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?
Top Round steak 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.
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)
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.
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, 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 – 10f lower as 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.
Three Best Top Round Steak Recipes from Around the Web
Now that you’re 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:
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:
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:
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.