The Ultimate Guide to All Cuts of Beef and How to Cook Them

Did you know that in 2019, 27.3 billion pounds of beef was consumed in the United States? Beef is definitely a favorite meal for many American households, but understanding all the different cuts of beef, how they are different from each other, and how to cook them can be quite overwhelming.

Some cuts of beef are great for summer grilling, while others are best in a slow cooker or oven. So, how do you know which one to choose for your meal? In this article, I will walk you through the most common cuts of beef and how to cook them so you can enjoy your next beef dish even more.

Different Cuts of Beef and How to Cook Them

Chuck

The Beef Chuck comes from the forequarter portion of the cow. It consists of the shoulder blade, parts of the neck, and the upper arm. Meat from the beef chuck is considered tougher meat, but when prepared right, can be very flavorful.

Here are some (not all) of the common subprimal cuts of chuck meat:

  1. Chuck Tender
    • Chuck Tender Steak
    • Chuck Tender Roast
  2. Chuck Roll
    • Chuck Eye Roll
    • Under Blade
  3. Shoulder Clod
    • Shoulder Clod Arm Roast
    • Shoulder Petite Tender
    • Top Blade
  4. Shoulder-Cut Chuck
    • Cross-Rib Chuck Roast
    • Chuck Short Ribs
    • Chuck Roast

Since the meat from this portion of the cow is so tough, it’s best when used in slow-cooked dishes that tenderize the cuts, such as pot roast or beef stew. If you prefer grilling, there are many grill-ready cuts like the Flat Iron Steak.

Rib

The Rib portion of the cow is situated under the front section of the backbone. It consists of the sixth rib all the way down until the twelfth rib. The ribs are known for having some of the finest cuts of beef. They are juicy, tender, and have a lot of great flavor.

Here are some common subprimal cuts of rib meat:

  1. Ribeye Roll
    • Ribeye Roast
    • Ribeye Steak
    • Ribeye Filet
  2. Rib Subprimal
    • Back Ribs
    • Rib Oven-Prepared
    • Rib Short Ribs

Some of the most popular beef cuts like the ribeye steak or prime rib roast come from the rib portion of the cow. The tenderness of this meat gives you lots of different ways to cook it. The steak meat can be grilled, smoked, pan-broiled and more. The roast cuts are great when roasted or baked.

Loin

The Loin is cut from the back of the cow, starting at the end of the ribs working towards the rear portion of the cow.  Some of the most favorable cuts of beef come from the loin, such as the tenderloin steak, T-bone steak, porterhouse steak, strip steaks, and more!

Here are some (not all) of the common subprimal cuts of the loin:

  1. Tenderloin
    • Tenderloin Roast
    • Tenderloin Steak (Filet Mignon)
  2. Strip Loin
    • Strip Roast
    • Strip Filet
    • Strip Steak
  3. Short Loin
    • Porterhouse Steak
    • T-Bone Steak

The most popular ways to cook these cuts of meat are through dry heat, such as grilling and pan-searing. These methods do the best at bringing out the flavors from the loin meat.

Round

The Round, also known as the “Rump,” is the back of the cow near the rear leg. This a very lean cut of meat, with very little fat. The round is also a tough cut of meat since cows use their legs continuously.

Here are some (not all) of the most common subprimal cuts of the round:

  1. Top Round
    • Top Round Roast
    • Top Round Steak
    • Santa Fe Steak
  2. Sirloin Tip
    • Sirloin Tip Steak
    • Sirloin Tip Roast
  3. Eye of Round
    • Eye of Round Roast
    • Eye of Round Steak
  4. Bottom Round
    • Outside Round (Flat)
    • Outside Round (Heel)
    • Steamship Round

Since these meats are generally less tender and more lean due to the constant use of the legs, these cuts are best braised or roasted with lower levels of moisture.

Flank

The Flank is a long flat cut that comes from the abdominal portion of the cow. This cut is one of the toughest cuts of beef from the cow and is commonly used in Asian or Mexican dishes.

The most common cut of flank meat is the Flank Steak.

Due to its tough nature, the best methods for cooking Flank meat are to marinate the meat and then grill it quickly and at a high temperature, without over cooking it or braising it to perfection.

Plate

The Plate is the portion of the cow that is located below the ribs, on the front of the belly. There is a lot of cartilage at this location which makes this cut more fatty and tough. This meat is best known for being used in the delicious “Carne Asada.”

The most common sub primal cuts of the Plate portion of the cow are:

  1. Hanger Steak
  2. Inside Skirt Steak
  3. Outside Skirt Steak
  4. Plate Short Ribs
  5. Flanked Style Short Ribs

Due to its toughness, this meat is also best when braised or slow-cooked. Some cuts can also be cooked fast, at a high temperature.

Brisket

Brisket is cut from the lower portion of the cow in the breast. The Brisket is a very popular portion of the cow because of it’s delicious flavor, but unless it’s cooked the right way, it is a very tough meat to eat.

Here are the two subprimal cuts of brisket you can get:

  1. Brisket Flat Half
  2. Brisket Point Half

The brisket comes from a portion of the cow that is used often in their daily life. This makes the brisket cut very tough meat, so the best method for cooking it is slow-cooking. Slow-cooking it will tenderize the meat and bring out all those amazing flavors.

Shank

The last common cut from the cow is the Shank. The Shank comes from a portion of the leg under the brisket and round. Like many other cuts, this meat is very tough due to daily use of these muscles.

The only primal cut that comes from the Shank is the Shank Cross-Cut.

The best way to enjoy a cut of shank meat is to cook it in liquid over a long period of time. It tastes great in soups, stews, or making it into some beef stock.

Finding the Best Deal On Beef

Hopefully, this article was helpful, gave you some clarity on the different cuts of beef, and made you hungry for some delicious meat.  If you are looking for some high-quality, ranch-raised beef for an affordable price, you should try Idaho Direct Beef. They will deliver quality beef right to your door. They even have subscription options as well.

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