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.
What is Top Round steak exactly? Well, simply put, it is a cut that lacks tenderness and any real marbling. But this is what we usually shout about as the characteristics of a great steak, right?
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…
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 What is Top Round Steak?
- 2 Where Does Top Round Steak Come from on the Cow?
- 3 Other Names for the Top Round Steak
- 4 Flavor, Texture, Fat Content, and Tenderness
- 5 Typical Uses
- 6 Top Round Steak Nutrition
- 7 Buying Top Round Steak
- 8 Top Round Steak Price
- 9 Portion Size: How Much Top Round Steak Per Person?
- 10 How to Prepare Top Round Steak for Grilling or Smoking
- 11 How to Cook Top Round Steak on a Grill
- 12 Three Best Top Round Steak Recipes from Around the Web
- 13 Conclusion
What is Top Round Steak?
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.
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.
Where Does Top Round Steak Come from on the Cow?
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
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. Otherwise, it will become very chewy.
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
|Nutrition||Total Amount||% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
|Saturated Fat||1.3 g||8%|
Buying Top Round Steak
This 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:
Top Round Steak Price
Despite its great flavor and versatility, this 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?
Weighing in on average at 12 oz. the Top Round steak 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.
A guide to the eye round steak
How to Prepare Top Round Steak for Grilling or Smoking
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
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:
- Remove your steaks from the refrigerator and remove from the marinade sauce you have them in. Allow them to reach room temperature, approximately 30 minutes.
- 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.
- Preheat your grill to high heat, 450f or above.
- Place the steaks onto the hot grill and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, turning once only. You are looking for an end temperature of 135f for medium-rare or 145f for medium. So remove them when 5–10 °F lower, because they will continue to cook once removed.
- Remove steaks, tent with foil for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing across the grain.
- 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.
Three Best Top Round Steak Recipes from Around the Web
Now that you are suitability educated on the versatility of this steak, here are a few recipes for you to try. They will prove just how much you can do with this value cut of meat:
The Seasoned Mum Dump-n-Bake Round Steak
This is a super simple, low-n-slow recipe for an easy weeknight meal for the whole family. The key ingredient is the onion soup mix seasoning. It saves you plenty of time in preparation of herbs and seasonings for the meat. Full recipe and instructions can be found here: Dump-n-bake round steak recipe.
Taste of Home Round Steak Stroganoff
This recipe showcases the kind of recipe that the round steak shines in. Slow-cooked with plenty of liquid to soak up and make the meat melt in your mouth, it is a great tasting family meal. Check the method here: Round steak stroganoff recipe.
The Gardening Cook Round Steak with Lime
We had to include a grilled steak recipe to finish off. This one is a little different as it uses lime and brown sugar to marinade and flavor the steak. The zingyness is something else and really compliments this steak. Get the simple mix of ingredients here: Round steak with lime recipe.
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.
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.
Thank you! It’s always nice to hear a bit of positive encouragement 🙂
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.
I tried taking top round steak and making breaded and fried but came out chewy, do you have any ideas
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?
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..
I have a crockpot recipe for beef and broccoli. Would a top round steak work if I cut it up?
I don’t use a crockpot myself…what is the recipe please? is it like a stew? Braised?
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 ~
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.
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!
Thanks Sam, sounds great!
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.