Each of the steak cuts in the round family — top round, bottom round, and eye of round — comes from the rear leg of the cow. As a result, they’re some of the leanest cuts of meat, and need to be prepared properly if you’re going to get the best taste and texture out of them.
In this guide, we’ll give you the full rundown on bottom round steak, from how to cook it to nutrition facts, recipes, and tips for where to buy and how to store it. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll have a clear picture of everything you need to know to get the most out of this lean and affordable cut of meat.
What Does Bottom Round Steak Taste Like?
As with all the cuts that come from the round, bottom round steak has very little fat. This means that it carries less of the distinctly “beefy” flavor associated with richer cuts like ribeyes and New York strips — thus the lower cost per pound.
This leanness also means that bottom round steak is more about the texture than the flavor. Because it’s such an economical cut of beef, you can really infuse a lot of flavor into it via marinades and wet cooking methods. By avoiding cooking with dry heat, you’ll also keep the steak from drying out and turning stringy and tough.
What Are the Best Ways to Cook Bottom Round Steak?
Think of cooking bottom round steak more like you would cook a chicken breast, and you’ll be headed in the right direction. Grilled or roasted on its own without preparation, this steak will instantly turn tough and unpleasant – same with too much doneness. But given time, moisture, and plenty of seasoning, it makes for an excellent and inexpensive protein source throughout the week’s meals.
This means that it’s best to cook round steak in one of three ways: Slow roasting, braising, or in soup. Each will yield a tender and juicy meat with plenty of flavor.
But there’s one other cooking method that bottom round steak is often used for: Drying, as with beef jerky. Because it has less fat than many other cuts, bottom round steak is less likely to spoil when it’s dried and salted. So if you’re looking to make your own jerky at home, it’s among the best jerky cuts of meat that you’ll find for the job.
Bottom Round Steak Nutrition Facts
Because it’s leaner than many other steak cuts, bottom round steak has significantly less fat and calories. This makes it a good choice for people who are trying to cut back on either front, as it still has a significant portion of protein and a large array of B vitamins.
Here are the most pertinent nutrition facts for 4 ounces of bottom round steak, courtesy of Nutritionvalue.org:
- 146 calories
- 4.3 grams of total fat, with just 1.6 grams of saturated fat
- 69 milligrams of cholesterol
- 25 grams of protein
- 18% daily value of iron
- 9% daily value of potassium
That’s all combined with absolutely zero grams of carbohydrates, making this a paleo and Atkins-diet friendly cut for sure.
Bottom Round Steak Recipes
To get the best out of your bottom round, you’ll need to do one of two things: Cook it with plenty of liquid, or go the exact opposite way and dry it at a low temperature for a long time. Either way, avoid the combination of high heat and dry cooking methods.
In this section, let’s take a look at three of my favorite recipes for beef round steak: A classic pot roast (i.e., a round roast beef), an easy steak and potato soup that’s perfect for winter, and a quick kitchen hack that will let you make beef jerky in the oven.
Is there anything simpler, easier, and more satisfying than a slow cooking pot roast for a weeknight dinner? I don’t think so. By roasting a bottom round in a slow cooker, you get all the benefits of braising while also being able to leave it alone while you go about your daily business. Pop it in the slow cooker in the morning, and by nighttime you can have a complete, protein-rich meal ready to go. Pair it with some mashed potatoes, gravy, and crushed garlic – and you’re good to go. You can even store it, and slice it up for roast beef sandwiches the next day.
To make the best and most flavorful pot roast though, you’ll need to start with a quick sauté in a separate pan. Slice a couple of onions and add them to a medium-hot pan with a good quality olive oil or butter, then add a few pinches of salt. This will hasten the cooking process, giving you translucent and slightly browned onions in about 10 to 12 minutes. Add a few crushed cloves of garlic in for the last two minutes of cooking to really round out the flavor, then take everything out of the pan.
In that same pan, go ahead and sear your bottom round steak for just a minute or so on each side. This gets the cooking process started, leaving the slow cooker to the tenderize meat process (rather than having to use a meat tenderizer tool).
Add the onions and garlic as well as the bottom round steak to your slow cooker and set it to high. Cover the steak halfway with a liquid — I like a blend of beef stock and red wine — then add more salt and any dried herbs that you enjoy, as well as a little black pepper. Then toss in a few fingerling potatoes and/or rough chunks of carrot, and leave it to cook for 8 to 12 hours.
And voila — by the time you’re ready for dinner, you’ll have a falling-apart-tender cut of meat, vegetables to serve it with, and a richly scented sauce to cover it all in.
Steak and Potato Soup
Colder weather calls for heartier winter fair. And if you’re comfortable making the slow cooker pot roast recipe above, you can take things to the next culinary level with a simple steak and potato soup.
Start by cutting a bottom round steak into 1-inch cubes. Then add a dash of oil to a Dutch oven, heat it over medium high heat, and add the steak. Sear briefly until each side is brown, about 2-4 minutes, then remove and set to one side.
In the same Dutch oven, begin sautéing onions and garlic as described above. While these are cooking down, cut potatoes into 1-inch cube steak (or just use small fingerling potatoes) and do the same with carrots and/or parsnips. When the onions and garlic are finished, remove them and set aside with the beef. Add another splash of oil, and give the potatoes and other vegetables a quick shallow fry.
Next, add everything back into the pot at once. Then pour in plenty of beef stock — enough to cover everything in the pot, then an extra inch to boil down — and add salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Bring this to a boil, then immediately reduce it to a simmer. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, or longer if you have plenty of time as this will give it an even richer flavor with a nice broth.
Finally, before serving, add just a teaspoon of good apple cider vinegar to each bowl. This last step gives the soup a pleasant brightness that’s otherwise missing, and works as a perfect secret ingredient to keep people coming back for seconds and thirds.
Oven Dried Beef Jerky
For most beef jerky, you’ll need a dedicated dehydrator. And while this is definitely the best way to get jerky that will last for months, there’s a sneaky secret you can use to make beef jerky in your oven: Meat tenderizer.
No, I’m not talking about the steel mallets that you can use to pound out a steak. I’m talking about a meat tenderizer powder, a combination of enzymes that helps to break down the protein structure in meats. By adding a little bit of this to your jerky marinade, the beef will become instantly more tender — and more easily dried in the oven without turning rubbery and unpleasant.
So start by putting a bottom round steak in the freezer for a couple hours. This will firm it up just enough to make it easy to slice thinly. Then prepare the marinade: A simple mix of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and the meat tenderizer is my go-to base for good flavor. Marinate the sliced meat for at least 6 hours, then remove it and pat it dry.
When you’re ready to make your beef jerky, set your oven to the lowest temperature you can. Then prepare a baking tray with a wire rack in it. Lay the meat slices out evenly, and cook in the oven for 3 to 4 hours.
And that’s it! The resulting beef jerky won’t be nearly as dry as what you’ll find in stores, but it will have excellent classic flavor and texture. Keep it in the fridge if you want it to last the longest; otherwise, it has a maximum shelf life of about a week.
Other Cuts Similar to Bottom Round Steak
All of the steaks in the round family have a very similar taste, texture, and leanness, and can easily be substituted for one another. Eye of round is generally considered the most tender, top round the second most, and bottom round the least — which is why you want to cook it low and slow with plenty of moisture whenever possible.
Flank steaks and skirt steaks are somewhat similar to rounds as well, as they are quite lean. But they have a much more pronounced beefy flavor that lends them well to being marinated and grilled over a high heat for a short time.
Where to Buy Bottom Round Steak
Because bottom round steak is such an affordable cut of meat, the best place you can buy it is at your local butcher or grocery store. Farmer’s markets can sometimes be a good source for pasture-raised beef as well, and can give you an opportunity to make a relationship with your local cattle farmers that can eventually pay big dividends.
Most online retailers stay away from selling the cheaper cuts like round steaks, because the cost of shipping will offset any benefit you might get from buying a more affordable steak.
How to Store Bottom Round Steak
If you happen to find a good quantity of bottom round steak on sale at the grocery store or your butcher, you can pick it up at a discount and store it in your fridge for weeks to come. But there’s a catch: Unless you can vacuum seal it, bottom round steak will only keep in your fridge for about a week.
If your steak is kept in sealed plastic bags with the air pushed out, this will limit the amount of oxidation that occurs (which turns the meat gray and flavorless). Place it on a plate to catch any accidental drippings, and put it in the lowest, coldest section of your fridge. The ideal temperature for storing meat in the fridge is 34 to 38 degrees, so consider turning your fridge to its coldest setting to extend your meat’s shelf life.