Idaho Finger Steaks
Finger Steaks are known for being Idaho’s best kept secret, but I’m about to blow the whistle! Crispy, deep fried steak fingers, served with a chimichurri mayo for a South American flair. It’s about time the rest of the world finds out about these insanely delicious steak bites!
This post is sponsored by the New York Beef Council. All opinions are my own!
Sorry, Idaho, I can’t keep this secret any longer!
You see, my friends at the New York Beef Council invited me to a fun event where, along with the Idaho Beef Council, I and a few other bloggers got to learn how to make finger steaks.
The teacher was Christie Prescott, an Idaho cattle rancher, and she taught us her Grandma Phyllis’ recipe along with her beautiful little kids! ♥️ If you know me, you know I am crazy about family heirloom recipes.
The finger steaks were amazing! I had never tried anything like that. They tasted like my grandma’s beef milanese but in finger food form! It was perfection.
After playing with Grandma’s Phyllis’ recipe for a few weeks, I now have a slightly modified version for y’all, which I like to serve with chimichurri mayo. (I am South American, after all! And we love the combination of steak and chimichurri.)
I really hope you give it a try! 😊
What are Finger Steaks?
Finger steaks are breaded (or battered) strips of steak fried in oil until golden and crispy. They get that name because of their finger-length shape.
Commonly found in restaurants and bars in Southern Idaho and neighboring states, Idahoers like to say they are the Northwest’s answer to Southern fried chicken.
Finger Steaks Origins
According to my friends at the Idaho Beef Council, the legend of the finger steak starts in Milo’s Tavern, in Boise, in the 1950s. The owner – a U.S. Forest service meat cutter and chef called Mylo Bybee – created the iconic dish because he was keen on using every possible part of the cattle, including the trimmings from the steak.
So he battered and deep fried them, and the rest is history!
A few decades later, in 1972, a company called B and D Foods started producing frozen finger steaks. They have been selling to fast and fast-casual establishments ever since and they produce about 600,000 pounds of finger steaks a year!
Ingredients for Finger Steaks
To make Idaho-Style Finger Steaks, you will need:
- Steak – Grandma Phyllis’ recipe calls for cube steak, but I prefer using sirloin. You can use either!
- Seasonings – I use paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper to season the breadcrumbs.
- Eggs – For coating and breading.
- Breadcrumbs – The original recipe uses crushed saltines for breading, but I like the extra crunchiness of Panko breadcrumbs. Other fun options are crushed potato chips, crushed nuts, crushed corn flakes or even a pancake batter.
- Oil – Neutral oil, for frying.
Ingredients for Chimichurri Mayo
If serving your finger steaks with the suggested chimichurri mayo, make sure you have these ingredients on hand:
- Herbs – You will need fresh parsley and fresh oregano. The fresh parsley is a must, but, if you don’t have fresh oregano, you can substitute for 1 teaspoon of dried.
- Garlic – Can’t have chimichurri anything without garlic! 😉
- Oil – Traditional chimichurri is made with sunflower oil because it tastes neutral and doesn’t overpower the other flavors. However, since we are only adding a little bit here, you can use olive oil instead!
- Vinegar – I use red wine vinegar. It is quite punchy and robust, and gives the chimichurri its traditional tangy taste.
- Lime – For a touch of freshness!
- Red Pepper Flakes – For a bit of heat.
- Salt and Pepper
How to Make Finger Steaks
Making finger steaks is just like making chicken tender or chicken nuggets. The only difference is that you’ll use beef instead of chicken!
Yes, it is messy but breading always is. I like to use vinyl gloves to minimize the chaos, but I inevitably end up with a dirty kitchen, especially if I let the kids help.
But one bite and you forget all about it! They are worth the mess.
Here’s how I make this finger steaks recipe. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!
Step 1: Cut the steak into strips.
- Cut the steak into 1/2-inch wide strips. If they are too long, cut in half so they are about 3 or 4 inches long.
- Season the strips with salt and pepper.
- Beat the eggs into a bowl and, in a separate bowl, combine the Panko breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Dip each strip in the eggs and then roll in the breadcrumb mixture to coat.
Step 3: Fry!
- Fry in hot oil (350ºF) until golden brown.
- Place on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up excess oil, or – for even more crispiness – place on a cooling rack fitted inside a baking sheet. The cooling rack elevates the finger steaks off, so air circulates and their bottom don’t get soggy from absorbing residual steam.
- Serve with chimichurri mayo (or you favorite dipping sauce)!
- When breading the steak strips, make sure to press the breadcrumbs firmly on them, to ensure they are thoroughly and evenly coated. Well-coated steaks is the key to crunchy finger steaks!
- I highly recommend a deep fry thermometer to ensure the oil’s temperature is just right! The temperature should be between 350 and 375ºF. You don’t want it to be lower than that, or the finger steaks will take longer to cook and you risk the steak getting tough. You also don’t want it much hotter, or they will burn quickly!
- Do not overcrowd the pot and avoid flipping them too often, or you’ll risk the coating falling off. Just let them be until they are golden!
- If frying a lot of batches, place the finger steaks on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and pop in the oven at 170º to 200ºF to keep warm while you fry the rest.
How to Make Chimichurri Mayo
Finger steaks are often served with cocktail or fry sauce, but I happen to think this chimichurri mayo dip really takes them to the next level!
The combination of the juicy, fried steaks with the tangy, garlicky and creamy dip is really something out of this world! Yes, it is a little more trouble than mixing condiments to make fry sauce, but it is oh-so-worth-it!
You will notice that you will need a food processor to make it. If you don’t have one, you can finely chop everything with a knife, but I highly recommend the food processor (or a blender) if you have one!
While I never use a food processor when making my chimichurri sauce, as chimichurri is not supposed to be puréed like a pesto, here we do want some of the herbs to puree so they blend nicely with the mayo, giving it a slightly green color as well as flavor.
Step 1: Make the chimichurri sauce.
- In a food processor, pulse the herbs until finely chopped.
- Add the remaining chimichurri ingredients and process until combined. Some of the herbs will blend into a paste consistency, that is fine!
Step 2: Make the Chimichurri Mayo.
- Combine the chimichurri sauce and the mayo.
- Taste and adjust salt, pepper or red pepper flakes as needed.
- Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend.
Serving Finger Steaks
An order of finger steaks is usually delivered in a parchment-lined basket with a side of French fries and a mandatory dip sauce, often Idaho fry sauce.
I personally like mine served with a chimichurri mayo dip as an accompaniment to a nice cold beer!
But, now that I’ve enjoyed finger steaks for more than a few times, my brain has been bursting with other ideas on how to serve them. Here are some of them:
- Toss them with a sauce, like you would chicken wings. Buffalo sauce, BBQ, Korean, you name it!
- Use the finger steaks to make a sandwich, tacos, gyro, poutine, or to top a salad.
- Serve with a different dipping sauce: garlic aioli, blue cheese, BBQ, ranch, sriracha, horseradish cream, marinara, mustard, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Freeze the breaded steak strips on a cookie sheet, then transfer them to an airtight bag or container and store them in the freezer until you’re ready to fry for up to 3 months. You can fry them from frozen!
Yes, but they won’t be as crispy. Bake at 400ºF for 30-45 minutes, flipping halfway through.
My favorite way of reheating these is using the air fryer, but you can also do it in the oven.
For the Finger Steaks:
- 1 pound sirloin (or cube) steak
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 large eggs
- Canola oil, for frying
For the Chimichurri Mayo:
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup mayo
- Dutch Oven or deep fryer
Making the Finger Steaks:
- Cut the sirloin steak(s) into ½-inch wide strips, about 3 to 4-inch long. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
- In a bowl, combine the Panko breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well!
- Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
- Working with a wet hand and a dry hand, dip each steak strip into the eggs, let the excess drip off, and roll in the seasoned breadcrumbs, pressing firmly so the strip is thoroughly coated. Place the coated strips on a plate.
- Heat about 4 cups of oil in a large Dutch Oven. Once hot (between 350º and 375ºF), work in batches and place about 5 or 6 steak strips in the hot oil, frying until golden and turning once if needed.
- Remove the finger steaks to a paper towel lined plate or onto a cooling rack inserted in a baking sheet.
- Repeat until all the finger steaks are done!
- Serve immediately, with the dipping sauce.
Making the Chimichurri Mayo:
- In a food processor, pulse the parsley and oregano until chopped.
- Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Start pouring the olive oil, with the food processor running. Some of the herbs will puree, but you should still have some that are just chopped.
- In a bowl, combine the chimichurri sauce with the mayo.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.