Made from various tough cuts of beef, cube steak is processed in a way that helps create a more tender piece of meat. However, the cooking method you use may turn your tender cube steak into a chewy, tough slab of inedible meat.
What Is Cube Steak?
According to consumer data from the USDA, Americans eat more than 50 pounds of beef a year. Although ribeye is the most popular cut of beef, according to the Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association, cube steak makes the top-10 list of favorite beef cuts, coming in at number 10.
Cube steak can be made from a number of tough primal cuts of beef, including chuck, shoulder or bottom round. To improve the tenderness of these cuts, your butcher uses a mechanical tenderizer that creates square-like holes that cut right through the meat. This tenderizing process is how cube steak got its name. Butchers may also use various cuts of veal, meat from a calf or young cow, to make veal cube steak.
Though nutrition information may vary depending on the cut used to make your cube steak, according to nutrition information provided by the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of braised bottom round cube steak has 196 calories, 28 grams of protein, 8.5 grams of total fat and 3 grams of saturated fat. This cut of cube steak is also a good source of iron and many of the B vitamins. However, it's high in calories, fat and saturated fat.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to no more than 6 percent of total calories, which is 13 grams on a 2,000-calorie diet, to reduce the risk of heart disease. To get the health benefits and minimize the risks, the World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting intake of red meat, like cube steak, to three servings a week or 12 to 18 ounces.
Read more: How to Cook a Tender Steak on the Stove
Making Tender Cube Steak
Cube steak may be pre-tenderized, but without the right cooking method your tender cube steak can get tough and chewy. The Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association recommends that you prepare your tender cube steak in the skillet.
For a simple cube steak recipe, season your meat with salt and pepper. Then heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add your cube steaks to the skillet, but no more than two at a time.
Cook your steak for two to three minutes and then flip and cook for an additional two to three minutes or until your steak has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve your steak with roasted potatoes and carrots.
Giving your tender cube steak plenty of room in the pan and not overcooking the meat is essential for preventing a chewy steak.
Cube Steak and Gravy
Do you find chicken fried steak a little confusing and wonder if it's made from chicken or steak? Well, it happens to be made from cube steak. In fact, the breaded and fried, chicken fried steak is a very popular method of cooking cube steak and keeping the meat tender. Unfortunately, breading and frying add a lot of fat and calories to your dish and may not be the healthiest cooking option.
Instead, consider braising your cube steak. Braising is a cooking technique that involves covering your meat with a liquid and slow cooking it until tender.
If you have a slow cooker, you don't even need to slave over the stove all day to make your tender cube steak. First, sear your steak in a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat for one to two minutes per side. Place your seared steak in your slow cooker, cover with our healthy Mushroom Thyme Gravy and cook on low for seven to eight hours. Serve your tender cube steak and gravy with brown rice and green beans.
- USDA: "Food Availability and Consumption"
- Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association: "Retail Meat Case: America's Favorite Beef Cuts"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Beef, Round, Bottom Round, Steak, Separable Lean and Fat, Trimmed to 0" Fat, Choice, Cooked, Braised"
- American Heart Association: "Saturated Fat"
- World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute of Cancer Research: "Limit Red and Processed Meat"
- Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association: "Cubed Steak"
- Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association: "Country-Fried Steaks With Tomato Basil"
- FoodSafety.gov: "Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Veal From Farm to Table"