Southern Chicken Fried Steak with Homemade White Gravy

Chicken Fried Steak is a staple if you live in the south. Beef cutlets are battered just like fried chicken and served up fresh. What does this taste like? It tastes like Grandma making a good old fashioned stick to your ribs kind of meal you always crave.

Homemade Southern Chicken Fried Steak and gravy with Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes

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What Is Chicken Fried Steak?

Chicken fried steak is a cut of breaded tenderized beef that is shallow or deep-fried. The sign of a great chicken fried steak is a thick, well-seasoned coating that is crispy all the way with fork-tender meat inside.

Where is the Chicken in Chicken Fried Steak?

You might wonder where is the chicken in this recipe. There is no chicken in chicken fried steak. It is beef that is battered and fried like fried chicken.

Boneless chicken may be referred to as chicken fried chicken at some restaurants to distinguish between the beef and chicken options on their menu.

Southern Chicken Fried Steak

Having lived in the South now for more than half of my life, there are a few staple dishes around here that everyone loves. Homemade Chicken Fried Steak is one of those dishes.

When traveling around Texas you may be amazed at how many restaurants serve up the best chicken fried steak. I promise it’s more than just one or two restaurants.

Most restaurants serve white gravy with their chicken fried steak and often it is Pioneer White Gravy mix. It’s easy to prepare, and it works every time.

Homemade white gravy is easy to make and the recipe includes it too.

What Makes Southern Chicken Fried Steak so Good?

Who can resist a flavorsome crispy coating enveloping a perfectly cooked, juicy steak? No one, that’s who. But when you smother that chicken fried steak with a ladleful of creamy gravy, it takes this dish from just plain good to ‘oh my God, this is good’ status. 

What Is the Difference Between Chicken-fried and Country-fried Steak?

Some people use the terms ‘chicken fried steak’ and ‘country-fried steak’ interchangeably, but there are critical differences between the two dishes.

The first distinction is the coating.

  • Cooks dip chicken fried steak in seasoned flour, then either eggs or buttermilk, and finally back into the flour before frying.
  • On the other hand, country-fried steak gets only a light coating of seasoned flour before hitting the oil. The extra flour and liquid give the chicken fried steak a much thicker and heartier crust. 

But it is the gravy that goes along with the steak that sparks the most controversy.

  • Traditionally, the chicken fried steak came with a white milk-based sauce made with butter.
  • People served the country-fried steak with a heartier brown gravy that incorporates the pan drippings.

However, these days, it is not uncommon to see brown gravy served with chicken fried steak and white gravy showing up on top of a country-fried steak. 

What is the Best Meat for Chicken Fried Steak?

Chicken Fried Steak is made with beef, either steak cutlets, cube steaks, or tenderized beef.

What are the good characteristics of the perfect chicken fried steak? For me, it is using a whole cut of meat. A lot of people use tenderized meat from the grocery store. I don’t like to do this because you don’t know what cut of meat you are getting.

I used to work in a grocery store years ago, the tenderizer machine in the meat department was used to weave together scraps of meat. I don’t like knowing exactly what cut of meat I am using.

I like to use a lean chuck steak or some thinly sliced sirloin.

Chicken Fried Steak Recipe Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need to make chicken fried steak:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Buttermilk
  • Sirloin steak

Here’s what you need to make white gravy:

  • Butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Ingredient Notes

The breading must be flavorful. So you really need to season your flour. Now, if you live in Texas, I really recommend HEB’s seasoned flour, if not, you can make some homemade.

Buttermilk is the key to making a thick crust. Don’t get the low-fat buttermilk. Use regular buttermilk. Buttermilk is like the glue that binds that batter to the meat.

Now, the name is chicken fried steak, so you are going to be frying the meat. I use plain vegetable oil or vegetable shortening.

How to Make Chicken Fried Steak

  1. Place flour, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder in a large shallow container. Stir or whisk until well combined.
  2. Pour buttermilk into a separate shallow dish.
  3. Coat a steak with seasoned flour and shake off the excess.
  4. Dip flour-coated steak into the buttermilk and shake off excess buttermilk
  5. Place steak back into the flour mixture, coat it well with flour, then shake off excess.
  6. Place breaded steak on a wire rack over a baking sheet.
  7. Repeat with the remaining steaks.
  8. Heat oil to 350 degrees.
  9. Place one or two steaks at a time in the oil and cook the meat until the top of it looks like it is beginning to brown.
  10. Turn steaks over and cook about 3 to 4 minutes.
  11. Remove fried steaks from the oil and drain on a clean wire rack. I don’t like to rest my cooked steaks on paper towels. The meat will steam, and make the breading soggy and not crisp.

How to Make White Gravy for Chicken Fried Steak

  1. Melt butter in a small pot over medium heat.
  2. Add flour and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add milk and stir until the mixture thickens.
  4. Season the gravy with salt and pepper.

While not necessary, I love to cook this in my trusty iron skillet. Using an iron skillet isn’t necessary, but I find they are deep enough to cook the steak in.

How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat Chicken Fried Steak

Breading chicken fried steak can be time-consuming, so many people like to bread their steaks in advance and keep them covered in the fridge overnight. 

Once cooked, you can keep any leftover chicken fried steak in the fridge for up to three days, but any longer than that, and you should freeze them.

To freeze cooked chicken fried steak:

  1. Wrap each chicken fried steak individually in wax paper and then in aluminum foil. 
  2. Put the wrapped steaks in a freezer-safe bag and keep them for up to four months in the freezer.

To reheat chicken fried steak: 

  1. Defrost the chicken fried steak overnight in the fridge.
  2. Place the chicken fried steak on a baking rack over a baking tray and cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until hot.
  5. While the steak is reheating, make gravy because chicken fried steak without fresh gravy is sad. 

FAQ for Chicken Fried Steak

Why Does the Breading Fall off My Chicken Fried Steak?

The main reason why the breading refuses to stick to your homemade chicken fried steak is that there is too much moisture between the meat and the coating. The heat of the oil turns the excess liquid into steam that pushes off all that lovely coating. 

How Do You Keep Batter from Falling off Chicken-fried Steak?

To help prevent the coating from falling off while cooking, try these tricks:

  • Pat the beef dry before flouring. If the flour is gummy, your coating will not stick to it, so wipe it off and start over.
  • Let the breaded steak dry out for around 10 to 20 minutes on a wire rack before frying. For the best results, bread the steaks in advance and let them air dry uncovered for a few hours in the fridge. 
  • Make sure the oil stays at 350 degrees throughout the cooking process to prevent the breading from getting greasy. 
  • Don’t play with your meat. Avoid touching the chicken fried steak as it is cooking to avoid tearing the coating. 

Is Chicken Fried Steak Chicken?

No, this homemade chicken fried steak recipe is 100-percent bird-free. The only connection this dish has to chicken, besides its name, is that the breading and cooking method of the steak is very similar to making fried chicken.

What cut of meat is Chicken Fried Steak?

Chicken fried steak is made with cubed steak, the name for top or bottom round steak that has been run through a meat tenderizer.

Opinions differ about whether it is better to buy a pre-cubed steak or get the steak and cube it yourself. Typically, cubed steak is the cheaper option, and it can save you a step, but the choice is yours. 

Chicken Fried Steak and gravy with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts

What to Serve with Chicken Fried Steak

You might wonder what you serve when you make this classic dish. Here are some sides to round out your meal:

Favorite Beef Recipes

Check out more of my easy beef recipes and the best comfort food recipes here on CopyKat!

Homemade Southern Chicken Fried Steak and gravy with Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes

Homemade Chicken Fried Steak

Make classic southern chicken fried steak and gravy at home.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Fried Steak, Southern Chicken Fried Steak
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 586kcal


Chicken Fried Steak Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • pounds sirloin steak

2 packages Pioneer Gravy Mix OR homemade gravy

    Gravy Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • cups whole milk
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


    Chicken Fried Steak Instructions

    • Prepare seasoned flour by combining flour, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder. Stir until well combined. Place seasoned flour in a large shallow container.
    • Pour buttermilk into a shallow dish.
    • Batter a steak by dusting it with seasoned flour and shake off the excess.
    • Dip the floured steak into the buttermilk. Shake off excess buttermilk and then place the steak back into the flour.
    • Coat the steak well with flour and then shake off excess flour.
    • Place battered steak on a wire rack on a baking sheet (this will help the crust dry out a bit, and result in a better crust). 
    • Repeat with the remaining pieces of steak.
    • Add about 3 inches of oil into a skillet.
    • Heat skillet until the oil gets to about 350 degrees.
    • Place steak, one or two pieces at a time, in the oil and cook the meat. Do not touch the meat until the top of it looks like it is beginning to cook and brown. Turning the meat too early will mean the crust may fall off. This may take about 7 to 8 minutes for the first side.
    • Turn the steaks over and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes.
    • Remove fried steaks from the oil and drain on a clean wire rack.

    Gravy Instructions

    • You may want to use the Pioneer gravy mix. If so, prepare it according to the package instructions.
    • If not, in a small pot, add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
    • When the butter melts completely, add the flour and stir to combine.
    • Cook the flour for about 1 minute.
    • Add 1¾ cups of milk and stir until the mixture thickens.
    • Season the gravy with salt and pepper.



    Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 132mg | Sodium: 1146mg | Potassium: 810mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 495IU | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 5.8mg

    About Stephanie Manley

    I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

    Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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    Reader Interactions


    1. Richard J. McCracken

      Consider replacing the AP flour with Wondra Flour. AP tends to continue to thicken where as the mix of Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour IMO makes better gravy.

    2. Susan

      How do you make it not tough or chewy? I used to be able to make it really well about 20 yrs ago. I can’t find the right cut of meat I guess. Flavor was good though. May just have to wait till my next trip to TX and let them make it for me:)

      • Stephanie

        There is no chicken in chicken fried steak. It is meat that is battered and fried like you would make fried chicken. In many places in the south, boneless chicken may be referred to chicken fried chicken at some restaurants to distinguish between the beef and chicken option on this dish.

    3. Lucy

      Looks divine. Fried steak is probably my all time favorite dish. One question: do you tenderize your steak since you don’t use the pre tenderized ones? BTW, good info on mystery weaved steak! Don’t think I’ll buy it again!

      • Sandie

        You can ask the butcher to run any type of meat through the tenderizer? I usually buy cube steak that has already be tenderized, but I’m loving this idea. I’m going to give it shot.

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