Healthy Country-Fried Steak

Yes, you read that right. Less guilt, not fried, and you no longer have to go to Cracker Barrel to satisfy your craving for this classic, Southern comfort food (not that I would ever step food in CB).

Also known as chicken-fried steak (CFS) because it looks like fried chicken and similar to wiener schnitzel (pounded, breaded, fried), CFS is much cheaper because it uses such an inexpensive cut of meat – that otherwise you’d have no idea what else to make with it. That would be cube steak, typically pulverized round steak, a very tough cut of meat. Traditional CFS would be off-limits in our house:  it’s fried; it would make a huge mess to prepare (because it’s fried); it’s highly caloric, loaded with saturated fat and sodium; and white gravy is tasteless.

All that changed when I saw a recipe for lightened CFS in Cooking Light years ago. This version is pan-fried in a tiny bit of oil, the mushroom gravy is flavorful and earthy, a nice foil to the slight crunch of the CFS, and comes together quickly for an easy weeknight dinner. The recipe below reflects the changes I’ve made over the years. Since this is one of Craig’s all-time favorites, I gladly indulge him and make it nearly every year on his birthday.

Serving CFS with mashed potatoes is a must, and the corn in the photo is from one of the kazillion bags of the 12 dozen (locally grown) ears of corn that Craig grilled and we froze last summer. It's terrific, especially in the middle of the winter (or spring).
 Country-Fried Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Serves 4

3 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 4-ounce sirloin cubed steaks, preferably grass-fed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 cups mushrooms, quartered, preferably portabello or criminis
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, low-salt beef broth
A splash of sherry

Combine 3 tablespoons milk and egg whites in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/3 cup flour, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish. Working with 1 steak at a time, dip in egg mixture; dredge in flour mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining steaks, egg mixture, and flour mixture.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add steaks; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steaks from pan; keep warm.

Add onions to the pan; sauté until softened. Add garlic and cook one minute longer. Add mushrooms, sautéing an additional 3 minutes. Combine 2 1/2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and broth, stirring with a whisk. Add broth mixture and sherry to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 15 minute, stirring constantly, to thicken. Spoon over steaks.


  1. I haven't made CFS in ages! It can be a lovely dish, although massively unhealthy, as you note. The idea of mushroom gravy is really interesting, although my white gravy is always really tasty (because I pan-fry my CFS, then use the drippings for the gravy). Fun dish, and it looks like your lightened up version does indeed deliver full flavor.

    1. Craig would eat this every day, and he's "becoming" a mushroom guy, even though he certainly would prefer your white gravy. Thanks for taking a look.



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