Beef Cuts: loins, shanks, briskets and chuck - if all the different cuts confuse you when deciding what to cook, this guide will help.
It includes a collection of beef cut charts to help you buy the right cut of beef for the right job, whether that's grilling, stewing, braising or roasting. Follow this beef cuts guide and you’ll be acting like a butcher in no time.
Beef cuts chart
A cow is broken down into what are called primal cuts, the main areas of the animal which include the loin, rib, round, flank, chuck, sirloin, brisket and more.
These primal cuts are then broken down into sub-primal cuts, including specific steaks and chops: flank steak, flat iron steak, filet mignon, rib eye.
As you'll see below, there are many different cuts of beef to learn.
Loin, short loin, strip loin cuts
These are usually leaner cuts of beef, best grilled or fried, and work better with high heat. It’s the T-Bone and Porterhouse Steaks, the Tenderloins, cuts of meat that respond better to dry heat cooking. For a primordial recipe where nothing gets in the way of the flavour of the meat, learn how to cook beef tenderloin on a bed of salt in a searing hot pan.
Filet mignon, bavette, tri-tips, strip steak and roasts - coming from the rear of the animal, these are also leaner cuts, and certainly not the best beef choice if you want to slow cook. The sirloin family is best for grilling, skillet and stir-fry, with high, dry heats. Follow Gordon Ramsay’s stovetop fillet mignon recipe to bite into a luscious steak enhanced by the fragrances of rosemary and thyme.
Ribeye filet, ribeye cap, ribeye steak. These cuts are getting fattier, meaning some of them are better for slow cooking and roasting. Not all the cuts in the rib family work well with slow cooking methods: ribeye steak, for example, will always kick better grilled or fried in a skillet.
Blade, chuck eye, country-style ribs, this is where the slow goodness starts to come to play with some good cuts for pot roasts. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll also find lots of chuck cuts are good for grilling: top blade, ranch steak, shoulder steak. If you only understand one section, chuck is the one as there's a cut for every style of cooking.
You can’t really go wrong with brisket, whether you choose flat or point cut - they both want to be slow cooked. For us, brisket point works better than brisket flat, the flat cut is a bit leaner. Just be careful when slow cooking brisket, it's a forgiving cut but the margin between delicious juicy and chewy dry is small. For this perennial Texas favourite, find these tips and techniques to keep your dish from becoming dry and stringy. Low and slow should be your mantra.
Coming from the back legs of the cow, this is a part of the animal that usually provides leaner cuts of beef so you need to know your business at this end. Top, bottom and eye round will go well at high heats, the bottom, rump and eye roast are best for slow cooking and, you guessed it, oven roasted.
Plate & flank cuts
Skirt, flank, short ribs: only the short ribs should be slow-cooked over here, the flank and skirt steak will do you best grilled or fried. There are endless rich variations on braised ribs, where this cut is immersed in a bath of rich flavours like red wine, beer, garlic, or tomato until the meat is falling off the bone.
Beef cuts come in all shapes, sizes, textures and tastes. 'Other' covers anything that doesn’t fall into the rest of the main families. You have stewing steak, burgers, corned beef, minced and ground beef in this category. Shanks, which come from the legs of the cow, are probably one of the most interesting beef cuts and perfect for slow cooking.
One of our favourite cuts of cow is the cheeks. Beef cheeks are an often overlooked piece of meat that many top chefs use in their restaurants. One of the most forgiving cuts when cooked slowly and a simple piece of meat that will change your pot roast game for the better. The recipe below shows you how.
60 beef cuts chart
Take the beef cut chart to the next level, this beefy encyclopaedia is this simple collection of 60 different beef cuts from across the whole cow. A great beginners cheat sheet for meat treats.
Every single beef cut explained
This video takes beef knowledge to the next level and it’s not for the squeamish. You can see every beef cut and exactly where it comes from on the cow (more on Butchering Animals).
How to choose the best steak cut
In this video, the late great chef Anthony Bourdain offers up his tips on choosing a steak cut.
Beef buying tips
This chart is great because it focuses is on some of the best cuts of beef with details on what should be looking for when you’re actually purchasing beef. There’s a good explanation of the differences between prime, choice and select beef. It also clarifies the terms for how well meat is cooked: blue rare, rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well done.
Underrated beef cuts
If you’re someone who has your go-to beef cut checklist in order, perhaps you can take some insertion from this selection chart of underrated beef cuts. There are six different cuts listed with great details on how you should cook them.