Chicken Fried Steak

Now, I need to tell you a little story about this one. It is called “The Chicken Fried Steak Rule,” and it dates back to the beginning of time, before the teenager was even born, and it goes like this.

Once upon a time, there was a Northern girl and a Southern guy, and the Southern guy introduced the Northern girl to the culinary delicacy that is Chicken Fried Steak. He found a great restaurant right nearby that did a scrumptious chicken fried steak with cream gravy and mashed potatoes, and he held her hand across the table and promised his undying love in that mesmerizing Southern accent of his.

The Northern girl girl was smitten with both the Southern guy AND the chicken fried steak, and decided to make both her own. The Southern guy proved to be a lot easier to figure out than the chicken fried steak. She tried recipe after recipe after recipe for chicken fried steak, with no luck. The breading fell off, or burned. The steak was tough. The cream gravy was lumpy, or runny, or bland. The Southern guy bravely ate his way through one disappointing chicken fried steak dinner after another.

Then one day he got down on one knee, took her hands in his, professed his undying love, and reminded her that there was a perfectly wonderful restaurant nearby that served perfectly wonderful chicken fried steak. And thus the Chicken Fried Steak Rule was born, and it goes like this. If there is someplace nearby that makes something wonderful that you like to eat, do not try to reinvent the wheel at home. For the past 20 years, this has saved me from trying to make chicken fried steak (Live Bait restaurant on 23rd street in NYC), doughnuts (Krispy Kreme!) and cinnamon rolls (Grandma). And life was good and peaceful, because whenever I got a jones to make chicken fried steak either the Southern husband or the teenager looked me in the eye and said “Chicken Fried Steak Rule,” and I came back to my senses.

Then the Pioneer Woman wrote her fabulous cookbook, and there it was. On page 142. Her recipe for chicken fried steak, complete with irresistable step by step photos. I wavered. I faltered. I fell. There I was, with my cube steak and flour and eggs and milk, flagrantly breaking the Chicken Fried Steak Rule for the first time in years. And you know what? Rules are meant to be broken…this was the chicken fried steak of my dreams, right here in my own little kitchen!

Anybody out there got any Krispy Kreme doughnut recipes???

CHICKEN FRIED STEAK, adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

Chicken Fried Steak
  • 3 pounds sliced cube steak
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3½ cups milk
  • 3⅓ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoons paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • yum yum.
  1. Beat the eggs with one cup of milk and place in shallow dish
  2. Mix 3 cups flour with 2 teaspoons salt, paprika, cayenne and black pepper, place in shallow dish
  3. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Dip in flour, then eggs, then back in flour, coating thoroughly each time. Place on empty plate until ready to cook.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry meat 3 pieces at a time until golden, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove to paper towel lined plate and keep warm.
  5. After frying all the meat, pour out all grease except for ¼ cup and heat up the grease. Sprinkle ⅓ cup flour over the grease and whisk it together.
  6. After a couple of minutes the flour mixture will turn brown. Whisking constantly, pour in 2 cups of milk. Let gravy come to slow boil to thicken. Add more milk as needed if it gets too thick. This should take 5-10 minutes.
  7. Generously season with salt and pepper.
  8. Place meat on plate and spoon gravy over. Serve with mashed potatoes and whatever other veggie you like. I serve with corn to make sure we really DO get enough carbs. Yum


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  1. Kate says

    Love the post! Chicken Fried has been a mystery at my house, too. I love your rule. I could live by that! But, I will try the Pioneer Woman recipe.

  2. Grace says

    what a sweet post, kate. it's no surprise that one path way to a southern boy's heart is through some chicken fried steak. glad you found a winning recipe!

  3. Liesl says

    One of the best posts I have read in a long time!! Love the story!! And the Chicken Fried Steak looks out of this world good!!!!

  4. Georgia says

    I just recently discovered your site… Love it! When I read this post, I actually did LOL… Really. Oh, and at my house… It's the French Onion Soup Rule.

  5. Anonymous says

    Is it eggs, then flour, then eggs? Or do I finish with the flour? Your post seems pretty uncomplicated, but I've never made this before and it seems like a lot of the recipes end with the flour mixture. Thank you!!

    • Joyce says

      No. It was quite clear. Flour, then eggs, then flour. You’ll want the flour for the finishing touch, so it crisps up in the oil. The egg step just allows for the second coat of flour. And when I made it, I forgot to add the cayenne and paprika to the flour. I sprinkled both on at the last minute, before the frying step, and it turned out okay.

  6. Kate Morgan Jackson says

    You are SO right — flour/eggs/flour. Typing too fast as usual – or maybe the chicken fried steak addled my mind! Thanks for reading. :)

  7. wonderousclusterf#@k says

    I've never made chicken fried steak before, but you make it so easy!! I'm definitely going to have to try out this recipe for my boyfriend's birthday! Chicken fried steak is his favorite meal! And this would go so well with some of Pioneer Woman's creamy mashed potatoes!

  8. Catherine says

    What part of the cow is the cube steak from? Wonder what the equivalent is in the UK? Would like to make this.

  9. Kate Morgan Jackson says

    Cube steak is a cut of beef usually top round or top sirloin and comes from the rear of the cow above the shank. Not sure what the UK equivalent is, but hope this helps!

  10. wonderousclusterf#@k says

    If I was going to make this for two people, do you think I could cut it down to a 1 1/2 lbs of cube steak and half the rest of the ingredients? 3lbs seems like a lot!

    • Joyce says

      Just made this with .70 lbs of cube steak. Well enough for two….unless you want to eat it until you pass out…..if so, go for it!

  11. Kate Morgan Jackson says

    This recipe makes 8 servings (I am SO bad about listing serving amounts) so I think if you divided by four you would have enough for two, and if you cut in half you will have enough for fabulous leftovers!!

  12. says

    This is one of the best chicken fried steak recipes ever! I have one other that I have used, but the seasoning in this one is better. I LOVE the Pioneer Woman’s recipes. They are all so user-friendly, too! Thank you…

  13. Joyce says

    Well, I suggested this last nigh for dinner today, to my son. ‘Chicken Fried Steak’ sounds totally gross to many of us northerners…and it sounded gross to him I gave him alternatives. He said, well I’ll need lots of protein tomorrow, since I’m working out. I told him this wasn’t like….deep fried..just sauteed like a lot of chicken dishes I make. So I’m cooking it for dinner tonight. Made it once before, and and the coating all sloughed off. Hope it doesn’t happen with this one. Serving with mashed potatoes and corn. And I’ll let you all know how it turns out.

    • Joyce says

      Just made this with .70 lbs of cube steak. Well enough for two….unless you want to eat it until you pass out…..if so, go for it!

      • Joyce says

        Um. The comment above was to a previous comment. Crazy stuff, these comments.

        Anyway, I made this for dinner tonite. The chicken fried steaks weren’t light colored, like fried chicken…they were browner, but not like they were burned. Was that right? I forgot to add the cayenne and paprika to the flour….so just sprinkled them on before cooking. Served with mashed potatoes and corn.

        Super yummy meal! Thank you, dear Kate!

        • Kate says

          Sounds like you made them just right! And as long as they were yummy – well, that’s the main thing that counts. :)

          • Joyce says

            Oh! I thought they were super yummy! And the coating didn’t fall off at all. Even my son liked them! (He thought the idea of ‘chicken fried steak’ sounded gross). Although I’m a northern girl, I love southern dishes, and force them on my friends whenever I can. I have a regular Sunday morning breakfast-and-scrabble thing going on with a friend, and she just cant seem to get her arms around shrimp and grits! She thinks grits deserve brown sugar….an abomination in my mind…but to each his own.

            Oh, dear. Now I’m craving shrimp and grits.


  1. […] it a couple of times in the past and had always figured it fell into the chicken-fried steak rule (click here for an explanation of that weird little reference), but I am a girl who loves a challenge, and so I […]

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