The Temperature Tip For Perfectly Crispy Country Fried Steak

The best country fried steak offers a crispy golden crust and meltingly tender beef. As any seasoned frier knows, this is easier said than done. Although cooks rightfully place a lot of emphasis on the tastiest seasonings for their flour dredge, the frying process requires just as much thought, planning, and care to produce a standout meal.

We turned to expert Bob Bennett, head chef of Zingerman's Roadhouse, for his tips for cooking the perfect country fried steak. He told Food Republic that the secret is in oil. "In my experience, it is the temperature," Bennett said. "Too hot and it becomes undercooked; too low, and it's soggy and greasy. Our perfect middle temperature is right around 350 degrees [Fahrenheit]."

This is a great opportunity to use your candy or deep-fry thermometer to track the rising temperature of the oil. Typically, it will take between five to 10 minutes to preheat, but you'll have the best chance at success if you use an analog or digital device, rather than a timer. To keep track of the warming oil, you can try using the wooden spoon hack to test the temperature or sprinkle flour over the pan's surface. If bubbles form, that's another good indication your skillet is sizzling hot.

Ensuring crispy steak at every step

Before you bring the oil up to temperature, make sure to set your steak up for success. Country fried steak differs from chicken fried steak in that its dredge relies solely on flour, rather than an egg mixture, which can lead to a less crispy crust than a wet dredge. For those willing to veer into chicken fried steak territory, try a double dredge, in which the cutlets are floured, dipped in egg, and floured again to ensure the ultimate crunchy surface.

Then, make sure to add steaks to the oil slowly and without crowding the pan. Pausing between each addition of cold meat will allow the fat to come back up to temperature. Watch the pan closely as each side will take about three to four minutes to cook. Chef Bob Bennett suggests, you should try "pulling the steak from your oil and pinching it," as a "slight softness" or give will indicate the meat is done. Just be careful — that meat will be hot.

Finally, since you'll likely cook the steaks in batches, make sure to prepare a place for them to cool and crisp. To maintain the crunch, we suggest putting the cutlets on a wire rack set over a baking tray. Stash the whole set up in an oven set at its lowest temperature, about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, until you're ready to dig into the meal. For a twist, pair it with a Southern breakfast staple of egg gravy.