How to Cook Round Steak in a Skillet

A round or eye of round steak comes from the rear end of the cow. Because the muscles in this area get a lot of use, these cuts are leaner and tougher than others. While this means a lower fat content and fewer calories than better marbled cuts, it also means fewer options for cooking round steak.

A round or eye of round steak comes from the rear end of the cow. (Image: Lisovskaya/iStock/GettyImages)

To cook a round steak in a skillet, you need wet heat, such as from braising. With this method, you can turn an economical beef cut into a delicious steak.

When making quick and easy round steak recipes, be sure to check the dates on your meat. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, beef should be cooked or frozen within three to five days of the "sell by" date to help prevent spoilage.

Step 1: Season Your Steak

Pat the round steak dry thoroughly with paper towels for an effective sear. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper, as well as any other herbs and spices. Give it some kick with Cajun seasoning mix or cayenne powder, or add a dried herb like thyme, rosemary or tarragon.

Step 2: Prep Your Pan

Put a large cast-iron, stainless steel or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes. Add a heavy coating of canola or other cooking oil, swirl it around and let it become shimmering hot.

Step 3: Sear Both Sides

Place the round steak in the skillet and sear one side for about two minutes, letting it develop a crust. Turn it with tongs and sear the second side the same way, then remove the beef from the pan.

Step 4: Add the Liquid

Pour red wine, beer, beef stock, chicken stock, vegetable stock or another braising liquid into the skillet. Use about 2 cups, or enough to come approximately halfway up the sides of the round steak when you put it back in.

Deglaze the pan by scraping up all the caramelized stuff stuck to the bottom and sides from searing the steak with a spatula or cooking spoon. This adds significant flavor to the braising liquid.

Step 5: Add Some Aromatics

Add aromatics, herbs and spices into the pan, if you wish. Mirepoix, a mixture of chopped carrots, onion and celery, is a standard inclusion when braising. You could also add seasonings used on the meat before searing.

Consider garlic or garlic powder, soy sauce for saltiness, brown sugar for sweetness, chopped chili pepper for heat or some vegetables like green beans or chopped potato.

Step 6: Simmer Until Tender

Return the round steak to the skillet and bring the braising liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to simmer and put a lid over the pan. Stir and turn the meat every 15 minutes or so to promote even cooking and prevent burning. Cook for about 45 to 60 minutes, until the beef is fork-tender.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels

  • Salt and pepper

  • Additional seasonings and flavorings (optional)

  • Cast-iron or other skillet with lid

  • Canola or other cooking oil

  • Tongs

  • Red wine or other braising liquid

  • Spatula or cooking spoon

Tip

Cook steak to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F, advises the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you have an ovenproof skillet, you can also braise the round steak in it in the oven at 325 F. This reduces the risk of burning and requires only one turn of the meat halfway through. With the indirect heat, it takes more like 90 minutes this way, though. Transfer the skillet to the oven once you've deglazed, added the braising liquid and other ingredients, and brought it to a boil.

Warning

Refrigerate round steak to keep it below 40 F. According to the USDA, round steak can be frozen for up to 12 months. Refrigerate leftovers and eat within three to four days — but discard any beef that has been at room temperature for more than two hours to reduce risk of foodborne illness.

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