Craving a hearty and delicious meal but want something quick and easy to make in your air fryer basket? Look no further than this air fryer cube steak recipe! Cube steak is a great and budget-friendly cut of beef that turns out juicy, flavorful and tender when cooked properly.
Using an air fryer is the perfect way to get juicy, tender marinated cube steaks cooked in just minutes! This recipe is a great way to get food on the table fast!
Read on for the complete list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions on how to cook cube steak in the air fryer. For tender, juicy and flavorful steaks without the grease, this air fryer cube steak is sure to become a classic recipe in your home. Ditch the deep fryer and enjoy healthier fried steak bites from your air fryer anytime!
📋 Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- Healthy Meal: Uses less oil than pan frying for a lighter meal.
- Best Cube Steak Marinade: Marinade infuses tons of flavor and makes a delicious cube steak that is tender and juicy!
- Air Fryer Recipe: Hot air circulates evenly to cook steak right and gives a crispy exterior with juicy interior!
- Quick Cook Time: The cube steaks can be ready in under 30 minutes and only takes about 10 minutes to air fry.
- Meal-Prep Ready: You can marinate the cube steaks for up to 12 hours before air frying them, making them a great meal prep option!
🥩 What is Cube Steak?
Cube steak is a tenderized cut of beef that comes from the tops of the steaks of top sirloin. This is a tougher cut of meat, so this cut of steak needs to be tenderized before use. It is made by running tougher cuts of meat through a mechanical tenderizer. This results in thin steaks that have square shapes indented in the meat, hence the name!
Cube steak is an inexpensive, versatile Southern staple often used for chicken fried steak, the classic Southern dish. The prickly texture helps the thin steaks soak up marinades quickly for full flavor. Cube steak has long been a budget-friendly family favorite.
While the tenderizing process makes naturally tougher cuts of beef more palatable, cube steak is best when marinated and cooked properly to prevent it from becoming overly dry. This air fryer method keeps the meat juicy and infused with flavor. Cube steak is an easy and tasty cut that’s great for getting dinner on the table fast.
To make cube steak in the air fryer, here's what you'll need:
- Olive oil: This is an all-purpose cooking oil that adds moisture and allows the seasoning to coat the meat.
- Red wine vinegar: The vinegar provides a tangy flavor and tenderizes the steak.
- Worcestershire Sauce: This adds savory umami flavor and seasoning to the cube steak.
- Dijon mustard: Mustard helps the seasoning adhere to the meat and adds zing.
- Garlic powder: Garlic powder seasons the steak and gives it aromatic flavor.
- Onion powder: Onion powder provides a savory, subtle onion flavor.
- Kosher salt: Salt seasons and enhances the overall flavor.
- Black pepper: Freshly cracked pepper gives the steak a little spicy kick.
- Cube steak: Cube steak is a tenderized cut from the top sirloin perfect for the air fryer.
See the recipe card for quantities.
✔️ Ingredient Substitutions
- Cube Steak: Feel free to use any cut of steak for this recipe, they will all work great! Air fry thicker steaks for a couple minutes more!
- Olive Oil: Use avocado, vegetable or canola oil instead.
- Vinegar: Substitute balsamic, white wine vinegar or lemon juice.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Replace with steak sauce, soy sauce or more Dijon mustard.
- Soy Sauce: Adds some depth to the flavor of the steaks and a bit of saltiness too.
- Dijon Mustard: Yellow mustard or whole grain mustard also work.
- Garlic Powder: Use fresh minced garlic or garlic salt.
- Onion Powder: Sub with dried minced onion flakes.
- Salt: Swap in garlic salt or seasoning salt.
- Pepper: Use lemon pepper or an all-purpose seasoning blend instead.
📖 How to Make Cube Steak in Air Fryer
Cooking cube steak in the air fryer is an easy way to prepare this flavorful cut of meat. Here are step-by-step instructions:
Step 1: Make the Marinade
In a shallow bowl, mix together all of the marinade ingredients including the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
Step 2: Add Steak and Marinate
Place the cube steaks in a large plastic Ziploc bag. Pour in the marinade and seal the bag while gently pressing out excess air. Massage the marinade into the steaks through the bag.
Step 3: Preheat the Air Fryer
Refrigerate the bagged steaks for 1-12 hours, allowing the meat to soak up all of the delicious flavors. Then, take the air fryer basket and preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F for around 5 minutes or use your preheat function. This high temperature is hot enough to cook and brown the cube steak properly.
Step 5: Rest and Slice
After air frying, transfer the cooked cube steaks to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. The cooking process continues while the meat rests, making it even more tender. The resting time also allows the juices to re-distribute through the meat for a juicy steak.
Step 4: Add Steak to Air Fryer
Remove the cube steaks from the marinade bag, letting any excess liquid drip off. Place cube steaks in a single layer in the preheated air fryer basket. Air fry the steaks for 4-6 minutes per side, flipping halfway through. Increase cook time for well-done steaks or reduce for rare cube steaks.
Step 6: Serve and Enjoy!
Slice the cube steak against the grain into bites or serve whole. Enjoy immediately with your favorite side dishes.
Hint: Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the steak is 145 degrees F. This ensures they are cooked through without getting overdone and tough.
Customize this recipe to suit your tastes by mixing up the flavors:
- Use fajita seasoning, taco seasoning, Italian dressing or ranch dressing packets for the marinade.
- Add crushed red pepper, diced jalapenos, sriracha or hot sauce to make it spicy.
- Use sliced chicken breasts, pork chops or stew meat instead of cube steak.
- Coat in a flour mixture, an egg mixture or egg wash and breadcrumbs before air frying for breaded steak.
- Skip the marinade and rub with brown sugar, smoked paprika and chili powder.
- Brush with barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce or honey mustard after cooking.
- Top with melted pepperjack cheese, blue cheese crumbles or Parmesan before serving.
- Rice: White rice or seasoned rice blends.
- Potatoes: Mashed, baked, fried, or roasted potatoes are all great side dishes for this flavorful main meal.
- Vegetables: Sauteed green beans, roasted brussels sprouts, or asparagus.
- Gravy: Chicken gravy, brown gravy, sawmill gravy, or mushroom gravy. A starch, vegetable and gravy turn simple air fried cube steak into a hearty and satisfying meal the whole family will love.
- Bread: Served with dinner rolls, biscuits, or thick sliced garlic bread, these are great ways to make this meal more filling.
Air Fryer: This air fryer cube steak has been tested using two air fryer models:
- Instant Vortex Plus 6-Quart Air Fryer Oven. This air fryer has a useful viewing window that allows you to monitor the food as it cooks. This model always cooks food a bit quicker than my Cosori model, so reduce the cooking time as needed.
- Cosori Max XL Large Cooker. It has a capacity of 5.8 quarts which is quite large. The basket is smaller than my Instant Pot model but has very good hot air circulation.
Whatever air fryer model you have, test the heat with an oven thermometer to see if your air fryer runs hotter or cooler than others. All air fryers are different so results will vary!
🍶 Storage and Reheating
In the Refrigerator: Properly stored, leftover air fried cube steak will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Allow the steaks to cool to room temperature. Place cooked steaks in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Reheating Leftovers: To reheat leftover air fryer cube steak, place the refrigerated steaks in a skillet or back in the air fryer. Cook over medium heat or at 300 degrees F until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes per side. This prevents overcooking the already cooked meat.
Cooking time is 4-6 minutes per side for less than 1-inch thick steaks. Use a meat thermometer to confirm 145 degree F internal temperature.
Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F and cook the cube steak at this temperature for even browning and thorough cooking.
Yes, cube steak cooks beautifully straight from raw in the air fryer. Just be sure to cook to the proper internal temperature for doneness.
Breading is optional. This recipe marinates for flavor instead of breading the cube steaks. For breaded cube steak, coat with flour, egg, then breadcrumbs before air frying.
Cube steak pairs well with rice, roast or baked potatoes, french fries or sautéed vegetables like green beans and peas. A peppery white gravy is also delicious on top.
👨🏻🍳 Top tips
- Use a meat mallet or tenderizer to gently pound the steaks. This helps break down the muscle fibers so the meat cooks up tender.
- Flip the steaks halfway during cooking to ensure even browning on both sides of the steak.
- Resist the urge to continually flip and move the steaks. Let them cook undisturbed for best results.
- Brush mustard, steak sauce or melted garlic butter on the steaks when they come out for extra flavor.
- You don't need to spray your air fryer with non-stick cooking spray for this recipe.
- Let the steaks rest before slicing to retain juices. Don't skip this important step.
- For safety, use a meat thermometer to confirm doneness. Air fry to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
- Work in batches to avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. Overcrowding leads to uneven cooking.
📒 Recipe Card
Air Fryer Cube Steak Recipe
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1-1.5 pounds cube steak 4 evenly sized pieces
- Mix together the marinade ingredients and add to a large plastic Ziploc bag.
- Add the steaks to the bag, press out the air, seal the zipper, and massage the marinade around the steaks gently. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F (200℃) for 5 minutes.
- Remove the cube steaks from the marinade, allowing excess liquid to drip off the meat. Place the steaks in a single layer in the basket, working in batches as needed. There's no need to spray with non-stick spray.
- Air fry for 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, or until the steaks have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Be sure not to overcook as the steak will get tough. Increase the cook time for well-done steaks and reduce for more rare cube steaks.
- Rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Pound steaks with a meat mallet before cooking to tenderize even more.
- Pat steaks dry and rub seasoning in thoroughly.
- Flip steaks once halfway through cooking for even browning.
- Cook in batches to prevent overcrowding.
- Let steaks rest for 5 minutes after cooking before slicing to retain juices.
- Brush with sauce, mustard, or garlic butter for extra flavor.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure 145°F internal temperature.
- Adjust cook time based on thickness as needed.
- Please add more seasoning after cooking if you'd like.
- Serve immediately for a hot, juicy steak.
This recipe was tested with these air fryers: