Cube Steak vs. Round Steak: Differences and Similarities

When it comes to choosing the right cut of beef, understanding the characteristics and cooking methods of various cuts is essential. Two popular options that often spark confusion are cube steak and round steak.

While both cuts come from the same general region of the animal, they differ in terms of tenderness, texture, and best cooking techniques. In this blog post, we will explore the dissimilarities between cube steak and round steak to help you make informed decisions about which cut suits your culinary needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Cube steak and round steak are both tough cuts of beef from the round primal.
  • Cube steak is tenderized mechanically, making it quick-cooking and ideal for dishes like Salisbury steak.
  • Round steak is not tenderized and requires slow cooking methods like braising or stewing.
  • Both cuts are relatively inexpensive and can be used in various dishes.

Cube Steak vs. Round Steak: What’s the Primary Difference?

Before getting into the derailed comparison of cube steak vs round steak, here is a quick comparison table for cube steak vs round steak:

FeatureCube SteakRound Steak
Cut of meatBottom round or eye of roundBottom round
Lean or notLeanLean
Tenderness levelFork tender owing to processing in tenderizing, machineLess tender and chewy because of no mechanical tenderization
FlavorStronger flavorDelicate flavor
Cooking methodCan be cooked quickly over high heatNeeds to be cooked more slowly over medium heat
Cooking time2-3 minutes per side over medium heat3-5 minutes per side over medium heat
PriceInexpensiveInexpensive
UsesStews, soups, casseroles, pan-frying, braising, slow cookingStews, soups, casseroles, pan-frying, braising, slow cooking

Hence, most commonly, both steaks are obtained from tough meat cuts, preferably top or bottom round, yet they vary for the tenderization–either done or not.

Cube Steak vs. Round Steak: What’s the Primary Difference?

Cube steak ad round steaks are different. But how much? Here are the details.

What is cube steak source, location, size and texture?

Cube steak, also known as minute steak or minute cube steak, is typically derived from the top or bottom round of a cow or sometimes from chuck roast, alternatively. The name “cube steak” refers to its distinctive tenderizing technique, where the meat is mechanically tenderized using a meat mallet or a specialized machine

This gives the steak a cool grid-like pattern on the surface. It’s great for cooking quickly on the grill or in a pan, but keep in mind it can still be a bit chewy compared to more tender cuts like ribeye or tenderloin.

The shape of a cube steak is typically rectangular, with the indentations running parallel to the long side of the steak. The indentations are typically about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch wide.

What is round steak, its location, size and texture?

Round steak, on the other hand, is a lean cut obtained from the rear leg of the cow (from the thick flank primal or round area). It’s known for its firmer texture due to its lower fat content and less marbling than cube steak. It contains more connective tissues and can be chewier when cooked improperly because it’s not tenderized but marinated.

To enhance tenderness, it’s marinated or slow-cooked that break down the tougher fibers. Round steak is typically shaped like a cylinder or oval. It is typically 1/2 to 1 inch thick and 2 to 3 inches wide. Round steak is available in various forms or cuts, like:

  • Bottom round: This is the most common round steak cut. It is a lean, tough cut of meat that is best suited for slow cooking.
  • Eye of round: This is a slightly more tender cut of meat than the bottom round. It is a good choice for pan-frying or broiling.
  • Top round: This is the most tender cut of round steak. It is a good choice for grilling or pan-frying.

Cube Steak vs. Round Steak: Cooking Methods Difference

Cube steak is commonly used in dishes that require quick cooking, such as chicken-fried steak or Swiss steak. Its tenderness makes it suitable for pounding further and breading, which allows it to cook rapidly while retaining moisture. Cube steak can be pan-fried, sautéed, or braised. Its versatility makes it a popular choice for comfort food recipes.

Round steak, on the other hand, because of its relatively low tenderness, benefits from slow and moist cooking methods. It’s commonly used for pot roasts, stews, and slow-cooked dishes like beef bourguignon or beef stew. Braising, stewing, and slow-roasting techniques help soften the meat, resulting in a flavorful and tender final product.

Cube Steak vs. Round Steak: Price Difference

Cube steak and round differ slightly in terms of price, as both are sourced from cheap meat cuts. 

Cut of MeatPrice per Pound
Round Steak$4.99 – $11.99
Cube Steak$2.99 – $7.99

The price range varies depending on suppliers and stores.

What Are the Similarities Between Cube Steak and Round Steak?

Though cube steak and round steak are different in many ways, coming from tough meat cuts like beef round, they share a few similarities as well, like:

  • Both meat cuts are tough and come from the round primal cut of the cow.
  • Both meat cuts are relatively inexpensive.
  • These meat cuts can be used in various dishes, such as stews, soups, and casseroles.
  • Both cuts of meat can be cooked in various ways, such as pan-frying, braising, and slow cooking.
  • The taste profile of both steaks is almost similar if they’re coming from beef round–it’s mild. Yet, if a cube steak is obtained from chuck roast, it’ll taste more beefy.

FAQs

What cut can you use as a substitute for cube steak?

There are a few different cuts of beef that can be used as a substitute for cube steak. Some of the best substitutes include:

  • Ground beef: Ground beef is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is also a relatively inexpensive option, making it a good choice for budget-minded cooks.
  • Top-round steak: Top-round steak is a lean cut of beef that is relatively tender. It is a good choice for dishes that call for cube steaks, such as Salisbury steak and cube steak stroganoff.
  • Eye of round steak: The eye of round steak is another lean cut of beef that is relatively tender. It is a good choice for dishes that call for cube steaks, such as cube steak Parmesan and cube steak tacos.
  • Flank steak: Flank steak is a tougher cut of beef that is best suited for braising or grilling. It can be used as a substitute for cube steak in dishes that call for a more flavorful cut of beef, such as cube steak fajitas and cube steak stir-fry.

When substituting another cut of beef for cube steak, please use the suitable cooking method. Cube steak is typically pounded thin before cooking, so it’s important to choose a cut of beef that is thin enough to cook evenly. 

It is also important to adjust the cooking time accordingly. For example, ground beef will cook more quickly than top-round steak, so it is important to cook it for a shorter amount of time.

Why is a cube steak called a minute steak?

Cube steak is called a minute steak because it can be cooked quickly in 2-3 minutes only. The meat is typically pounded thin and then cooked in a hot pan or skillet. This method of cooking allows the meat to cook quickly without becoming tough.

The term “minute steak” is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom in the early 1900s. At the time, cube steak was a popular cut of meat for budget-minded cooks. The quick cooking time made it a convenient option for busy families.

Today, cube steak is still a popular cut of meat in many parts of the world. It is often used in dishes such as Salisbury steak, chicken-fried steak, and cube steak tacos.

Is a minute steak the same as a cube steak?

Do you know the term “minute steak”? Well, it’s often used to describe cube steak, but it doesn’t always work the other way around. A minute steak can be called a cube steak, though.

Let’s break down the differences:

The way the cube steak and minute steak are made

Here’s the deal: cube steak and minute steak are different in how they’re made. Cube steak is made from tough meat that’s been tenderized with a machine. This process breaks down the tough parts of the meat and makes it tender. On the other hand, minute steak is made from thin slices of beef that haven’t been tenderized.

Cooking time

Since cube steak is already tenderized, it’s easier to cook. You can quickly cook it on high heat without it getting tough. Minute steak, though, needs to be cooked more slowly on medium heat to keep it from drying out.

Flavor

When it comes to flavor, cube steak has a bit of a stronger taste compared to minute steak. That’s because the tenderizing process breaks down some muscle fibers and brings out more flavor. Minute steak, however, has a more delicate flavor.

In the end, the choice between the two depends on your personal preferences. If you want a tender and easy-to-cook cut of meat, go for cube steak. But if you’re after a more flavorful option, minute steak might be the way to go.

Here is a table summarizing the key differences between cube steak and minute steak:

FeatureCube SteakMinute Steak
Cut of meatTough cuts of meat that have been tenderizedThin slices of beef that have not been tenderized
FlavorStrong flavorDelicate flavor
Cooking methodCan be cooked quickly over high heatNeeds to be cooked more slowly over medium heat
TendernessMore tenderLess tender

Our Words on Choosing Between Cube Steak Vs. Round Steak

Cube steak and round steak may share some similarities, such as their origin from the round region of the cow, but they differ significantly in terms of tenderness, texture, and best cooking methods. 

Cube steak, with its tenderized surface and more immediate cooking options, is well-suited for quick dishes. In contrast, round steak’s firm texture and lower tenderness make it ideal for slow cooking methods that allow the connective tissues to break down, resulting in a more flavorful and tender outcome.

Understanding these distinctions will empower you to make informed decisions when choosing between cube steak and round steak, enabling you to create delicious meals tailored to your preferences.

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Saba Akbar
Saba Akbar

Hello, I'm a culinary explorer and food writer with 25 years of home kitchen expertise. This blog is a treasure trove of my insights on global cuisine, cooking tips, and expert knowledge of kitchen tools.
Besides this, as a GERD survivor, I've transformed my passion for food into a quest for food's GERD-friendliness and healthiness. I believe what you eat shapes your internal environment—join me on this lifelong journey of taste and healthiness!

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