If you’re a steak enthusiast, a beef bottom round steak may not be on the list of your finest cuts. It’s notoriously tough and hard to get right.
However, with the right cooking methods and a bit of patience, you can cook the a delectable bottom round steak that gives you (almost) the same texture and flavor as the pricier steaks.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to cook beef bottom round steak and how to get a tasty and tender final result.
How To Cook Beef Bottom Round Steak
The best way to prepare a beef bottom round steak is slow cooking. You can braise it, roast it in the rotisserie, or cook it in a sous vide bag. The key is to keep it moist by adding some liquid, such as gravy, or applying a coat of oil or a dry rub to keep the inside from drying out.
The bottom round is the lean meat cut from the cow’s hind legs in the round primal. Although it’s located near the top sirloin, it’s not as tender and juicy. That’s because this part is the most exercised muscle to move the animal’s hind legs, making it lean and tough.
Although it’s tough, the bottom round is perfect for slow cooking, which brings out its pleasant flavors and tastes. And since it has little fat, the beef notes are more potent.
In addition, it’s among the most affordable cuts. So, you don’t need to break the bank to have a nice, juicy beef dish.
Different Ways of Cooking Beef Bottom Round Steak
Although the most common use of the bottom round is in slow cooking and roast beef, you can make a decent steak out of it with some elbow grease and patience. Since it doesn’t have much fat marbling, you need to loosen the tissue through marinating and tenderizing techniques.
Grill it Over the Stove
The easiest way to cook a round bottom steak is to throw it on a preheated cast iron skillet or grill. The key to having a tender bottom round steak that melts in your mouth is cutting it into very thin slices and marinating it for at least 30 minutes.
Whether you plan to pan fry, grill, or slow cook your beef bottom round steak, you can improve the texture by tenderizing it in physical and/or chemical ways.
The physical method involves pounding the meat with a kitchen mallet. You only need to place the thin slices between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a wooden mallet or metal meat tenderizer.
The chemical way involves using materials like baking soda or cornstarch to loosen the connective tissue and open the grain. This Chinese method is also known as velveting, and although it’s mainly used for stir-frying meat, I’ve used it to tenderize steak, and it came out phenomenal.
Here’s how to grill a bottom round steak on the stovetop:
- After tenderizing the meat and letting it sit for at least 30 minutes, it’s time to heat up your skillet or stove-top grill. Heat it as high as it can get before covering it with a thin coat of oil.
- When you see steam rising off the surface, the grill is ready.
- Pat the meat dry with a kitchen towel and place it in the skillet/grill.
- Wait for 2 minutes until it’s brown on one side.
- Flip the steak over and cook it for another two minutes.
- Transfer the steaks to your serving dish, wait another 15 minutes, and cut the meat against the grain.
If you like your steak well done, this cut isn’t for you. The best doneness for this cut is rare or medium rare. So, use a thermometer to ensure its core temperature doesn’t go over 140°F (60°C).
Cooking a bottom round to well done will make it very tough. If you definitely want it cooked to well done, use a braising or slow cooking method rather than a pan fry.
Your bottom round steak is ready! And you can take your steak to the next level with these tips:
- You can use the same skillet to fry vegetables of your choice, including asparagus, bell pepper, onions, and scallions.
- Marinating the meat in an acidic liquid, like wine, lime juice, or vinegar, is the best way to make it more tender.
- You can also use different rubs, even dry rubs involving herbs and spices, especially for thin slices.
- You can try any marinade of your choice to find your perfect match. My favorite is mustard, olive oil, and minced or powdered garlic with kosher salt and pepper.
This cut lends itself to smoking because it’s a slow-cooking method that’s perfect for all tough cuts.
To prepare your meat, take your bottom round out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then, it’s time for seasoning. You can use any seasoning of your choice. But my favorite is this McCormick all-purpose seasoning since I like things simple and classic.
Alternatively, you could add butter, minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper to prepare a mouth-watering combination that goes well with any cut and brings out the beefy flavors. Remember to cover the final coat with a layer of mustard to trap the moisture inside.
Another great way of marinating the bottom round is dry brine. Cover the beef in kosher salt and let it rest for 2 hours. You need half a tablespoon of salt per pound.
- Cover the cuts with these rubs and set them aside.
- Prepare your smoker and preheat it to 225-250°F (107-120°C). Light the wood of your choice, including cherry, maple, hickory, or pecan. I always smoke my bottom round with oak, as it’s slow-burning and doesn’t overpower the nice beefy notes.
- Put the meat on the smoker grills and insert the thermometer probe.
- Close the lid and let the good stuff be born!
- Remember to check the wood every 20 minutes and replenish it if required.
You want to wait 30 minutes for every pound of beef. So, if you have a two-pound bottom round, you should wait for 60 minutes.
After the internal temperature reaches your desired level, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a cutting board. Let it sit for 15 minutes, and cover it loosely with foil to avoid drying out.
Slice it up thinly and enjoy the heavenly taste!
Roast it in the Oven
One of the best ways to cook a bottom round steak is to roast it in an oven with the low and slow method. Preparing the meat is no different than other methods.
Pat the meat dry with a paper towel and rub it with butter, herbs, salt, and pepper. You can save some of the mixture and rub it on the roast after it has cooked. Then follow these steps:
- Preheat the oven to 450-500°F (230-260°C).
- Place the marinated meat on an oven-safe skillet or roasting pan, making sure the fattier side is facing up.
- Roast the meat on high heat for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 225°F (107°C).
- Cook for another two hours or until the internal temperature rises to 120°F (49°C) for rare and 125°F (52°C) for medium-rare doneness.
- Tent the pan with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Slice it as thin as possible to get a soft and tender chew. You can also cut and use it in stroganoff, roast beef sandwiches, or beef tacos.
Braising involves slow-cooking meat in your preferred liquid. You can also braise it in an oven or over the stove in a slow cooker or a crock pot. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by browning the roast on all sides. Place a searing pan over medium heat and drizzle it with some olive oil.
- Place the bottom round in the pan and wait until it’s brown.
- Flip it over to brown all sides.
- Transfer it to a large casserole dish and fill it halfway with gravy, water, or beef broth.
- Close the lid and put it in a preheated oven.
- Cook it for 2 hours at 250°F (121°C).
- Add vegetables of your choice, including onions, celery, carrots, or spring onions.
- Cook for another hour until everything is soft and nice and all the flavors are mixed.
Pro tip: You can saute the chopped vegetables in a pan and add them to the beef for more flavor. I like to deglaze the pan by adding some water afterward. This way, I can extract all the flavors and add them to the gravy.
You can replace oven cooking with a crock pot or a slow cooker, depending on the time you have at hand.
Check out this video to see how it’s done!
This is my favorite way of cooking bottom round steaks, especially when I have enough time to prepare them beforehand. The long wait is totally worth it when you get a mouth-watering steak that melts in your mouth.
- Set the sous vide temperature to your desired value; 125°F (52°C) for rare, 130°F (55°C) for medium rare, and 140°F (60°C) for well-done.
- Season the beef with your preferred herbs and spices and let it rest for 2 hours.
- Place the beef in the sous vide bag, prepare it as instructed, and put it in the water bath.
- Wait for 16 to 24 hours until the meat comes out nice and juicy.
- Put it in the ice bath to stop the cooking process and prepare it for serving.
You can pan-sear it after getting it out of the bath for a crispy crust.
Here’s an experiment with sous viding bottom round that turned out much better than expected.
Cooking beef bottom round steak gives you great results as long as you’re patient and use the right technique. I’ve experimented with different methods, searched around the web, and described my favorites here.
Just remember that you can’t get a juicy bottom round steak using cooking methods designed for naturally tender cuts. It’s too tough to come out juicy in a couple of minutes. You’ll need to flex your culinary skills a bit with this one.
Make sure to use the McCormick all-purpose seasoning to give it an aroma that goes well with the beefy flavors.
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