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Idaho Finger Steaks are irresistible bites of beef that first get marinated in seasoned buttermilk, then dipped in seasoned flour before being fried up to perfection. They are perfect for watching the big game or for an indulgent dinner and pretty much only found in the Gem State!

An image of Idaho finger steaks in a basket with fries.

When it comes to Idaho-specific foods, we all know about potatoes, but not as many people have heard of finger steaks. When I was researching foods that best represent Idaho for my American Eats series, I just knew I had to include these finger steaks, especially when I read this article proclaiming their greatness!

This is the kind of dish you would expect to see at a diner or roadside drive-thru. Which seem to be abundant in Idaho, since there are so many small towns built around farming communities. I have many memories of seeing them as we drove down the highway heading from my grandparents house in Pocatello to Island Park, which is not far from Yellowstone National Park. We camped there every summer of my childhood and I miss it on the years I don’t get to go now as an adult. 

Now, you may see finger steaks outside of Idaho, but it will probably be in the South where they might be called chicken fried steak fingers and be served with country gravy. But that’s not the way in Idaho, where finger steaks are served with all kinds of dipping sauce, but not gravy. 

An image of chicken fried steak fingers with fries and ketchup for dipping.

How to Make Finger Steaks

  1. Slice cube steaks into thin strips about 1/2 inch wide and 3 to 4 inches long.
  2. In a large bowl or gallon-size ziploc bag, combine the buttermilk, worchestire sauce, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and a teaspoon each of black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder, then add the sliced steak. Let marinade for 2 hours in the fridge.
  3. Combine flour, remaining salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a shallow dish.
  4. Dip each piece of cube steak into the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Then dip them back into the buttermilk marinade. Then dredge the steak pieces again in the flour mixture and shake off excess flour.
  5. Add enough vegetable oil to fill a large dutch oven or cast iron skillet 1-2 inches deep. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350 to 375 degrees F (use a thermometer to monitor temperature levels).
  6. Work in batches to fry all of the steak pieces until golden brown outside and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove fried steak fingers to a plate lined with paper-towel to absorb excess oil. The finished finger steaks can be kept warm in a 200 degree F oven while you fry the remaining steak pieces.
  7. Dip finger steaks in ketchup, fry sauce, cocktail sauce, ranch dressing, bbq sauce, or honey mustard and enjoy! And don’t forget to serve them with homemade french fries!

An collage of images showing step-by-step how to prepare chicken fried finger steaks. 

What kind of meat to use for finger steaks

Idaho finger steaks are savory bites that start out with tenderized cube steak. You could really use almost any steak and tenderize it well with a meat mallet, but I just grabbed a package of blade-tenderized cube steak at the grocery store and saved myself the hassle.

You could use something fancy like a ribeye, but sirloin or cube steak is much less expensive and just as good for finger steaks.

An image of a basket filled with homemade french fries and breaded and fried cube steak fingers.

What to serve with Finger Steaks?

Typically, these are served as a meal with fries and toast on the side, but I tend to think of them more as an appetizer. Since they are fried, something sweet, light and fresh goes well with finger steaks. Like this watermelon basil feta salad, creamy grape salad, or coca-cola jello salad.

I’m pretty sure baked beans would also be amazing with these finger steaks.

More Recipes Like This

Chances are if you like finger steaks, you will like these recipes as well.

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Idaho Finger Steaks
Yield: 4 servings

Idaho Finger Steaks

Idaho Finger Steaks are irresistible bites of beef that first get marinated in seasoned buttermilk, then dipped in seasoned flour before being fried up to perfection. They are perfect for watching the big game or for an indulgent dinner and pretty much only found in the Gem State!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef sirloin or cube steak cut into ½-inch by 3-inch strips
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Slice steak into 1/2-inch wide and 3 to 4-inch long strips.
  2. In a large bowl or gallon-size ziploc bag, combine the buttermilk, Wocestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Add the sliced cube steak and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.
  3. In a large shallow pan, combine the flour with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and smoked paprika.
  4. Dip each piece of steak into the flour mixture, and shake off excess flour. Dip back into the buttermilk marinade, then back into the flour mixture for a second time. Shake off excess flour again and transfer to a plate. Repeat with all steak pieces.
  5. Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat until it reaches 350 to 375 degrees F. It's helpful to use a clip-on thermometer to monitor oil temperature while frying the finger steaks.
  6. Working in batches, fry the finger steaks for about 1-2 minutes on each side until they are a nice golden brown and crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside. Be sure not to crowd the pan or the oil temperature will drop and it will take longer to cook each batch.
  7. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat until all the meat has been cooked.
  8. Serve hot with dipping sauce and fries.

Notes

The cooked finger steaks can be kept warm in a 200 degree F oven while you fry the remaining batches of steak pieces.

Adapted from Food Network.

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Curious about foods from other states in my American Eats series? Check them out below!

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Iowa • Louisiana • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • Texas