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The History of Country-Fried Steak

Here at Willow Ranch Restaurant in Buttonwillow, we offer up the best country-fried steak, which is a very tender steak, breaded and fried to perfection, and served with superb real, country-style gravy. We also offer a fried chicken dinner, which is half a chicken (the breast, thigh, leg, and wing) fried to a crispy golden brown and served with mashed potatoes and country gravy. Both come with your potato choice and soup or salad with a vegetable and dinner roll — enough to leave you full for the night.

Some of you might be asking: what’s the difference between country-fried steak and chicken-fried steak. We’ll explain the difference and the history in this blog post. When you’ve finished reading, head on over to Willow Ranch Restaurant to taste the difference!

What Is Country-Fried & Chicken-Fried Steak?

In their essence, the ingredients are the same. You take a piece of steak (usually cube steak), dip it in an egg-based batter, which is usually regional and proprietary in nature to give it its distinct taste, fry it up (cast-iron is the best way to go for an even cooking of the meat), and slather it in gravy. It is then traditionally served with mashed potatoes, but you usually can choose your kind of potato, and it may come with vegetables, a salad, and a dinner roll.

Where Did the Idea of Country-Fried Steak Come From?

The Germans are credited with the invention of country-fried steak. They have a dish very similar called Wienerschnitzel (breaded and fried veal cutlets), and in the southern United States in the 1800s, they needed an idea in order to cook up the tougher parts of meat. The town of Lamesa, Texas, claims to be the birthplace of chicken-fried steak, and even hosts an annual celebration of the dish. Chicken-fried steak is the more popular over country-fried steak in Texas. Chicken-fried steak is also the name used in Oklahoma and Arkansas. However, the rest of the South sticks to country-fried steak.

What is the Difference Between Country-Fried & Chicken-Fried Steak?

The main difference between country-fried steak and chicken-fried steak is the gravy. Country-fried steak is slathered in brown gravy, whereas chicken-fried steak uses a white, peppery gravy. However, this distinction is not entirely set in stone as different restaurants will serve both with the same gravy. Another common difference you might see is that chicken-fried steak is usually a bit crispier. Sometimes, the gravy of chicken-fried steak will be served on the side so that the full flavor comes out when it is cooked on the crispier side. One other difference can be in the batter. Country-fried steak is often just dusted with flour and then fried. This stems from the fact that eggs weren’t always available in the 1800s. Chicken-fried steak is a more modern term, not emerging until the early 1900s. This could have even been an honest mistake that stuck.

Why is Steak Called Chicken-Fried?

Willow Ranch Restaurant in Buttonwillow believes this is the cause of the confusion. The name chicken-fried steak leads one to believe that chicken is being fried. However, this is obviously a misnomer. However, the name comes from the preparation method. Chicken-fried steak is prepared in the same way as chicken-fried chicken. In addition, some restaurants will serve chicken-fried chicken as a filet of chicken prepared in the same manner. Thus, when ordering, verify which meat you will be purchasing ahead of time!


Willow Ranch Restaurant in Buttonwillow offers the best country-fried steak around. The steak can be ordered however you like it, and we promise the gravy is definitely the icing on the cake. Your country-fried steak meal promises to be fulfilling and yummy every time. We also offer chicken-fried steak on our breakfast menu.

Willow Ranch Restaurant has been serving up the best local fare for more than 20 years. A family-owned and operated local restaurant, all of our meals are homemade and made from scratch daily. We are known for our secret BBQ sauce, which we now sell both in our restaurant and online. We are open every day from 7 am to 10 pm, so you can satisfy your craving for country-fried steak, BBQ, or any other of our delicious menu items at your convenience. We love serving our customers, and we invite you in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner today!