Perfectly crispy, crunchy, and juicy, this Dairy-free Chicken Fried Steak recipe is a family favorite! Made without buttermilk, this classic Southern recipe is better than ever!
Chicken fried steak is the ultimate comfort food of the South and especially for a Texan! While I wasn’t born in Texas I was surely raised there and still consider it to be my home. This deep-fried delight is known by some to be the unofficial state dish of Texas and I couldn’t agree more!
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My younger sister makes the best chicken fried steak. It’s always so juicy, crispy, and tender. Many recipes include buttermilk, but we actually find that it tastes better without it. Plus it's an extra step and ingredient that we don’t have to worry about! So if you are dairy free, or simply ran out of buttermilk, this is the best chicken fried steak recipe is for you!
Neither chicken nor steak, this southern dish is made with round top steak pounded until thin, battered, and fried like chicken in a cast iron skillet until golden brown. The crispy crust is complemented with a homemade creamy gravy. Served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and buttery corn and you have yourself a wonderful weeknight dinner that hits the spot every time and will make your taste buds sing!
Key Ingredients in this Crispy Chicken Fried Steak Recipe
Beef skirt steak - This is the cut of meat used to make chicken fried steak. It might say it’s machine tenderized on the package. You can use round steak and tenderize it yourself or look for cube steak- it is basically pre-tenderized round steak.
Water, lemon juice, and salt - Used to brine the skirt steak.
Eggs - To bind the flour and seasonings to the steak meat and create a crispy crust. We love to use the Happy Eggs brand because they taste the best and have rich color, but any organic pasture-raised eggs will work!
Flour - Regular all-purpose flour.
Vegetable oil - used for frying the chicken fried steak. I used cold-pressed avocado oil, but any vegetable oil with a high smoking point will work!
How to Make Texas-Style Chicken Fried Steak:
Step one: If you are not using cube steak, cut off any tough silver skin from the outside of the meat with a sharp knife or pair of kitchen scissors.
Step two: Now, in a large pot add water, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until all the salt has dissolved. Next, add in your steak meat. Allow the meat to brine for 1 - 2 hours but at least 30 minutes.
Step three: Remove the meat from the brine and cover it with plastic wrap or put it inside a plastic baggie. Using a meat mallet, pound the meat until it is ¼ - ½ inch thick. Try to get it as thin as possible, this will tenderize the meat so it won’t be tough or chewy after cooking.
Step four: Next, cut the meat into 4-inch strips. Set aside.
Step five: Set up your drenching stations. Eggs in one bowl and seasonings and flour in another. Have 2 wire racks over sheet pans nearby. I also like to use 2 pairs of tongs, one for the flour steps and one for the egg steps.
Step six: Working with one piece of meat at a time, coat it in flour, then dip it into the egg making sure to shake off any excess, and then coat in the flour one last time. Set it onto the wire rack then repeat with the remaining pieces of meat.
Step seven: Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat with 2 - 3 inches of vegetable oil. Gently add meat to the oil away from you to avoid splattering it. Fry on both sides for 5 - 7 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Transfer cooked meat to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining pieces of meat.
Step eight: Serve this Texas-style chicken fried steak with your favorite sides and enjoy!
Kitchen Items You Might Need For This Recipe
Plastic gloves if you don’t like touching raw meat
Meat mallet for tenderizing the meat
Kitchen scissors, helpful for cutting the meat into strips
Remove the silver skin from the meat before brining: If you see any tough silver skin membrane on the outside of your skirt steak remove it with a sharp knife or pair of kitchen scissors. This skin is inedible and if left on will cause your meat to be very tough and chewy.
Brine the meat for as long as possible: Not only does it help to season the meat but it helps to tenderize it as well. You can brine the meat a few hours in advance or even the night before. If brining overnight just make sure to put a plate or weight over the meat so it stays under the water.
Use a meat mallet to tenderize the meat: If you are not using tenderized skirt steak or cube steak then tenderizing it yourself with a meat hammer is essential. The meat mallet will flatten the meat and put tiny holes into it to ensure that your meat is tender. If this step is skipped you will have very tough and chewy chicken fried steak.
Use wire rack and not paper towels: Allow the chicken fried steak to cool on a wire rack instead of a paper towel-lined plate. The paper towels will absorb the oil and then cause your crust to get soggy on the bottom.
Frequently Asked Questions —
Is chicken fried steak really chicken?
No, this is just a name given to this dish because of the way it’s cooked. The steak is cooked like fried chicken but it’s actually beef.
What cut of meat is chicken fried steak?
Chicken fried steak is made from skirt steak, round top steak, or cubed steak. Skirt steak is long, flat, and thin and it comes from the diagram muscles of the cow. It is an inexpensive but very tough cut of meat with a strong beefy flavor. Top round steak comes from the leg and rump of the cow and cubed steak is pre-tenderized top round steak.
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Perfectly crispy, crunchy, and juicy, this easy Chicken Fried Steak recipe is a family favorite! Made without buttermilk, this is a dairy-free version of a classic Southern recipe.
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1.5 lb beef skirt steak* (or Tenderized round steak/ cubed steak)
- 4 eggs, whisked
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
- Remove any silver skin from the outside of the meat with a sharp knife or pair of kitchen scissors. If you are using cubed steak, skip this step.
- In a large pot add water, salt, and lemon juice. Mix until the salt is completely dissolved, then add the beef skirt steak. Allow the meat to brine for 1- 2 hours or at least 30 minutes.
- Set up your drenching stations. Eggs onto one plate, and flour with all the seasonings onto another plate. Line two sheet pans with wire racks, one for the raw meat and one for the cooked meat. Have 2 pairs of tongs nearby, one for the wet ingredients and one for the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Remove meat from the brine then pat dry. Using a meat mallet, hammer the meat until it is ⅛ - ¼ inch thick. Don’t skip this step** - this is very important for tender chicken fried steak. Next, cut the meat into 4-inch strips.
- Working with one piece of meat at a time, dip the meat into the flour mixture to coat, then the egg mixture then the flour one last time. Transfer raw meat to one of the sheet pans. Repeat with the remaining skirt steak pieces.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet with 2 - 3 inches of vegetable oil. Once hot gently add the meat to the oil. Cook on both sides until golden brown ( 5 - 7 minutes). Transfer the meat to the wire rack to drain. Repeat the steps with the remaining meat.
- Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!
*I am using skirt steak that hasn't been tenderized but you can use pre-tenderized or cubed steak instead.
**If you are using tenderized skirt steak or cubed steak you don’t need to do this step, because the butcher already did.
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