Teres Major Steak: A Hidden Gem in the World of Beef

Have you ever heard of the teres major steak? It may not be as well-known as the tenderloin, but this cut of beef is often hailed as the second most tender. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of this lesser-known steak, compare it to other popular cuts, and discover the best ways to cook it.

Teres major steak cooked medium-rare.

What is Teres Major Steak?

Teres major beef comes from a single muscle deep within the chuck primal, encased in the chuck shoulder clod. It’s relatively small, weighing less than one pound, with a shape that resembles the word “teres,” meaning rounded in Latin. This muscle has minimal work to do, resulting in exceptional tenderness.

Extracting the teres major steak is a task that requires the expertise of a skilled butcher. Only two filets can be obtained from each animal, making it a rarity in retail. However, it is highly regarded in the food service industry due to its affordability and delicious flavor, which rivals that of beef tenderloin.

The Unique Taste of Teres Major Steak

Teres major steak boasts a rich, beefy flavor that requires minimal seasoning. Its lean profile also makes it a perfect canvas for various steak sauces. Interestingly, rumor has it that some restaurants use teres major as a substitute for filet mignon when cooked to medium or medium-well. The two cuts are virtually indistinguishable in these instances.

Raw teres major beef steaks.

Teres Major and Its Aliases

While teres major is the scientific name for this exquisite muscle, it has acquired several other names in the culinary world, such as “shoulder tender,” “petite filet,” and “petite tender steak.” These aliases reflect the steak’s unique qualities and desirability.

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Debunking Common Misconceptions

It’s important to clarify that the teres major steak is not to be confused with the mock tender steak. The mock tender, despite its similar shape, is an entirely different muscle that performs more work and is consequently less tender. Other names for the mock tender include chuck tender, chuck filet, and Scotch tender. Applying any of these names to the teres major muscle would be inaccurate.

Similarly, the term “beef clod” is often used to refer to the teres major steak, which is incorrect. The beef clod consists of a group of muscles within the chuck primal, one of which is the teres major.

How Does Teres Major Steak Compare to Other Cuts?

When it comes to tenderness, the buttery beef tenderloin reigns supreme, followed closely by the teres major steak. The third spot is occupied by the flat iron steak, located within the top blade. While some argue that the flat iron deserves the second place, our experience aligns with the conventional ranking. Outside skirt steak claims fourth place, closely followed by the picanha steak.


  1. Beef tenderloin/filet mignon
  2. Shoulder tender (teres major steak)
  3. Flat iron steak
  4. Outside skirt steak
  5. Picanha steak

Cooking the Teres Major Steak to Perfection

The best ways to cook this bistro filet steak are through pan-searing or grilling. Both methods allow the surface to develop a delightful crust while preserving the steak’s tender and buttery texture. Depending on the size of the filet, you may need to employ a combination of direct and indirect heat. However, the strong direct heat alone often suffices.

Raw teres major steak seasoned with salt and pepper.

When cooking teres major steak, there are a few key considerations:

  • Measure the internal temperature diligently: It’s easy to overcook this delicate cut, so keeping a close eye on the temperature is crucial.
  • Mind the rounded shape: To ensure even heat distribution, remember to flip the steak regularly and avoid overcooking one side.
  • Remove from heat earlier: The residual heat will continue cooking the steak after it’s taken off the heat source.
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Pan-seared Teres Major Beef

For a perfect pan-seared petit filet experience, follow these steps:

  1. Season the steak with coarse salt and black pepper, allowing it to come to room temperature for about 20 minutes. If the filet is larger than half a pound, preheat the oven to 400°F for finishing.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a cast-iron or heavy skillet. Once the oil shimmers, sear the filet until it turns golden brown on all sides (around 2 minutes per side). Use a meat thermometer to confirm the desired internal temperature.
    • If it’s already in the desired range, rest the filet, loosely tented with foil.
    • Otherwise, transfer the skillet to the oven for a few minutes until the desired temperature is achieved.

Rest the steak for just over 5 minutes before slicing it into medallions.

Grilled Teres Major Steak

For a perfect grilled petit filet, follow these steps:

  1. Season the steak with coarse salt and black pepper, allowing it to come to room temperature for about 20 minutes. Preheat the grill to medium-high using firewood or charcoal.
  2. Create a hot side and an indirect heat zone on the grill.
  3. Place the teres major directly on the grill grates over the direct heat source. Cook for up to 2 minutes per side, turning as soon as a nice crust forms.
  4. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. If it hasn’t reached the desired range, move it to the indirect heat zone until it reaches the appropriate doneness.

Temperature Chart for Petite Filet

Due to its small size, the teres major steak is prone to overcooking. To achieve optimal results, it’s important to pull it off the heat at the right moment. Here’s a handy temperature chart:

  • Rare: Stop cooking when the internal temperature reaches 115-120°F. The final serving temperature should be 120-125°F.
  • Medium-rare: Stop cooking when the internal temperature reaches 120-125°F. The final serving temperature should be 125-130°F.
  • Medium: Stop cooking when the internal temperature reaches 130-135°F. The final serving temperature should be 135-140°F.
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Petit filet sliced and smothered in truffle butter.

Enhancing the Teres Major Steak Experience

Teres major steak is already exceptional on its own with just a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper. However, you can elevate its flavor by pairing it with herb compound butter, garlic butter sauce, or other rich steak sauces. Additionally, sautéed mushrooms and onions make excellent accompaniments.

One delightful option is to top the steak with truffle pâté butter, creating a heavenly combination that will tantalize your taste buds.

Storing and Reheating

In the rare event of having leftover teres major steak, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. To reheat sliced medallions, use a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. For reheating a whole or half petite filet, place it on a wire rack in a preheated 250°F oven for about 5-10 minutes.

While reheated steak may not match the juiciness of freshly cooked meat, the teres major’s exceptional flavor will still shine through.

You Might Enjoy

The teres major steak may be a hidden gem in the world of beef, but its exceptional tenderness and flavor make it worth seeking out. Whether pan-seared or grilled, this steak is sure to impress. So why not give it a try? Indulge in the juicy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness of teres major steak, and savor a truly remarkable dining experience.

Petit filet slice smothered in truffle butter.