Your Guide to Beef Cuts

When it comes to beef, there is a lot you can grill. There are a lot of options in the grocery store or butcher case and it can sometimes get overwhelming trying to choose a cut to grill. Because of that, we decided to make a guide to steak cuts as one of our first meat guides. 

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should help you choose a steak the next time you are ready to grill one. 

1. Ribeye – Perfect for special occasions, the Ribeye is one of the most luxurious of steaks. With insane tenderness and the perfect amount of fat, the Ribeye is a great steak for the grill. You can get it bone in or bone out. We recommend bone in for the best flavor. All you need is some salt, pepper and garlic to make this steak shine. Add butter basting to make it extra delicious.

Fat Content: The most marbled of all steak cuts allowing it to stay tender through the cooking process.

2. Strip Steak – Also called New York Strip, Strip Loin or Top Loin, the Strip Steak is probably the steak you are the most familiar with. Strip Steak tends to have a slightly beefier flavor than Ribeye and might be a tad less tender but with the right chef to cook it, the Strip Steak can be just as impressive as a Ribeye.

Fat Content: A tougher cut of meat from the t-bone area. Have a medium-low to low fat content.

3. Tenderloin Steak – There are some parts of the cow that hold the most tender cuts of meat. Deep in the short loin there is a cut of beef called the Tenderloin. Because this muscle isn’t used a lot, it is far and away the most tender cut of steak. The only downside is that it can tend to be a little flavorless. There is a lower fat content so they can dry out. It’s best to enjoy this steak as part of the larger Porterhouse Steak.

Fat Content: Varies depending on where the meat is cut from.
Tenderloin Fast Fact: The filet mignon comes from this cut.

4. Porterhouse Steak – The Porterhouse is a fantastic cross section cut of beef. Featuring a part of the beef short loin, the ribeye, and part of the tenderloin, these steaks are far and away some of the most expensive cuts you can get at a steakhouse. Thankfully, they are readily available at your local butcher so you’ll be able to grill them up without torpedoing your wallet.

Fat Content: Some veins of fat. Cut from the choice tenderloin. Fat content varies depending on how thick the steaks are.

5. T-Bone Steak – Similar to a Porterhouse, the T-Bone are cut slightly forward on the short loin. They come from a section of the beef slightly further away from the rump, so they are a lot more tender. Beware of overcooking. Steaks with bones tend to be prime candidates for coming out more done than desired.  

Fat Content: Slightly lower fat content than the Ribeye, but still very marbled. Helps the meat stay tender while cooking.

6. Skirt Steak – Thick-grained and full of connective tissue, the Skirt Steak is sometimes looked at like a throwaway cut. This is tragic because it is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef in the animal. The key is to cook it hot and fast. It is a perfect candidate for steak and eggs or tacos.

Fat Content: Slightly marbled but still tougher cut of beef.  

7. Top Sirloin Steak – Much less tender than the short loin, Top Sirloin Steak is taken from the beef sirloin primal cut. While it might be less tender, it is packed with flavor and relatively inexpensive. Make sure to not overcook this cut as it can quickly become tough and dry.

Fat Content: Moderate marbling but most of the fat is isolated to the sides. Render the side fat first and then sear the top and bottom

8. Flank Steak – Another candidate for being grilled quickly and over high heat, the Flank Steak is another tough cut of steak that can be delicious with the proper care. One of our favorite methods for tenderizing steak like this is covering both sides with a heavy dose of salt and letting the steak sit in the fridge for a few hours. Just rinse the salt off and pat dry before cooking. 

Fat Content: Very low which is why you need to cook this steak carefully and fast.

9. Chuck Eye Steak – Affectionally called the “poor man’s ribeye,” the Chuck Eye Steak is essentially a ribeye. But because it is cut from the chuck and not the rib, it cannot be called a Ribeye. This means that they can’t charge Ribeye costs for it. If you are looking for a Ribeye quality steak without the price tag, Chuck Eye Steak is the way to go. 

Fat Content: Medium marbling. Not as much as a Ribeye but enough to keep the meat tender while cooking.

10. Flat Iron Steak – Cut lengthwise rather than crosswise, the Flat Iron Steak is the newest cut of steak to make it into the marketplace. Because it is cut to avoid the gristle that travels through it, you essentially get a top blade steak. Cook it quickly and until medium for the best results.

Fat Content: Little to no marbling. Some cuts can have more than others but a generally low fat cut of beef.

Have a favorite steak? Let us know in the comments!

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Patrick February 25, 2019

Recently having lots of fun with tri-tip, a cut virtually unknown east of the Mississippi but rules supreme in the Southwest

WatsonG February 25, 2019

We never like beef cooked more than Medium Rare for most cuts — particularly steaks, prime rib, and other roasting cuts. Like an old Texas friend of mine used to say about steaks — “Wipe its ass and run it by a light bulb!!” LOL! Otherwise it gets dry and tough. Is also easier to digest! About the only time we have beef cooked past Med Rare are Hamburgers and still try to get these no more than Medium. Only time we have beef past Medium are dishes like Country-Style Steak and Gravy — that get simmered for a couple of hours. Same for Ropa Vieja or other similar dishes.

Steaks get grilled very hot (600 deg-F or more), and fast. Over a wood-fed fire (not flaming though!) is best; however the gas grill works well. Adding some Mesquite chips raises the flavor to a different level. The standard “rule” of letting meat for grilling come to room temperature before grilling is thrown out here! I grill it cold as it works better in getting the outside like we want it and yet maintain the rare-ness of the inside. Also, I don’t give a hoot about making those “diamond grill marks” — nothing but “show”! I won’t cook anyone a steak past Medium! If they want it cooked past that, they get to do it themselves! I refuse to ruin a good cut of meat!

Our steak preferences are 1) Ribeye, 2) Porterhouse, 3) T-Bone, 4) Strip/New York, and 5) the rest are pretty-much lumped together. It was interesting to see just what a Chuck Eye really is. Have seen those guts at the grocer; but never have tried them — they looked very appealing though — like something familiar. We’ll have to give this cut a shot and see how they turn out!! Maybe Chuck Eye will turn out to be our new #4.

I also like to grill thick-cut pork chops similarly — temperature used is less than for beef steaks, and I grill them to a nice medium. Great! Juicy and still tender.

Love to roast a hunk of Prime Rib with a good beef “rub” in my BBQ smoker with it run hotter to roasting temperatures with the wood fire! Exquisite!! That’s not done very often considering the price of beef nowadays, unless we can find it on sale, or someone else bought it!! I will do it on a gas grill too, but anything cooked with a wood “fire” is the best!

Fish is great grilled too. Best thing to do here is use a “basket” for the turning-over ease. I like to put a thin coat of Mayo on the outside of the fish and then give it a sprinkling of an herbal mix or Cavender’s Greek Seasoning. Then grill over a medium heat. The Mayo (or you can use something like Olive or veggie oil) provides a “sticky” coating for the seasoning, some flavor, and the oil in the mayo helps retain the moisture.

Yea, I went well past the BEEF discussion; sorry. But maybe it will help some others with their grilling! At least I did not talk about Chicken, other pork cuts, or other 2 or 4-footed animals! LOL! Actually, most of our meat is cooked Outside the house in some fashion, rather than Inside! We’re located in NC.

Wanterbegriller March 12, 2019

How do you grill a prime rib Rare

Michelle R. Yohe October 16, 2019

Thanks for sharing information about steaks. The ribeye steaks is my favorite mostly do grill in weekend parties.

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