What is Beef Cubed Steak? A Complete Guide

Beef cubed steak, also known as minute steak, is an affordable and flavorful cut of beef that has been pre-tenderized by pounding and cutting. This tenderizing process transforms a usually tough cut of meat into a quick-cooking and family-friendly dinner option. Keep reading to learn all about cubed steak, including where it comes from, how to cook it best and tasty recipes to try.

What Cut of Beef is Cubed Steak?

Cubed steak starts as a top or bottom round cut, taken from the rear leg of the cow. This area tends to be lean and sinewy rather than tender. While it can be used for slow braises and stews, the round needs special treatment to work for quick-cooking methods like grilling, sautéing or frying.

That’s where the tenderizing process comes in. The round steaks are run through a mechanical cubing machine, which pierces the surface, essentially pounding the meat to break down tough muscle fibers. This action also creates the signature waffle-like pattern on the steak, giving it a cubed visual texture. The end result is a steak tender enough to cook up quickly as an everyday meal.

How Cubed Steak is Tenderized

There are a few ways meat can be tenderized to transform a tough cut into an easier-to-cook steak:

  • Mechanical cubing: Running the meat through a machine with sharp blades or needles that pierce the surface. This is how commercial cubed steak is made.

  • Manual cubing: Using a spiked meat mallet or tenderizer tool to pound the surface of the raw steak. You can DIY cube steak at home this way.

  • Wet marinading: Marinating tough cuts in an acidic ingredient like wine, vinegar or juice both tenderizes and adds flavor.

  • Enzyme tenderizing: Meat tenderizer powder contains enzymes that break down proteins. Simply sprinkle on the steak, let sit briefly, then rinse off.

  • Slow cooking: Braising tough cuts like chuck roast or short ribs in liquid for hours gently tenderizes the meat.

Is Cubed Steak Already Cooked?

While cubed steak has been pre-tenderized for convenience, it still needs to be cooked before eating. It can be cooked relatively quickly since the tough muscle fibers have been broken down, but it should not be eaten raw.

When preparing cubed steak, think of it like a chicken cutlet that can go quickly from the fridge to the frying pan or grill and onto your plate. It does not need hours of simmering like a traditional stew meat. Just 5-15 minutes of cooking time total will yield a tender and tasty result.

How to Cook Cubed Steak Perfectly

Because cubed steak has been pounded thin and tender, it is prone to drying out and becoming tough if overcooked. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Use high heat – Cubed steak does best with high-temperature quick cooking methods like grilling, broiling, pan frying or sautéing. This gives a nice sear while keeping the interior moist.

  • Go for thin steaks – Look for cubed steaks pounded to around 1/4-inch thick. Much more than 3/4-inch thick and they will be hard to cook through without burning the outside.

  • Cook fast – Only 1 to 3 minutes per side should be needed to cook cubed steaks thoroughly. Less than a total of 6 minutes cooking time will keep them tender.

  • Avoid overcrowding the pan – Give cubed steaks room when frying or sautéing. Too many steaks steaming and stewing together will lead to dry, tough meat.

  • Let meat rest – As with grilling a steak, let cubed steaks rest for 5 minutes after cooking. This allows juices to reabsorb so the meat stays moist and tender.

Best Ways to Cook Cubed Steak

You have options when it comes to putting cubed steak on the dinner table. Here are some top preparation methods:


  • Dredge in flour, breadcrumbs or cornmeal then pan-fry in a little oil over high heat for 1-2 minutes per side.

  • Top with a sauce like mushroom gravy or peppercorn sauce.

  • Also excellent prepared as chicken-fried steak in the traditional Southern style.


  • Quickly sauté seasoned cubed steaks in a hot pan with butter or oil.

  • Add onions, bell peppers and a sauce like A1 or barbecue sauce the last 2 minutes of cooking for extra flavor.

  • Delicious served over rice, mashed potatoes or pasta.


  • Brush cubed steaks with oil and season as desired.

  • Grill over direct high heat for just 1-2 minutes per side, watching carefully to prevent burning.

  • Slice and serve in sandwiches, over salad or on their own.


  • Pat steaks dry and sear in a hot pan, 2-3 minutes per side.

  • Remove steaks and sauté aromatics like onions and garlic.

  • Return steaks to pan, add braising liquid like broth and simmer gently until fork tender.


  • Pulse cubed steak in a food processor to break up the meat into small crumbles.

  • Use as you would lean ground beef for burgers, meatballs, tacos, etc.

  • The pre-tenderizing gives excellent texture in ground beef recipes.

What to Serve with Cubed Steak

Cubed steak is lean and versatile, pairing well with all different cuisines and sides:

  • All-American favorites like mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw and biscuits

  • Rice and beans, fried plantains and avocado for a Latin flair

  • Roasted potatoes and chimichurri sauce for an Argentinian steakhouse vibe

  • Sautéed peppers and onions, roasted tomatoes and crusty bread for a Mediterranean meal

Is Cubed Steak Healthy?

Coming from the lean round, cubed steak offers these healthy advantages:

  • Lower in fat and calories than fattier cuts like ribeye or brisket

  • Higher in protein than chicken or pork chops

  • Rich in zinc, iron, selenium and other minerals

  • Budget-friendly at around $4-6 per pound

Just be mindful of preparation methods. Breaded and fried cubed steaks soak up more calories from oil, while grilled or braised offers a healthier option.

Where to Buy Cubed Steak

Look for cubed steak in the refrigerated meat case at your local supermarket, often packaged on foam trays and wrap in plastic. It may also be found in the freezer section. Quality butcher shops are another good source.

Prices vary but expect to pay around $1-3 less per pound than other raw steaks like sirloin, ribeye or T-bone. Cubed steak offers an affordable yet satisfying meat choice for family dinners.

How to Store Cubed Steak

  • Raw steaks should be used within 2 days of purchase if refrigerated. Or freeze raw cubed steak for 2-3 months max in an airtight package. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

  • Cooked cubed steaks will last 3-4 days refrigerated. Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave.

Easy Cubed Steak Recipes

Take cubed steak from the fridge to dinner table fast with these delicious recipes:

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy

Crispy breaded cubed steak smothered in rich creamy gravy. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Thinly sliced cubed steak gets sautéed with onions, peppers and melted cheese on a hoagie roll.

Steak Fajitas

Marinated cubed steak cooked with bell peppers and onions, served sizzling hot with tortillas.

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Ground cubed steak patties classically paired with umami mushroom gravy.

Swiss Steak

Braised cubed steak cooked low and slow in a tomato sauce until fall-apart tender.

So next time you come across cubed steak at the market, pick some up for an easy and budget-friendly dinner. With a few simple tricks, you can transform this humble cut into a delicious homecooked meal the whole family will love.

The Best Cube Steak & Gravy Recipe by Chef Bae


How do you cook cube steak so it’s not tough?

The best way to cook cube steak for tenderness is slowly and evenly, so a slow cooker can do the trick when you have ample time to spare. However, braising, pan-frying, and sauteing also work. Just be sure to cook with enough liquid to keep the steak moist.

Is cubed steak the same as ground beef?

It may look like ground beef in appearance, but this cut is actually quite different. Cube steak is a budget-friendly cut of meat and has the added plus of already being tenderized. This ingredient can be a time saver on a busy night — country-fried steaks, ground beef patties, slow-cooker recipes and burgers.

What meat is used for cubed steak?

Cube steak is a cut of Top Round or Top Sirloin that’s been tenderized, (pounded with a textured mallet), which leaves small indentations on the meat. This helps break down the muscle fibers, which makes it less tough and more tender.

What is the difference between round steak and cube steak?

Cube Steak is a Round Steak that has been tenderized by a technique of pounding and rolling, which leaves little cube shaped marks on the meat. Our butchers have done the work for you by running these round steaks through our tenderizing machine, so they are ready to go!

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