Chicken fried steak for two is the best date night dinner at home in my wheelhouse. It’s rich and hearty, and everyone loves it! The steak and gravy is made in the same pan, and the small batch of mashed potatoes for two is the perfect side dish. Dinner for two, ready in just 30 minutes!

Plated chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Chicken fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes

This is my all time favorite Southern meal:  Chicken fried steak with brown gravy and mashed potatoes.   If you’ve never had this delicious meal, pull up a chair and let me share it with you. Chicken fried steak is a cube steak dipped in a buttermilk batter, followed by a dusting of flour, and then fried in a cast iron skillet. The drippings in the pan are then used to make brown gravy. It’s traditionally served with mashed potatoes so that you can sop up the extra gravy.

What is a cube steak?

If you’re wondering what a cube steak is, rest assured, every grocery store has it. You’ve eaten it many times, but maybe you’ve never bought it before. A cube steak is a small piece of beef with plenty of holes punctured in it by the butcher. It looks like a hamburger patty that has been flattened and poked with holes. The holes are poked for tenderization. They’re commonly sold two or four to a pack, and they’re very affordable. Each cube steak weighs about 1/4-pound each.

What does chicken fried mean?

Now, let’s discuss why sometimes you hear the phrase ‘chicken fried’ when the food being fried isn’t chicken. To ‘chicken fry’ something means to dip it in a buttermilk mixture, followed by a quick roll in flour before frying. It’s called ‘chicken frying’ because that’s typically how we fry chicken pieces as well. If you google best fried chicken recipes, all of the chicken is soaked in buttermilk and then rolled in a seasoned flour mixture before frying.  In the case of chicken fried steak, we are treating steak like chicken, therefore, it’s ‘chicken fried’ steak. I’m so glad I could clear that up for you. I have eaten chicken fried steak fingers, chicken fried frog legs, and I’ve even had chicken fried chicken!

So let’s be very clear: chicken fried steak is beef fried in a chicken-style. And if you’re wondering about chicken fried chicken, well, that means it was battered and pan-fried, but it has been pounded thin first, in a similar method to chicken fried steak. Regular ‘fried chicken’ is whole pieces of the bird with the bones, fried. The phrase ‘chicken fried’ is a method of cooking and does not actually refer to the type of meat being used. 

Ingredients:

  • Cube Steak. For two servings of chicken fried steak, I choose two cube steaks that weigh no more than 1/2 a pound total. Look for cube steaks in the beef section, they look like hamburger patties that have been smashed and poked with lots of holes.
  • Buttermilk. The buttermilk is divided: we need some for the batter, some for the gravy, and some for the mashed potatoes. W need 2 cups of buttermilk, total.
  • Egg.
  • All-Purpose Flour.
  • Seasoned Salt and Pepper. I adore seasoned salt, which is salt that has extra herbs like paprika, garlic, and onion powder. You can use regular salt instead, though. You also need freshly ground black pepper for this recipe, because it’s the best thing to add to gravy.
  • Frying Oil. I like a neutral frying oil, like canola or vegetable oil. We only need one cup, because we’re doing a shallow fry in a cast iron skillet.
  • Russet Potato. To make mashed potatoes for two, we need one large Russet potato, about 10 ounces in weight.
  • Unsalted Butter.

How to Make Chicken Fried Steak:

  1. Gather your ingredients just for making the steak: flour, cube steak, buttermilk, oil, egg, salt and pepper. Pour the oil into a cast iron skillet, and turn the heat to medium and let it heat while we make the steaks.
    Ingredients for chicken fried steak on table.
  2. First, make the batter in two separate bowls. Combine the egg and 1/2 cup of buttermilk in a shallow bowl, and 1/2 cup of the flour in another bowl. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper to both bowls.
    Cube steak dipped in flour and egg.
  3. Now we’re going to double dip each cube steak. First, roll each steak in the flour, then the buttermilk-egg mixture. Then, go back to the flour mixture, and press the flour into the steak. We’re technically only double dipping the steak in the flour, not the wet batter. So, it goes: flour, buttermilk, and then flour again.
    Cube steak in egg batter.
  4. After the steaks are ready to go, check on the oil. It should have a slight ripple to it, and you should be able to hold your hand a few inches from the surface for a few seconds. Gently lower each steak in to the oil. They should sizzle immediately, but turn down the heat if they start to cook too quickly or burn. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side.
    Chicken fried steak in cast iron skillet.
  5. After the steaks are golden brown on both sides, remove them from the skillet. Place them in a low oven to keep warm. Pour off all but two tablespoons of the fat from the pan.
    Making gravy in a cast iron skillet with whisk.
  6. Add the remaining two tablespoons of flour to the skillet, and whisk to dissolve. Cook over medium low heat for one minute. Then, stream in 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk while whisking. Cook over low heat until it bubbles and makes a thick gravy. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the gravy, whisk, and give it a taste to see if it needs more. When the gravy is thick, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. 
    Brown gravy in a skillet.
  7. Make the mashed potatoes: peel and dice the potato and boil it in salted water until soft. Drain, and mash it with two tablespoons of butter, and 1/3 cup of buttermilk. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Place a scoop of mashed potatoes on each plate, top with a fried steak, and a drizzle of gravy.

Chicken fried steak on a plate with a bite cut out.

I happen to think that nothing goes with chicken fried steak like peach iced tea, so that’s what we serve this with. 

How to reheat:

If you have leftovers, it’s best to refrigerate right away in an airtight container, and then reheat in a toaster oven or low oven. I never reheat fried food in the microwave, because it just becomes soggy.

How to bread chicken fried steak:

My method above for breading chicken fried steak is to dip it in flour first, followed by the buttermilk and egg batter, and then flour again. The extra bits of flour that cling to the steak patty is what gives the crunchy crust. It’s the best part!

Yield: 2

Dinner For Two: Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken fried steak on a plate with a bite cut out.

Chicken fried steak for two with mashed potatoes and gravy--the best dinner for two on the planet!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

For the chicken fried steaks:

  • 1 cup oil for frying (I use canola)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (divided use)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cube steaks (weighing about 1/2 pound total)
  • Seasoned salt to taste (or regular salt)
  • Pepper to taste

For the mashed potatoes:

  • 1 large potato (9-10 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or, to taste)
  • Pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. First, gather ingredients the chicken fried steak. Add the canola oil to a heavy cast iron skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Ingredients for chicken fried steak on table.
  2. In a shallow bowl, beat together the egg and 1/2 cup of buttermilk. In another bowl, add 1/2 cup of the flour. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to each bowl. Cube steak dipped in flour and egg.
  3. Dip the steaks in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip them in the egg-buttermilk mixture. Dip them again in the flour mixture and press the flour into the steak to get a good coating. Cube steak in egg batter.
  4. Check the temperature of the oil by sprinkling in a pinch of flour: you want it to sizzle and float. Once the oil is hot (about 325-350 degrees), gently add the steaks. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side. When the steaks are golden brown and crispy, remove from oil and keep them warm in a low oven. Chicken fried steak in cast iron skillet.
  5. Next, make your gravy: drain off all the fat from the skillet except 2 tablespoons. Return it to medium-low heat, sprinkle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Whisk it to incorporate it into the fat and cook for about 1 minute. Making gravy in a cast iron skillet with whisk.
  6. Slowly add the remaining 1 1/4 cup of buttermilk while whisking. Season the gravy with salt and pepper, then let it come to simmer while whisking frequently. Once it thickens, turn off the heat. Brown gravy in a skillet.
  7. Meanwhile, make your mashed potatoes: peel and dice your potato and boil it until tender. Drain it, then add it to a bowl with 2 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup buttermilk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, cover the steak and a scoop of mashed potatoes in lots of gravy. Enjoy!

Notes

Cube Steak: Cube steaks are in the beef section of the grovery store, and they look like hamburger patties that have been smashed flat and poked with lots of holes.
Seasoned Salt : This is salt with extra spices added, like paprika, garlic and onion powder. Regular salt is fine, too.
Frying Oil: Neutral oil for frying is best, like canola or vegetable oil.
Russet Potato: Russet potatoes with the brown skin are the best for mashed potatoes, in my opinion, but you can use 10 ounces of any type of potaotes you prefer.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 805Total Fat: 70gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 56gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 652mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 7gProtein: 20g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram