to do but run around The Hill as we called it was probably the coolest way to spend my young-years, as it forced me to get creative.

We built a lot of forts on The Hill, out of sticks and big sheets of bark we tore from the juniper trees, tied together with rope. We’d make “beds” with piles of grass and leaves (and jillions of chiggers, I’m sure). Then we’d take provisions out there. You know, important stuff like rope, pencils, coffee cans full of nails, matches, and of course Operation. Poor, stupid, little Me. I had no inkling that a fort built by two children would not be rain-proof. The next time I checked in on that fort, Operation was non-operational and our coffee can of nails was a coffee can of rust.

Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak

One of the coolest forts we built was with help from my dad. He had this idea to recreate the grass huts made by the Caddo Indians. He built a domed frame in the yard (out of some kind of sticks, I guess?) and every day, walking home from the bus stop, my brother and I gathered handfuls of long grasses and tied them up in bundles. My dad attached them to the frame. It takes a lot of goddamn grass bundles to cover a 5-foot stick-dome.

Ultimately, we all three lost interest in it before it was completed. I imagine it was dismantled and burned in the fireplace eventually. But it was a cool idea while it lasted and I guess we learned something about Indians and nature and how fucking hard it is to build a house out of grass.

And sooo, in a round-about way, that leads me to something else I learned from my dad. How to make chicken fried steak. And by that I mean, how to make the best chicken fried steak on the planet. Chicken fried steak like you’d get in Heaven. Or Hell.

Not sure which has the best cafeteria.

The thing about chicken fried steak is that, unlike other breaded meat things such as wiener schnitzle which uses veal, CFS is traditionally made with the absolute worst cut of meat you can buy. It’s called “cube steak” and what it is, is any piece of meat that’s been run through a mechanical tenderizer, giving it a recognizable “cubed” appearance, like it’s been punched a bunch with tiny square mallets, which of course, it has. Cube steak is sometimes made from round steak, but often is made from any sorta leftover cuts the butcher has. It’s also called “minute steak”. It’s also often gristly and tough. Unpleasant, in other words.

To get around that unpleasantness, I use thin round steaks and tenderize them myself with a mallet. That way, I know exactly what cut of beef I’m buying and I get the added bonus, if you will, of pounding it myself. Which I think is kinda fun. If you’re not into that, your butcher should be able to auto-tenderize any cut of beef you want to buy. Although I still recommend sticking with something fairly inexpensive like round steak since we’re going to be breading and frying it until it’s medium-well or well-done, anyway.

Let us begin. (Watch the chicken fried steak video for additional tips.)

4.9 from 11 reviews
Chicken Fried Steak
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The best chicken-fried steak you'll ever have
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ¾ pound round steak, cut into 2 pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ sleeve Saltine crackers, crushed to make about 2 cups of crumbs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil or bacon grease or a combination, for frying
Instructions
  1. Lay each piece of steak on a cutting board and gently pound them with the flat side of a meat mallet, working from the center towards the edges until about ⅓" thick.
  2. Go over each one again now with the pokey side of the mallet. Be gentle. You don't want to tear the meat.
  3. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside.
  4. Mix the flour with the pepper and put it on a plate.
  5. Beat the eggs well in a shallow bowl.
  6. Crush the crackers and put them on a plate.
  7. Now we bread. Dip each steak in this order: egg, flour, egg, crackers.
  8. Set them aside while you heat your oil in a large skillet, over high heat.
  9. When it's hot enough, a fleck of cracker crumb will sizzle when tossed in.
  10. Fry as many as you can fit in your skillet without crowding them, probably just one at a time (If you cram too much in there, they will steam instead of fry and your breading will come off.)
  11. Cook for about 3 minutes, then turn and reduce the heat to medium-high.
  12. Cook another 3-4 minutes until you cut into it and it's just barely pink in the middle.
  13. Keep warm if necessary in the oven while you cook the rest.

Serve with mashed potatoes and cream gravy for the TIME OF YOUR LIFE.

And here’s a Tip on Timing: Go ahead and make the mashed potatoes and gravy right before you fry the steaks. The gravy will stay warm in a pot with a lid on it; just reheat over low heat if necessary for about a minute. Hold the potatoes over a double boiler and top them with some extra butter or cream so they don’t dry out.

P.S. Thanks again to Jennee at After Thoughts for sending me the pretty apron!

Comments

  1. I’m so excited about this that Lunch With Hilah tomorrow is going to be a rerun. Or maybe even a three-peat. Or four-peat. Something has to peat, my World Champion SF Giants have been eliminated :(

    • This is just a test of the email subscriptions for comments. Let me know if you receive this.

    • Leo on the Coast Fork says:

      Hey.

      I am new to cooking traditional Americana and working as a Homecare Worker I find I need to know how to Chicken Fry all Flesh. My first try became my supper caus the crust skin turned into soggy bread and peeled off? Why o why?

      • Sounds like your oil was not nearly hot enough. When frying breaded meat you want the oil to be between 350-360 degrees F (177-182 C)

        • Leo on the Coast Fork says:

          Absolutely right. I am doing ADLs and home care and cook in the client’s kitchen… and NO theromometer of any kind – DID find the test for sufficiant hotness. Didn’t have chop-sticks so I used the pointy end of a wooden honey spoon to poke the through the hot grease and achieved a copious bubble release. Good tip for those seeking sufficiant hotness. Look for the tiny bubbles streaming off the tip.

  2. Hilah, is that a jar of pickled okra in the background of the picture?

  3. I can’t wait to try this recipe. That looks way better than what my mom used to make and feed me! (oh, I hope she doesn’t read that…) And your apron totally does match your kitchen, that’s awesome!

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  5. Love your shows. Watch them regularly on my Apple TV all the way in Japan!

  6. I continue to be in awe of your ability to crack an egg on the counter!

  7. Awesome take on one of the most popular dishes in my neck of the woods. I have to try the crushed crackers as the 2nd step of the breading, never have done that but it sounds great. Thanks, Hilah!

  8. Wow what a trip. Your chicken fried steak is almost identical to mine. Great minds, Hilah. Great minds. Or maybe it’s a Texas thing.

    You did teach me about the meat though. I had no idea they had different cuts that were ending up as cube steak. That explains a lot about why mine is sometimes really tough. In retrospect, it seems like I should have figured this out. Oh well, I’m known more for my cooking than my powers of deduction.

    Do you have any idea how hard it would be to find something like this in D.C., and I can’t cook in the hotel. Man I’m hungry for a good chicken fried steak now. Maybe I should make some friends and offer to cook for them…

    • I’d bet it would be downright impossible to find anything like this outside of Texas, even! Unless you made it yourself. Maybe you could crash a hostel kitchen!

    • In DC, you’re going to find steaks dipped in batter or breaded, then deep-fried, with gravy on top. Not really Texas or Oklahoma style. Try either South Side 815 or Madam’s Organ (especially on Weds.) for good DC style chicken fried steak.

  9. This looks amazing and I’m going to try it soon, but why is it called chicken fried steak?

    • Hi Janice!
      In Texas it’s called that because it’s made similar to how fried chicken is made. Outside of Texas, it’s often called country-fried steak.
      Thanks for writing! Let me know how it goes when you try it!

  10. Hilah, Three cheers for your Dad. I made this last night, WOW the best chicken fried steak ever. My Mom used a cracker crust but I could never get it right.
    Thanks

  11. Hi Hilah, tried it your way and it was amazing…although I’ve always done it with ritz crackers. No idea why, just always have. lol I’ve never tried the dredging method you did though and I have to say I’m impressed and will be doing it that way from now on. :)

    Thank you so much…your awesome!

    • Hi Bonnie!
      Thanks for writing! I’m so happy you like my method (rather, my dad’s method!). And although I’ve always used saltines, Ritz crackers sound fantastic! :)
      Have a great day and I hope to hear from you again!
      -hilah

  12. Don Deemer says:

    you just have a way with words.Thats a great recipe.I pounded my meat but it didn’t get twice the size.But thats o.k. it’s still good.

    Thanks,
    Don

  13. Looks like some delicious dishes i have to say.. When should I stop by for dinner :)

  14. terry love says:

    Hey :::: I just tried your way of making chicken fried steaks , and let me be the first to thank you for the recipe :) It was to die for , I really enjoyed it , it turned out really crispy and full of flavor…….I had always made it with just the flour , the crackers make a real difference…..Thank you again for the change …..Keep on cooking :)

  15. Amber Boegly says:

    Just made these for supper, and me, my mom, and husband loved them. The only trouble I had was one side of one of the steaks didn’t want to cook thoroughly enough. It stayed red. Not sure what was going on there, but even so there was MORE than enough cooked and delicious to eat…especially with mashed potatoes and peas.

    • Hey Amber! Glad y’all enjoyed it! It’s really one of my favorite things to eat on the planet.
      When you flipped them over, did you also turn the inside-facing edges to the outside part of the skillet? I’m wondering if the unequal cooking was because that portion of the steak was in a “cold spot” in the skillet the whole time.

      • Amber Boegly says:

        It was like the tip of one of the longer edges that stayed red. It’s possible it was shying away from the heat (much like I prefer to do). Just weird cause the other half of the steak was larger but cooked fine (I got a pre-tenderized round steak and cut it in half like you said). Though I did fry them a tad longer just to ensure the rest of the meat was done.

  16. brenda brodie says:

    Hilah, why is it called chicken fried steak?

    • Hi Brenda!
      It’s called that because it’s fried similarly to how fried chicken is fried. Traditionally, chicken fried steak is done with just an egg dip and a flour dip like many fried chicken recipes. This one is a little different with the addition of cracker crumbs for extra crunch!

      • brenda brodie says:

        Thanks Hilah, I was thinking chicken fat, schmaltz, whatever. In Australia, this is crumbed steak.Awesome stuff.Especially good cooked in butter with lime juice and capers on top.Food porn.

  17. Brenda, these are all varieties of breaded, then fried, cutlets. In German countries and in Israel, they’re called schnitzel. In Italy and Latin America, it’s milanesa. Cutting the oil with an acidic sauce, like your lime juice and capers, is great. I have a recipe for chicken schnitzel that is supposed to go with a lemon sauce, but our sons always liked it with tomato sauce instead. Tomato, to-mah-to, lemon, lime, or cream gravy — delicious!

  18. Made this for dinner tonight. Ok, I didn’t have the technically accurate ingredients…I used chicken thighs pounded thin cause that’s what I had. Also, no cracker crumbs..all I had was panko.
    I still followed the spirit of the recipe, and it was great!
    Try mincing some garlic and adding it to the beaten egg. You cant have too much garlic, in my opinion.

    Thanks, Hilah!

    • Whoa! Wow! I love your spirit, Chris! This sounds like a delicious variation. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  19. theotherlee says:

    I’ve spent the evening reading through, and watching your vids. (Chick-fil-GAY sammich brought me here though.)

    Just wanted to say, I’m a 40 year old Texan that has been making chicken fried steak for going on 20 years. I have *never* heard of, or used crackers as part of the breading.

    I absolutely will be making my CFS this way the next time I indulge…

    Thank you SO much for all of your awesome recipes… and I *LOVE* your sense of humor!!

    Your new fan… Lee

    • Ooh lala! The pressure’s on now! I hope, my fellow Texan, that this recipe meets your standards. I’m seriously telling you it’s the best I’ve ever had, traditional or not. :)

      • I just found this recipe through Every Day Comfort Food email. This is almost the way I have been making it for over 40 years except for adding just a splash of buttermilk to the eggs it helps to hold the breading on. I am in Texas and we have a restaurant here in Austin that still breads their own and this is how they do it also the chicken fried chicken ( that is a chicken breast tenderized and then breaded the same way)

  20. HarleyHottie13 says:

    Damn-it! Arrived here via the Chick-fil-gay post I saw somewhere… But, now I have to go out to the grocery store again thanks to this and many other recipes on your page!! I just did all of my shopping 3 days ago!! (I usually do most of my shopping once a month, and freeze, store, etc., then just stop by the corner market if need be during the month for milk, and maybe a little sumpin’ sumpin’ else I might need…) Since I cannot foresee the future, I failed to by cubed, round or any similar steak, nor did I purchase saltines, in order to cook up this lovely treat! I cannot wait for another time as I am an instant gratification girl most times –and this is definitely one of them!!! But hell, I live in Southern California so the grocery store trip is nuttin’! Now if my old man would just hurry home with the car–’cause I’m about to lick my lips clean off just anticipating this baby!! Take care and keep on keepin’ on, my new favorite bestie! You’re a rock star! I will be stalking you constantly, ‘eh, I mean visiting your page frequently!!

    • Oh, man! I’m totally impressed that you have a monthly system down! Of course, things like this will occur (sorry!) but still I bet y’all save a ton of money that way. You should share your secrets. ;)
      Thanks for writing!
      hugs,
      h

  21. do you ppl know how frickin awsome this recipe is?!?! with corn on the cob and mashed taters??? o sweet jesus

  22. my mom and your dad must have went to the same best chicken fried steak class in school. same exact recipe as moms. thank you for posting, you did a great job!

    • Haha! That’s crazy, Heather! I’ve never heard of another one like this. But it makes me happy to hear. :) Thank you!

  23. Patti young says:

    Great recipe. I made it tonight and it was the best I ever made. I used buttery crackers because that was what I had on hand and cooked it in shortening and bacon fat

  24. This is like the BEST CFS in the whole freakin’ galaxy!!! So nice and crunchy, so tasty especially with your gravy recipe!! We are also an instant fan of your show (Your only fans from GUAM!!) Hope to see more great things from you!! WOOT!

  25. Hilah I love your recipe instead of steak I and made pork chops and it was AMAZING. Had no saltine so I used Ritz cracker and still came out AMAZING

  26. Annette Maxemow says:

    I just made a country fried steak and it came out awful. Next time I’m going to try your recipe. I don’t know what happened? Steak was drenched in oil and not crisp. I guess Jersey girls can’t cook Country Fried Steak. Lol My husband likes this dish so I’ll try again. Maybe, the crackers is the key.

    • Hi Annette!
      Sounds like your oil was not hot enough. That is usually the culprit when fried things turn out greasy and not crisp. Hope you do try it again. A well-made CFS is a thing of wonder. :)

  27. OMG this Texas girl will be trying this recipe tonight!! A friend of mine wanted me to make this for his birthday and looking online at recipes, I found this one. This is the one I will use. Thanks so much!

  28. If this is as good as your Dad’s Texas Chili recipe, it must also be fantastic. I’ll definitely give it a try! Please post more of your Dad’s recipes. They all seem so amazing yet simple.

  29. Nicoleincos says:

    OMFG Hilah! This was amazing. I’d tried making CFS before, but the breading never stayed intact. These are freaking incredible. I actually battered them earlier in the day and kept them in the fridge until ready to fry, which made dinner come together really easily! I made gravy right in the pan when they were done. Thanks for yet ANOTHER great recipe!

    • YAY!!!! Brilliant idea to leave them in the fridge all day, too, Nicole. Makes a better crust AND saves rushing around at dinner time.

  30. This looks fantastic. I haven’t had chicken fried steak since livng in the US over 12 years ago and we don’t get this here in Sydney. BOOOOOOOO

    I’m giving this a go……..Thanks Hilah.

  31. Amanda Victoria says:

    You have such a great personality – anything you teach us to cook who’s gonna complain?

  32. Hello Hilah!

    Does cooking the chicken fried steak in bacon grease actually make it taste like bacon ?

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