Are you looking for a lean, flavorful, and affordable steak to prepare for a family or friend gathering? Top round steak may be the perfect choice for the protein component of your festive meal. We will explain everything you need to know about this cut and also put together a guide on how to cook top round steak with step-by-step instructions.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Round Steak?
- 2 What is Top Round Steak and Where is it Located?
- 3 Cooking Methods
- 4 How to Broil Top Round Steak
- 5 How to Grill Top Round Steak
- 6 How to Cook the Perfect Pan Seared Top Round Steak
- 7 How to Braise Top Round Steak
- 8 Top Round Steak Cooking Times & Temperatures
- 9 Tips and Recipe Variations
- 10 FAQs
- 10.1 How Long Does Top Round Steak Last?
- 10.2 What are the Best Pairings for Round Steak?
- 10.3 Is the Round Steak the Same as Top Round Steak?
- 10.4 Is Round Steak the Same as London Broil?
- 10.5 How Long Does it Take to Cook Top Round Steak?
- 10.6 Is Top Round Steak Tender or Tough?
- 10.7 Is Top Round Steak Expensive?
- 11 Recap and Summary
What is Round Steak?
Round steak is the cut of beef from the rear portion of the cow, also known as Beef Round primal cut. This beef primal is more lean and tough when compared to other sections as it is near the back legs, and the muscles are exercised frequently. (Wiki Source)
The whole beef round primal is divided into four smaller cuts of meat, which are sold as steaks or roasts.
Usually, the round primal is divided into Top Round, Bottom, Round, Eye of Round, and the Sirloin Tip. The round steaks may come from several places on the Round, but today, we will get a better look on the top round steak cut.
What is Top Round Steak and Where is it Located?
Top round steak is the meat cut coming from the round primal. It is given the name ‘Top’ because it is anatomically located above the Bottom Round and the Eye of Round in the Round Primal.
Thanks to the round primal location near the cow’s back legs, the muscles are used for a lot of movement, making all the cuts from this section leaner and less tender than other sections.
Usually, the top round steak is relatively inexpensive, it is often sold as steaks, roasts or ground beef, and if you cook it properly, you can get great results.
Things to Have in Mind
The top round steak is recommended to be cooked using a grill, broiling, stir-frying or cooking on a skillet. If you use any other cooking method, you will not get the best results.
Since it is a lean cut and lacks fat layers, it can easily dry out if it is not cooked properly. It is also considered a moderately tough cut of meat, so proper cooking is essential to achieve the best results.
We recommend seasoning the steak very well before cooking it. The seasonings mixture is not complicated and utilizes ingredients that you most likely already have in your pantry and fridge. Feel free to add ingredients to the recipe, such as fresh herbs.
After the steak has been seasoned and has come to room temperature, it can be broiled or grilled. The recipe described here includes instructions for broiling so that you can make top round steak any time of the year. Once the meat has rested it can be sliced and served with a big bowl of creamy mashed potatoes and a large green salad to complete the meal.
Now, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of cooking top round steak.
How to Broil Top Round Steak
This recipe is very easy and does not require too many ingredients. As mentioned above, you can add ingredients to the seasoning rub. We sometimes add chopped fresh parsley, dried oregano, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and even a shot of red wine or whiskey.
Easy Broiled & Seasoning Recipe
Tools and Equipment Needed
Ingredients (For 6 Servings)
How to Season Top Round Steak
Take the steak out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking it. It will cook more evenly when at room temperature. Place it directly on the broiler pan rack to rest.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spoon half of the mixture over the steak and rub it into the meat with your hands. Flip the steak over and repeat on the other side. Set this aside while you preheat the broiler. (You can use a brush if you aren’t keen on getting your hands messy).
How to Cook Top Round Steak in Oven
Step 1 - Position the top rack of the oven so that the surface of the steak will be approximately four inches from the heating element. Take into account the depth of the pan and the steak. Preheat the broiler for at least 5 minutes and up to 10 minutes.
Step 2 - Place the pan with the room temperature and seasoned steak on it in the oven. Keep the door open just a crack to discourage smoke from building up inside the oven. Broil the steak for 10 minutes.
Step 3 - Remove the pan from the oven and flip the steak over. Return the pan to the oven and broil for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. At 10 minutes, check the temperature in the center of the meat. You are looking for an internal temperature of approximately 130°F for medium-rare and 150°F for medium-well. Continue to broil until you achieve the desired temperature. Keep in mind that the meat will continue to cook to an additional 5°F while it is resting before slicing.
Step 4 - Remove the cooked steak to a clean cutting board and cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest for approximately 7 minutes so that the juices get reabsorbed.
Step 5 - Slice the steak against the grain into 1/4” thick slices. This step is important so that the steak is not chewy. Serve with your favorite side dishes.
Broiling Cooking Tips
- For medium-rare doneness (145°F), broil for about 26-28 minutes for a 1 ½ inch steak.
- For medium doneness (160°F), broil for about 28-30 Minutes.
- If you don’t have a broiler pan with racks, you can achieve the same results by flipping the steak halfway through cooking.
How to Grill Top Round Steak
When it comes to grilling a top round steak, the steps are very similar to the broiling method.
Step 1 - Preparing the Steak for Grilling
Take the steak out of the refrigerator and leave it in the room temperature for about 30-45 minutes. Even though you can still grill a frozen steak, you will get better results when thawed.
Step 2 - Grilling a Top Round Steak
As for seasoning, just like in broiling method, for a 3 pound top round steak, I use 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tsp of kosher salt and 1 tsp of ground black pepper.
Mix all the ingredients together and make sure to rub them across the meat surface, on both sides.
After seasoning, it is time to grill the steak. Heat your charcoal or gas grill to medium-high and put the steak for 6 minutes per side. For better results, make sure only to flip the steak once.
You should remove the steak when the internal temperature reaches 145°F for a medium doneness level. Anything longer than that will ruin the meat.
Step 3 - Let it Rest
Once it is done grilling and has reached the 145° internal temperature, let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to settle and make meat more tender.
When it’s time to serve it, I suggest you slice the meat against the grain, into thin strips.
How to Cook the Perfect Pan Seared Top Round Steak
For you to properly cook a pan-seared top round steak, you first have to prepare it by leaving to the room temperature for 30 minutes and then drying it using a paper towel on both sides.
Removing the moisture is very important when searing the meat because it will sear rather than steam when putting on the heat. Also, make sure that your pan doesn’t contain any water either.
Preparing the Meat
Before cooking the meat, put a thin layer of salt on both sides. Salt will help the meat create a crust when heated. I recommend you to use Kosher salt over regular table salt because the larger grains will create a more even crust.
If you want to tenderize the meat a little bit, leave it with salt for a few minutes before cooking.
- Also Read: How to Tenderize Steak with Salt
Meanwhile, you can put a skillet on the stovetop and add a little cooking oil. Make sure to put the stovetop to high heat.
As for cooking oil, I recommend you to use oils with a high smoke point, such as coconut oil, butter, or vegetable oil. These types will work great when searing meats.
Pan Searing the Steak
Once the skillet is heated, add the meat, and you should hear it searing. For medium-rare doneness, which is the recommended level for this cut, will take around 6 minutes, 3 minutes for each side.
If you want, you can stay over the stovetop and flip the steak often. This will result in a more even color and faster cooking time.
Basting the Meat
For more flavor, you can choose to baste the meat at this point. Basting involves spooning hot liquid over the meat.
To do this, first, add butter halfway through cooking to ensure it doesn’t burn and after the butter is melted, baste the steak with it.
You can choose to baste each time you flip the meat for more added flavor, less cooking time and more brown crust.
For added flavor and to infuse the cooking fat, you can add garlic, rosemary or thyme to the melted butter and then baste the meat.
After the meat reaches 135°F internal temperature, it is safe to remove from the heat. This temperature point is for a medium-rare doneness level. If you prefer a more cooked steak, leave it for a few more minutes.
As for most steaks, when served, top round cut is recommended to be sliced against the grain to keep the juices and tenderness.
How to Braise Top Round Steak
Basting meat is a very common cooking method which is mostly used for lean and not very tender steaks. The slow cooking process in liquids allows the meat to break down more, making it more tender and prevent from drying out.
Top Round Steak Braising Recipe Instructions
Ingredients (For 4 Servings)
Top Round Steak Cooking Times & Temperatures
The best way to cook this cut to perfection is by using a meat thermometer. After 4 minutes of cooking, use the thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat. The recommended internal temperature is around 130-135°F for medium-rare doneness. I suggest you remove the meat at this temperature point as it will continue to rise with around 5°F while it rests.
After you remove the meat from the heat, let it rest for a total of 10-15 minutes before slicing.
When serving, make sure to slice it thinly against the grain as it will break down the muscle fibers and result in more tender bites.
Tips and Recipe Variations
- You can marinate the steak to impart more moisture and flavor. This is especially useful when grilling top round. Here’s an easy marinade recipe: 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Marinate the steak in a sealed plastic bag for 2 to 4 hours.
- If the weather is really nice, you can grill a marinated top round steak. Heat your charcoal or gas grill to medium-high and grill the marinated steak for 6 minutes per side. Check the internal temperature. 145°F will be perfect.
- This particular cut of beef lends itself well to a finishing sauce. One of our favorites is a horseradish cream sauce. Another delicious sauce for top round steak is a teriyaki glaze that you can purchase already prepared.
- Have leftovers? Cooked steak is excellent for making quick and easy meals the next day. It can be sliced and used in a vegetable and rice stir fry, added to a salad, made into Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, or incorporated into a beef stroganoff or goulash served over egg noodles.
How Long Does Top Round Steak Last?
For the best results, refrigerate the meat to keep it below 40°F and cook/freeze it within 3-5 days of purchase.
Also, don’t leave the meat at the room temperature for more than 2 hours since several bacteries start developing on longer time frames.
- Also Read: How to Spot Spoiled Meat
What are the Best Pairings for Round Steak?
A perfectly cooked round steak goes well with a simple side dish. Anything with overly flavor doesn’t go well with this steak since it is already full of flavor.
A green vegetable like asparagus or broccoli is a popular choice to pair this steak. Just grill, roast or broil the vegetables and finish with a little lemon juice and zest.
Another option would be potatoes, which are very common for a lot of people. You can serve them mashed, diced or roasted.
Is the Round Steak the Same as Top Round Steak?
The top round steak is actually part of the round beef primal of the cow. So, the top round is only a small section of the whole round beef primal where different steak cuts are located, included top round.
Is Round Steak the Same as London Broil?
Actually, London broil is technically a method of grilling and slicing the meat rather than a specific cut. However, due to usage of this popular name from butchers and supermarkets for flank steak, top round or top blade steak, people are confused if they are the same thing.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Top Round Steak?
It depends on your preference, but the recommended doneness level for top round steak is a medium-rare at 135°F internal temperature. You can use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature and know exactly when to remove it from heat.
When using a grill, to reach the recommended internal temperature of 130-135°, it will take 3-4 minutes per side or around 6-8 minutes in total.
Is Top Round Steak Tender or Tough?
Since this cut of steak comes from the hindquarters, where the muscles and the meat gets a lot of exercises, it can be quite lean, tough and chewy piece.
However, if you cook it properly and follow the instructions to make it more tender and flavorful, you can have great results with this cut.
Is Top Round Steak Expensive?
Steaks coming from the round primal of beef are usually inexpensive cuts since they are leaner and lack the tenderness levels of the higher-end cuts. But, when cooked properly, you can still enjoy very flavorful and tender steak without spending a lot of money.
Recap and Summary
Top round steak is definitely a tasty and budget-friendly cut of beef that can please a tableful of family and friends. Allow the meat to be the star of the meal by serving simple side dishes with it. As mentioned above, mashed potatoes and a green salad are perfect pairings.
Some other sides might be a cheesy polenta, cauliflower purée, rice pilaf, sautéed green beans with almond slivers, steamed broccoli with garlic and soy sauce, or Brussels sprouts with bacon. Top round steak is often served with a full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.
Finish the meal off with bowls of vanilla ice cream topped with butterscotch or chocolate sauce.
Now that you know how to cook top round steak, you might be likely to prepare this meal all year round any time you need to serve a small group of friends and family. The recipe is easy, and the results are amazing.