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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For the steak:
- 2 lbs cube steak
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons mojo marinade
- 1 teaspoon adobo (Goya
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
For the breading:
- 1 cup bread or cracker crumbs
- 2 teaspoons adobo
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Oil, for frying
*can substitute 1 tablespoon EACH of fresh lemon, lime and orange juice for mojo