Chicken Fried Steak with Sawmill Gravy is a true Texas meal. Delicious cube steak in a crunchy, flavorful breading cooked until golden brown with a delicious white gravy!
DELICIOUSLY FRIED CUBE STEAK
I first enjoyed the best chicken fried steak when we were stationed in Texas. Texans really know how to fry up beef! I was determined while living there to learn how to make chicken fried steak just like a true Texan! In Texas, the gravy served on top of the steak is called “sawmill gravy”. In other parts of the south it is sometimes called milk gravy or white gravy. It took me a couple of years to get this dish just right, but once my Texas neighbors finally gave their seal of approval, I knew I had the one!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
The term is simply referring to the style of cooking. It is cooked lined fried chicken. The steak is coated in a seasoned flour and egg mixture then fried in oil just like fried chicken.
Cube Steak. Cube Steak is usually a round steak that has been run through a mechanical meat tenderizer and you’ll see tiny little holes punched in it.
Definitely mashed potatoes. The gravy goes so well with not only the chicken fried steak but also with mashed potatoes. It’s also delicious served with vegetables like peas and carrots
They are very similar. However, country fried steak is usually just coated in a seasoned flour and cooked up in a skillet and served with a brown gravy. Chicken fried steak is coated in a batter, then fried and served with a white (sawmill) gravy.
Make sure the meat is dry before dipping in any batter. The steak must be coated in flour first before it is dipped in the eggs and finally the coating mixture. It’s a three step dipping process: flour, eggs, coating.
If you have an air fryer, this works great for reheating chicken fried steak. Set the temperature for 360F degrees and heat for about 5-6 minutes (until warmed through). Reheat the gravy in the microwave or on stove top and pour over steaks when serving.
Chicken Fried Steak can also be reheated in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Place steaks on a baking sheet. Heat for about 10 minutes (flipping over at least once). I don’t recommend reheating in a microwave as the crust will come out soft rather than crispy.
Yep! Although I don’t think you get the level of crispiness that you get when oil frying it, you can still get a fantastic result. Check out my Air Fryer Chicken Fried Steak recipe here.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)
- cube steak – it’s sometimes called cubed steak or tenderized steak, see my ingredient photo below so you know what to look for.
- all-purpose flour – you could technically use self-rising flour if that is all you have, the batter just might puff up a bit because self-rising flour has baking soda in it.
- saltine crackers – this is what sets this recipe apart from many others, this adds amazing crunch and a touch of saltiness to the crust – don’t skip using these (you could use Ritz or Club crackers as a substitute).
- seasoned salt – you can use any of your favorite seasonings here, this is just our personal favorite.
- cayenne pepper or paprika – this is optional but if you don’t like cayenne pepper then try to at least use the paprika as this gives a nice color to the crust
- eggs – this acts as a binder for the crust and helps to hold everything together and onto your cubed steak.
- vegetable oil, shortening or lard – if you really want to get the most flavor, use good old fashioned lard. It will give you the best flavor and the most beautiful crust.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN FRIED STEAK:
For the steaks: If your cubed steak is more than 1/2” thick, you’ll want to pound it out with a meat mallet until thin. This will provide additional tenderizing as well as allowing for more even cooking. Season cubed steaks lightly with salt and pepper.
On a plate, place 1/2 cup flour – set aside. In a shallow bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup flour, saltine cracker crumbs, seasoned salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
In another shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.
Dredge cubed steak in flour.
Then dip it in egg mixture.
Finally coat the steak with saltine cracker mixture.
Continue the same procedure for the rest of the steaks and place them on a large baking sheet.
Heat vegetable oil or shortening in a large pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat until oil reaches a temperature to 350 – 375F degrees.
Cook steak in 2 batches. Continue with the rest of the steaks. Remove steaks to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain excess oil.
For the sawmill gravy: Once steaks are finished cooking, remove excess oil from pan and add flour to pan (leaving about 3-4 tbsp of oil in the pan.) Whisk and cook over medium heat for 1 minute to make a roux.
Gradually whisk in milk and cook until thick.
Whisk constantly and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour gravy over steaks.
Serve with mashed potatoes and your delicious creamy gravy!
CRAVING MORE RECIPES?
Chicken Fried Steak (+Video)
For the chicken fried steaks:
- 6 cubed steaks (about 2 pounds)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup milk
- 25 saltine crackers, crushed
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika
- vegetable oil, shortening or lard (I prefer lard)
For the cube steaks:
- If your 6 cubed steaks are more than 1/2” thick, you’ll want to pound it out with a meat mallet until thin. This will provide additional tenderizing as well as allowing for more even cooking. Season cubed steaks lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- On a plate or shallow bowl add 1/2 cup all purpose flour, set aside. In a second shallow bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs and 1/3 cup milk
- In a third shallow bowl, mix 25 saltine crackers, crushed, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika (if using.)
- Dredge cubed steak in flour, then dip in egg mixture and then finally coat with saltine cracker mixture.
- Continue the same procedure for the rest of the steaks and place them on a large baking sheet.
- Heat about 1/2-inch vegetable oil, shortening or lard in a large pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Note: I prefer shortening or lard for these but use the oil you prefer. Cook steak in 2 batches for about 5 minutes per side. Continue with the rest of the steaks.
- Remove steaks to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain excess oil.
For the sawmill gravy:
- Once steaks are finished cooking, remove excess oil from pan (leaving about 1/4 cup remaining). Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour to pan. Whisk and cook over medium heat for 1 minute to make a roux.
- Gradually whisk in 1 1/2 to 2 cups whole milk and cook until thick (continually whisking.) If the gravy starts together too lumpy and thick, just add more milk and continue to whisk.
- Whisk constantly and season to taste with salt and pepper. Note: I find this takes much more salt than you might assume so definitely taste as you go to get it the way you like it.
- Pour gravy over steaks and enjoy!
- Depending on where you live, this cut of meat is called cube or cubed steak. It is usually a round steak that has been run through a mechanical meat tenderizer and you’ll see tiny little holes punched in it (see my image below.)
- Sometimes, even after it is tenderized, it is still thick. If that is the case, you are going to want to pound it down until it is thinner so that it cooks quickly and evenly.
- I really prefer to use shortening or lard to fry these – it really deepens the flavor – but regular peanut or vegetable oil works fine too.
- Salt and pepper are key. It sounds silly but to really get a super tasty white gravy, you need to season it really well. So add a little, then taste. Add a bit more, then taste. Keep doing this until it is just right and not bland.
“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.
Originally published: August 2017
Updated & republished: February 2021