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Top Round Steak — Everything You Need and Want to Know

Learn all about the top round steak, including where it comes from on the cow, alternative names, typical uses, nutritional info, how to cook it, and three favorite recipes from around the web that use this cut of beef.

Emma Braby profile picture
Written by:
| Reviewed by: Mark Jenner

Last Updated: January 22, 2024

Two, raw top round steaks on a cutting board with garlic, lime and spring onion.

Top round steak, a lean and moderately tender beef cut, comes from the top round muscle in the cow’s hindquarters. Known for its low fat content and lack of tenderness but a robust beef flavor, it’s suitable for grilling, broiling, and slow cooking but benefits from marinating or tenderizing before cooking.

But hang on, it’s a cut that lacks tenderness and any real marbling? Aren’t these missing characteristics what we usually look for in a great steak?

Yes, usually! But in this guide, we will show you precisely why it should still be a mainstay on your weekly menu. We’ll give you the low down on why, with a little TLC, it is a go-to cut. By answering what it is, where it’s from on the cow, and what it tastes like. And, of course, how best to get your hands on some.

Not entirely convinced? Let me show you…

Key Takeaways

  • Top Round steak is a versatile cut of beef You can cook thick or thin, and its flavor is enough to satisfy meat-eaters
  • It is a lean cut of meat with minimal fat marbling, making it suitable for those who prefer leaner cuts of beef.
  • The Top Round steak comes from the round primal of the cow, which includes the rump, hips, and buttocks. These muscles are well-worked, resulting in leaner and less tender meat.
  • It has various names, including London Broil, Beef Round, and Family Steak.
  • Despite its lack of fat, the Top Round steak is flavorful and has a medium tenderness when appropriately cooked.
  • Cooks typically use it in dishes such as beef carnitas, chili, stew, and for ground beef in burgers.
  • Top round steak is readily available in butchers and supermarkets, but online options are limited.
  • We recommend marinating the Top Round steak and cooking it carefully to avoid overcooking.

My Opinion of Top Round Steak

When I was a kid, my mom used to buy minute steak for steak sandwiches, but then insisted on cooking it for ten minutes. And this is what turns delicious beef into not-so-tasty boot leather.

Because of that, I’d always avoided beef that was cut thin and recommended flash cooking. That was until someone introduced me to the Top Round steak. It’s a versatile piece of meat that can be cooked thick or thin, and tastes great.

I’ve experimented with it in various thicknesses, finding it consistently delivers flavor but can be a little tough and dry compared to many other cuts. So, I like to marinate it well beforehand to tenderize it and add flavor.

A favorite use in my house is to buy it very thin, cook it with an Asian-influenced marinade, and use it in noodle dishes, ramen, or salads.

I would always opt for a different cut as an out-and-out steak, grilled simply and served as is. But as an ingredient in wetter dishes where the beef is a vehicle for other flavors, a top-round steak does brilliantly at an affordable price.

What is Top Round Steak?

Top round steak is a lean, flavorful beef cut from the upper rear leg of the cow, known for its versatility and tenderness when properly cooked.

Usually 0.5 – 0.75 inches thick, it has a small amount of fat marbling, a minimal fat cap at one end, and it usually comes as a 6 – 8 inch cut.

Of all the different types of steak, top round is the chicken of the steak world. Lean enough to suit most tastes and flavorful enough to satisfy the reddest of meat-eaters.

It takes very well to a marinade and can be cooked as a thick steak, thinly sliced, or cut up for carnitas and other dishes.

Where Does Top Round Steak Come from on the Cow?

 Diagram showing the round primal on a .

The Top Round steak is found in the round primal, so-called because it surrounds the femur. This is the area of the cow that includes the rump, the hips, and buttocks.

The muscles in this area are used for movement and are well-worked as the cow moves around. As a result, the beef is leaner and less tender.

The Top Round steak is from the upper part of the round, or the semimembranosus muscle to be specific. This makes up part of the pelvic group of muscles that include the inside round and bottom round, from where the bottom round steak originates.

Other Names for the Top Round Steak

The round primal is divided into cuts such as the bottom, inside, and top round. As such, it has many name variations, but there are far too many to list them all. So, here are just a few of its more common names:

  • London Broil: this name is given because it is a lean and less tender steak, and broiling is the preferred cooking method.
  • Beef Round: a simple version of what it is and where it comes from.
  • Family Steak: a nod to its popularity as a great all-rounder that has created many family meals.

Flavor, Texture, Fat Content, and Tenderness

grilled and sliced top round steak with thin grilled potat.

The Top Round steak, despite its lack of fat, is a very flavorful piece of beef. Cooked well, it will be of medium tenderness and still moist with a firm chew.

It has a more robust beef flavor than other lean steaks such as a Filet Mignon. The grain of the meat is already tight and firm, so care must be taken not to overcook it, and you want to slice it against the grain before eating, otherwise, it will be very chewy.

Typical Uses

Top Round steak is typically used as a lean cut of beef for homemade dishes such as beef carnitas, a chunky beef chili, or even a beef stew.

It takes well to a saucy, liquid-based dish as it has a lack of natural fat for keeping it moist. It is also used as a lean cut of beef for ground beef in burgers. It is usually coupled with some pork meat or bacon to add the fat that it lacks to keep it from drying out.

Top Round Steak Nutrition

NutritionTotal Amount% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
Saturated Fat1.3 g8%
Sodium65 mg3%
Protein25 g50%
Iron2.7 mg15%
Zinc4.3 mg40%

Top Round Steak Price

Despite its great flavor and versatility, top round steak comes at a fantastic price. At the time of writing, the cost per-pound was $6.99 – $7.49 per lb. Across online outlets.

Portion Size: How Much Top Round Steak Per Person?

A top round steak weighs in on average at 12 oz. It is a big one by most people’s standards.

It is the perfect size to create large dishes to feed the family. Or as an impeccably sized standalone steak for those that like the steak to take center stage.

It will satiate the biggest of eaters with a hearty side of homemade fries or a crispy-skinned baked potato and a healthy portion of veggies.

How to Prepare Top Round Steak for Grilling or Smoking

Four slices of raw top round steak on a wooden cutting board, surrounded by a handful of garlic clo.

The Top Round steak comes well-presented and trimmed of any fat. It will be ready to slice and dice if that’s the plan.

If, however, you want to sample its delights as a standalone steak, then a good marinade is the way to prepare it.

The basis for any steak marinade is simple. Dark balsamic vinegar for the acidity needed to break down the fibers and Worcestershire sauce for added flavor. With a splash of soy sauce, it helps to tenderize and open up the grain to absorb more of the marinade.

Then experiment with a mix of sugar or honey to balance the acidic ingredients and any herbs you wish to compliment the beef.

How to Cook Top Round Steak on a Grill

sliced grilled top round steak on a stone platter, with a carving knife and fork and a sprig of rosemary on .

The Top Round steak is very thin, and it can very easily be overcooked. So you must follow the guidelines carefully and cook it for just the short amount of time that it needs.

A good instant-read thermometer is a Godsend for a steak like this. Once it hits temperature, you remove it and rest it.

For reference, from our guide on steak cooking times, a half-inch steak will need just 2 minutes per side.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Remove your steaks from the refrigerator and remove from the marinade sauce you have them in.
  2. Pat them dry, removing any excess marinade. If you don’t, it will burn on the hot grill and not allow the steaks to crust correctly.
  3. Preheat your grill to high heat, 500 °F or above.
  4. Place the steaks onto the hot grill and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, turning once only. You are looking for an end temperature of 130 °F for medium-rare or 140 °F for medium. So remove them when 5–10 °F lower, because they will continue to cook once removed.
  5. Remove steaks, rest for 5 – 7 minutes before slicing across the grain.
  6. Savor the flavor and enjoy it.

You can cook steak straight from the freezer if you’re short on time, as detailed in our guide on how to grill frozen steak.

Buying Top Round Steak

Top round steak is in plentiful supply in both butchers and supermarkets, but not so much online due to it being a budget cut.

It offers excellent flavor and great value for many, which is why it is the popular choice for those cooking for a big family.

Just be sure that the butcher or supermarket assistant knows that it is the Top Round steak that you’re after. If there is any confusion, use the industry IDs IMPS/NAMP — 1169, UPC –—1153. This will show them accurately which cut you mean.

Where to Buy Top Round Steak Online

Quality online meat markets are increasingly popular. They let you know precisely what you’re buying and at what quality it is graded. That way, you can make sure it’s in line with your rearing and environmental ethos. And you can set your budget accordingly, with the information laid out for you.

Once you’ve found what you want, you place your order and wait for it to arrive, vacuum packed, and freshly frozen to your doorstep.

As we previously mentioned, online sellers are limited due to it being a budget cut. But here are two online outlets that we have found who stock it:


The Top Round steak might not be an award winner or a bank-breaking restaurant favorite. But what it lacks it more than makes up for in versatility.

This is the reason it should be a staple in any family’s weekly meal plan. Just having a few Top Round steaks to hand means you can cook pretty much anything you like that features beef.

If you’re a fan of the Top Round steak, show us your tips in the comments below. We are always on the lookout for new marinade recipes and any comments or questions our readers have.

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Emma Braby profile picture

Written By: Emma Braby

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 learned 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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  1. I happened upon your website looking for grilling tips for top and bottom round steak.

    Last year my wife and I went in on the procurement of a whole grass fed cow from a friends ranch. We have been enjoying many different cuts of beef, but are quickly coming to the end of our half of the cow. Left are quite a few cuts of top and bottom round.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your cooking styles and recipes and can’t wait to share them with my wife. She is the Top Chef in the house, but I do the outside grilling and BBQ-ing.

    I will share your site with family and friends.

    Thank you very much.

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you! It’s always nice to hear a bit of positive encouragement 🙂

  2. I first tried cooking the round steak like a steak. No way. Dry no flavor. So then I cooked it like a London broil. It was so much better. I thought I was doing something wrong. Now I know I was right. Thank you, for your help.

  3. I tried taking top round steak and making breaded and fried but came out chewy, do you have any ideas

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Hi, Al. It has a very tight and dense texture, so if you cook it one bit past medium-rare it’s going to be very chewy I’m afraid. It will be difficult to get it right if breaded and fried, not impossible but difficult. How did it look when you sliced into it? What doneness level?

  4. I love all forms of steak, I mix up my marinade but my 3-4 must haves, Worchestire Sauce, Liquid Smoke (for oven cooking only), Italian Herbs, Garlic Salt, I use light beer as a tenderizeor (really helps for the rounds) I generally don’t add sugars but that’s my taste, I marinate overnight plus the mornin, take out about a hour before cooking, comes out fork tender at mid rare – medium. I learned a long time ago, don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen, you will shock yourself with what works for you..

  5. Avatar for Donna Parrish Donna Parrish says:

    I have a crockpot recipe for beef and broccoli. Would a top round steak work if I cut it up?

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Hi Donna,

      I don’t use a crockpot myself…what is the recipe please? is it like a stew? Braised?

  6. My local store had a BOGO Free sale on what they called Cab Top Round London Broil. They had steaks and roasts. I bought 2 “steaks” — both very thick and weighing about 3.5 lbs each. I wanted to cook more as a roast than a steak…..Did l make a mistake? Are these only able to be eaten Rare or Medium as a steak?
    Or can l roast in oven or cook in a Crockpot? Thanks ~

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Hi Holly. I’m not entirely sure of the exact cut, but if top round it should be good to cook either way, but will be best medium rare. Do not go past this, as it will be tough. I regularly do sirloin roasts, rib roasts, chuck roasts, picanha roasts, etc. Pretty much any steak, if thick enough, can be roasted, so long as you you cook to the right finished temp and not past.

  7. Avatar for sam nelson sam nelson says:

    Hello. I like your site with commentary, tips, and recipes. My tip for 1 to 1.5 lbs of top round is:

    Dry rub first (equal parts of black pepper, kosher salt, meat tenderizer, onion powder, and ginger powder, and then a healthy dash of Cheyenne pepper).

    Marinade of 1/3 cup of Ketchup, 2 tablespoons soy, 2 tablespoons Worchester, and 1/2 cup of orange juice or other acidic juice. Place in a ziplock, and allow to marinate 8 to 12 hours in the frig.

    Make a “bowl” with aluminum foil, place the meat in the foil bowl, and then pour in the marinade. Seal up the foil, leaving an air cavity (or, to say, it is not the goal to wrap the foil tightly around the meat, but to seal it around the meat loosely).

    Place the oven pre-heated to 450 degrees for no 10-minutes, then reduce heat to 250 degrees, and allow it to bake for 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on the desired thoroughness (rare to well done). I recommend medium rare, cooking to 145.

    The trapping of the steam from vinegar, sugars, and acidic juices softens the meat, making it very tender. If you have a roasting pan with a roasting rack, then use it. The roasting rack allows air to circulate around the meat, and it keeps the bottom of the meat from cooking too quickly since it does not contact the bottom of the pan.

    The roasting rack is a worthwhile added touch. It is easy for the rub and marinade to take minutes to make, the rest of it is a waiting game. The aluminum makes cleanup quick and low on the hassle scale. Enjoy!

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Thanks Sam, sounds great!

  8. I split half a cow and I will try cooking it Souse Vide for 48hrs at 130 degrees. It doesn’t matter how tough it start out, Souse Vide cooking will tame it with the perfect even color throughout the entire thickness. Study Souse Vide, it changed the way our family cooks. I now have to cook all the proteins. Never did before but I love the results.

  9. Your post is the best that I have ever read. It is so thorough explanation of cuts of meat I have ever read. It has always been so confusing because different grocery stores name the same cut different names. So helpful to identify the tougher cuts of meat and how you can still make them into a good dish. Thank you so much

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