Top Round Steak Guide – Everything You Need To Know

Grilled Steak Slices

Top round or almost roast beef, as I like to call it, is a lean cut of beef with a mild flavor.

Top round comes from the portion of meat where roast beef is fabricated from, hence the name ‘almost roast beef.’ Top round is an excellent choice for any occasion as it is lean but flavorful and affordable.

What Is Top Round?

Top round is a cut of beef fabricated from the rear leg of the animal. It is a sub primal of the primal known as the beef round. Top round rounds name is derived from the fact that it is located above the bottom round.

The beef round consists of the muscles of the leg and bottom of the animal. As you can imagine, these muscles are used continuously. Therefore the meat from this region is very lean and tough. For this reason, top round is inexpensive.

Just because top round is tough and inexpensive does not mean it is less flavorful than other cuts of beef. Top round is versatile enough to be fabricated into steaks, roast beef, or ground beef. If you prepare the top round properly, it can turn out to be a tender, flavorful cut of meat.

Top Round Name Variations 

The beef round primal contains several cuts, such as the top, inside, and top round. As a result, top round goes by many names.

You may see top round labeled as London broil. It’s called London broil because broiling is the preferred method of cooking for this lean cut of meat. 

Top round is also called beef round since it is where the cut is derived from. Top round is also known as the inside round because it is located inside the leg. Top round steaks are also marketed as family steaks since it is one of the affordable steaks that are used to make family meals.

What’s The Difference Between Sirloin And Top Round?

Though top round steak flavor is said to resemble sirloin, they are not the same. The only similarity between these cuts is that they are both fabricated into steaks and roasts.

Cuts with the name round originate in the rear leg of the animal. This area stretches from the animal’s rump to its ankle.

Additionally, top round is just one of the six cuts the round can be fabricated into. Top round is the inner muscle of the leg and is more tender than the bottom round, eye of round, and sirloin tip.

On the other hand, sirloin is situated between two subprimals: the short loin and the round. Additionally, sirloin is more tender than top round.

Both sirloin and top round are usually cut into steaks or roasts.

What Dishes Pair Well With Top Round Steak?

Wet cooking methods help preserve the top round’s moisture levels since it has minuscule amounts of fat. Since top round steak is a tougher cut of beef, it is best suited to liquid-based dishes such as beef stew or chili, carnitas, or any braised dish.

Hot Tip
Top round can also be roasted or processed into ground beef to make burgers.

What Does Top Round Taste Like?

Top round is an underrated cut of beef. When braised or roasted at a low temperature and carved into thin slices, top round is comparable to a sirloin steak. However, it can be chewy if it is not cooked correctly using low temperatures.

How Much Does Top Round Cost

Top round is one of the most commonly bought cuts of beef because it allows you to feed your entire family without compromising on flavor. This versatile cut costs about $6.99 – $7.49 per pound. However, the cost depends on where you live.

How To Buy Top Round 

Though there are many stores that claim to have the best, freshest meat, however, sadly, that is not always the case. Rather than being purchased, some meat should just be avoided altogether based on their appearances.

On your search for top round, if you come across a beef cut with a red exterior referred to as the bloom, purchase it. The bloom provides evidence that it was not simply vacuum-sealed in a package and actually came into contact with oxygen.

Additionally, ensure the top round is firm, cold and its packaging is free of holes or tears. Beware of the sell-by date and the fact that it can be marketed under different names.

Where To Buy Top Round

Unlike other cuts of beef, top round can easily be found in groceries stores far and wide. Whether it is in a grocery store, specialty butcher shop, or online, you will find top round without any problem.

Though online meat markets seem like a sketchy option, they are not. Quality online meat vendors provide accurate images of what you will receive if you purchase. Moreover, online meat vendors usually use quality grading systems.

These grading systems provide a bit of extra insurance for consumers and make sure that the meat meets environmental and ethical standards. Furthermore, you can determine a budget with the information given to you. Once you found the perfect top round, simply place your order and wait for it to show up at your door.

Though online vendors may be cheaper than brick-and-mortar butcher or grocery stores, they are limited when it comes to how many cuts they keep in stock.

Once you’ve found what you want, you place your order and wait for it to arrive, vacuum-packed and freshly frozen to your doorstep.

Top Round Steaks Substitutes

Although top round steaks are widely available, in the event you cannot find them, there’s no need to panic. Flank steak makes an excellent substitute. Both top round and flank steaks are lean. Additionally, they are perfect for marinating, but their flavor is also versatile enough to work well on their own.

Top Round Steak Variations 

The best variation for top round is definitely sliced thinly for sandwiches. You can also add more flavor by sautéing the steak with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes and serving them on a toasted sub roll with cheese. Additionally, you can also serve it on a warm tortilla for even more flavor.

How To Store Top Round 

Similar to every other cut of beef, top round is very easy to store. Place your top round on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the top round on a shelf by itself to avoid cross-contamination. Top round should only be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. 

Top round can also be frozen. It may be best to remove it from its original packaging and vacuum-sealed your top round. Additionally, you can also wrap top round in butcher paper or plastic wrap and place it into a freezer-safe resealable bag. Top round can be frozen for up to 4 months. 

If you are storing cooked top round, allow it to cool to room temperature. Place the cooked top round into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Hot Tip
When reheating top round, make sure it is heated to 165°F.

How to Cook Top Round

Top round is lean, which means it is very easy to overcook. Overcooking top round will dry it out. Therefore, you must take a few extra steps to make sure your top round does not dry out.

If you are using top round steaks, it may be best to salt them in advance and store them in the refrigerator. Salt will extract the moisture from the top round steak leaving you a dry surface that’s perfect for searing. 

Additionally, you can also marinate your steaks to improve their tenderness. Another way to tenderize top round steaks is to pound them with a meat mallet. This method would be best for Swiss steak as they will be braised in a marinade.

Slow Cooking 

Slow cooking is a popular cooking method for top round and with good reason. Cooking top round at a low temperature allows it to the perfect temperature of medium-rare. Cooking the top round to medium-rare helps to preserve the tenderness of the meat.

Grilling

As mentioned before top round can be sliced into steaks. Though it is a tougher cut of meat, top round steaks are perfect grilling. However, you should look for a thicker top round steak.

Thicker top round steaks can be marinated, then grilled quickly using direct heat. Slice the top round steak against the grain into thin slices, and you will yield a tender cut of beef.

Smoking

Smoking is an excellent method for top round. Program your smoker to 225°F-250°F. Place your round roast into the smoker once it preheats and let it cook for 2-3 hours or more if it is larger than a 3-pound roast. 

Once the top round has a temperature of medium-rare, remove it from the smoker and let the top round rest for 15-20 minutes before carving it into thin slices.

Roasting and Grilling 

This method is a combination of roasting and grilling without the oven. The key to achieving this hybrid method is using indirect heat, which simply means creating two heat zones on your grill.

This method is easier to achieve with a gas grill. Simply turn on one burner and heat your grill to 300°F. Cook the top round roast on the opposite side of the grill, away from the direct heat.

If you have a charcoal grill, that’s no problem! Simply arrange your coals on one side of the grill and heat your grill to 300°F. Cook the top round roast on the opposite side of the grill.

Whether you are a charcoal, gas, or pellet grill enthusiast, make sure you maintain a temperature of 300°F. Truth be told, it is easier to manage the temperature using a gas grill. The air vents and a dome thermometer located on the grill will help you maintain a steady temperature.

A 3-pound top round roast takes about an hour or two to cook to medium-rare. You can also use a probe thermometer and remove the roast once it reaches a temperature of 125°F. Allow the top round roast to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Hot Tip
Make sure you slice your top round into thin slices. This way, you can use your roasted op round to make delicious roast beef sandwiches.

Additional Tips For Grilling Top Round Steak

Fat equals flare-up, so remove the layer of fat from the perimeter of your steaks. Moreover, trimming the fat also promotes even cooking and reduces the chewiness of the steak.

While removing the outer layer of fat is helpful, removing the marbling is not. Marbling melts as the steak cooks, thereby improving its flavor and tenderness.

If you are marinating top round steaks, use savory ingredients such as garlic or spices and refrigerate the top round steaks for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. In addition to this, turn the steaks every 2-3 hours to ensure every inch of the steak is infused with the marinade.

Never use flimsy tongs when it comes to grilling, and do not pierce your steaks with a fork. A fork will allow the precious juices you worked hard to preserve escape. Use a strong pair of tongs to turn the top round steaks over.

Cook top round steaks to medium-rare. While you can get away with a medium steak, any temperature above 145°F will result in a tough, chewy steak.

Additionally, undercook your steak by a few degrees. The temperature of the top round steaks will continue to rise as its rest via a process known as carry overcooking.

Final Thoughts 

Truth be told, top round steak is not the most tender or famous steak. It is not a restaurant staple or even a top contender in the steak world.

However, top round is by far one of the most versatile cuts of beef available on the market. Once you learn to master top round, you will be able to cook any cut of beef.

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