According to Beef Retail, these were America’s most popular cuts of steak a couple of years back from a sales standpoint: Don’t worry about committing the above top 10 list to memory; that would be a weird thing to do (unless you work in the beef industry).
Okay, maybe not beyond, but at your grill and out to eat are both great places to be knowledgeable about steaks. Because it comes from the very tip of the tenderloin, which is the most tender cut of meat in an animal’s back.
Cut that, if cooked properly, achieves that “melt in your mouth” phenomenon you hear people blathering on about. Elena Stroking/Getty ImagesMany people will argue that the rib eye, the section of meat by the cow’s ribs is the best steak to order at a steakhouse: It’s not as expensive as filet Mignon, it’s richly marbled, it’s amazing on the grill, and so forth.
Many people might even turn their noses up (which is a great time to punch them in the face) if they hear it mentioned. Flatiron steaks tend to be smaller cuts and can be a bit sinuous, but this relatively thin steak cooks fast on a grill or in a pan, offers plenty of tender bites, and costs very little.
First, the eye of meat in the center of the cut is marbled with a good amount of fat. Sadly, sirloin isn’t quite as tender as tenderloin, but dammit, a sirloin is pretty tender, often retails for less than $8 a pound, and can be sliced up for delicious sandwiches, used in savory stews, or enjoyed as an entrée.
Although thinner cuts of steak can cook just fine on the grill or in the oven, they’re a little more difficult to master. An extra 30 seconds or minute too long, and your delicious steak can turn into a not-so-tempting hockey puck.
Thicker cuts allow you a little more time to play with, so you can get the perfect grill marks and cook without overcooking it. That’s a common thought, but naturally occurring marbling through the muscle is what gives your steak tenderness and flavor.
As it cooks, the fat renders itself down, creating the excellent texture and rich steak flavor you expect. Of course, you don’t want a fatty steak, so look for nice, thin lines of marbling rather than chunks of fat.
These cuts are usually tender and one of the most popular at steakhouses because they contain two different types of meat: a tenderloin on one side and a strip steak on the other. T-bones pack a lot of flavors and stay nice and juicy when they’re cooked correctly.
The difference is that porterhouse steaks tend to be larger than T-bones and a little less tender because they’re cut more toward the legs' area, which has more muscle. To classify as a porterhouse, the USDA specifies that the tenderloin portion must have a thickness of at least 1.25” at its widest point.
Pros Most porterhouses are up to three inches thick, giving you a large, juicy cut with savory flavors. The porterhouse also usually has a larger tenderloin portion than T-bones, both in length and thickness, so you’ll often get a bit more meat from these cuts than a T-bone.
Most porterhouse enthusiasts tend to love cooking this cut on a cast iron skillet to give it the perfect sear and control the heat. Make the most of your rib eye on the grill by searing it for a minute or two on each side over high heat, and then turn down the temperature until it’s cooked to your preference.
Cons Because rib eyes have such excellent fat content, you should take extra care when cooking them on the grill. Still, the grill tends to be one of the most popular methods for cooking a rib eye because the smoky flavor lends itself well to the juicy cut.
Cons Because rib eyes have such incredible marbling, you should take extra care when cooking them on the grill. Still, the grill tends to be one of the most popular methods for cooking a rib eye because the smoky flavor lends itself well to the juicy cut.
The filet Mignon is a small section taken from the area of the tenderloin that sits closest to the ribs, making it extremely tender. Pros Filet Mignon cooks beautifully in a pan, especially when wrapped in bacon.
If you’re looking to purchase several pounds of steak for a large cookout, filet Mignon may put a bigger dent in your wallet than you intended. Some people often criticize filet Mignon for its lack of flavor compared to other steaks.
Pros Top sirloin is highly affordable compared to many other steaks, so it’s great for large cookouts. Still, it provides amazing beef flavor without a lot of fat, making it one of the most perfectly balanced steaks when cooked to the right temperature.
There’s also little marbling in the Top sirloin, so it can turn tough easily, even if it’s only slightly overdone. The short loin is a large area of the animal, so strip steaks can be quite long and are typically between one and two inches thick.
For best results, look for a strip steak about 1 ½-inches thick and season it with some salt and pepper to your liking. Straight portions tend to come from the area closer to the ribs, which are usually more tender and have excellent marbling.
Flank steak is cut from the lower chest or upper abdominal area of a cow. This area is a lean section of the animal, so you shouldn’t need to spend much time trimming off fat.
Although flank steak does have more connective tissue than some higher-end cuts, it still can become extremely tender and have a lot of flavor when you cook it properly. Pros This steak is best to use with marinades that can tenderize the meat muscle that contributes to its naturally tough texture and add a little flavor.
Flank is on the thin side and slices easily against the grain, making it an excellent option for a steak sandwich, brisket, fajitas, or stir-fry. Cook it just a bit too long, and you’ll wind up with a chewy texture that doesn’t taste too great either.
This section of beef is known for its robust flavor and its ability to produce a number of popular steaks. Pros Beef that comes from this cut of steak are best used for roasts, where they’ll cook slowly over low heat.
The cooking process naturally tenderizes the beef with its own fat, leaving behind the rich, beefy flavor you want without the tough and chewy texture. Some of these cuts can also be tougher than other steaks you’re used to, so it may not be the best option for searing, cooking on the grill, or using another method that could dry out the beef.
It's a large primal cut of the cow, mainly coming from its rear leg and rump. It's basically the most tender part of the round, though that's not saying much, and tends to be extremely tough and lean.
Nigh-on tasteless, tougher than John Wick and absolutely not worth your money, no matter how cheap it comes. Skirt steak comes from the part of the cow known as the plate, which is essentially the muscle that you find inside the chest and below the ribs.
Frustratingly, although they're fine to pan-fry, the long shape of the skirt makes it unwieldy to prepare and season, and a total nightmare to fit into all the but the largest pans. This means everything works out nicely if you are serving up slices of beef, but even here the skirt is a perilous cut: a novice cook might be tempted to cut it with the grain, which seems more natural with the skirt.
These different parts vary wildly in general quality, tenderness, and flavor. Equally, certain parts of the bottom sirloin, such as the pro-tip, ball-tip, or flap steak, will do well for dishes such as kebab or stew.
Use it purely for a steak, however, and the bottom sirloin is likely to prove tough, chewy, and chunky. Bottom line: it's probably not going to be the worst steak you'll ever eat, but it definitely won't be the best, either.
Put more simply, the strip cut is what remains once you take the tenderloin away from the short loin. It's also great for flavor and moisture, thanks to the marbling you'll find across the breadth of the cut.
Sadly, however, this marbling does mean strip steak can be a little on the pricey side, and it's debatable whether that extra cost is really worth it, especially compared to some other (arguably superior) expensive cuts out there. When butchered, the radio steak has an unusual diamond shape, weighs between four and five pounds, and can feed a good-size party of hungry Argentines (via The Spruce Eats).
The palette is cut into individual steaks and is either marinated and grilled or pan-fried in butter (naturally!) The great thing here is that top sirloin is hugely flavorful, and often marbled nicely.
You're unlikely to have to shell out as much cash as you would for a good rib eye or T-bone, for example, but you're going to get a much better steak than cheaper options such as the round or bottom sirloin. A T-bone steak is cut from the forward section of the short loin on a steer, and contains both a strip of top loin (i.e. a strip steak) and a nice big slab of tenderloin.
And what you've got here is a great combination of the texture and flavor of those two cuts, in one impressively-sized chunk of beef. The strip steak has got all the flavor, and the tenderloin has got that amazing, tender feel to it.
The other is that they lack some versatility of tenderloin alone, which can be used in a number of different ways. The meat is full of rich juicy marbling and is incredibly tender but for years had been considered unusable because of a very tough sinew that typically runs through that region of the animal.
Omaha Steaks has reported that researchers at the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida actually set out on a scientific study to figure out how to best make use of the piece of meat, ultimately determining that if you sliced the meat off at either side of that tough sinew, you'd be left with an intensely flavorful and highly affordable cut that was ideal for grilling, broiling, or pan-frying. Many chefs consider the flavor and texture of flat iron steaks similar to more popular and price cuts like filet Mignon.
By definition, they're inherently smaller pieces of meat, so you may not want flat iron for a Sunday feast. But for an affordable, week-night dinner they're ideal whether you're eating them whole and fresh from the grill or cast-iron skillet or slicing thinly for a stir-fry or fajita.
Because of the ample marbling, most experts recommend cooking flat iron steaks to medium-rare and seasoning liberally with coarse sea salt and fresh black pepper. And the U.S. Government actually take this quite seriously: according to the Department of Agriculture, the tenderloin filet has to measure at least 1.25 inches from the bone to the edge, or it's not a porterhouse at all.
You certainly won't find it up on the fancy steakhouse menus with filet Mignon, rib eye or porterhouse. And it's got plenty going for it, too: it's absolutely chock-full of flavor, and, because the muscle it comes from does little work, it's incredibly tender, too.
Hanger is also extremely easy to cook, and takes barely any effort to prepare compared to some other lesser-known cuts of beef. This is because only one cut of hanger can be taken from each animal, so it's difficult to produce on a widespread basis.
This would not only take up a disproportionate amount of storage space, but it would also require having to sell thousands of pounds of beef just to secure ten hanger steaks.” The tenderloin is cut from the short loin of the cow, and, because of the nature of the muscle it derives from, contains very little connective tissue.
The result is an incredibly tender cut of beef that acts as a source to some of the finest steaks in the world. This steak is cut from the end of the tenderloin, and is quite rightly regarded as some of the best meat you'll find on a cow.
It's tender beyond all belief, and though it lacks a little in flavor compared to its other expensive brethren, it's suitable for all kinds of cooking and pairs beautifully with flavor enhancing extras such as bacon. But the fact is that, unencumbered by its strip companion, the tenderloin becomes incredibly versatile.
For example, tenderloin is the cut of beef used in the preparation of steak tartare, thanks to its lack of gristle or toughness. It can also be used to make carpaccio, a delicious Italian appetizer dish.
This cut of beef is taken from the rib of the cow (of course) and is easily one of the most prized and sought-after varieties of steak out there. All you need to do to gauge the quality of rib eye is take a gander at that marbling.
All that extra fat imbues the rib eye with an incredible amount of beefy flavor, making for one of the tastiest cuts on the cow. It also helps that they're usually extremely juicy, wonderfully soft, and exactly as tender as you could ever want your steak to be.
It's also worth mentioning that one of the most prized types of beef in the world is a rib eye cut: Kobe. This kind of beef is rib eye cut from the Tacoma strain of cattle that are raised in Logo, in Japan.