Cooking the perfect round steak can take a bit of practice. You need to know which cooking methods make sense for which cuts, and while there are a lot of ways you can cook round steak, there are definitely good ways and bad ways.
We’re going to cover what round steaks are, its common cuts, the differences between them, best practices for cooking round steaks, and then list a good mix of our favorite round steak recipes.
What is round steak?
Round steak is a collection of portion cuts from the round primal, which is the area of the cattle that includes the hind legs.
A round steak includes three common portion cuts: the top round, the bottom round, and the eye of round.
Because these muscles are used all of the time during the cow’s life, the meat from round steaks is lean and flavorful, but it is also tough if not prepared correctly. This is why round steaks tend to be a cheaper cut than their more tender sirloin neighbors.
Top round vs. bottom bound: what’s the difference?
Besides being a different portion cut, there isn’t a whole lot of difference in flavor and texture between these two cuts. The bottom round is a bit smaller and has a more packed protein grain than the top of round, but the difference when cooked well is negligible.
What about the eye of the round?
Despite looking like a fancy tenderloin, the eye of round is actually the toughest part of the round roast, but that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. It can dry out the easiest and requires a bit more care than the other cuts, but it’s still a fantastic cut to cook with.
The best uses for round steak
Due to its lean nature and lower amounts of connective tissue than cuts like brisket, round steak is best cooked medium rare and sliced thinly.
Most people use round steaks for:
Pro tips for cooking round steak
Skip the crockpot
While some people enjoy using round steaks in crockpots and slow cookers, chefs tend to dismiss it as a mistake.
Because the round steak is so lean, it is best-served medium or medium-rare, and without the collagen to keep the meat tender and moist, the round steak ends up dry when overcooked in a crockpot.
That being said, if you take the time to preserve the juices and make a rich gravy, you can mitigate this a bit.
Roast high, drop low
Most chefs prefer to roast round steaks at a high temperature to get a nice crust and then drop it to a low heat for a few hours until it can be brought out around 125 degrees to sit and rise to your desired temperature.
This gets you the effect of a sear and the tenderness of a slow roast without drying out the round steak.
Don’t skimp on quality
There is no replacement for 100% pasture-raised beef in terms of taste and quality.
This isn’t always an option if you’re sticking to a budget, but grass-fed beef is so much better for you from a nutritional perspective — you’ll taste that difference, too. The best beef providers use 100% grass-fed beef, avoid hormones or antibiotics, and don’t use pesticides, herbicides, or artificial fertilizers.
US Wellness Meats was founded in 2000 in Monticello, Missouri (pop. 98) by visionary farmers, who saw that big-business cattle-raising practices were taking a toll on our animals and our health. By returning to rotational grazing practices that are good for the planet and good for our cattle, we led the way in introducing a new generation to the unmatched taste, tenderness, and healthiness of grass-fed beef.
We strongly believe that trying our meat is worth your while. Discover how good our 100% grass-fed and grass-finished round steaks really are.
8 best round steak recipes
There are a lot of different ways to use round steaks in your cooking. We’ve collected a variety of our favorites that will give you a bunch of delicious options.
If you want that classic deli experience, then this is the recipe for you. It’s easier than you think to make delicious deli roast beef at home, and you can save a lot of money by making your own roast beef sandwich meat instead of buying it every time you go to the grocery store!
This is the high-heat style recipe we talked about above, and many chefs cook round steaks this way. You just blast your oven as high as it can go and then drop it down for a few hours to hit the ideal temperature, and it couldn’t be easier or more delicious. Add a homemade horseradish sauce on top to really make it memorable!
Leave it to Alton Brown to perfect an incredibly delicious way to use round steaks — chicken fried steak! This would be perfect for a homemade Easter brunch or any other long and slow cooking day that you and your friends or family may be having.
While we do recommend methods other than slow cookers for the best results, the easy meals you can make are far from “bad”. You can definitely use this meat to make easy meals that are cheap and filling. This recipe, with just a handful of ingredients, is a good example of how to use round steak to make an easy and budget-friendly dish. Just try to keep the cooking time to a minimum!
How good do these thin strips of round steak look? This recipe uses fresh chiles over a hot charcoal grill to bring a spicy punch that is perfect for tacos or to just eat next to some Mexican rice. And don’t skip the sauce — the acidic power punch the vinegar delivers takes this to the next level. You can also sub fresh lime juice for the vinegar if you’d rather make it more taco-appropriate.
Round steak is not flank steak, but a lot of people use it in similar ways. Tossing up some round steak in a wok is one of those. There are countless dishes you can make with thin strips of round steak, but to get the gears moving we chose this simple and healthy stir fry beef dish from AllRecipes. Mix in seasonal vegetables for the best results.
If you make the right gravy braising can be successful with a round steak, and this recipe does just that. This is one of those dishes you make on a cold winter night and serve with a rich cabernet. It’s homey without feeling cheap, and the richness of the gravy over the potatoes is always a crowd-pleaser.
If you’re looking for a simple roast to eat while on Paleo, keto, or any other low-carb diet, then check out this recipe from our friend Russ Crandall. It uses a simple and delicious homemade spice rub and employs that “start high, finish low” technique that is so perfect for round steak recipes. Enjoy!
Round steak recipes are perfect for budget-friendly, easy meals. It can take a bit of love and preparation to coax out the right texture from this cut, but the rich and meaty reward at the end is well worth it.
Stick to the types of recipes above and opt for 100% grass-fed beef for the best taste and results.
Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.