Swiss Steak

updated May 11, 2022
Swiss Steak Recipe

Sliced beef braised in a savory tomato and onion gravy.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook2 hours

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swiss steak, served on a plate with mashed potatoes
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Micah Morton; Prop Styling: Gerri Williams

Has grocery-store sticker-shock got you down? Me too! That’s why I’m even more motivated to find ways to cut my food budget without sacrificing flavor. A quick look around the meat department and it’s clear that tougher cuts of beef are significantly easier on the wallet. That’s OK with me because I know that it takes just a can of tomatoes, a few onions, beef broth, and time to turn a beefy roast into tender swiss steak. Here’s how to make this budget-friendly homestyle supper.

What Is the Difference Between Salisbury Steak and Swiss Steak?

  • Swiss steak is made from an actual piece of steak, usually cut from the bottom, top, or eye of round. These tough steaks are pounded thin, tenderized (via a textured mallet or swissing machine), and braised until fork-tender in a rich tomato and onion gravy.
  • Salisbury steak is made by combining ground beef with onions and seasonings and forming the mixture into a patty. Because it may also contain breadcrumbs and eggs, think of Salisbury steak as somewhere between a meatloaf and a hamburger. Salisbury steak patties are broiled or fried and served with a beef broth-based brown gravy.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Micah Morton; Prop Styling: Gerri Williams

Why Do They Call It Swiss Steak?

Swiss steak actually refers to the method of tenderizing a tough cut of meat, swissing, rather than the Alpine European country. A swissing machine pounds and tenderizes slices of meat, leaving cube-shaped indentations in the steaks.

How to Tenderize Meat for Swiss Steak

When swiss steak is on the menu, I like to buy a 2-pound roast to slice and tenderize at home. Buying the beef this way lets me to choose the best-looking roast available. At home, slice the roast into 3/4-inch steaks, then use the textured end of a meat mallet to tenderize and pound the steaks to 1/2-inch thickness. (If you don’t have a meat mallet, we have a few others ways to get the job done.) Once the steaks are the proper thickness, poke the meat all over with a skewer or fork. Looking for a shortcut? Grocery stores also sell packages of raw swiss steaks in the beef case. They are usually labeled, but you can also spot swiss steaks by the signature cube-shaped indentions from the swissing maching.

What Should I Serve with Swiss Steak?

Swiss steaks are served with the savory tomato gravy the meat cooks in. Serve swiss steak with mashed potatoes, buttery baked rice, or crusty bread so you can sop up every last drop.

Swiss Steak Recipe

Sliced beef braised in a savory tomato and onion gravy.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 2 hours

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    medium yellow onions

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 2 pounds

    bottom, top, or eye of round roast (about 1 1/2-inches-thick)

  • 3 tablespoons

    canola or vegetable oil, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    Italian seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup

    beef broth

  • Serving options: crusty bread, steamed white rice, or mashed potatoes, chopped fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

  1. Halve and slice 2 medium yellow onions about 1/4-inch thick. Smash 2 peeled garlic cloves. Place 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper in a shallow dish or pie plate and stir to combine.

  2. Trim any thick pieces of fat from 2 pounds bottom, top, or eye of round roast. Cut crosswise into 3/4-inch thick steaks. Pat dry with paper towels. Pound the steaks one at a time: Pound both sides evenly with the textured side of a meat mallet until 1/2-inch thick. Dredge the steaks in the flour, shaking off any excess flour.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola or vegetable oil in a 12-inch high sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add half the steaks and sear until browned and releases easily from the pan, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and repeat searing the remaining steaks.

  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until golden brown and tender, scraping the bottom of the pan to release some of the browned bits, about 4 minutes.

  5. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and stir to combine. Add 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes and 1 cup beef broth, and stir to combine, scraping up any remaining browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

  6. Return the steaks and any accumulated juices on the plate to the pan, nestling the steaks into the tomato and onion mixture. Use tongs to pile some of the onions on top of the steak. Bring to a simmer.

  7. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the steaks are very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper if desired. Transfer the steaks to a clean cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch slices if desired. Serve the steaks with steamed white rice or mashed potatoes, topped with the gravy and chopped fresh parsley leaves, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Swiss steak can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months.