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Eye of Round Steak Guide – What it is, How to Cook it and More

The eye of round steak is usually reserved for cubing and stewing. But you can do MUCH better! Learn all about this under loved cut in our guide.

Emma Braby

Last Updated: October 9, 2020

Three raw beef eye of round steaks with rosemary and rock salt on a dark surface

Have you ever wondered what the worst possible steak to throw straight onto an open grill is? If you said the Eye of Round steak, you’re probably right.

You’ve probably guessed the Eye of Round steak either because you’ve tried and failed, resulting in a few beef-based hockey pucks now kicking around the yard.

Or because you haven’t yet read this guide that answers the questions, what is eye of round steak, and how do you best cook it?

It’s a cut that perplexes the best of grill kings, most of whom try grilling it, realizing it starts tough, which only gets worse as they cook. And then they give up.

BUT, for those that persevered and took on the challenge of making this naturally tough cut into something worthy, they soon discovered a new firm favorite of theirs.

If you’re not convinced, read on!

Because with the right approach and the knowledge that we are about to provide you, it can be a great addition to anyone’s menu.

What is Eye of Round Steak?

In a nutshell, it’s part of the cow’s butt, and it makes up part of a cheap and not so fancy team of meat cuts.

The hip and buttocks are hardworking muscles, and as such, they produce lean and tough cuts.

It usually weighs in at around 6 to 8 oz. per steak. It comes as a perfectly round 4 to 6-inch cuts that is ½ to 1 inch thick.

Although many chastise it for being tough, with a little preparation and the correct approach, it has the potential to be a flavorful and enjoyable meal.

Where Does it Come from on the Cow?

Diagram showing the round primal on a cow

It comes from the animal’s hindquarters, known as the round primal – namely the upper thigh and hip muscles surrounding the femur bone.

The rear leg of the cow is hardworking. The muscle that Eye of Round steak comes from is called the semitendinosus. It’s used as an extension of the hip when the cow lifts his rear legs.

Alternative Names

The round primal is a confusing one for sure. Pretty much every cut from this primal has the word round in it, whether it’s a steak or a roast joint. And as you browse for recipes and tips to cook it, you will see many variations of the name given.

Here are the most commonly used names. No explanations are needed as they are all just variations and embellishments on the standard Eye of Round steak name:

  • Beef Round Eye
  • Beef Round
  • Beef Round Steak Boneless
  • Round Steak.

Hardly imaginative, huh?

Flavor, Texture, Fat Content and Tenderness

If cooked badly, it really, really bad. Tough as boots and no flavor, with zero redeeming qualities.

Cooked well, it is firm but moist, with medium-intensity flavor. The grain is tight when raw but can be opened and has a pleasant texture when tenderized correctly.

It is incredibly lean, with no fat caps in sight.

Typical Uses

It is used as cubed beef for stews and slow-cooked recipes mostly. It’s not typically used as a standalone steak.

Naturally tough and easily overcooked, many use it for braised beef recipes that involve a lot of liquid and sauce to combat this cut’s dry lean nature.

Nutrition

NutritionTotal Amount (Based on 3oz Serving)% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
Calories1307%
Saturated Fat1.2g8%
Sodium55mg2.6%
Protein25g50%
Iron1.6mg10%
Zinc3.7mg35%

Buying It

It is available at most supermarkets as a value pack of thin steaks at the lower-cost end of the spectrum. These are great as a slow-cooked braised dish.

If you are looking for the thicker cuts and want to try grilling them, you’ll need to request them from a butcher or meat counter. Due to them not being particularly popular as a thick cut, not many outlets stock them in high quantities.

If you do have any trouble identifying the steaks at the butchers, give the industry ID, ID – UPC 1481, and order them in.

Where to Buy it Online

Eye of Round Steak isolated on white

Quality online meat markets are fantastic for good-quality cuts of meat that are flavorful and present well for the consumer to browse online.

The Eye of Round steak, although looking quite good, offers little in the way of flavor or tenderness for most, so they aren’t always available.

The gourmet meat markets are unlikely to offer them, but some do offer the Eye of Round roast, which is the joint the steaks come from. If you feel up to it, you can order the joint and cut your own Eye of Round steaks.

Supermarket style online outlets regularly have it in stock, and here are two that stock it:

Average Price

At the time of writing, the cost per pound was $4.99 to $8.99 per lb., across online supermarkets.

Portion Size: How Much Per Person?

As it weighs on average 6 to 8 oz., it is the perfect size for a single steak per person. With the many recipes that braise or slow-cook this cut, you are spoilt for choice on the sauce and side dish options…

Mash potatoes, rice, vegetables, bread, the list is endless.

A single steak should be more than enough per person, and if it isn’t, you can have two each. Because at this low price, why not?

How to Prepare it for Grilling or Smoking

Although notoriously tough, it is possible to create some perfectly tasty and tender meals with Eye of Round steaks. You just need to know how to prepare them.

First, you need to tenderize them. Not with a marinade, we’re talking a good bashing with a mallet, followed by an excellent acid-based marinade for a minimum of 24 hours.

Whether you plan to put them on the grill, braise them or even slow cook them. This preparation is essential if you want a tender steak with flavor.

How to Cook Eye of Round Steak on a Grill

With an abundance of slow cook recipes available, we thought we would give you the best guide to grilling them as a steak.

Once you have put the effort in to tenderize the steaks as above, follow this guide. If you want a tasty steak, you need to follow it to the letter. Deviate at your peril readers:

  1. Remove your steaks from the fridge and the marinade, and allow to sit and come up to room temperature. At least 45 minutes if they are an inch thick.
  2. Remove as much of the excess marinade as possible from the surface. The heat used will be medium, so any excess moisture will reduce the cooking temp and remove any chance of searing and crusting the steak.
  3. Setup a 2-zone cooking area on your grill, so that you can both sear and heat the steaks. You are looking at a temperature of around 350-400f.
  4. IMPORTANT: Have your instant-read thermometer to hand, this cut needs to be cooked by temperature, not time or visuals.
  5. Place the steaks on the grill’s indirect heat side, turning periodically for an even cook, and monitor until the temperature is around 125f.
  6. Move them to the direct heat side of the grill and sear for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 130f.
  7. Remove from the grill, give each steak a knob of butter, and tent in foil for a 5-minute rest.
  8. Slice thinly, against the grain, and enjoy.

Three Best Eye of Round Steak Recipes from Around the Web

Now that you’re all clued up on how to cook this steak for great results, here are three recipes that give you a great introduction to the different approaches:

President Ford’s Braised Eye of Round Steak

This is a simple recipe with just a few ingredients, making it an easy weeknight recipe for the family.

Served with mashed potatoes, it is hearty and filling.

Full recipe and instructions are here:

Delish Easy Seared Round Steak

The trick to this recipe is a good beating of the meat with a mallet before searing it and then giving it a butter bath while you finish.

The result is a golden crust and medium-rare finish.

Check the method here:

Food52’s Classic Swiss Steak

This recipe can be executed in the oven, on the stove, or the grill. All you need is a good crockpot.

The secret to getting the steak nice and tender is the low-n-slow cook in the acidic tomato sauce.

Get the simple mix of ingredients here:

Conclusion

Eye of Round steak, the round primal’s black sheep, can now be the golden calf with our duly imparted wisdom.

It is an inexpensive, lean, and boneless cut that is low fat and low calorie – making it an excellent choice for the family.

With an endless list of approaches that you can take, your cooking skills can be a revelation once you master it.

Have you had a result with this cut? Or has it driven you round the twist with its seemingly ever-tough persona?

Let us know in the comments how you get on with this cut, and we’ll see you there!

Hey, I’m Emma Braby, a contributing author here at FoodFireFriends.

I like to write about current BBQ trends, juicy recipes and to let our readers into tricks and tips that I’ve learnt along my BBQ journey.

I currently cook on a Kamado Joe Classic II and a Pro Q Smoker, and love nothing more than having my friends and family round at the weekend trying out my new tasty recipes.

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