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Cuts of Steak Explained and Which are the Best

Updated on March 16, 2016

Where does your steak come from?

What cut of steak?

A lot of people have trouble with meat. They like the idea of a great steak, and they have a general notion that the more expensive the steak, the better it is…but more than that…who knows?!

I didn’t either until fairly recently when I decided to really get to know the different cuts of meat, where they came from on the cow, and what they each had to offer.

Imagine a cow…

If you imagine a cow, the front section from about just behind the shoulders up to the neck and all the way down, is home to some very tasty and very ornery cuts of meat. From the shoulder area comes your beef chuck, and down south a bit your brisket. Cuts of meat full of connective tissue that melts into flavorful heaven when braised, but makes for an awfully chewy steak.

Most steaks come a bit further back on the cow, and the best known steaks start at the upper mid section, and proceed back to the hind quarters.

RIB

Just back from the shoulder is the rib section, and this is the home of the prime rib roast, and not surprisingly, the rib steak and the rib eye. Very well marbled and flavorful, the rib section is about the tastiest of all the steaks, and is tender and succulent enough for a quick treatment on the grill.

Some common cuts of the rib are:

Rib steak, which if you can imagine is just a slice with the bone of a prime rib,

Rib eye steak, which is just the boneless interior of the rib steak

LOIN

Directly behind the rib section is the loin, and the loin meat is the tenderest section of beef. Although not as well flavored or marbled as the rib, the loin accounts for the most expensive and tender of all the cuts of steak. Some common cuts of the loin are:

The tenderloin, the tenderest cut, the most expensive, and some say less flavorful.

T-Bone, A bit of everything, the T bone has a T shaped bone which sub divides a small section of tenderloin, with a larger section of strip steak.

Porterhouse, similar to the T-bone, but with a larger section of tenderloin.

Strip loin (NY steak), a rectangular strip of very flavorful steak, like a T-bone without the bone or tenderloin!

SIRLOIN

Directly behind the loin is the sirloin. Less tender and cheaper than the loin, sirloin steaks are very tasty. Try to pick sirloin steaks as cut close to the loin if possible (if the bone is flat that means close to the loin, and round means farther back).

ROUND

The round section is the hind leg of the cow, and although some of these can be very flavorful, all are less tender than even the sirloin.

Some common cuts from the round are:

Top roundis an acceptable steak for the grill, inexpensive and flavorful.

Bottom round is OK for the grill, but you should probably marinate well as it can be a bit chewy.

Eye of round is too tough for quick cooking methods.

Buy the right steak

If money is no object, go for the rib eye, the tenderloin, the Porterhouse/T-bone or the strip; but if you're looking for value for money tri a flat boned sirloin for a great beefy flavor, or even cheaper, a top round steak.

Cook it well (hot and fast) and enjoy!

Watch a butcher explain the different cuts of steak

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    • profile image

      Sue 3 months ago

      When in Jamaica we were served fabulous "supine" steak from a skewer at a rodizio restaurant. What is supine steak?

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      This is great for knowing about which steaks are best for broiling, or grilling. Very helpful, thanks.

    • profile image

      carrazzee 5 years ago

      This was the only one I looked at about cuts of beef just enough for what I needed..Thanks

    • profile image

      Don 5 years ago

      The store I shop at advertised Angus Grilling Steaks, What is a grilling steak and how does it compare to other cuts?

    • profile image

      BertieMac 5 years ago

      Informative article but according to the picture, I think your 'cow' is a bull.

    • profile image

      yes 5 years ago

      chuck chuck chuck!!!

    • profile image

      brewer the beef man 5 years ago

      we raise our on beef nothing better than t-bone for me

    • profile image

      Hatim Hijazi 6 years ago

      Its relly good explanation. Thanks

    • profile image

      pankaj  6 years ago

      thanx for good information...

    • profile image

      what 6 years ago

      honestly richi... what???

    • profile image

      sheri 7 years ago

      This has been the most helpul, informative and interesting explanation of beef I have ever seen or heard. I love steak but have never taken the time to really understand different kinds of steak. Now I feel when I go to a restaurant or buy steak, I feel empowered to know exactly what I want and what I will get when I buy steak. Thank you so much! for this insightful and excellent video to watch.

    • profile image

      Owen 7 years ago

      I have become a big fan of porterhouse and rib eye through my visits to most of the New York steak houses. I find the best preperation is the least preperation. Medium rare maintains the true taste of the meat and some of the dry aged taste. Nothing more the a salt and pepper rub and some butter. If you want to put cheese and such on your food get a hamburger, chicken, or pasta.

    • profile image

      Patty 8 years ago

      Wow. Thank YOU!!! I watch the video and out of all the other reasearches..This was the best. A simple and easy video on the beef part to understand. I am suppose to call in my order on what I want out of a half of a cow tomorrow. This really help out. PS don't get any farmers sausage made out of the cow on a half it's cheaper just going through the meat market. Again THANK YOU so much!

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      My favorite steaks are ribeye and, of course, filet mignon. I like my ribeyes topped with gorgonzola or bleu cheese and popped under the broiler until the cheese starts to melt. The ribeyes need nothing other than salt and pepper. YUM!

    • Apepperson profile image

      Apepperson 8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for this Hub. It answers a lot of questions I've had about where different cuts of meat come from! I'm bookmarking it for future references!

    • denise mohan profile image

      denise mohan 8 years ago from California

      thnx for all the good info

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 9 years ago from Texas

      When I was a kid my folks used to buy a whole quarter or half of a cow from the slaughterhouse and put it in the freezer. So we would get some pretty nice cuts of meat, but as kids we wanted the whole thing ground up as hamburger!

      I wish we had the freezer space to do that now.