There's something undeniably satisfying about biting into a crispy, golden-brown Chicken Fried Steak. If the thought of frying and dealing with all that oil is a turn-off, say hello to Air Fryer Chicken Fried Steak! This game-changing recipe delivers that same mouthwatering crunchy without all the fuss. Using tenderized cube steak and the magic of air frying you’ll create a delicious twist on a classic that your family will love.
Growing up in the South, chicken fried steak is a nostalgic food that brings back memories for me.
As much as I love it, I don’t love the hassle of deep frying. Luckily I can dish up all the flavors I love by making chicken fried steak in the air fryer.
The air fryer works its magic to create country fried steak in the air fryer that's crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
And what's air fryer country fried steak without a rich, creamy gravy? Our recipe includes a flavorful gravy that complements the steak beautifully, enhancing the dish and ensuring every bite is a delight.
So, gather your ingredients, preheat your air fryer, and get ready to embark on a culinary journey that introduces a new way of enjoying a classic dish.
With its enticing combination of crispy exterior, tender interior, and rich gravy, this Air Fryer Chicken Fried Steak recipe will quickly become a staple in your meal rotation.
- Cube Steaks: You can find tenderized cube steaks at most grocery stores. If you don't see them, don't hesitate to ask the butcher. If you can’t find them, you can pound sirloin steaks thin and then use a meat mallet to tenderize them.
- Milk: Whole milk works great for this recipe, but if you happen to have it, buttermilk adds a nice zing. For the gravy, make sure that you use whole milk and not buttermilk!
- Seasonings: Salt, paprika, and garlic powder add the right pop of flavor. You can adjust the amounts to your personal liking, but I don't recommend increasing the salt because the crackers also add a lot of salty flavor to the dish. Feel free to play around with the flavors. Onion powder, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce all work well here.
- Saltine Crackers: You'll need two sleeves of crushed crackers. This works out to about 75 crackers. You can make air fryer cube steak with flour only, but the results won’t be nearly as crispy.
- Flour: Use plain all-purpose flour
- Butter: Unsalted butter is my preference, but you could use salted butter if that is what you have. Just make sure you take that into account when adding additional salt, as different brands contain different levels of salt.
Step by Step Instructions
For the full recipe with measurements, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
For the Sauce
Tips and Tricks
- Don't skip the saltines: If you don't have saltine crackers, I recommend substituting breadcrumbs. While flour alone can be enough when pan searing (and is indeed the traditional choice), in my experience, flour alone does not give the crust we want when air frying.
- Preheat the air fryer: Make sure to preheat your air fryer before cooking for even and quicker cooking results.
- Tenderize the steak: Use a meat mallet to tenderize the cube steak, ensuring a more tender and juicy result. You can skip this if you purchase already tenderized steak.
- Use cooking spray: Lightly spray both sides of the breaded steaks with cooking spray to help achieve a crispy, golden-brown crust in the air fryer.
- Don't overcrowd: Cook the steaks in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket, which can lead to uneven cooking and a less crispy crust.
- Check the internal temperature: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the steaks have reached an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before serving.
What's the difference between chicken-fried steak and fried steak?
Chicken-fried steak is typically made with cube steak which has been tenderized. It's then dredged in a flour (and sometimes crackers as we do here) mixture before being fried or air fried.
Fried steak, on the other hand, often uses thicker cuts of meat that are usually not tenderized. The beef is simply seasoned and dredged in flour before being fried.
What is the difference between chicken-fried steak and country-fried steak?
The difference between chicken-fried steak and country-fried steak is minimal.
Chicken-fried steak is typically made with cube steak that has been tenderized whereas country-fried steak may be slightly thicker cut and may not have been tenderized beforehand.
The primary difference between the two dishes lies in the type of gravy served alongside them.
Chicken-fried steak is typically accompanied by a creamy white gravy made from the pan drippings, milk, and flour, while country-fried steak is often served with a brown gravy made from the drippings, stock, and flour.
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- Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Liners (optional; recommended for units that stick)
- Shallow Dishes for Breading
- Rolling Pin or Meat Mallet (to crush crackers)
More Air Fryer Recipes to Try
- For a quick and easy meal that never gets old, give these air fryer tuna steaks a try.
- When you are craving a hearty sandwich, this air fryer reuben is sure to hit the spot.
- This crispy keto air fryer chicken breast is so good that it is hard to believe that is is low carb and gluten-free!
- Air fryer chicken empanadas work well as a hearty appetizer or main course.
30-Minute Air Fryer Chicken Fried Steak
- Air Fryer
- 1 ½ pounds cube steaks tenderized
- 1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 sleeves crushed saltine crackers
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsalted buter
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place the cube steaks in a shallow dish.
- In a large measuring cup, combine with milk, salt, paprika, and garlic powder.
- Pour the mixture over the steaks and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
- Combine the finely crushed saltine crackers and flour in a shallow dish.
- Remove the steaks from the milk mixture and cover with the cracker mixture, pressing with your fingers to help the coating adhere. Repeat with the remaining steaks.
- Preheat your air fryer to 350° F.
- Cook the steaks in a single layer for 12 to 16 minutes, until the meat reaches 160° F and the exterior is brown and crisp.
- While the steaks are cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, and whisk until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, a little at a time, until it is fully incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.