HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Country Fried Steak....

A staple of most american "country" breakfasts.... my question is..... what is it??? Is it STEAK or a chicken breast thingie grilled to look like a steak with breading on it???

And why do most chef's in restuarants want to COVER it in GRAVY.....talk about a Heart Attack waiting to happen!!!:)

and another thing..... when I order a steak MW, I want it MW, not BLOOD RED!!!:(

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A country fried steak is a thin steak (flank steak, round, etc) that is dipped in egg, dredged in flour and pan fried. It is almost always served with gravy (whether a cream gravy, brown gravy or otherwise varies mostly by region of the country).

    I've never seen a country fried steak that one could order to temperature; they're always cooked through.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb

      Chicken Fried Steak is the more common term I think.

      cube steak works better than an actual cut, less curl and different moisture content when fried.

      what has always confused me are places that offer Chicken Fried Chicken...

      cardio issues aside, it's gotta come in gravy.

      1. re: hill food

        I grew up eating country fried steak that my father made - dipped in egg, dredged in flour and pan fried but with no gravy on top. He might make some "grease gravy" for putting on some biscuits or something but not on the steak itself. He has always called it country fried steak and said that's what his mother always called it. However, most of the meat-and-three restaurants around here anyway will tell you that country fried steak has gravy and chicken fried steak doesn't. The country fried steak I grew up with is one of my favorite things.

        1. re: hill food

          "country fried" I *think* is more of a northern thing. "chicken fried steak" is too confusing to us yankees. "country fried" gets the point across a bit more clearly.

          1. re: jgg13

            My family has never been any further north than Tennessee! :) This is where someone from Lafayette, LA says that IS way up north! I think it is just a regional thing really.

            1. re: Boudleaux

              Fair 'nuff. My sample size in the south is relatively low, so was just going based on experience. TN certainly qualifies as the south as far as I'm concerned! :)

            2. re: jgg13

              I am from southern Texas and love chicken fried steak. I just saw a special on the food channel about this food. Apparently if it has brown gravy it is called Country fried steak and if it has White it is chicken fried steak.

              1. re: Lemonii

                saw that too, makes sense (re-running tonight)

            3. re: hill food

              Remembering some stuff I've read, I think that the difference is this:

              Country Fried is just dredged in seasoned flour then pan-fried 'til done. Possibly gravy, possibly something made from the pan drippings.

              Chicken Fried gets the whole treatment: a wash of milk and egg, then seasoned flour, to form a fried-chicken-like crust. And always, ALWAYS cream gravy.

              Yes, there are cardiochallenges. But once a year or so, with a side of mashed potatoes and cornbread or biscuits, it's really irresistable.

          2. I don't care whether it's called country fried or chicken fried, this was one of my favourite dishes when visiting the American south. It's almost impossible to find in Toronto. Never got into grits, so I'd always order hash browns, home fries, or just toast to round out the plate.

            5 Replies
            1. re: KevinB

              Western Canada has a number of places that offer various types of schnitzel. Anything like that in Toronto? Maybe you can ask them to top it with a cream gravy, and serve it with a side of mashed. You may have to push the mushrooms aside.


              1. re: KevinB

                It's so easy to make, just get a round steak and have the butcher run it through the meat tenerizer twice for you, then press in some flour and pan fry it with some olive oil, or your favorite oil. in a cast iron skillet, salt it and eat it

                  1. re: malibumike

                    Until I was 13 or so, this was the "steak" I knew...and then an old friend of my dad's invited us over to help his family eat the prize steer he'd bought at the county fair, but that's another story. Anyway, Mom would lay the round steak Dad brought home out on the big cutting board, season and flour it, then use the edge of a dime-store Fire King plate (the ones that are now $50 apiece in the antique malls!) to pound the flour in and tenderize the meat. No egg or anything, just flour, salt and pepper, and she cooked it in lard or bacon drippings, then made gravy from the excess seasoned flour and some milk. Yum yum.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      That sounds fabulous. Also sounds like the way my grandmother made most of the things she made for me when I was growing up.

                1. The main ingredients in gravy are liquid and flour, not fat.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mpalmer6c

                    Most recipes use equal volumes of fat and flour (e.g. 2 T of each). So fat would be the largest source of calories. You can thicken a sauce without fat, using a slurry, but wheat flour isn't the best starch for that.

                    I wonder what the calorie breakdown is for a typical chicken fried steak meal - how much comes from the meat, the frying, the gravy, and the mashed potatoes?


                    1. re: paulj

                      I'm not sure why the nutritional breakdown is important for a dish that is pan fried, covered in gravy and served with potatoes with at least a load of butter.....its not light. It's just delicious if done well.

                      But...according to All Recipes:

                      For the steak and gravy:
                      Calories: 639
                      * Total Fat: 28.7g
                      * Total Carbs: 44.7g
                      * Protein: 47.6g

                      Calories: 257
                      * Total Fat: 7.1g
                      * Total Carbs: 43.8g
                      * Protein: 5.6g

                      1. re: paulj

                        True, but the OP seemed to think that flour would give you a fatal heart attack. With the recipes I've seen with pan drippings, you're told to get rid of all the fat you can. But then, I'm not familiar with grease-bomb diners.

                      2. re: mpalmer6c

                        In cream gravy, which is what is commonly served over country (chicken) fried steak, equal amounts of fat and flour are used and the common fat used is either bacon grease, lard or crisco (veg. oil).

                        For instance, if I were making a cream gravy for 4 CFS, the recipe calls for 1/4 cup veg. oil mixed with 1/4 cup flour. Cook a few min. until the flour taste is gone, but mixture is not browned. Slowly add 2 cups, give or take, of warmed milk. Stir until thickened and hot. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

                        CFS with cream gravy is tasty but certainly far from good for you. I make it once or twice a year, which is enough for me, but Mr. B could eat it every week, I swear.

                      3. I think you mean "chicken fried steak."

                        1. Try asking for the gravy on the side so you can control the meat/breading/gravy ratio yourself. . . works for me, especially if I smile.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Stephanie Wong

                            Absolutely agree, gravy on the side. The whole point of CFS is the crunchy fried goodness. Especially love the version at Chris & Pitts here in CA.

                          2. Call it country fried, call it chicken fried, just don't call me late for dinner!
                            I never had a chicken fried steak (what they're called this side of the Mississippi river) until I was probably 18. I have been making up for lost time since then.
                            My mom used to dredge some tenderized "cube steak" in flour with some salt and pepper and brown them off in shortening or sometimes bacon grease, but if there was gravy it was for the mashed potatoes on the side. I still prefer my chick fry with the gravy on the side, so it stays crisp while I'm eating it, and always with mashed potatoes or fries and hopefully some green beans.
                            And I never for one second consider the dietary ramifications of such a meal, or I'd never be able to enjoy it.

                            1. Unfortunately, the country fried steak is an unfortunate casualty of the rise of the chain diner. It's a frankenstein now, in most places --almost never made with the care and attention it so rightly deserves.

                              Here's some great country fried reading:


                              1. Great question! It's always been on my list of things I always wanted to know but was too polite to ask. Especially when called chicken fried steak, which is the only way I've seen it on menus, sounded like an oxymoron to me so I never ordered it. It's great to know how it's supposed to be prepared thanks to all the previous posts. I like my steaks rare or less, so it sure sounds like I'm not going to be trying one, although to be fair, it sounds just like tong katsu which is chicken fried pork, based on the descriptions.
                                As far as your other thing...
                                Did you actually get a country/chicken fried steak blood red? I'm sure I would have loved it, but I've never seen it served that way.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: hsk

                                  The cut of meat that is typically used is not tender enough for cooking like a steak. Instead some thing like slices of round (which is on the lean and medium tough side) are pounded or mechanically tenderized (cubed). In fact, if the tenderization is carried too far you get ground meat. And like tong katsu (and schnitzel) it is too thin to cook to rare or medium rare. Instead it is fried till the breading is the right color.


                                  1. re: hsk

                                    If you go into a place in the south where they call you "Hun" and order a CFS medium or MR the waitress will look at you and say "Y'all aren't from around here, are ya??"
                                    As has been pointed out, it's cooked until the breading is GB&D. If you're worried about it drying out, that's what gravy is for.

                                    I made CFS for Mrs. Sippi on the first anniversary of our engagement. I used bacon grease and the left over bacon went into the mashed potatoes. I had black eyed peas as a side as well. Mrs. Sippi came home, saw everything and freaked. I wasn't looking at her but I since she was late I apologized for the food being a bit cold. She turned around with the pot of mashed in her one hand, wooden spoon in the other and with cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk tried to say "That's okay."
                                    It was hilarious. Great meal too.


                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      CFS, like its Japanese and European cousins, is best when piping hot. The latter bites are rarely as good as the first ones, when the coating is crisp, and the meat hot.

                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        Nice image. The stuffed chipmunk cheeks are always the acknowledgment of a dish well done.

                                    2. As someone who has eaten CFS since a babe in arms, I must confess I've never had it for breakfast, but there's a first time for everything.
                                      That said, I think the terms are interchangable.
                                      A key to me is it should be pan fried in an iron frying pan, just like good fried chicken. Deep frying, though it is done, is a no no to me.
                                      The other thing I have noted in my CFS eating career is that when you are in the heart of beef raising territory, it is not always pounded round steak or a lesser cut, but is often a real cut of steak, breaded and then fried. Superior stuff. Folks on the plains will bread and fry just about anything:)

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: bbqboy

                                        ha ha. I hadn't read Johnmlinn's posting of robb walsh's essay, but it confirms what I was saying. Here's a list of rural Kansas CFS joints. :)

                                        1. re: bbqboy

                                          You are so right! I usually use round, but around here the stores had boneless New York steak on sale for $3.99/lb. I bought some and ran them through my meat tenderizer a couple of times, pushed in some flour-salt-pepper, iron skillet with little olive oil, and walla - they were the best CFS I ever had.

                                          1. re: malibumike

                                            cast iron skillets are the way to go. That is the only thing I ever cook in. I thought I had 15, but just found 2 more down in the cabinet back in the depths of hell where noone ever goes. I went there and found a surprise.

                                          2. re: bbqboy

                                            oh I love CFC for breakfast, with golden hash browns and fresh farm eggs over easy, a crisp crunchy cube steak, covered with cream gravy and a bowl on the side. sigh....

                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                It really, really doesn't, although a biscuit is necessary to complete the meal.

                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                  Well you do need something to sop with.


                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                    I CAN skip the biscuits unless they are killer, mainly I just add more of that wonderful cream gravy over the steak and potatoes/eggs. Pretty sad of me.

                                            1. re: bbqboy

                                              Oh you haven't lived then!!! I have said this a couple times sorry! But Murphy's hotel makes the best chicken fried steak, with fresh eggs and hashed browns. Biscuits and extra gravy on the side, and a bottle of Crystal or Tobasco sauce at the ready. If anyone ever makes it to this darling little town in the Sierra foothills, do stop and eat there. And then do go scouting about and visit their incredibly good wineries!

                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                You've just given me another excellent reason to re-visit the foothills - I went to school at what was then Columbia JC, near Sonora, and Murphys (please note NO apostrophe) is just up the road a bit farther. But while we're extolling CFS (whether chicken or country) in various parts of California, let me say that the best I've had so far was at the Busy Bee in Ventura last Saturday. Unusually thick, juicy, crisply crusted, decent gravy. Came with three eggs, okay hashbrowns (I think they have home-fries too, which I will try next time). I chose the biscuit option, which was not wonderful but it got me extra gravy. All for about nine bucks. On Main St. just down from California.

                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  Having perused the Busy Bee menu online, I see that what I ate in Ventura was identified as a CHICKEN Fried Steak. The gravy was ambiguous, being neither white nor brown but a pale beige, and having a pleasant but not identifiably meaty flavor. The coating on the steak was not simply flour, but had crumbs or cornmeal or something like that in it.

                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                    Typically chicken fried steak comes with cream gravy, but there are places that serve it with a chicken gravy, hence the pale beige color. Either way is fine with me. All I ask is that you put the gravy on the side! I want to control the amount I have and if they pour it on top of the CFS then it, the breading, gets soggy under the gravy, and that is not a good way to eat it.

                                                    1. re: danhole

                                                      In defense of the Busy Bee, although the steak came with some gravy on it, and I ladled on a good bit more, the crunchy crust was so composed as to resist sogginess pretty much throughout the meal.

                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                          Without going too deeply into Home Cooking territory, I think if the meat is coated as fried fish are, with a dip into egg/milk and then rolling in crumbs - and better yet if this is repeated - then the coating will be more moisture-resistant, not only refusing to melt under the gravy, but retaining internal moisture better as well.

                                            2. If you don't want a well done thin steak, floured, pan fried and covered in gravy, then you have no business ordering a chicken fried steak.

                                              1. In IND, we call it Country Fried Steak. I live in the North, but my heart is in the South. I just take my round steak, flour it, sean it, beat the living tar out of it with a fire king saucer, & fry it up in olive oil & butter, make some white gravy and mashed pototoes & biscuts, fired corn and call it supper. Can we say STARCH? ! ! ! ! ! ! Guess what's for supper tonite?

                                                1. A few years ago, when I was recovering from surgery, I discovered the Food Network on the T.V. in my hospital room. When I felt well enough to watch it, I saw a Paula Deen program which featured country fried steaks: cube steaks dredged in seasoned flour, browned, and then braised with water from the tap. And I think she used a bay leaf and sauteed onions with it. The water forms a light gravy with the flour used in dredging the meat, and she served it with egg noodles. Not a breakfast dish. It's a dish our communtiy likes, although I confess I sometimes dress it up slightly by deglazing the pan with white wine, adding some fresh thyme and a scraping of lemon zest (or some coriander seed) and broth for the braising liquid.

                                                  15 Replies
                                                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                    FN recently had CFS 'throwdown' (competition) between Bobby and Paula. I'm sure it will be repeated many times.

                                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                      Sounds more like a bastardized version of beef tips and noodles.


                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                        Hers or mine? But it wasn't beef tips, it was cube steaks. By the way, when is a recipe bastardized and when is it an example of "fusion"?

                                                        1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                          Her's I guess. If you take out the cube steak and add in tips, that's what you'd have.

                                                          It depends on how much you're planning on charging!!


                                                        2. re: Davwud

                                                          Sounds more like a "country style steak" rather than "country fried steak."

                                                        3. re: Father Kitchen

                                                          Sounds like swiss steaks sans tomatoes.

                                                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                              A mongrel I never hope to meet! I'm surprised the Paula would do something like that being all "southern" y'all.

                                                              We went to a little cafe Sun. morning and they had Texas fried steak, which I had never seen before here in Houston. I asked what it was and it was a breaded steak, with gravy on the side. It goes by so many names!

                                                              1. re: danhole

                                                                Could be I'm to blame. Post surgical stress and medication can do strange things to your memory. So next time I'm in a book store I'll have to check out her cook books and clear her good name.

                                                                1. re: danhole

                                                                  I began to wonder if my memory was screwed up by medication after surgery. So I just Googled "Paula Deen Country Fried Steaks." Two versions come up. One uses buttermilk in dredging the steaks and milk in the gravy. The other uses water. The one with water was from the episode I saw, "Scooter Club." Both recipes on the web list sliced onions or green onions among the ingredients, but neither mentions them in the procedure. So my memory was a little off, but not much. Still, I apologize if I have tarnished a great gal's name.
                                                                  By the way, the mongrel I referred to was my version, not hers.l

                                                                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                    Now that I think of it, the water version sounds like how you would make smothered pork chops.

                                                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                      Ah! Mystery solved! That is her brothers, Bubba, recipe! I looked at the recipe and it does have the onions added in the last thirty minutes. Looks like smothered steak to me. As a matter of fact just like my mom used to make. I think perhaps your mongrel version gives it a bit of class!

                                                                      Here is Bubba's recipe:


                                                                      1. re: danhole

                                                                        I lived in Italy for seventeen years. I can't imagine cooking without a few herbs and a bit of wine. Why even ciambelle (doughnuts) often have a bit of white wine in them. I think I mentally crossed country fried steaks with bestecca alla pizzaiola. But I don't really like a lot of tomato, so I pushed it in the American direction. Some of the best dishes in the world happen when you get cheap, tough, cuts and play with them. And there is no better place to do it than a braise or a real classic barbecue.

                                                                        1. re: danhole

                                                                          I am having a flashback, this is a dish my mother made us also. She was not Southern, but from New York. She had to of learned of that dish when my Dad was in the Navy and we lived in Pensacola, Florida for a short time. Well, long enough for me to be born anyway! But she did this with pork chops, and and something she called "Maryland fried chicken" too.

                                                                2. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                  That is how I found the food network too! I was recuperating from an operation and was flicking through the channels one day and there it was. I think the first show I watched was 30 minute meals. I usually have it on when I do take the time to watch tv. my husband rolls his eyes but I have caught him watching it too.

                                                                  The last time I had chicken fried steak was over 25 years ago when Iived in Texas. It was sooooooooooo good. I don't dare make it now, I don't want another heart attack. but oh soooo good.