This breaded cube steak recipe (bistec empanizado) is a staple in Puerto Rican cooking and beyond! Beef cube steak is well seasoned for flavor, breaded in crumbs and fried to crispy golden perfection. This recipe is one you’ll definitely want to put in the dinner rotation!
Breaded Cube Steak
Puerto Rican rice and beans are a staple food in my house. They’re a side dish, but we often eat it as a meal all by itself. Growing up, when my mom wanted to cook a more complete meal, she would fry up some cube steaks and serve them along with a lettuce salad or sliced avocado.
In Spanish this is called bistec empanizado or empanado. Cube steak is an inexpensive cut of meat that’s been tenderized. To make sure it doesn’t turn out tough and chewy, I tenderize it again at home with a meat mallet.
First, season the cube steak with vinegar. This acts as a tenderizer and also gives a little zip to the meat. This is my favorite part. It’s the perfect balance to the fat and oil from frying.
Traditionally it’s marinated in mojo sauce. You can purchase mojo marinade from the store, or you can use even parts of fresh lemon, lime and orange juice (about 1 tablespoon each).
If you don’t have mojo on hand, feel free to skip it. I have to admit, I rarely remember to marinate it beforehand and it turns out fine! I just sprinkle on my vinegar and spices first and then prepare the rest of the meal while it sits.
If you’re going to marinate it, feel free to throw some onion slices in there as well. Adds extra flavor! And we looove flavor.
The secret to the best breaded cube steak is to season both the steak and the breading. So after you sprinkle both sides of the steak with spices, season the bread crumbs as well.
A lot of people use crushed crackers (saltines or ritz), but my mom always used plain bread crumbs. Either one works!
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- 2 lbs cube steak
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons mojo marinade* (optional)
- 1 teaspoon adobo (Goya)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup bread or cracker crumbs
- 2 teaspoons adobo
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Oil, for frying
- Tenderize steak with a meat mallet, pounding to about 1/4 or 1/2 inch thickness. Place in a baking dish or ziplock bag.
- Sprinkle with vinegar, mojo (if using), adobo, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Be sure to distribute the ingredients on both sides of the steak. If desired, place in a resealable bag and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
- Prepare 3 shallow bowls for breading. In 1st bowl add the flour. In 2nd bowl crack the eggs and beat until combined. In 3rd bowl mix bread crumbs and adobo.
- To bread the steaks, first coat both sides lightly in flour, dip in egg and then in bread crumbs. Repeat with each steak.
- In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm 1/4-inch oil until it shimmers. Working in batches, add steaks in a single layer. Fry until dark golden and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all steaks are cooked.