Different Types of Beef – How to select them and how to cook them can be challenging so here are some tips and tricks to perfect your dish.
Figuring out the different cuts of beef on a cow and the best way to cook each is a daunting challenge for anyone. With so many different cuts and cooking styles, there are plenty of options for you to choose from depending on what you want.
Some cuts of beef can work fine on a grill, while others taste best when slow-cooked for hours. In this article, I go over the different cuts of beef and how to best cook each for maximum tenderness.
Different Types of Beef
The most commonly used types of beef are:
Chuck: Cut from the shoulder; tough but flavorful.
Shank: Cut from the leg; very tough and chewy.
Brisket: Cut from the breast; tough if not cooked properly.
Rib: Cut from the rib area; very tender and flavorful.
Short Plate: Cut from the belly of the cow; chewy and quite tough.
Flank: Cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow; one of the toughest cuts.
Loin: Cut from the back of the cow above the ribs; one of the tenderest cuts.
Sirloin: Cut from the back of the cow just past the loin; pretty tender and flavorful.
The Round: Cut from the back of the cow above the back legs; chewy and tough.
Different Types of Beef – Chuck
Description: The chuck, also known as the seven-bone steak (in reference to the shape of the bone), is located near the shoulder and neck area of the cow.
Types: The chuck cut yields some of the more economical cuts of beef, such as the chuck roast, chuck arm roast, and the flat iron steak.
How to Cook: The chuck contains a significant amount of connective tissue, which contains collagen and can be a little tough, but provides great flavor. Chuck cuts of beef are best cooked slowly over time with a crock pot or by braising.
Different Types of Beef – Shank
Description: The shank is the leg of the cow and is one of the toughest meats. This is because the leg muscle is constantly used, creating a tough, sinewy cut. Therefore, it is one of the less popular, but also one of the cheapest.
Types: The Shank doesn’t yield very many cuts of meat, just the shank or the shank cross cut. It is also used in very low fat ratios of ground beef.
How to Cook: The shank is best cooked over a long period and in liquid. It is best in soups, stews, or to make beef stock.
Different Types of Beef – Brisket
Description: Brisket is cut from the breast or the lower portion of the cow. Like the shank, it has a lot of connective tissue and can be quite tough unless cooked properly.
Types: The brisket is known by two main cuts of meat: brisket flat cut and the brisket point cut.
How to Cook: Brisket is a favorite of BBQ’ers everywhere and is best cooked smoked or braised.
Different Types of Beef – Ribs
Description: The rib includes some of the finest cuts of the cow, and is the known for its juiciness, tenderness, superb marbling, and flavor. The rib cut refers to ribs 6 through 12 on the cow.
Types: The rib includes several of the finest cuts of the cow, including the prime rib, short rib, rib-eye steak, and rib-eye roasts.
How to Cook: Rib cuts are best cooked over dry heat and for long periods of time, on the grill or on a smoker – low and slow.
Different Types of Beef – Short Plate
Description: The short plate is located on the front belly of the cow below the ribs. It contains a lot of cartilage and is kind of fatty and tough.
Types: It contains a few different cuts including the short ribs, hangar steak, and the skirt steak. It is best known for being used to make carne asada.
How to Cook: Best braised because of its toughness.
Different Types of Beef – Flank
Description: The flank is a long flat cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It is one of the toughest cuts of meat.
Types: The flank is usually cut into flap steaks or flank steaks. It is typically used in Asian and Mexican cuisine as stir-fry or fajita beef. It can also be used in London broil.
How to Cook: Due to its excessive toughness, flank cuts are best cooked with moist methods like braising.
Different Types of Beef – Loin
Description: The loin is cut from the back of the cow, typically a portion of the hindquarter directly behind the ribs. It is one of the most tender and desirable cuts of beef.
Types: The loin is best known for producing filet mignon, porterhouse steak, and the T-bone steak. However, it also contains the KC strip, tenderloin roast, and the shell steak.
How to Cook: Loin cuts are best cooked over dry heat such as on a grill.
Different Types of Beef – Sirloin
Description: Sirloin is also cut from the back of the cow, just past the loin (a.k.a the short loin). Although, not as tender as the loin cuts, the sirloin is still a very popular cut of beef.
Types: The sirloin contains the top sirloin, bottom sirloin, and center cut sirloin steaks, as well as the tri-tip steak, filet of sirloin, and the ball tip roast.
How to Cook: Sirloin is best cooked by grilling, but can also be broiled, sautéed, or pan-fried.
Different Types of Beef – Round or Rump
Description: The round, also known as the rump, is a lean cut of meat with very little fat. It is located at the back of the cow near the rear leg. Like the Shank, the round is a tough cut due to the constant use of the cow’s legs.
Types: Despite the round or rump’s toughness, it produces quite a few different cuts of meat that are quite popular. Some of the more common cuts are: rump roast/steak, top round roast/steak, bottom round roast/steak, eye of round roast/steak, and the sirloin tip center roast/steak.
How to Cook: Round cuts are best braised or roasted with low levels of moisture.
Fattiest Cuts of Beef
Fatty cuts of beef generally have more flavor and texture. These cuts have marbling that people come to expect with plenty of flavor. Keep in mind that these cuts tend to be more pricey and contain more saturated fat so they may not be the healthiest to eat all of the time.
Here are some of the fattiest cuts of beef :
Flap Steak: This cut tends to be quite chewy and fibrous but still tasty.
Filet Mignon (Chateaubriand or Tenderloin): The most tender cut of beef and the most expensive. It is prized for its tenderness and flavor.
Porterhouse Steak: Another cut from the tenderloin, it is another delicious and pricey cut that is easy to chew.
Skirt Steak: This cut, also known as a flank steak, is taken from the plate or chest of the cow. While it has great flavor, it tends to be quite chewy.
New York Strip Steak: A tougher cut of meat taken from the t-bone area of the cow. This classic cut of meat is still very flavorful, and if cooked correctly it can still be quite tender.
T-Bone Steak: This cut is from directly below the porterhouse, and it is known for its smooth texture and savory flavor.
Rib-Eye Steak (Rib Roast, Prime Rib): The ideal cut of beef when it comes to tenderness and texture. Its high fat content makes it one of the tastiest cuts.
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One Burger Patty
One burger patty can contain hundreds of different cows. According to the Washington Post, “hamburgers are almost always a mishmash of many animals. The ground beef we buy at the supermarket is made of an unknown collection of muscle tissues.”