An Easy Guide To All the Best Cuts of Beef

Last modified on October 23rd, 2020 at 12:39 am

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Beef is one of the healthiest types of meat you can serve to your family. However, these various cuts can be confusing – so today we’re making a guide to all the cuts of beef. We’ll take a closer look at the major cuts of beef and how to make the most out of them.

Basics: Primal VS Sub Primal Cuts

In a nutshell, primal cuts are the major cuts of beef. These are chuck, brisket, rib, plate, loin, sirloin, flank, round, and shank. They are carved from either the forequarter of the hindquarter of the cow. While the sub primal cuts are the more specific pieces of beef that are carved from the primal cuts. Some examples are rib eye, tenderloin, chuck steak or London broil.


The second-largest primal cut is the chuck. It comes from the cow’s shoulder muscles and parts of the neck. Thus, it is very muscular from all the grazing and is usually surrounded by a thick layer of collagen. This makes them perfect for slow cooker recipes, beef stews, and pot roasts. This is also the best cut to make ground beef from.
As versatile as this type of meat you will be amazed on the different methods you can it with, if you are interested to level up your chuck roast cooking skills that is sure to impress our how long to cook 2lb chuck roast in oven is a good starting point.
Chuck roast and chuck steak are cut from this prime part. These are the two most used sub-primal cuts from the chuck area. If you want to know what is the difference between chuck roast and chuck steak, read more about it in this article.


The brisket is carved from below the chuck and consists of the cow’s lower chest. This area supports a lot of the cow’s weight and thus it also quite tough. Thus, brisket is popular for pot roasts, smoked BBQ, or braised brisket and is the go-to choice for making corned beef or pastrami.


My favorite part! Give me ribs every day and I’ll take it no questions asked. It’s taken from the 6th to the 12th rib of the cow and is extremely tender! These are the source of the luscious prime rib and rib-eye steak. This is also where premium short ribs and dinosaur ribs come from.


Located below the rib primal is the beef plate. It is separated into the rib primal at different points that determine what cut they serve to be. This is where hanger steak and skirt steak are carved from. These cuts are popular when making fajitas, BBQ, or carne asada as they greatly benefit from high heat cooking.


This is the sweet spot of the cow that contains the best cuts. This cut contains part of the spine and the ribs. Commonly called short loin, this is where your favorite cuts like T-bone steak, New York strip steak, and Porterhouse steak comes from. These are extra juicy and tender parts since they don’t do a lot of work and thus the hefty price tag.


The sirloin is in the 13th and last rib of the cow towards the hip bone. It is subdivided into sirloin, tenderloin, top sirloin, and bottom sirloin. It is right next to the loin and it tends to be tougher but has fatter and a richer, beefier flavor. Tenderloin is where the ever-famous filet mignon is cut from, it’s towards the pointed tip of the tenderloin.


The beef flank is a lean cut located in the underside of the cow and consists of the abdominal muscles. The best way to cook a flank steak is to marinate it and grill it quickly over high temperature. It is also great for veggie stir fry; it is flavorful on its own, but it is also good at soaking flavors.


The round is basically the backend of the cow. One of the most underrated parts because of how lean it is. It is intimidating in a way that it can easily be overcooked, and you end up with a dry, tough steak. This is where top round or London broil is carved from. Meanwhile, the bottom round is where you get the top of the round which is commonly used in roasts and stews.


The part of the cow that requires the most patience in cooking is the shank. They come from parts of the cow’s thighs and legs which gets tons of workout. This is where the legendary Italian recipe Osso Bucco is made from. It is rich with flavorful fat that eventually transforms into yummy gelatin after a while of cooking.

I hope you find this article helpful in your next beef shopping! There are so many things you can make with beef when you’re familiar with the parts you’re working on. Let me know which one is your favorite in the comments below! 😉

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