Bistec Empanizado is Puerto Rican breaded cubed steak, our version of chicken fried steak or schnitzel. Every country, every region even, seems to have it’s own version of this classic comfort food.
How to make bistec empanizado
The first thing you’re going to need to do is marinade the steaks. This adds a depth of flavor that I think makes Puerto Rican bistec empanados taste so good.
Whisk together the olive oil and white vinegar in a bowl with the adobo, onion, garlic, and lime juice. Sprinkle the steaks with salt before placing them in the marinade. Really rub the marinade around the steaks to distribute the onion and garlic.
You can cover the steaks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Or even easier, put the everything into a gallon bag and squish it around. Put the bag in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours but preferably over night.
When you are ready to cook the steaks, place the crackers in a food processor and pulse until they are finely ground crumbs.
Next, go ahead and set up the dredging stations. You’ll need a couple of shallow bowls. The first bowl is for the beaten eggs and the second bowl is for the cracker crumbs.
Fill your frying pan with vegetable oil until it is about 1/4 of an inch deep. Heat the oil over medium low, we don’t want it burning or smoking. Have a plate with a layer of paper towel on it ready for your cooked steak.
Finally, place the first steak in the egg and turn to coat. I use tongs to lift the steak out and let any excess egg drip back into the bowl. Place the steak in the cracker crumbs, turning to coat and then put it in the hot oil.
Cook a few minutes on each side until the bistec empanizado is golden brown and well done. Repeat this process with the rest of the steaks.
bistec empanado recipe ingredients
- lime juice (or sour orange)
- white vinegar
- olive oil
- adobo seasoning
- cubed steak
- saltine crackers
- vegetable oil
The most important ingredient is the cubed steak. The word ‘bistec’ means ‘beef steak’ and in most Latin American countries it can mean any cut of beef. However, in Puerto Rico, it specifically refers to cubed steak. That cheap cut of meat that comes from the store pre-flattened and tenderized.
The second most important ingredient is the cracker crumbs. They have to be made from ground up saltines, or soda crackers. You won’t get the same crispy crust with anything else.
Lastly, I want to note the juice of sour orange. This isn’t the juice of rotten oranges, it’s an actual variety of orange that is bitter. Since it might be hard to find at your grocery store, know that lime juice is a fine substitute. But if you do run across sour orange, do use it. It’s really good.
what to serve with bistec empanado
The Germans eat schnitzel with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. Americans eat chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and country gravy.
In Italy, they serve it smothered with cheese and spaghetti sauce over a bed of pasta. And in Puerto Rico, we like to eat our breaded cubed steak with white rice and beans. And, of course, everything is better with tostones. Yuca en escabeche is also really good with the steak.
Personally, I like arroz con gandules, which is Puerto Rican rice with Pigeon Peas, and Habichuelas Guisadas, made with pink beans. Beans and rice are pretty much standard side dishes, they go with everything.
bistec empanado vs. bistec empanizado
If you’re googling around these recipes, you’ll run across bistec empanado and bistec empanizado. Even here, I’ve used the terms interchangeably. If you are wondering what the difference is, I want you to know that there is none. These are the same dish.
It is common to call country fried steak ‘bistec empanizado’ in Cuban cuisine. Bistec empanado is more of a Puerto Rican thing. They both refer to battered, breaded and fried meat.
more Puerto Rican recipes you’ll love
Include some more Puerto Rican flavors on your dinner table! Try some of these traditional recipes:
- Arroz con Pollo | How to Make Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice
- Slow Cooker Pernil (Puerto Rican Pork Shoulder)
- Ensalada de Coditos (Puerto Rican Macaroni Salad)
- Bacalao a la Vizcaina (Basque Style Stewed Salted Cod)
- Ensalada de Bacalao (Salted Cod Salad)
- Chicken Fricassee (Fricase de Pollo)
- Sancocho (Puerto Rican Beef Stew)
- Chuleta Frita (Puerto Rican Fried Pork Chops)
- Braised Pork Chops + Vegetables (Chuletas a La Jardinera)
- Pastelon (Puerto Rican Sweet Plantain Lasagna)
- Sopa de Pollo con Fideo (Chicken Noodle Soup)
- Spanish Bean Soup
- Asopao de Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice Soup)
- Asopao de Camarones
As always you can find tons of delicious PR dishes in my Puerto Rican recipe collection.
Bistec Empanizado (Breaded Cube Steak)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1/4 cup lime or sour orange
- 1 Tbs white vinegar
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 3 fresh garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 Tbs Adobo seasoning
- 4 cube steaks
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 sleeve of unsalted or lightly salted soda crackers
- Vegetable oil
Combine onion, garlic, juice, vinegar, Adobo and olive oil in bowl and whisk together. Sprinkle the steaks with salt, place steaks in marinade giving them a good rub, marinate overnight.
Place crackers into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Put enough vegetable oil in a skillet to rise 1/4-inch up the sides of the pan and turn on the heat to medium low. Beat eggs in a shallow bowl, spread cracker meal in plate, dredge steak in eggs and then in cracker meal until completely coated on both sides. Fry in skillet until steak is golden brown and well done.
Drain in paper towel lined plate and serve.
Do you keep the onions on when you dredge in eggs n crackers? I had tried it but they fall off. Am I doing it wrong ?
The Noshery says
No, the onions are just sauteed and served with the steak.
I loved your recipes, tried it twice. Must admit didn’t have the crackers so I had to use the traditional bread crumbs and it was still delicious. My husband also dips his bistec in ketchup, lol.
Eva Dones-Hardy says
This sure brings back the good memories. My grandfather, Hector, owned a small meat market in Manati. He was well known for his empanadas. Him and my grandma will produce pounds and pounds of empanadas on a weekly basis. Often having a waiting list. Never tried adding lime or chopped onions to the recipe, but will sure give it a try.
Minni Rivera says
I haven’t had Chicken Fried Steak since before my mom passed away over 10 yrs. ago. This will be my 1st attempt at it. Wish me luck.
I made this last night with arroz con gandules and some maduros. It was delicious!
this is my significant other’s favorite dish! but with arroz con gandules… Im going to make some tonight 🙂
Now how about a recipe for bistec encebollado? Pretty please? 😉
Here’s my recipe if you’d like it?
2 pounds beef, thinly sliced
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
dash dried oregano leaves
1 tbsp adobo
1 tsp salt
2 large white onions, sliced in rings
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup beef broth
Put all ingredients in a gallon-size plastic bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.
Cook in a heavy pot for about 30-40 or until tender.
Leigh Anne says
this looks So, So good! i cant wait to try it! and dont worry, i dip mine in ketchup too. the bf dips his in ranch of all things… sigh. 😉
Congratulations on your additions !!
Who is Girlie?? Is she a new addition to the family that I missed reading about somehow?
She is a stray we took and and have had for awhile.
Millie Gonzalez says
I love the rice & beans you featured with the bistec empanizado. When I was married, this was my husband’s favorite dish. I would have to cook it at least once a week. I did for 11 years. Then I tried to forget him and this dish. I divorced him and forgot about this dish, until now. I must admit it does look yummy enough to try again. Thanks for the memories.
Ex-hubby is dead. Died of a heart-attack (from eating too many bistec empanizados) at 64.
No meal would be complete without the rice and beans. I mean really . . .
I’m going to try the cracker crust – it sounds and looks really good! Congrats on the new pups 🙂
That is a perfectly cooked chicken fried steak (or Bistec Empanadizado)! It has such a great golden color. I love weiner schnitzel, chicken friend steak, milanesa and now I guess Bistec Empanadizado too.
That meal takes me back to a happy place. I will definitely have to make it. Have you featured a piñon? I would love to make one but I think I need some guidance.