Classic Swiss Steak

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If there ever was a dish that immediately brings back wonderful childhood memories of the holidays and visiting grandma and grandpa in Kansas, this would be it.

The process of braising (low-heat cooking in liquid) allows you to choose an inexpensive cut of beef, such as bottom round, and turn it into a fork-tender steak or roast.  And the robust tomato sauce is unbelievably delicious poured all over the top. Perfect for serving with Grandma’s Amazing Mashed Potatoes.


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Choosing the Right Steak

Two side by side white dinner plates filled mashed potatoes topped with a helping of Swiss steak.

There is no need to spend a lot of money when selecting a cut of beef for this dish.

Typically, Swiss steak is made with bottom round. Round steaks, or roasts, come from the hind leg of the cow, and therefore, because it’s high activity muscle, it’s going to be a tougher cut.

You can purchase a bottom round roast and slice ½-inch cutlets from it, or you can ask your butcher to cut you a ½ to 1-inch thick round roast. You can cut the roast into slices, or cook the roast whole.

EXPERT TIP: Top round is perfectly acceptable, too. In fact, it’s a little more tender than bottom round. You could also use a chuck roast or sirloin, too. We don’t recommend using thin round steak cutlets that have been tenderized. They will literally turn to mush during the braising process.

Searing the individual cuts (or 1-inch thick roast) before braising helps to create a slightly crispy exterior and locks in the flavor.

A large oval Dutch oven filled with 4 steaks that have been seared and browned in bacon grease.

How To Make

This is actually a very straightforward recipe with easy-to-find ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bottom round beef (cutlets or 1½-inch thick roast)
  • Salt and pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Bacon grease or vegetable oil
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Beef broth
  • Tomatoes
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried oregano
  • Bay leaves
  • Worcestershire sauce

After searing the beef in hot bacon grease or vegetable oil, you’ll need to remove it from the pot (preferably a large Dutch oven with a lid) and set it aside.

Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. This is called a mirepoix.

A large blue Dutch oven filled with a mirepoix of chopped onion, carrots, and celery with a wooden spoon in the middle of it all.

The sauce comes together very quickly. Stirring the tomato paste into the cooked vegetables helps to deepen the flavor profile.

All the other ingredients are now blended in.

Nestle the seared meat into the sauce and cover.

EXPERT TIP: If you are cooking individual steaks or cutlets, the cooking time is 90 minutes. If you are cooking it as one piece of meat, the cooking time will be about 2 hours and 15 minutes. The meat should be fork-tender once it’s ready.

A pair of tongs nestling a cube steak into a large blue Dutch oven filled with other steaks and a chunky tomato sauce.

Slow-Cooker Swiss Steak

Preparing this dish in your slow cooker is easy and so simple.

  1. Flour and season the steaks as indicated in this recipe.
  2. Sear the steaks in a skillet in the bacon grease.  Remove them, and then cook the onions, carrots, and celery for a few minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. 
  4. Add all ingredients to the slow-cooker, nestling the steaks into the liquid.
  5. Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.

Instant Pot Swiss Steak

Preparing the dish in your Instant Pot is a snap, too.

  1. Flour and season the steaks. Sear in the bacon grease on the SAUTÉ setting. Remove from the pot. 
  2. Cook the onions, carrots, celery, and then garlic on the SAUTÉ setting.  
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. 
  4. Add all of the ingredients back into the pot. 
  5. Pressure cook on HIGH for 20 minutes and then allow the steam to release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release.

A metal spatula holding up two steak fillets covered in a red tomato sauce directly over an oval Dutch oven filled with Swiss steak.

How To Serve

This dish is a spectacular weeknight meal, but it is also a wonderful dish to serve to guests.

Our Best Mashed Potatoes make the most amazing bed for the steak and that incredible sauce. Homemade Dinner Rolls round out the meal in pure comfort food fashion.

The dish is also really great served over Perfectly Steamed Rice. Anything that will soak up that amazing sauce is perfection!

EXPERT TIP: The steaks can be placed on a serving platter with about half of the sauce poured over the top. Or, if the meat has not been cut into individual servings, place the roast on the platter and cover it with sauce. Be sure to leave enough sauce to pass at the table. Your guests will love adding the sauce to their mound of potatoes and even more on the steak.

A person using a large silver spoon to pour Swiss steak sauce over two piece of meat sitting on a bed of mashed potatoes on a white dinner plate.

How To Store

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The entire dish can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw and reheat in the oven or on the stove until heated through.

MAKE AHEAD: The entire dish, up to just before going into the oven, can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Simply cover the pot and place it in the fridge. Allow the pot to sit out on the counter for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking. Or, add an additional 15 to 20 minutes of baking if no time to allow the dish to come to room temperature.

This dish is comfort food at its very best.

A white dinner plate filled with a bed of mashed potatoes with a helping of Swiss steak sitting on top of it.

There is truly something magical about this dish.

Every time we make it, those cherished memories of being with family members that we only see once a year during the holidays come rushing back.

The smell alone is something to behold. And then that first bite. Sense memory and tastebud elation overload!

A white dinner plate filled with mashed potatoes topped with a couple of Swiss steaks with a piece missing all next to a sliver fork.

Ready to make one of our favorite dishes from Grandma’s recipe box? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and #HowToFeedaLoon!

A person using a large silver spoon to pour Swiss steak sauce over two piece of meat sitting on a bed of mashed potatoes on a white dinner plate.

Swiss Steak

If there was ever a meal that was the definition of old-school comfort, it would be homemade Swiss steak. It's easy, inexpensive, and the payoff is incredible. Go with bottom round or even top round, and you'll be in great shape. Avoid the super-thin cutlets as they will disintegrate during the braising process.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy Swiss steak recipe, how to make Swiss steak, smothered steak recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 232kcal

Equipment

  • Large sturdy pot with lid (a Dutch oven works well).

Ingredients

  • 2 lb bottom round steak ½" to 1" thick, whole or cut into steaks
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp bacon grease or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup carrots chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 28 oz can tomatoes whole, drained
  • cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp thyme dried
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a large plate or platter. Dredge the meat in the flour, shaking off the excess.
  • Use a mallet, or any blunt object, to pound the flour into the meat and to thin the meat to about ¼ inch in thickness. Dredge in the flour once again, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat the bacon grease (or oil) in a large pot (with lid) over medium-high heat. Working in a couple of batches, add the prepared steaks to the pot. Cook until browned on the underside, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until both sides are nicely browned and slightly crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes total. Repeat with remaining steaks. Set aside.
  • Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Use your hands to squeeze the tomatoes into the mixture. Add the beef broth, thyme, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, 1½ tsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper.
  • Nestle the steaks into the liquid and press so they are submerged.
  • Cover the pot and place it in the oven. If you went with cutlets/steaks, roast for 1½ hours. If you opted for one whole piece of meat, then cook for about 2¼ hours, or until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Remove from oven and carefully transfer the steaks (or roast) to a platter and then pour about half of the sauce over the top. Serve the remaining sauce tableside. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Notes

Be sure to check out our 'How To Prepare Grandma's Swiss Steak Video' near the top of the blog post. And if you like the video, subscribe to our YouTube Channel
We often get a bottom round roast and slice ½-inch steaks to use for the recipe.  You can also ask your butcher to cut you a ½-inch to 1-inch roast that's about 2 to 3 lbs.    
The entire dish can be made up to 12 hours in advance, just up to placing the pot in the oven.  If chilled, let come to room temp before roasting, or add another 15 to 20 minutes to the total cook time. 
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 or 6 days.  The dish will freeze just fine for up to 2 months.  

Nutrition

Calories: 232kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 496mg | Potassium: 454mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5792IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 3mg
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