What Is Eye of Round Steak? (4 Cooking Techniques & Tips)

Gabriel Woods
Published by Gabriel Woods
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

Nothing has my mouth drooling as a thick juicy eye of round steak cut baked with garlic butter and a rich veggie salad on the side.

As a steak lover, I must admit it can be a little daunting to cook this lean, tough cut of steak perfectly to achieve the right flavor notes and tenderness.

After weeks of researching and consulting a butcher friend, I've understood everything about the eye of round steak cut.

In this article, I’ll share my insight on what the eye of round is and how to tenderize and cook it properly.

Quick Summary

  • The eye of round steak is a tough cut derived from the hind legs of a cow.
  • Baking, braising, and air frying are some of the ways to cook the eye of round beef.
  • The best way to tenderize the eye of round steak is by pounding it or marinating it in an acidic solution.

What is Eye of Round Steak?

Eye of round steak on a white background

The eye of round steak is a lean cut of meat derived from the rear leg of a cow, particularly the round region.

Because it comes from a working part of the animal (the hind leg and buttocks), this cut is more muscular and chewier than other steaks.

Because it is inherently tougher than a tenderloin steak or filet mignon, the eye of round beef isn't a great candidate for grilling and is frequently served as a roast.

Doing this keeps the meat intact and allows the outside edges to crisp up while keeping the internal round roast soft.

Eye of round goes by other names such as:

  • Round steak
  • Beef round eye
  • Breakfast steak
  • Beef round
  • Sandwich steak
  • Beef round steak boneless
  • Wafer steak

When cooked poorly, the eye of round steak can become exceedingly tough and flavorless. However, if adequately marinated and cooked well, the steak is soft and juicy and pairs with a variety of sides.

Eye of Round Steak Nutritional Profile

A top view of eye of round steak on a black slate

Here's the nutritional breakdown of the eye of round steak based on a 3-ounce serving size [1].

  • Calories: A 3-ounce serving of cooked eye of round has 130g, equivalent to 7% of the daily recommended value.
  • Proteins: A slow-cooked eye of round beef offers 25g of proteins per 3-ounce serving. This equates to around 50% of recommended dietary value (DV). For this reason, the eye of round is an excellent meal for bodybuilders who want to bulk up faster.
  • Fats: The same serving size of this lean cut has 1.2 g of saturated fat, which is 8% of the DV.
  • Minerals: The eye of round steak has zinc, iron, and sodium in amounts of 3.7mg, 1.6mg, and 55mg, respectively, per a 3-ounce serving.

How To Tenderize Eye of Round Steak

Raw eye of round steak on a white plate ready to be tenderized

Because the eye of round is a tough cut of meat, tenderizing it properly may amp up its flavor and give it a wonderful texture. Here's how to do it correctly.

  • Pounding: Pounding tenderizes and softens tough meat, which makes it simpler to cut and chew. Cover the meat in wax paper and hammer it before cooking to pound the eye round without making a mess.
  • Salting: Salting aids in the breakdown of proteins, resulting in a more delicate steak texture. Instead of seasoning the meat right before cooking, sprinkle it liberally with salt about an hour before you begin. Afterward, rinse, pat dry, and start cooking your eye of round steak.
  • Use acidic marinade: For more tender results, use an acidic marinade. Acidic substances such as vinegar and citrus juice dissolve the lean muscle fibers on the surface of the beef eye of round [2].

4 Tips on How To Cook Eye of Round Steak

Because the eye of round primal steak is incredibly lean and tough, it is usually not grilled like a standard steak.

Let's look at the best ways to cook this cut to yield a tender and flavorful round steak recipe.

1. Baking

Baked eye of round steak on a wooden board

One of the most well-liked techniques to prepare the eye of round steak is by far baking it. To coat the steak's exterior, you only need some preferred herbs and a sizable baking or roasting pan.

You should first spray some vegetable oil on the steak's exterior to help the dry rub seasonings stick well to the roast.

After that, add whatever herb mixture you choose and finger-massage it well into the meat, ensuring all sides are evenly coated. Toss into the oven at 425 degrees for around 50 to 60 minutes.

My round primal roast always tastes better with fresh thyme, rosemary, pepper, onion powder, garlic, and kosher salt.

2. Braising

Using a minimal quantity of liquid, the technique of braising adds moisture to the meat while it cooks. 

I like to sear the round roast before braising it for a crisp exterior. After that, put it in a Dutch oven and add beef broth, or your favorite pan sauce, cover it, and simmer it in the oven.

I love this slow-cooking method because it's easy and versatile to introduce some character and color into the beef stew by adding veggies like carrots, peas, beans, and potatoes.

You can add these ingredients to the same pan and allow them to simmer over medium-high heat alongside the eye of round steak.

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3. Air Frying

A man using an air fryer to cook eye of round steak

I recommend the air frying method if you want to cook eye of round in 20 minutes or less. I love using an air fryer because it uses less oil than other cooking methods like pan frying and yields a tender steak.

When air frying your eye round steak, remember to cut it into thin slices for easier and even cooking. Also, season it beforehand with some olive oil and your preferred herbs and spices, such as oregano, smoked paprika, rock salt, and chili flakes.

Toss it in the fryer at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes for medium rare.

I always flip it halfway during the cooking cycle to get it crispy on all sides. Once done, let the beef eye steak rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. You can serve it with garlic, mashed potatoes, and red wine.

"Resting allows the muscle fibers on the meat to relax and reabsorb any moisture, and the eye of round steak will be tenderer."
- Thomas Godfrey, Australian Chef

4. Sous Vide

Another excellent technique to cook the eye of round beef cut is sous vide, which results in the most tender and delicious roast. 

This 4-hour low, slow sous vide procedure transforms the tough cut into a wonderful eye of round roast that's flawlessly juicy from edge to edge.

Sous vide employs a vacuum-sealed bag to lock in aromas and natural fluids as the meat cooks.

To avoid overcooking and drying out, you have to place the bag in temperature-controlled water. This approach allows the roast to cook evenly and fully without being affected by hot, dry air, as it would in an oven.

FAQs

Is the Eye of Round Steak Tender?

No, the eye of round steak is not tender because it's derived from a tough muscle area, and the meat is lean and less delicate.

What Are the Eye of Round Steaks Good For?

The eye of round steaks are good for dishes like stews, soups, or sandwiches.

How Long Does It Take the Eye of Round Steak To Cook?

It takes anywhere from 20 to 120 minutes to cook an eye of round steak, depending on your cooking method. Air frying takes 20 minutes while baking or braising can take 60-80 minutes.


References:

  1. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171762/nutrients
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/11/20/3251
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About the author

Gabriel Woods
Chef/Food Editor
Gabrielle Woods holds a BSc degree in Hospitality Management with a summa cum laude distinction from the University of Santo Tomas, majoring in Culinary Entrepreneurship. She helps clients achieve specific fitness goals through protein-based meal prepping. She believes cooking is both an art and a science best done with a balance of tradition and innovation.
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