Steak Cuts 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Steak

Are you a steak connoisseur or someone just starting your steak adventure? No matter where you fall on the spectrum, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll break down the various types of steak to satisfy your cravings and elevate your dining experience. From rich marbling to mouthwatering tenderness, each cut offers a unique and delectable taste that will leave you craving more!

Sliced steak to show a red medium rare edge to edge center on wooden cutting board.

A Meat Lover’s Guide: Exploring Different Types of Steak

Whether you prefer your meat rare, medium-rare, or well-done, the world of steaks offers an array of cuts that cater to every palate. From the rich and tender filet mignon to the robust and marbled ribeye, each type of steak boasts its own distinctive characteristics that make it both unique and delectable.

Two raw bone-in ribeye steaks with salt, garlic, and herbs around them.

Ribeye Steak, Tomahawk Steak, and Cowboy Ribeye

The Ribeye Steak is one of the most popular cuts of steak, known for its incredible tenderness and flavor. This particular cut gets its name and tenderness from its location in the center of the rib section. Loaded with streaks of intramuscular fat, it offers a perfect balance of texture and taste, making it ideal for pan-searing or grilling.

Sliced medium rare rosy pink tenderloin filet with sauce drizzled over top.

Filet Mignon

Filet mignon is one of the most delicious and tender cuts of beef you can find. Coming from the tenderloin, a muscle that doesn’t do much work, it’s incredibly tender and juicy. This smaller, delicate cut is renowned for its buttery texture and mild flavor. Whether you grill it, pan-sear it, or cook it sous vide, filet mignon is sure to impress.

New york strip steak with flakey salt on a slate board.

New York Strip Steak

The New York strip, also known as a “New York steak” or “strip steak,” is another fantastic cut of beef popular among steak lovers. It strikes the perfect balance between tenderness and flavor, making it a crowd-pleaser. Juicy and full of rich, beefy taste, the New York strip is a versatile cut that can be grilled or pan-seared to perfection.

T-bone steak that's been rubbed with spices and salt.

T-bone Steak

The T-bone steak is a mouthwatering delight that offers the best of both worlds. It features a distinctive T-shaped bone in the middle, which separates two flavorful sections of meat. On one side, you have the tender and milder-tasting filet mignon, and on the other, you have the rich and beefy New York strip. Grilling this steak is the perfect way to achieve a delicious sear while keeping the inside tender and juicy.

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Raw porterhouse steak in a large skillet.

Porterhouse Steak

The Porterhouse Steak is the big brother of the T-bone steak. It’s a massive, mouthwatering cut of beef that’s perfect for special occasions or when you have a big appetite. With a generous portion of tender filet mignon on one side and a luscious New York strip on the other, this steak offers the ultimate combination of tenderness and rich, beefy flavor. Whether you pan-sear it or grill it, the Porterhouse Steak is a feast for the senses.

Chuck eye steak.

Chuck Eye Steak

The Chuck Eye Steak is a budget-friendly cut that offers a beefy flavor similar to ribeye, but without the higher price tag. It comes from the shoulder area of the cow, just slightly above where ribeyes are cut. This cut of steak has some marbled fat, which lends to its delicious taste. Best cooked with a quick pan-sear or grill, the Chuck Eye Steak is perfect for those seeking a flavorful steak without breaking the bank.

Raw ranch steak.

Ranch Steak

The Ranch Steak is an affordable, lean, and versatile cut of beef with a robust beefy flavor. It comes from the chuck primal roast, and it can be cooked slowly for stews or quickly in a pan or on the grill. To ensure maximum tenderness and flavor, marinating or slow cooking this cut is recommended.

Sliced flat iron steak over marinara tossed veggie noodles.

Flat Iron Steak

The Flat Iron Steak is known for its incredible tenderness and bold, beefy flavor. It comes from the shoulder area of the cow and has a unique rectangular shape. Previously considered an underrated cut, the Flat Iron Steak has gained popularity among foodies and meat lovers. Best cooked to medium-rare or medium, this steak can be grilled, pan-seared, or cooked using sous vide methods.

Sliced sirloin filet on a back plate with fries.

Sirloin Steak

Sirloin steak, located behind the ribs, offers a great balance of flavor and tenderness. While not as fancy as some other cuts, Sirloin Steak is still packed with deliciousness. Grilling or pan-searing this steak is the perfect way to enhance its natural flavors and achieve that perfect char on the outside while keeping the inside tender and full of flavor.

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Sliced picanha on a cutting board with sliced peppers.

Top Sirloin Cap (Picanha)

The Top Sirloin Cap, also known as “picanha,” is a favorite among steak lovers, particularly in Brazilian steakhouses. This cut, located in the top part of the sirloin, features a thick layer of fat on top, adding to its rich and tender taste. While not commonly found in grocery stores, this cut can be purchased at your local butcher. Whether pan-seared or grilled, the Top Sirloin Cap offers a robust beef flavor that will leave you craving more.

Raw Newport steaks.

Tri-Tip (Bottom Sirloin)

Tri-Tip steak, also known as Bottom Sirloin, comes from the triangular-shaped tri-tip roast in the bottom sirloin. While leaner, it still offers a buttery, beefy flavor due to the fat marbling around it. Perfect for grilling or pan-searing, Tri-Tip steak is a versatile cut that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes.

Raw flank steak.

Flank Steak

Flank steak comes from the belly of the cow and is known for its bold, beefy flavor. It’s a leaner cut but still incredibly juicy and tender when cooked correctly. Commonly used in dishes like Grilled Flank Steak and Steak Pinwheels, this cut is perfect for marinating to maximize flavor and tenderness.

Skirt Steak

Skirt steak, sourced from the cow’s diaphragm muscle, offers a super rich and beefy flavor. When cooked correctly, it becomes incredibly tender and juicy. Perfect for dishes like Steak Tacos or topped with a bright chimichurri sauce, Skirt Steak is a versatile and delicious choice.

Hanger Steak

Hanger steak, derived from the cow’s diaphragm, is a hidden gem in the culinary world. With its unique and beefy flavor, it’s a favorite among food enthusiasts. Hanger steak has a coarse grain that becomes juicy and tender when cooked just right. Ideal for grilling, pan-searing, or broiling, this cut offers a melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Prime vs. Choice vs. Select Grades

When shopping for quality steak, it’s essential to understand the different USDA grades.

Prime Grade

Prime grade is the highest quality, featuring abundant marbling. With a tender flavor and buttery texture, it’s often found in high-end restaurants and hotels. Prime-grade beef accounts for only around 2-3% of the available beef, which contributes to its higher price point.

Choice Grade

Choice grade is also high-quality meat with less marbling compared to prime. However, it’s still tender and juicy, making it a great option for those seeking quality beef on a budget. Choice-grade beef makes up approximately 50% of the available beef.

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Select Grade

Select grade is leaner with minimal marbling, making it less juicy but still tender. This grade is ideal for marinating to ensure maximum juiciness and flavor. Select-grade beef is commonly found in ground form.

Hand holding a steak to show waygu marbling.

Wagyu vs. Kobe Beef

While Angus steak used to dominate high-end restaurants, the world of beef has expanded to include other options. Here’s what you need to know:

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu refers to a Japanese cow and is known for its intense marbling, resulting in a rich flavor profile. The intramuscular marbling is distinct, providing a hearty and luxurious eating experience. Wagyu beef is highly sought after and comes with a higher price point.

Kobe Beef

Kobe beef is a specific type of Wagyu beef from the Kobe region in Japan. It surpasses Wagyu in terms of quality, with even higher standards for cow weight and breed. Due to its exceptional quality and rarity, Kobe beef commands a premium price, often surpassing $300 per pound.

Waygu New York strip steak on a slate board with flakey salt, garlic cloves, and rosemary.

Big T-bone steak with grill marks plated with a broken poached egg atop and bites taken from the tenderloin side.

FAQs

We understand that you may have some questions about steak cuts. Here are a few frequently asked questions:

  • Which steak is the most tender? Filet mignon is renowned for its tenderness due to its location in the tenderloin muscle.
  • What is the best way to cook a ribeye steak? Ribeye steaks are perfect for pan-searing or grilling to achieve a deliciously caramelized crust while keeping the inside tender and juicy.
  • What is the difference between a New York strip and a Kansas City strip steak? The only difference is that the Kansas City strip steak comes with the bone.
  • How should I cook a porterhouse steak? Pan-searing or grilling a porterhouse steak will give you a beautifully caramelized crust while preserving the juicy goodness inside.
  • What is the best way to cook a flat iron steak? Flat iron steak is best cooked to medium-rare or medium and can be grilled, pan-seared, or cooked using sous vide methods.
  • What is the ideal internal temperature for cooking a sirloin steak? For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of around 135°F (57°C), while medium is around 145°F (63°C).
  • How should I cook a skirt steak? Skirt steak is perfect for grilling or pan-searing and pairs well with vibrant chimichurri sauce.
  • What is the best way to cook a hanger steak? Hanger steak can be grilled, pan-seared, or broiled to achieve a deliciously tender and beefy flavor.