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Cooking an eye round steak can be a challenge for even the most experienced of grill masters.
This is mainly because it’s a cut that is tough right from the get-go, and if it gets any tougher during the cooking process, people might naturally assume that their attempt has been a bust- or that the eye round steak just isn’t a very good cut.
But the grill enthusiasts that stick with it will tell you that the eye round steak is well worth the challenge. It might just end up being your favorite cut, if you give it (and yourself!) a chance.
So, how do you properly prepare and cook an eye of round steak? The following article will tell you all you might need to know about this tricky cut.
What Is The Eye Of Round Steak?
The cut comes from the buttocks of the cow. Because both the buttocks and hips are muscles that are worked hard by the cow, the eye of round steak is leaner and tougher than the cuts you’re probably used to.
This is why a lot of people are put off by the eye of round steak the first time they attempt to cook it. While it’s never going to be one of the easier steaks to grill (for example, a ribeye is easier to cook and inherently more tender), it can make for a great meal if cooked with the right approach.
The cut tends to weigh between six to eight ounces per steak, is perfectly round, and measures between four to six inches. In terms of thickness, the average is about half an inch to one inch. Usually the steak will have a layer of fat on two of its sides, and either minimal marbling or zero marbling throughout.
Another reason this boneless beef steak tends to be overlooked is because it’s considered an ‘economical cut’ – so eye of round is inexpensive on a per pound basis. Eye of round steak haters are missing out, though; it can be used for stir fries, braising, pressure cooking, chicken fried steak, and more.
Other Names For The Eye Of Round Steak
Almost every cut from the round primal will have ‘round’ in the name, which can make things quite confusing. There are a few different names commonly used to describe the eye of round steak, none of which are particularly creative.
These names include beef round, beef round eye, round steak, and beef round steak boneless. For the most part, anything using one of these names will be an eye of round steak or something very similar.
The Texture, Flavor, Tenderness, And Fat Content Of The Eye Of Round Steak
As we’ve established, an eye of round steak cooked poorly can be tremendously unpleasant. There’s nothing to enjoy in a bad eye of round steak; it’s very tough, and completely lacking in flavor.
But if you cook it properly (and shortly we’ll be telling you how to do so), it’s a firm yet moist steak, with flavors of medium intensity. If it’s been correctly tenderized, the texture is as pleasant as all good, firm steaks.
How To Prepare An Eye Of Round Steak
Preparing an eye of round steak is a crucial step in making sure that they come out tender and full of flavor, rather than tough and void of flavor. First you’re going to want to tenderize the meat using a meat mallet, and don’t be afraid to give it a good old bash.
When it comes to marinating the meat, you’ll want to use a number of different components. The acid of vinegar will help to deconstruct the meat’s connective tissue and lend the steak a chewy texture rather than a tough one.
You’re also going to need to fat, such as an oil. This will help the steak soak up all the flavors, and lock in the right amount of moisture, too.
You might already have a marinade recipe in mind, or you could find one that catches your eye online. Regardless of the recipe, you should refrigerate the steak once you’ve applied the marinade, either overnight or for at least a good few hours.
If you’re going to be baking the eye of round steak, you might want to first sear the beef over medium-high heat in a pan prior to beginning the baking process. This will help the sides of the steak stay crispy and flavorful.
Obviously, after this stage, you would then cook the steak in the oven until it reaches the right internal temperature.
Ways To Cook An Eye Of Round Steak
There are a number of different ways you can cook an eye of round steak. It fits into a variety of recipes, whether you’re making a salad, a stir-fry, or just about any dish where steak wouldn’t feel out of place.
Below, though, are some of the most common ways that eye of round steaks tend to be cooked, including sous vide round roast, baked round roast, braised round roast, air fryer eye of round steak, fried eye of round steak, and slow cooker round roast.
If you’ve been wondering how to cook eye of round steak correctly, all of these methods will get the job done and then some.
Sous Vide Round Roast
An eye of round steak is perfect for the sous vide method, because it’s designed for initially lean cuts that need a helping hand to get them nice and tender. This method involves using a vacuum-sealed bag, which locks in all of the flavors and the natural juices during the cooking process.
You put the vacuum-sealed bag in temperature controlled water, which prevents it from cooking too quickly (which would make the meat dry out).
It’s a method that lets you cook the steak uniformly and all the way through.
Baked Round Roast
One of the most popular methods for cooking an eye of round steak, this involves coating the outside of your steak with a combination of herbs by first covering the meat with olive oil.
Once you’ve applied the herbs, you’ll be cooking up the steak in a big pan designed for roasting.
Braised Round Roast
When you’re braising a steak you’re applying a small amount of liquid in order to provide it with just enough moisture while it’s cooking. Before you braise the meat you’ll want to sear it, to get the outer sides of the meat crispy.
Next, place the meat in a Dutch oven with a little bit of water (although you can also use beef broth or pan sauce) and then cover the meat. Allow it to cook at a slow pace.
The braised round roast will go great with some cooked vegetables, whether it’s carrots, potatoes, or a combination of any of your favorite vegetables. These will blend with the flavors of the beef quite nicely.
Air Fryer Eye of Round Steak
The air fryer is a very popular appliance these days; it seems people have realized just how quickly you can cook things with this device, even if it’s a steak.
An eye of round steak suits the air fryer well, and because you’ll be using far less oil (compared to if you were frying the meat in a pan), it’s by far the healthiest way to cook an eye of round steak.
Season the meat prior to cooking with olive oil and some herbs and spices, and don’t forget to flip the steak halfway through the cooking process to make sure that it’s crispy all the way round.
Fried Eye of Round Steak
There’s actually more than one way you can fry this particular steak. You can either pan-fry it to sear it before placing it in the oven, or you can dredge the slices with an egg and crumb mixture, thus creating a breading that you can fry.
Whichever of the two methods you go with, frying an eye of round steak is a great way to bring out all the flavors, and makes for a very tender steak.
Slow Cooker Round Roast
This tends to be the most convenient way to cook a lot of different meats; once it’s prepared and in the slow cooker, there’s very little to worry about. You can either cook the meat by itself or in a beef broth with vegetables, which will result in a flavorful stew.
How Much Eye of Round Steak Per Person?
The eye of round steak is perfect for one steak per person, since it averages around six to eight ounces. If you’d rather serve two steaks per person, feel free; at supermarkets they tend to come in value packs of multiple steaks, so you’ll likely be buying more than a couple of steaks anyway.
When it comes to serving suggestions, there are a variety of sides that pair well with an eye of round steak, whether you fancy rice, veggies, mashed potatoes, bread, or anything in between.
Where Can You Buy Eye of Round Steaks?
In the majority of supermarkets you’ll be able to purchase eye of round steaks in an affordable pack, usually containing three or four thinly sliced steaks. This kind of eye of round steak is great for slow-cooking.
For thicker cuts that you’re looking to grill, though, you’ll probably be better trying at the meat counter or at a butcher’s.
In most cases you’ll need to specifically request an eye of round steak; they’re not very popular cuts in general, especially not in thick cut form, so it’s rare that an outlet would have many in stock (if they have any at all).
If you can’t find any good eye of round steaks at your local stores or butchers’, you can always try online. Most online meat markets will likely only stock the eye of round roast itself (that’s the joint where the steaks originate).
If that’s all you can get your hands on you could always order the eye of round roast and cut the eye of round steaks yourself. Online stores tend to sell eye of round steaks for between $4.99 and $8.99 per pound.
Other Cuts Similar to the Eye of Round Steak
Not keen on the eye of round steak, or already experienced with the cut and looking for something different? The following are some other cuts you might be interested in.
The bottom round steak is a great cut for weekday meals. It’s both lean and boneless, like the eye of round steak. You can marinate it and broil, or you can throw the meat on the grill too.
The western steak is also lean, best tenderized using a marinade prior to the cooking process. With the western steak you’ll want to either broil or grill and cut it into thin slices.
The merlot steak is quite similar to the flank steak, but its texture tends to be quite a bit finer. You should grill a merlot steak on high heat, and quickly.
The top round steak, on the other hand, is best slow-cooked or broiled. Top round is a thick cut that’s perfect for a weekday meal.
Final Thoughts On Eye Of Round Steak
A lean and boneless cut of beef, the eye of round steak is often overlooked, thanks to its leanness and low prices. But if you’re willing to cook it properly, it’s a very versatile steak, suitable for slow cooking, pot roasting, braising, pan frying, air frying, and stewing.
With the right marinade and the right amount of moisture, the flavors will be flowing from your eye of round steak.
You’ll find a whole host of detailed, easy-to-follow recipes online, so if you’ve been looking to shake things up a little in the steak department, what’s stopping you? Well… aside from struggling to find thick cuts of eye of round steak, that is.
But you should fare well at online meat marketplaces, if not your local butcher.