These are the Finest Cuts of Beef Defined (Trace: Not the Most Costly)


All beef, no bull–read this earlier than cooking your subsequent steak.

Beef. It’s a staple of the American food regimen, a scrumptious dish that people have loved in a single kind or one other since prehistoric occasions. And now that you just’re not pursuing your dinner throughout an unlimited grassy plain, you’ll be able to afford to be a bit picky about which reduce of beef you select to grill, roast, or maybe reverse sear (an all-time Primer favourite method).

However in contrast to rooster or pork, ordering or shopping for and cooking beef generally is a bit overwhelming. There are simply greater than a dozen cuts of beef. You’ve most likely heard of a lot of them–particularly the favored steakhouse cuts like porterhouse, T-bone, New York strip, and sirloin. However are you aware what differentiates tri-tip from flank steak? Or why to order–or how you can prepare dinner–both of them?

The subsequent time you’re within the temper for a steak dinner, do your self (and any company) a favor and familiarize your self with the most typical cuts of beef, what they’re good for, and the easiest way to prepare dinner every one. For instance, don’t assume that you must purchase expensive filet mignon with the intention to have the perfect tasting, most flavorful meal. Ready appropriately, any of those cuts will probably be scrumptious.

To create this information, I consulted with Lou from the well-known Marconda’s butcher store, proper right here on the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market. Household owned since 1941, Marconda’s is aware of a factor or two about beef. (Professional tip: if you wish to get the highest quality beef, hunt down an area butcher.)

Understanding Beef Rib Cuts

Beef cuts diagram of the rib


Together with the porterhouse, Lou notes that this is without doubt one of the high two cuts of beef. Ribeye combines nice taste and texture, due to a marbling of fats that helps it keep tender throughout cooking. Trying to impress your date with a steak dinner? The ribeye is your reduce.

Brief Ribs

Bigger and meatier than pork ribs, beef brief ribs could require lengthy cooking occasions however are nearly not possible to mess up. And when accomplished correctly, the meat will slide off the bones. To create a restaurant-quality meal at house, strive Galbi, or Korean-style brief ribs. The soy sauce-based marinade historically comprises brown sugar and pear, which helps caramelize the meat to savory-sweet perfection.

Prime Rib, Rib Roast

The time period prime rib is extra prone to be seen in a restaurant than on the butcher’s counter. To be prime rib, it have to be a rib roast from essentially the most fascinating a part of the rib part. The flavour is nearer to roast beef than a steak.

Again Ribs

Nicely-marbled with fats, these are the bones the ribeye comes off of. Beef ribs will be chewy if not ready appropriately – flavorful and tender ribs take a couple of hours to prepare dinner.

Beef Brief Loin Cuts

Beef cuts chart of the short loin: in mid back of cow with cuts: Porterhouse (grill / pan fry), t-bone steak (grill / pan fry), filet mignon, tenderloin (grill / pan fry), New York  strip steak (grill / pan fry)
Beef cuts from the brief loin area comprise a few of the most costly cuts on the cow.


Lower from the rear finish of the loin, this reduce of beef options two steaks, related by a T-shaped bone: the bigger strip steak, which packs a flavorful punch, and the smaller, extremely tender filet mignon. Together with the ribeye, that is one in every of Lou’s high two steaks. 

T-Bone Steak

Practically an identical to the porterhouse, the T-bone is reduce farther ahead on the loin and consists of much less of the filet mignon. This might help you resolve which you need to eat, relying on whether or not taste or texture is extra vital to you. Together with the porterhouse, the T-bone is taken into account one of many highest high quality steaks and is a steakhouse staple.

(New York) Strip Steak

A strip steak is the half of a porterhouse or T-bone with out the filet mignon. Lower from a little-used muscle on the loin, this steak is especially tender–although much less so than the filet mignon or ribeye.

Filet Mignon, Tenderloin

The tenderloin is a slim strip of tender meat that spans the loin and sirloin beneath the ribs subsequent to the spine. When reduce into particular person parts, it is offered as Filet Mignon. Probably the most tender cuts on the beast, it makes up half of a porterhouse or T-Bone steak. Some discover that whereas it excels in tenderness, it lacks that sturdy beefy taste.


Beef cuts chart of the sirloin: Tri-tip steak (grill / pan fry), sirloin steak (grill / pan fry), tri-tip roast (grill / roast)
The sirloin part of the cow are cuts from the decrease again.

Tri-Tip Steak

A reduce from the underside of the sirloin, the Tri-Tip is low in fats and has wonderful taste when grilled not directly for about 40 minutes. To scale back cooking time, strive chopping it into medallions. It may also be roasted. Whichever technique you select, watch out to not prepare dinner it previous medium since it is so low in fats.

Tri-Tip Roast

When marinated and roasted, this lean reduce of beef can grow to be very tender.

Sirloin Steak

A sirloin steak may be very juicy and flavorful so long as it is not overcooked, and is expounded to the T-bone and porterhouse steaks. Search for a leaner steak, as fattier steaks are likely to have quite a lot of gristle.


Beef cuts chart of the chuck: flat iron (grill / pan fry), chuck steak (braise / ground), chuck roast (braise / roast) boneless short ribs (braise / ground)
The chuck area is the ought to of the cow and comprises some cuts which can be finest cooked slowly.

Chuck Steak

A tricky reduce of beef that softens with a gradual cooking technique, chuck is nice for kebabs and casserole kind dishes. It may also be eaten as a steak with in a single day marinating.

Chuck Roast

A well-liked roast for pot roast, shredded beef, and beef and Swiss cheese sandwiches. With extra fats than different cuts of beef, the roast has extra taste and a young texture when braised correctly. Quite than shopping for pre-ground, ask your butcher to grind it recent for a fantastic burger (or do it your self and benefit from the taste improve).

Flat Iron

Launched by groups at College of Nebraska and College of Florida, researchers developed a technique of eradicating robust connective tissue from a reduce coming from the shoulder. The result’s a tasty, tender–and low cost–reduce of beef. Lou calls it the perfect worth in a steak, and advises: “Prepare dinner it on the uncommon aspect and slice it throughout the grain.” Science is scrumptious.

Boneless Ribs

Lou loves it, “Fantastic taste, in case you have the time to prepare dinner it gradual, and it’s a fantastic worth while you aren’t in a rush. It makes the perfect tasting soup, chili and even stew.”

When you’re familiarizing your self with a few of the most typical cuts of beef, be sure you additionally brush up in your fundamental beef terminology to be sure you and your butcher are on the identical web page.


Beef cuts diagram of the brisket (braise)
The chest of the cow is named brisket and may be very flavorful however requires a protracted, gradual prepare dinner time.

Beef Brisket

This lean breast muscle helps 60% of the cattle’s physique weight and requires gradual and moist cooking strategies to melt it to melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. It’s typically used to make corned (which means salt-cured) beef or pastrami.


Beef cuts diagram of the flank (marinate & grill)
The flank is the stomach of the cow and is a really robust reduce of beef.

Flank Steak

A really lean reduce from the belly area, it is considerably harder than different steaks and requires marinating and grilling or braising to melt. Typically utilized in fajitas.

Brief Plate

beef cuts diagram of short plate cow section: hanger steak (marinate & grill), skirt steak (marinate & grill)
The brief plate comprises cheaper cuts of beef which can be flavorful however require correct tenderizing.

Skirt Steak

Just like the flank steak, the robust skirt steak requires tenderizing methods like marinating and grilling. Skirt steak is usually utilized in making carne asada.

Hanger Steak

Generally known as “the butcher’s reduce,” as a result of butchers would hold it for themselves, the hanger steak has nice beef taste and will be fairly tender so long as it’s cooked beneath medium. Hanger steaks are sometimes present in bars as a tasty sub-$20 steak choice. The hanger steak and skirt steak are part of the animal’s diaphragm, break up into two meat cuts. Skirt steak is usually harder than hanger.


Beef cuts diagram of the round - the back section of the cow –, showing rump roast and top round (braise / roast), london broil (marinate & grill)
Cuts from the spherical come from the rear of the cow and require gradual roasting or marinating.

Prime Spherical, London Broil

A steak from the spherical, or rear leg, typically labeled London Broil. It is a robust steak that can want marinating, and may also be broiled to seal within the juices. Numerous taste for a low value–prepare dinner it proper and it is scrumptious.

Rump Roast

A standard alternative for pot roast, the closely used muscle will must be cooked 25-40 minutes per pound to melt.

USDA Grades

Yet one more factor to regulate whereas procuring–the meat grading system is a technique of evaluating the standard and usable quantity of meat that may be harvested from cattle. Usually talking, the distinction is predicated on how previous the cattle is, what it was fed, and the quantity of marbling current. You don’t have to purchase the top-tier grade to have meal, simply hold the grade in thoughts while you’re planning how you can prep and prepare dinner.

USDA Prime

USDA Prime shield

Prime beef is taken into account the very best grade, with a better quantity of marbling. Most eating places and accommodations use (and boast) Prime beef. To organize a Prime roast or steak, strive a dry-heat cooking technique like broiling, roasting or grilling.

USDA Selection

USDA Choice shield

Though it has much less marbling than Prime beef, Selection beef remains to be thought of prime quality. For tender, juicy cuts, choose one of many loin or rib choices. For those who go for a much less tender reduce, strive a cooking technique that makes use of liquid somewhat than dry warmth, corresponding to braising or simmering.

USDA Choose

USDA Select shield

Choose beef is usually the leanest grade. To make sure optimum tenderness, use a marinade earlier than cooking and braise to seal in as a lot moisture as attainable.

Widespread Questions on Beef and Steak

What’s a steak?

A “steak” is nothing greater than any meat reduce throughout the muscle right into a thick slice. Technically, steak can come from any animal, however the phrase is usually related to higher-quality beef cuts.

What’s marbling?

A beef steak with high marbling

Marbling is meat that comprises a excessive quantity of fats throughout the muscle. Excessive marbling is fascinating and one of the vital components within the USDA grading system. Meat with excessive marbling will probably be tender and flavorful, whereas a reduce with no marbling will be robust.

3 steaks with varying degrees of marbling
Examples of steak marbling offered by the USDA

What’s a roast?

A roast is a reduce of meat that’s often cooked entire. Roasts serve a number of individuals, and sometimes use the “roasting” cooking technique, which is heating in a dry oven. Roasts may also be braised, which entails frying the surface of the meat after which cooking it slowly in a closed container, typically with some form of liquid (this step is also referred to as stewing).

What’s Kobe beef?

Kobe is the trademark of a Japanese firm. Considerably much like how Champagne refers to glowing wine from a selected area of France, Kobe refers to cuts from a selected breed of cattle referred to as Wagyu, that are raised in strict circumstances. Pure Kobe beef from Japan can’t be bought legally within the US, however it’s attainable to search out domestically raised Kobe-style beef. Whereas Kobe beef is taken into account to be a delicacy, those that have tasted it both think about it the perfect beef on the earth, or do not perceive the hype. When in comparison with USDA scores, Kobe beef is taken into account two grades greater than Prime.

What’s Angus beef?

Angus beef comes from a breed of cow with the identical title. Nonetheless, Licensed Angus Beef is beef from black Angus cattle that has met sure {qualifications} involving marbling, dimension, and high quality of no less than Selection and Prime. The necessities comes from The American Angus Affiliation, a personal, non-government group, and should not be confused with USDA grading system outlined above. Angus basically is a standard breed for beef, however a lot of it isn’t licensed.

What’s the most tender steak?

The tenderloin, also referred to as filet mignon, is essentially the most tender. It comes from the brief loin reduce of the cow. With beef, usually, the extra tender a steak reduce is, the much less taste it has. For the perfect of each worlds, think about a t-bone, which includes a tender filet on one aspect of the bone and a beefy New York strip on the opposite. For those who’re particularly hungry, order the Porterhouse, much like a t-bone however bigger.

What reduce of meat is roast beef?

Ask a bunch of butchers, and also you’ll most likely get a number of completely different solutions. It additionally is dependent upon for those who’re speaking a few roast, as in a big reduce that serves a number of individuals, or for those who imply roast beef, the thinly sliced star of the deli counter. Like many sorts of meals, the reply is dependent upon your tastes, your most well-liked cooking strategies, your time, and your finances.

For a roast, for those who like braising, smoking, grilling, or utilizing a gradual cooker, strive making beef brisket. Oven-roasted tri-tip will be significantly tender, whereas chuck roast advantages from braising (use beef broth for distinctive depth of taste). And for an actual deal with, in fact you’ll be able to’t go unsuitable with a ribeye roast–prepare dinner it entire for a particular vacation meal.

For roast beef sandwiches, you need a lean reduce of beef. The marbling in fattier steaks melts within the oven, which is best for a dish served sizzling from the oven. Boneless beef high loin roast has the flavour and chewy texture you need in a sandwich, and because of the reduce, the entire fats is on the floor–which makes it straightforward to trim off earlier than slicing. A backside or eye spherical roast is extra budget-friendly, however equally tasty.

What reduce of beef is prime rib?

Prime rib, also referred to as a standing rib roast, is a extremely sought-after reduce of beef that comes from the rib primal part of a steer. This beautiful reduce includes ribs six by twelve and consists of a few of the most tender and flavorful meat. The time period “prime” refers back to the grade of the meat, which signifies the very best high quality, boasting ample marbling and tenderness. Nonetheless, it is price noting that not all prime ribs are essentially graded as “prime” by the USDA; they may also be graded as “alternative” or “choose.” Prime rib shouldn’t be a steak; it’s a roast. A steak is a smaller, particular person portion reduce throughout the muscle, whereas a roast is a bigger reduce of meat that’s sometimes cooked entire and serves a number of individuals. The prime rib’s wealthy marbling and tender texture make it good for roasting, leading to a succulent, mouthwatering dish that’s typically the centerpiece of particular events and vacation meals.

Learn subsequent:

Which reduce of beef is your favourite, and the way do you want to arrange it? Tell us within the feedback. 


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