There are 8 main cuts of beef, with many sub categories. Knowing which is which, and how to cook for optimal taste, can change your meals.

Comparing Cuts of Beef

There are 8 main cuts of beef, with many sub categories. Knowing which is which, and how to cook for optimal taste, can change your meals.

When heading to the frozen meats department at the grocery store, it can be overwhelming to look at all the options there are for beef. Our local grocery store only carries some of the most popular (ground beef, top sirloin, ribeye, and rump roast to name a few) but if you head to a butcher or specialty shop, there will be dozens of choices.

How do you know which is the best cut of meat? Well, a lot of that will depend on what you are cooking and what flavor you want. It will also vary based on your preferences. Most people will tell you that the more fat they have, the better the meat will taste. I disagree, though, as I don’t like fatty meat. I choose the leanest options possible and luckily for me, those are often the lowest in price!

Originally Published On: January 27, 2023

8 Major Cuts of Beef

There are 8 major cuts of beef. When a cow is first divided by the butcher, they cut it into these 8 pieces. Then from there, it’s divided further.

Chuck

Chuck is the cut of beef that comes from the shoulder area of the cow. It tends to be a firmer cut of meat but can have a lot of flavor. Chuck meat can be cheap, so that’s is why it’s widely sold. There are many ways you can get chuck meat.

  • Flat Iron: Grill, Saute
  • Top Blade Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Chuck Roast: Braise
  • Chuck Arm Roast: Braise
  • Mock Tender Steak: Grill, Braise
  • Mock Tender: Braise
  • Clod Heart: Roast, Braise
  • Ranch Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Petite Tender: Shoulder Tender Medallions: Grill, Braise
  • Cross Rib Roast or English Roast: Braise
  • Sierra Steak: Grill, Braise
  • Denver Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Boneless Country Style Ribs: Braise
  • Bone-In Chuck Short Ribs: Braise
  • Chuck Eye Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Chick Eye Roast: Roast, Braise

Rib

The rib meat comes from, you guessed it, the ribs! Fun fact: only the lower ribs are included in this then the rest are often grouped with chuck or short plate meat. Most find the ribs to be the most tender and flavorful portions of the cow. Thus, they also tend to be the most pricey.

  • Ribeye: Grill, Saute
  • Bone-In Rib Roast: Roast
  • Rib Filet: Grill, Saute
  • Ribeye Roast: Roast
  • Cowboy Steak: Grill
  • Bone-In Ribeye: Grill, Saute
  • Bone-In Plate Short Ribs: Braise
  • Back Ribs: Braise
  • Chef CutRibeye: Grill, Saute

Loin

Moving down the cow, the loin is the next section. This includes the cuts of beef that are right behind the ribs. They are very tender pieces, and therefore the most expensive pieces of beef you can purchase.

Short Lion

  • Boneless Strip Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Strip Filet: Grill, Saute
  • Strip Roast: Roast
  • Tenderloin Roast: Roast, Grill
  • T-Bone: Grill, Saute
  • Porterhouse: Grill, Saute
  • Filet Mignon: Grill, Saute
  • Hanger Steak: Grill, Saute

Sirloin

  • Center Cut Sirloin Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Top Sirloin Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Coulotte Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Sirloin Filet: Grill, Saute
  • Tri-Tip Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Tri-Tip: Roast, Grill
  • Ball Tip Steak: Grill, Braise
  • Ball Tip: Braise, Roast
  • Sirloin Flap: Braise, Roast

Round

Round beef is lean, but can also be a tougher cut. This is near the hind legs of the cow so you have to cook this just right to maximize the taste.

  • Rump Roast: Braise
  • Top Round London Broil: Grill
  • Top Round Roast: Braise
  • Top Round Steak: Grill, Braise
  • Bottom Round Steak: Grill, Braise
  • Bottom Round London Broil: Grill
  • Bottom Round Roast: Braise
  • Eye of Round Roast: Roast, Braise
  • Eye of Round Steak: Grill
  • Sirloin Tip Center Roast: Roast, Braise
  • Sirloin Tip Center Steak: Grill, Saute, Braise
  • Sirloin Tip Side Steak: Grill, Saute
  • Butterfly Top Round Steak: Grill

Flank

Flank steak is one of the leanest cuts of beef. It’s located just below the loin. There are no bones in this area, so it will always be a boneless cut when you purchase it.

  • Flank: Grill, Braise
  • Skirt: Grill

Plate

Just below the ribs is the plate steak area. This meat is usually fatty, cheap, and tough.

  • Short Ribs: Braise
  • Inside Skirt: Braise

Brisket

Brisket is found on the cow’s breast and is a favorite for BBQ beef. This is best when it’s slow-cooked. Even though it’s typically fatty and tough, it will melt in your mouth if cooked properly.

  • Whole Brisket: Braise
  • Brisket Flat: Braise
  • Brisket Point: Braise

Shank

At the front of the cow, near the front legs, you’ll find the shank. It’s the toughest of the main cuts of beef that you’ll get. Since it’s so dry, most people don’t use it when making meals. But if you can find it, it’s a great option to make homemade stock since it’s so cheap.

  • Shank Cross Cut: Braise

4 Ways to Cook Cuts of Beef

Braise

Braise is another term for slow cooking. You can do this in an actual slow cooker, or in a covered pan over low heat. The key here is to cook it low and slow, therefore meat that has been braised often ends up very juicy.

Beef roast on a dark square plate with stainless steel forks to the side and a dark towel behind all on a dark wooden surface (with title overlay)

Grill

Grilling can be done over a propane or a charcoal grill. This is the most popular way to cook most cuts of beef. You can cook it low and slow on the grill, or if you prefer your meat more on the red side, you can cook over high heat for a shorter time to sear the outsides but not cook the insides.

BBQ burgers topped with slices of cheese on the grill

Roast

Roasting is done with dry high heat. It’s similar to baking, but at higher temperatures. This can be done over an open flame or in a traditional oven.

Roast beef on a bamboo surface with a few slices laid over with peppercorn around it in front of a brown towel all on a wooden surface

Saute

Sauteing is done typically in a shallow pan on a stovetop. You’ll add a small amount of fat, such as oil, to the pan and cook over medium-high heat. This will sear the outside of the meat, leaving the meat inside soft.

Beef Doneness

Some cuts of beef are better based on how long they are cooked. And how done they are. Everyone has their own preference for meat. Some like it still very red, almost bleeding. Some (like me) like it cooked all the way through with almost no red inside. Others (like Justin) like it in between.

There are a few methods of testing for doneness, but a lot comes from experience cooking meat. For example, Justin cooks our BBQ Burgers so often, he doesn’t need to test the meat to know when they are ready to come off of the grill.

The most accurate way, though, to check for doneness is to use an instant-read meat thermometer. You’ll want to put it in the thickest part of the meat, making sure it doesn’t touch a bone.

Rare – 120F

Rare meat will still be soft and red in the center. It usually has barely been warmed before being removed from the heat. Most people prefer cuts of beef such as top sirloin or filet mignon to be rare.

Medium Rare -130F

Meat that is cooked to medium rare will still be red in the center but will be warmer and also have a nice crust on the outside. This temperature allows some of the fat to render which adds flavor to the meat.

Medium – 140F

The center of meat cooked to medium will be pink but firmer in texture. The meat will start to get slightly dry since it’s being cooked longer.

Medium Well -150F

Medium-well meat will be mostly brown in the center with just a hint of pink to it. The texture will also be much firmer and the meat drier.

Well Done – 160+F

Most don’t suggest cooking your cuts of beef to well done unless you have a medical reason to do so. It gets very dry and loses almost all of it’s flavor as it’s been cooked too long.

https://news.certifiedangusbeef.com/degrees-of-doneness/

10 thoughts on “Comparing Cuts of Beef”

  1. Now this is an education! Who knew there were so many different cuts and the differences between them. Pinning this for a later date thank you x

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