Now that grilling season is almost upon us, it’s a good time to get familiar with all the different cuts of steak available out there! With the myriad names they go by, it can be hard to navigate between them all, but with this helpful guide you can pick the perfect cuts for the recipes you enjoy. Steaks aren’t made equal; some cuts are naturally more tender than others. If you know what to get and how to best prepare the cut you have, you can always make the most out of your meat!
General Qualities to Look For
If you want great tips on what to look for generally in a great cut of beef, check out this guide: “How to Pick the Perfect Steak“! It covers how to navigate the various store-specific grades and names given to cuts of meat, and how to decide what recipes to use with them.
Types of Beef Steaks
When you’re throwing steaks on the grill, knowing the pros and cons of your cut is a great way of determining how to get the best results. Here’s a rundown of common varieties you may come across and what to expect from them in terms of taste and texture!
New York Strip
AKA: Strip Loin, Kansas City Strip
Strip steaks are tender cut of meats that come from the short loin. While generally it’s not quite as tender as the nearby tenderloin or top sirloin regions, it’s a much larger area of meat and can be cut into bigger, thicker steaks. It makes a great, flavorful cut for grilling!
Sirloin in general is not going to be as tender as the short loin, since the muscles are used more. However, the exceptions to this are the center of the sirloin – the top sirloin and tenderloin. Top sirloin is sometimes called “chateaubriand” in American stores, though elsewhere that title is usually reserved for tenderloin.
AKA: Rib Steak, Scotch Filet
Rib-eye is a very flavorful, tender cut of meat that comes from the “rib” section! (If the rib is still attached, it’s known as a rib steak). The even marbling and fattiness of rib-eyes make them great candidates for slow-roasting and grilling at almost every temperature. These cuts of meat are usually a bit more expensive than sirloin or strips.
Porterhouse steaks, also known as T-bones, come from short loin region right beside the sirloin. In fact, a porterhouse is basically a strip steak on one side and tenderloin on the other. It’s a very large cut of meat that many people consider to be the best available. (Note: Though they’re the same cut, “t-bones” tend to be smaller, with less tenderloin).
AKA: Tenderloin, Beef Medallion
The filet mignon comes from the soft center of the sirloin region. They are, by far, the most tender cut of meat you can buy (though they’re not actually the most flavorful on their own). For a great cut of filet, look for a very fine grain (i.e. thin marbling) with little visible connective tissue.