This chicken-fried steak with cream gravy is made with a crisp buttermilk crust and a rich white sauce. A Southern favorite.
Chicken-Fried Steak with Cream Gravy
- Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
For the cream gravy
- 2 tablespoons pan drippings, bacon grease, or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- Salt and black pepper to taste
For the chicken-fried steak
- 1 1/2 pounds top-round steak
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning steak
- 1 teaspoon black pepper plus more for seasoning steak
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup whole milk or buttermilk
- Lard or vegetable oil for frying
Make the cream gravy
- In a large skillet on medium heat, warm the pan drippings, bacon grease, or oil. Stir in the flour and cook, still continuously stirring, for a couple of minutes until a dark thick paste forms.
- Slowly add the milk to the skillet, stirring with a whisk or a wooden spoon to mix it with the roux. Be sure to press out any lumps.
- Turn the heat down to low and continue stirring until the mixture has thickened, a couple more minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste. If the gravy is too thick for your tastes, you can thin it by adding either more milk or water, a tablespoon at a time.
Make the chicken-fried steak
- Cut the top-round steak into 4 pieces. Pound the steak with a meat tenderizer until flattened and almost doubled in size. Season the squashed steak on both sides with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Place the flour in a large bowl and add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- In another large bowl, mix the eggs with the milk.
- Take a piece of the tenderized steak and dredge it in the flour mixture, turning it to coat. Then dip the coated steak in the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Dip it back into the flour again. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining steak.
- Place enough lard or oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, to reach a depth of 1/2-inch. Heat it to 300°F (149°C). Line a plate with paper towels.
- Take the coated steak and gently place them in the skillet, being careful not to crowd the skillet. You may need to work in batches. Be careful, as there will be a lot of popping and hissing when you add the steaks to the hot oil. After about 3 or 4 minutes, or when the blood starts bubbling out of the top of the steak.
- Use tongs to turn the steaks and cook for 5 more minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: If cooking the steaks in batches, you can opt to keep the cooked steaks warm in an oven set at 200°F (93°C) while you cook the remaining steaks.
- Remove the steaks from the skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve the steaks smothered in cream gravy.
*How To Pound Chicken For Chicken-Fried SteakA few words from author and Texan Lisa Fain… The preparation of chicken-fried steak is a violent, messy, and dangerous affair. Do not be afraid of small chunks of meat flying from your tenderizer and adhering to your walls. Do not be afraid of being covered head to toe in a paste-like mixture of flour, batter, and grease. And do not be afraid of hot oil splattering and some screechy sizzling as you flip the steaks in the skillet. Be patient: in the midst of this bloody battle, this culinary chaos, you will ultimately find both the beauty and order that is a plate of chicken-fried steak served with cream gravy.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I grew up eating a similar dish, but hadn’t had any in a number of years. My family really enjoyed this. This recipe was a little different than what I ate growing up, since Mom didn’t double-coat or use eggs and milk. I really liked the crispy outside of the steak this way. I used buttermilk with the eggs.
I’ve never used a recipe to make cream gravy, since it just came naturally. Being Southern, I suppose, helped. The cream gravy was easy to follow, though, and came out great. Although this is not something I would want to eat often, it’s great for a treat. I served ours with mashed potatoes, green beans, and homemade biscuits.
Having had a rough and trying day, I needed two things (three if you count a glass of wine): a hearty, comforting meal—yes, real meat and potatoes, my friend—and a reason to pound and pulverize something. Lisa Fain’s recipe had me hooked at “a violent, messy, and dangerous affair.”
Armed with my 2-pound tenderizer, I proceeded to bang and pound the steaks for a good 10 minutes. (Strangely, there seems to be a proportional relationship between my tenderizing and the volume of the TV. “Honey, am I making too much noise?”) After dispensing with the violent part, it was time to get messy and dangerous.
This recipe is very easy with minimal ingredients of the standard pantry type. The mess is minimal—what you’d expect from a good, hot fry. It was time to eat. Is this a dangerous part, too? No, sir! Delicious, tender and crispy, soothing in that comfort food kind of way. Extra gravy please…Ahhh… happy ending. “Honey…HONEY! Lower the TV, it’s time for dinner.”
Originally published September 22, 2019
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I thought that this was really good. I pounded out the sirloin steak to tenderize it, and it sure was. One thing we don’t do as much is the cream gravy. That is not something I normally make. My family loved the steak fixed this way.
My cream gravy was darker than the milky gravy that you normally see. Will make the steaks again with this coating. Mashed potatoes and peas to go with this will be a nice weekday dinner.