The eye of round steak is a lean and tough steak that's very affordable.
Because it's a tough cut of meat, you need to know how to cook eye of round steak the right way.
If you cook it right, eye of round steak can be a tender, juicy, and flavorful cut of steak.
What Is Eye Of Round Steak?
The eye of round steak is a lean, boneless cut from the rear of a cow—from the round muscle that gets very a lot of movement, which is why its lean and tough.
Why does more movement result in a tougher cut of meat?
The answer lies in the composition of the muscles. Muscles that are frequently used develop more connective tissue. This tissue is made up of collagen, which is a protein that gives structure and strength to the muscle fibers. The presence of this collagen makes the meat tougher.
On the other hand, muscles that do less work, like those found in the rib or loin area, have less connective tissue, making these cuts more tender.
So when we cook a cut of meat like the eye of round steak, we need to use techniques like marinating and slow cooking which help to break down these tough collagen fibers and result in a more tender and flavorful steak.
The good news?
The eye of round steak is cheap. My local ALDI's has choice-grade eye of round for just $5.59 per pound:
Compare that to a ribeye which usually sells for around $22 per pound, and you can really see the value that eye of round provides.
Now, it's a lean cut, which means it has a lot less marbling than a ribeye or New York Strip.
Marbling is the white pieces of intramuscular fat that runs through the steak. When you cook your steak, this fat melts, which gives your steak lots of flavor, and helps to keep it juicy.
Because the eye of round steak doesn't have much marbling, it can get really dry if you overcook it.
The question is: how can we cook eye of round steak to actually make it taste good?
Preparing Eye Of Round Steak
How you prepare your eye of round steak is just as important as how you coo it. Hear me out.
Selecting Your Meat
Begin by selecting a good cut. Look for an eye of round steak that has a bright, cherry-red color. This is a good indication of the meat's freshness.
Marinade and Tenderizing
Next, and this might be the most important part of the preparation, is the marinade.
Marinating the eye of round steak will help tenderize it. The acid in our marinade will help break down the eye of round steak's tough muscle fibers. This helps prevent a tough and chewy steak.
The marinade will also help with flavor of the steak, as it seeps into the meat.
Here's a simple marinade for eye of round steak:
- Soy sauce
- Balsamic vinegar (acid to break down the tough tissues)
- Olive oil (to help the meat lock in moisture)
- Honey (to counterbalance the vinegar)
- Crushed garlic
Marinate the eye of round steak for at least two hours, or overnight if you have enough time.
You can use a meat tenderizer.
This tool allows you to physically break down the tough muscle fibers in the steak, making it more tender.
You can also score the meat. This involves making shallow cuts on the surface of the steak in a criss-cross pattern. Not only does this help tenderize the meat, but it also allows the marinade to penetrate deeper into the steak, infusing it with more flavor.
When you're ready to cook, remove the steak from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. And pat it dry with a paper towel so you get a nice crust when you're grilling on pan-frying.
Then, add a little seasoning for more flavor and to help form the crust. Check out my homemade steak seasoning recipe to try with your eye round steak.
4 Ways To Cook Eye Of Round Steak
So, what's the best way to cook eye of round steak?
1. Pan Frying
If you want a quick, seared steak, then pan frying your eye of round is a good option. It's also really easy.
To start, add a small amount of oil to a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Use an oil with a high smoke point. Canola oil, avocado oil, or refined olive oil all work. To know when the pan is hot enough, wait until the oil starts to shimmer, which indicates it's ready for the steak.
With the pan heated up, place your steak in and sear it until a brown crust is formed, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare.
This method works well if you want your steak done quickly.
2. Oven-Bake (Reverse Sear)
One of the best ways to cook any steak, including the eye of round, is by reverse-searing it.
This involves cooking the steak in your oven at 275°F, until it hits an internal temperature of 10-15°F below your ideal temperature. Use a flat, oven-safe pan or a wire rack placed on a baking sheet. This will allow heat to circulate around the steak, cooking it evenly.
Be sure to use a meat thermometer to get the most accurate reading of the steak's internal temperature.
Then, finish the eye of round steak on your grill, or in a hot skillet, on both sides to get that beautiful crust.
The classic way of making any steak is on the grill, and you can certainly do the same thing with the eye of round steak.
Heat up your grill to medium-high heat, and cook on both sides for about 5-7 minutes each, or until the steak hits your ideal internal temperature.
You just want to be really careful not to overcook the steak on the grill.
You know I'm a huge fan of smoking steak, and you can certainly smoke a eye of round steak as well. Hickory and mesquite flavored pellets are a great choice.
Toss it on your smoker on 225F and let it cook undisturbed until it hits a juicy medium-rare.
Serving & Enjoying Your Eye Of Round Steak
Resting & Slicing
Be sure to rest your steak for 5-10 minutes after its finished cooking. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the entire steak and helps make sure that every bite is nice and tender.
Next, it's time to slice.
Since eye of round is a tough piece of steak, you need to slice it against the grain, and slice it thin. This means cutting it perpendicular to the long muscle fibers in the meat.
If you like wine, then a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon goes really nicely with the robust flavors of the steak.
Frequently Asked Questions
The eye of round steak is a good cut of meat. It has a lean texture and a rich, beefy flavor. While it's not as tender ribeye or filet mignon, it's more affordable and offering great value for money. With the right preparation and cooking techniques, an eye of round steak can taste really good.
The best way to cook an eye of round steak is the reverse-sear method, or low-and-slow. Cooking it in your smoker low-and-slow helps to tenderize the meat. Never cook eye of round steak past medium rare because it will be very tough at higher internal temperatures.
Yes. Eye of round steak is leaner and less marbled than other steak cuts, which makes it tougher. The eye of round comes from the hindquarters of the cow, a muscle that gets a lot of exercises, so it's less tender than cuts from less worked muscles.