Even the most ardent meat lover can have a hard time wrapping their mind around all the cuts of beef & steak. Where do certain cuts come from? What are the best cooking methods for each cut of meat?
And what about all those confusing steak names, like New York Strip or Flat Iron? To help reduce confusion and stress, we have put this guide together to explain all areas of how to best enjoy beef.
Every cut of beef and steak is defined by where it comes from on the cow. Depending on exactly who you are talking to, there are 7 to 9 cuts of beef. A couple are small & similar are get combined or separated out (ie, sirloin and brisket). Here’s the essential guide to every cut with links to specific posts on each cut.
A chuck cut is the area of the cow that is near the front legs. This area has many of the larger muscles of the cow, which are used for hard work. It also includes ribs and some other related cuts of meat. This cut needs to be slow cooked, like pot roast or braised beef, in order to tenderize it.
Blade Chuck Roast
A Blade Chuck Roast is a cut of beef that comes from the shoulder of the cow and running in the direction of the blade. This cut does not come in large sizes, and there is usually a mix of fat and muscle in this area. This cut should be prepared by slowly cooking it over low heat to prevent it from drying out or becoming tough.
Blade Chuck Steak
A blade steak is a cut of beef that comes from the shoulder of the cow and running in the direction of the blade. The best way to cook this cut is to slowly cook it over low heat. The piece will be tender, juicy, and full of flavor.
7-Bone Chuck Roast
A 7-Bone Chuck Roast is a cut of beef that has 7 or 8 ribs attached to it. It can be cooked by using any method that is good for pieces of meat that are tough, which includes braising or slow cooking.
Chuck Center Roast
A chuck center roast is a cut of beef that connects the two halves of the cow. This is not a particularly tender cut, but it does have decent flavor and can be paired with other cuts for added flavor. It should be slow cooked or baked because it’s very tough otherwise.
Chuck Center Steak
A chuck center steak is a cut of beef from the chuck area on the cow. The best way to cook this cut of beef is by using a slow cooker or baking it. It should be tough, but has good flavors and can be combined for added flavor with other cuts.
A denver steak is one of the tougher cuts to come from beef, but it’s delicious when combined with other types of meat to allow for different flavor profiles. It can be prepared by slow cooking or by being baked in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
A Denver steak is one of the tougher cuts of beef that comes from near the front legs. It’s tough, needs to be slow cooked because it’s very tough otherwise, but can be mixed up with other pieces-beef for added flavor. You should cook this cut over low heat in a pot roast, braise it over low heat or bake it in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for best results!
Chuck Eye Roast
A chuck eye roast is a cut of beef that comes from the area below and near the front legs. This area has many of the larger muscles on the cow, which can be tough and should be slow cooked because it’s not as tender as other cuts.
Chuck Eye Steak
A chuck eye steak is a cut of beef from the area below and near the front legs. This area has many of the larger muscles on the cow, which is tough! Be sure to slow cook it or use a baking technique for best results.
Country-style ribs are cuts of beef that come from the rib section on the cow. These cuts are tougher than most other cuts, so they need to be slow cooked until they’re very tender! Slow cooking or braising is the best way to get this cut of meat very tender.
Cross Rib Chuck Roast
A cross rib chuck roast is a cut of beef that connects the two halves of the cow. This is not a particularly tender cut, but it does have decent flavor and can be paired with other cuts for added flavor. It should be slow cooked or baked because it’s very tough otherwise.
A shoulder roast is a type of meat from the cow’s shoulder area. It contains a mix of muscle and fat, making it tough but good for flavor. The best way to cook this cut is by slow cooking or baking it in an oven because if not, then it can become dry and too tough to eat.
A shoulder steak has the word “shoulder” in the name because this nice comes from that area on a cow! For those who don’t know, this part of the animal is able to have a mix of both muscle and fat because there isn’t as much need for agility as with other parts–which makes sense, given where they are located on an animal! So what does one do with these cuts? Again, the best way to cook them is by slow cooking or braising.
A shoulder steak is a cut of beef. This portion on the cow tends to have both muscle and fat, which makes it tough but flavorful. It should be slow cooked or braised for best results!
It’s a tough cut of beef that needs slow cooking. It has the word “shoulder” in it because this steak comes from near the cow’s shoulder area. So what does one do with these cuts? Again, the best way to cook them is by slow cooking or braising.
A ribeye steak is a type of meat from some cattle breeds like Angus and Hereford. This is not one of those tough, fatty steaks that you throw on a grill and forget about: Ribeyes need special care because they shrink massively as they cook and can easily dry out–especially if you’re using gas.
Flat Iron Steak
A flat iron steak is a cut of beef. It’s tough, needs slow cooking, and has the word “shoulder” in it because these cuts come from near the cow’s shoulder area.
The best way to cook it is by slow cooking or braising for best results.
A flat iron steak is tasty when cooked low and slow with BBQ sauce. It also tastes great with just olive oil, salt + pepper. Try adding some chopped onions if you want to taste more depth.
Top Blade Steak
The Top Blade is located between your rib cage and backbone. Here, the steak is also known as the Longissimus dorsi muscle found in many large animals like cows or horses. This cut is also called the Top Chuck, hence the name ‘Top Blade’.
This steak is one of the best steaks to buy for pan frying or grilling. This type of beef has a good ratio between meat and fat allowing it to be tender and juicy when cooked properly.
Petite Tender Roast
This is a cut of beef taken off the shoulder. It’s an economical option for families. It’s used for roasts, braises and slow cooking dishes.
One downside is that this cut of beef has a lot of connective tissue and needs to be cooked above 200 degrees Fahrenheit or it could end up tough and rubbery.
Petite Tender Medallions
A petite tender medallion is a good option for families on a budget because it’s not as expensive as other cuts. However, this cut of beef has a lot of connective tissue that needs to be cooked above 200 degrees Fahrenheit or it could end up tough and rubbery.
Short Ribs, Bone-In
A bone-in short rib is a cut of beef which is one of the oldest and most flavorful cuts. The meat comes from the rib section, where it’s attached to a large end piece of beef loin. In most cases they are very meaty and covered in a layer of fat for flavor, yet they can be tough if not prepared properly due to their structure.
The short ribs come from the last 8 ribs on each side plus some portions from sirloin bones. This area is rich with connective tissues that need long cooking or braising to tenderize them into a tasty delight! Short Ribs cook well in any fashion you want as long as you have enough time ~~ A hearty stew, spicy barbecue sauce or a long-simmered, rich beef stock.
Short ribs can be cut into individual portions and served as steak or chopped up and put in a dish such as goulash or pot roast. Bone-in short ribs don’t get much attention or popularity because of the cost factor. But if you enjoy cooking with new recipes and exploring comfort foods, a bone-in short rib is a nice change of pace from your regular dish.
A rib cut is the cut of edible meat that includes ribs in the rib cage. The rib cage is located on the belly side of the animal’s body. It includes ribs 6 through 12. Ribs are also sometimes called “long ribs”.
Ribeye Roast, Bone-In
A ribeye roast is a popular cut of beef from the rib section, one of the most flavorful cuts from any animal. The larger end of this cut (near the bones) includes a small continuation of bones and cartilage for flavor and texture.
Ribeye Steak, Bone-In
A ribeye steak is a popular cut of beef from the rib section, one of the most flavorful cuts from any animal. The larger end of this cut (near the bones) includes a small continuation of bones and cartilage for flavor and texture.
Back Ribs are the thin, juicy ribs on top of the ribcage. They are cut next to the spine and are separated by a thin layer of meat. This thin layer is called the “flitch” or “bacon”. The thickest point on each slab is where they are attached to the vertebrae which are removed. The back ribs are very tender, lean and flavorful because they are not covered with any more meat. This meat contains a lot of nutritious properties including choline, betaine, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc. It can cost anywhere from $6-$7 per pound for back ribs at your grocery store.
Ribeye Roast, Boneless
The boneless ribeye roast is made up of 90% lean meat. The best cooking method for this beef roast is braising or slow-roasting. It’s perfect for dishes like pot roast, beef Stroganoff, and goulash.
Ribeye Steak, Boneless
A boneless ribeye steak is a cut of beef from the rib section which is one of the most flavorful cuts. The larger end of this cut (near the bones) includes a small continuation of bones and cartilage for flavor and texture. This cut of beef has a lot of connective tissue that needs to be cooked above 200 degrees Fahrenheit or it could end up tough and rubbery.
Ribeye Cap Steak
The ribeye cap includes the D shaped ridge of meat that stretches from the rack to the spine bone. It’s a very flavorful, sometimes generous cut that can be used for sirloin steak or cubed steaks.
Ribeye Petite Roast
A ribeye petite roast is a cut of beef from the rib section which is one of the most flavorful cuts. The larger end of this cut (near the bones) includes a small continuation of bones and cartilage for flavor and texture. This cut could be tough if not cooked properly because it has a lot of connective tissues. The best cooking method for this roast is braising or slow-roasting which can take an hour or more.
A ribeye filet is a cut of beef from the rib section which is one time of the most flavorful cuts. The larger end of this cut (near the bones) includes a small continuation of bones and cartilage for flavor and texture. This cut tends to be relatively lean but it contains a lot more fat in certain areas. The best way to cook this roast is braising or slow-roasting which can take an hour or more.
A loin cut is a cut of meat from the back, which can be roasted or fried. The loin includes the short loin, the sirloin and the tenderloin.
A Porterhouse steak is a cut of beef from the short loin that includes both sirloin and tenderloin. Generally, from one end to the middle, a Porterhouse consists of mostly strip loin with a small section of tenderloin on either side, but it can vary depending on how it is cut.
A T-bone steak is a cut of beef from the short loin that includes a small section of tenderloin on either side. It consists mostly of a strip loin with a small section of tenderloin, but it can vary depending on how it’s cut.
Although there are many similar cuts available for purchase today, none have been given the name “T-Bone” due to its high level of meat quality and popularity.
Strip Steak, Bone-In
A bone-in strip steak is a cut of beef from the short loin. It consists mostly of a strip loin and costs more than any other boneless or “faux” butcher cuts. You can prepare it by grilling, broiling or frying it.
Strip Steak, Boneless
A Boneless Strip steak is a cut of beef from the short loin, boneless and without a large bone running along its length.
Because the bone is removed, it becomes more tender. This steak is also known as a New York strip or KC strip. It can be cooked whole if quite small, or cut into individual portions first for a higher-end restaurant experience.
Strip Petite Roast
A Strip Petite Roast is a tender and lean cut of beef, perfect for the inexperienced cook.
The most popular cuts in steak houses around the nation are often ribeye, porterhouse and T-bone, but that doesn’t mean these cuts always provide the most flavor or best eating experience.
A strip petite roast is one alternative to try with your next meat purchase where you’ll find a long grain rather than short grain so it’s easier to slice across this roast when carving against the grain without having too much surface toughness. It’s small enough for smaller families or gatherings so it won’t take up all your refrigerator space yet hearty enough for even more advance cooks with its high marbling and tenderness in texture since it typically comes from the loin. The strip petite roast is also known as a top loin or shell roast.
A strip filet is a cut of beef. It’s also known as the New York Strip, after the city it was popularized in.
Named for the tenderloin, a long strip of meat running along the spine of a cow, it is cut from a primal loin. The strip steak contains only small muscle fibers and is very tender if prepared properly.
A tenderloin roast is a beef cut, and it’s what most people call Filet Mignon. A tenderloin roast has a very mild flavor, but it can be quite expensive.
A tenderloin roast is a beef cut from the short loin primal. It’s also known as a “chateaubriand” or “tournedos”. The roast itself is about 8-12 inches in diameter and 4-7 inches thick.
The cut is very tender, but it lacks flavor. As a result, it’s usually wrapped in bacon or something salty and/or smoky before cooking. It can be roasted whole or cut into medallions for more even cooking and larger portions.
If it’s cooked right, it won’t need much chewing at all! Many people choose this cut because of its mild flavor and the ease of cooking.
Most restaurants serve Tenderloins pre-cut into filets or medallions (round pieces).
As a result, it can be difficult to look at the roast itself and know if its actually tender or not. The main two things that help are size and fat content. A larger Tenderloin will have more fat in general, so you’re likely to get a more tender cut.
The tenderloin filet is a small but popular, lean and elegant cut of beef that’s also one of the most expensive. This filet is generally not tough or chewy, so it can be cooked whole without too much fuss–just sear on the crust side and the crust will become brown and crispy. It has less marbling than other cuts of beef which means if cooked improperly, it will come out dryer.
A sirloin cut is classified by The Beef Checkoff as coming from the hip (thigh) or back. The “top sirloin butt” comes either directly below the loin (back) or next to the rump (hip/thigh). It too can be tender if taken from the right side of the animal, but generally needs a marinade or some other tenderizing treatment to become as flavorful as those from the loin. It is also slightly less expensive than those from the loin itself.
Top Sirloin Steak
A top sirloin steak is a boneless cut that’s more tender than the other major cuts like eye of round or bottom sirloin. The marbling in this cut can vary greatly, which affects the fat content and the level of doneness required to enjoy it properly.
Top sirloin is best suited to cooking methods like broiling, grilling or frying.
It can be used for roasting but won’t yield the same results as the more tender cuts. Sliced thinly against the grain, top sirloin is a favorite cut for fajitas and stir fry recipes.
A sirloin steak is a beef steak cut from the middle of the back of cattle. A bone-in strip loin steak is taken from the last 12 ribs below where Canada tenderloin are cut out.
A boneless sirloin, also known as a Denver cut, may include an attached side muscle called a wing tip or flap. They are usually sold by weight with “choice” being leaner and having less marbling, “select” containing more marbling but less fat cover, and “prime” containing more fat but very little break down in muscle fibers.
Sirloin steaks are suited to quick cooking methods including grilling, roasting and frying.
Top Sirloin Petite Roast
This cut of beef is a sirloin roast and it comes from the spine. It’s also one of the leaner roasts around and cooks up nicely.
Top Sirloin Filet
A top sirloin filet is a cut of beef from the hip, thigh/butt, or back. It’s usually served in restaurants because it’s such an expensive cut and too much for most people to cook at home, but when cooked right it won’t need much chewing.
A coulotte roast or steak is a boneless, rolled or ball-shaped piece of beef. The word coulotte originates from the French word caulot, meaning hind part of the cow’s body.
This cut comes from the back leg muscles and is usually used for braising because it has a high level of leanness when compared to other roasts.
A tri-tip roast is a muscle found in the bottom sirloin.
The bottom sirloin (also known as round) contains two major muscles, top round and bottom round. The top rounds are included in most supermarket cuts; the bottom rounds are often sold for ground beef or steaks. However, there is one last cut available from the lower part of the sirloin—the whole tri-tip (or triangle) because it’s attached to both major muscles, top and bottom. This triangular shaped cut offers more surface area for cooking, has greater flavor due to increased marbling because it comes from this mostly unused area of meat compared to just solely liver pate beef tenderloin steak, & fares better when cooked to higher degrees than many other cuts.
A Tri-tip steak is cut from the sirloin section of beef, located on the back side of the animal. It is near the upper hip and, for this reason, it does not need to be flipped during cooking.
This cut of beef has a very pronounced flavor and can handle marinating well. It’s best cooked on a grill or in a cast iron frying pan. Tri-tip steak should be sliced thinly across the grain, as the long muscle fibers can make it tough if not cut properly.
It is usually very tender, but the richness of the meat makes it recommended for experienced palates.
It is one of the most popular cuts in California and has begun to make its way onto restaurant menus all over the world.
Petite Sirloin Steak
A petite sirloin steak is a cut of beef from the back-end of the cow beneath the loin and behind the rump. The meat looks for all intents and purposes to be identical to tenderloin, but differs by having one layer fewer of fat covering it.
A relatively new addition to market offerings, this cut was first sold under this name in 1988 because it differed slightly from your typical sirloin steak – with less fat and more flesh. It’s nearly as lean as tenderloin and so has a flatter texture than other cuts, making it work well for larger portions due to its lower waste quantity after cooking. All things said you’ll find that people who order petite sirloin steaks are often paying for steak that is more tender than your typical sirloin.
Take note that the term ‘petite’ may be used loosely to describe many different cuts of beef, usually those cut from the back closer to the rump (like the petite tender). This term essentially means ‘smaller’ and isn’t necessarily indicative of any specific cut or portion.
The sirloin bavette is the tail end of the top loin (the same cut that makes up New York Strip Steak). It’s covered in a lot of marbled fat, which guarantees it will be tender.
It’s also lean and full of beefy flavor. Some people use it for Swiss steaks (cut thin across the grain), but bavette steak is often cut thicker, grilled or broiled with some butter, garlic or herbs. It can be difficult to find in supermarkets because there are so many other cuts from the loin available.
Round cuts are usually located on the animal’s posterior areas. Round cuts include the round steak, the flank steak and the rump roast. These cuts are typically leaner than other beef cuts. They can be tough, so these round cuts require longer cooking times to break down the connective tissue. The round is also one of the least expensive cuts of beef, which makes it a good option for budget-friendly recipes that stretch the meat further without sacrificing flavor or tenderness.
Top Round Steak
A Top Round Steak is a cut of beef from the upper hind leg of the animal. It’s ungainly meat, so it’s economical, which makes for low waste after cooking, and cooks well with dry heat.
Top rounds are economical because they come from an area that does not generate much tension or activity. The muscles here do not contract as intensely during movement as muscles in other sections of the legs – causing lower levels of intramuscular connective tissue. This also means that these cuts can be tough due to their under-worked muscle fibers. Due to this disadvantage, top round steaks are best suited to dark pan frying with little fat or braising for longer periods.
Bottom Round Roast
Bottom Round Roast is a less tender cut of beef with a very rich flavor.
A Bottom Round Roast, also called a Culotte Cut, is the bottom section of the cow’s hind quarter and comes from the top portion of the animal’s rear legs. This is one of the tougher cuts of meat because it spans two joints in the backbone and contains more connective tissues than other types. However, it has a robust flavor that can be enhanced by marinating or cooking slowly for several hours. Low-temperature roasting over moist heat will help break down tough muscle fibers while promoting juiciness without producing too much excess fat or oil on your roast.
Bottom Round Steak
The bottom round is a beef cut taken from the back of the animal, which is often called the rump roast. The bottom round may be roasted or pot-roasted to make use of its full flavor. It’s most commonly used in stews and ground beef recipes, but it deserves more appreciation for its versatility in dishes like Greek au pied de cochon.
Bottom Round Rump Roast
The bottom round offers a large and cheap cut of beef with excellent flavor for roasts or stews. The fat content is generally around 18% which means that if you’re cooking it on the stove, be sure to cook low and slow-low heat with moisture to prevent any burning.
Since the fat will render out of the meat as it cooks, this roast actually becomes very lean once you remove all the unwanted parts of it (the fat) even before you sear it. Avoid over cooking, though. Cooks fast and becomes tough easily if cook too long.
Eye of Round Roast
The Eye of Round Roast is a lean, tender roast beef. What makes this cut different from the eye round steak is that it has not had any external fat added. The texture of the Eye of Round Roast can be more spongy than others because of this, but its reputation for tenderness more than makes up for this minor difference.
Eye of Round Steak
Eye of Round Steak is an eye of the round (upper leg) that is generally cut into 1-inch thick steaks. The meat can be tenderized with a marinade, but it isn’t usually because the muscle doesn’t need to do much work so it stays pretty tender by itself. Eye Round Steak does not have much fat on it either, which can be good for dieters or people trying to reduce their intake of saturated fats because there’s less bad cholesterol in this type of steak than other cuts. Eye round also has very little flavor along with having a good level of protein, so this cut of beef is usually cooked with the addition of some type of sauce or seasoning.
Brisket cuts come from the animal’s breast and lower chest. The brisket is the only cut of beef that is completely boneless. It can be tough and requires longer cooking times, but it has excellent flavor and is an inexpensive cut of meat. Brisket is most commonly served as part of a barbecue or as a “smoked” meat.
A brisket flat is a relatively lean cut from the lower part of the forequarters, with some pockets of more fat.
A brisket point is a fat-streaked cut of meat from the lower chest, usually tougher than the flat or just above it.
Plate & Flank Cuts
A plate or flank cut is a lean meat that comes from the animal’s abdomen. One of the main purposes for this cut is to serve as a stewing meat. The plate & flank are less desirable cuts because they have more connective tissue which requires slow cooking times to tenderize it.
A skirt steak is a cut of beef taken from the inside part of the animal’s abdominal area. It falls between two major muscle groups and near other important organs like intestines and kidneys. Skirt steak is extremely flavorful, rich in iron, vitamin B 12 , omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and other nutrients.
One thing that distinguishes skirt steak from other types of steak cuts are its long length – measuring about 10 inches on average. Usually served uncooked with one side browned so diners can sear it to their desired doneness level- it’s often called “flavored beef” since the meat still has twin layers of tougher connective tissue running through it. The tissue breaks down upon cooking or when heated to higher temperatures just before it reaches medium-rare.
Skirt steak is a relatively fatty cut of beef, so the meat should always be cooked to rare or medium-rare for maximum tenderness and moistness. Overcooking not only makes this lean cut dry out but also reduces its natural juiciness and adds an unpleasant chewiness to the texture.
A flank steak is a beef steak cut from the abdominal muscles of either side of the cow’s spine. This makes it one of the leaner cuts if cooked correctly. Flank steak should be cooked to about medium or medium-rare because you don’t want that beautiful piece to become tough and chewy!
Short Ribs, Bone-In
A bone-in short rib is the meat trimmed from a beef or veal rib, including the greater trochanter.
Some advantages of having the bone in are that it needs less cooking time and is tastier when done this way. A bone-in lends more flavor to your dish during the cooking process because its hard fats melt out over time, providing flavor with each bite. The downside to this cut of meat is that it’s not very tender when it reaches an internal temperature of over 140°F (60°C).
There are also plenty of “other cuts” on a cow that are generally re-processed or combined cuts from other parts of the cow.
Kabobs are cubes of beef cooked on a skewer. Kabob recipes can range from different vegetables, either cubed or mixed into sauce, that are placed around the outer edges of the beef kabob to create an easy hand-held meal.
Beef strips are thin, long slices of beef taken from the muscle that makes up the top part of cow’s cow. They can be found fresh or frozen in various supermarket meat departments.
A cubed steak is a cut of beef that is cubed for easy cooking before or after it has been cooked. It is one of the few types of steaks where the fattier parts are actually desired because they cook quickly and often produce more flavor than cuts from other areas.
It should be noted, there are some people who may prefer leaner meats since those cuts involve less fat and take longer to cook as well as requiring different seasonings than fatty cuts.
Stew meat is a generic term for any type of cut of or from beef that would make great, hearty beef stew. Any kind of medium-sized chunk cut (for example, 1″x2″x3″) would work well for the stew since it needs chunks to allow all the liquids to penetrate and enjoy after cooking. This can include chuck roast, round steak or other tough cuts that aren’t as desirable in another application such as pot roasts.
Shank Cross Cut
A shank cross cut is where you cut a shank of beef by running your knife parallel to the bones, careful not to jam it into any joints. You can cut across them and make pieces anywhere from 3/4″ to 2″ thick.
Ground Beef is a meat ground from a combination of beef cuts, including chuck, skirt and brisket. Cow parts, such as lips or tongue can also be added to the mix.
It’s generally used for hamburgers on the grill or in a pan as well as mixed into sauces and soups for more flavor.
Ground beef is usually quite lean but it varies depending on your butcher’s preferences and what you decide to have included it in with before cooking. A medium-rare steak has less than 12% fat content while ground beef typically contains 18-to-25%.
Ox tails are a part of an animal that is usually discarded by butchers. This adds up to a lot of wasted food and money lost since ox tails can be pounded, boiled and braised to make robust, flavor-packed dishes such as these.
An ox tail is not just any old leftover! Ox tails stand out because they cook so well with hearty earthy flavors while at the same time maintaining their wonderful depth and richness. And because they’re inexpensive and cuts from the less expensive parts of the animal, there’s no need to worry about them becoming tough or dry while cooking. Ox tails can be prepared in several different ways but one way to enjoy it best would be braising it in rich flavorful liquids like wine, beef broth or tomato sauce.
Ox tongues are sometimes referred to as “veal tongue.” They’re an off cut of the beef cattle, and they’re considered a delicacy in some parts of Europe. The tough exterior makes them difficult to prepare (especially with traditional cooking methods like roasting) but they make excellent stews if boiled for hours until tender.
This guide has all the information you need to make a confident and informed decision on what cut of beef is best for your needs. Whether it’s how much money you’re willing to spend, where in the animal the meat comes from or whether you want something leaner or juicier, we’ve got it covered. This article should answer any questions that may have been lingering about cuts of beef and help better inform your future purchases!