Beef Cuts

Beef is divided into several basic sections called prime cuts. Beef cuts are smaller sections of the primal cuts. There are different ways of cutting and naming beef but the basic idea of primal cuts is roughly the same.

Beef cuts vary in tenderness, size, shape and taste, depending on the location of the beef where they are cut from. Beacuse of the differences in texture and tenderness, different cooking methods should be used, in order to produce the best result. For example, beef cuts from the chuck should be cooked in liquid over a slow heat in order for the meat to become tender.

The American primal beef cuts are illustrated in the following image.
The primal beef cuts

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U.S. and British beef cuts | Beef cooking methods | Beef cooking temperatures | Beef steak cuts and steak names

The primal beef cuts

Beef is divided into several main sections, called the primal beef cuts. The primal cuts are the chuck, the rib, the short loin, the sirloin, the flank, the plate or short plate, the round and the shank or brisket. Each cut provides other smaller cuts and for each of the smaller cuts, a different cooking technique is required.

Chuck cut: Meat comes mainly from the neck and shoulders of the animal. It is mostly muscle, connecting tissues and collagen, therefore it is a tough meat, but it is quite cheap and flavorful. Chuck cuts are best when slow cooked in liquid.

Rib cut: Meat from the rib section tends to be quite tender, juicy and flavorful.

Short loin cut, Sirloin cut: Cuts from the loin area are the most lean, tender and flavorful, but they are also the most expensive. The loin area provides cuts such as the tenderloin, porterhouse and sirloin steaks. According to steak lovers, steaks from this area should not be marinated and should be cooked medium rare, rare or very rare.

Flank cut: This is a muscular area that provides lean and very flavorful cuts. It is the source for flank steaks, skirt steaks and the classic London broil steak.

Plate cut: A cheap, tough and fatty cut that produces hanger and skirt steaks. Cuts from this area need to be marinated first, in order to become more tender.

Round cut: This cut is from the rear end of the animal. It consists mainly of muscles therefore it is rather tough, but it can be quite flavorful. Typical cooking methods from round cuts include moist cooking and roasting.

Shank / Brisket cut : The beginning of the leg of the beef and surrounding areas, suitable for stews, braising and pot roasting. Beef cuts from this area are full of muscles and therefore tough but can result in extremely flavorful meals.

American and British beef cuts

In the UK, beef cuts are a bit different. Most of the cuts have the same names and are taken from the same are of the animal, some have different names. The following table shows the British cuts corresponding to the American ones.

American beef cut names

British beef cut names

Neck & Clot, Chuck & Blade, Thick rib
Fore rib, Thin rib
Short loin
Topside, Silverside, Think flank
ShankShin, Leg

Suggested cooking methods for beef cuts

Chuck beef cuts

Suggested cooking method

Chuck arm pot roast Pot roast
Chuck shoulder pot roast Pot roast
Chuck eye roast Pot roast
Cross rib roast Pot roast
Chuck shoulder steak Marinate and grill
Marinate and grill
Chuck eye steak Skillet
Chuck top blade steak Skillet
Chuck mock tender steak Marinate and grill
Marinate and grill
Chuck blade steak Braise
Chuck 7 bone pot roast Pot roast
Chuck short ribs Stew

Rib beef cuts

Suggested cooking method

Rib roast Roast
Ribeye roast Roast
Rib steak Grill

Rib-eye steak

Back ribs Grill

Short loin beef cuts

Suggested cooking method

Top loin steak Skillet
T-bone steak Skillet
Porterhouse steak Skillet
Tenderloin steak Skillet
Tenderloin roast Roast

Sirloin beef cuts

Suggested cooking method

Top sirloin steak Skillet
Tri-tip steak Grill
Tri-tip roast Roast

Round beef cuts

Suggested cooking method

Top round steak Marinate and grill
Marinate and grill
Round tip steak Skillet
Eye round steak Skillet
Round tip roast Roast
Eye round roast


Bottom round roast Pot roast

Shank & brisket beef cuts

Suggested cooking method

Shank cross cut Stew
Flat cut brisket Pot roast
Whole brisket Pot roast

Plate & flank beef cuts

Suggested cooking method

Skirt steak Marinate and grill
Marinate and grill
Flank steak Marinate and grill
Marinate and grill

Miscellaneous beef cuts

Suggested cooking method

Cubed steak Skillet
Beef for stir-fry Stir-fry
Beef for stewing Stew
Ground beef Skillet

Explanation of cooking methods

Braising (Braise): To cook with moist heat, typically in a covered pot with some liquid (beef stock, chicken stock, water, etc). This method is the preferred method for meat cuts that are tough / tenderless.

Grilling (grill) : To cook using direct, dry heat with a device called grill or barbecue. Coals, wood, or a combination of the two can be used as the heat fuel for a grill. In this type og cooking, the heat is below the meat.

Broiling (broil): An alternative to grilling, broiling is cooking in the oven under intense heat. Proper broiling requires the door of the oven to be slightly open (this ensures that the proper temperature is maintained inside the oven) and the meat is cooked over a broiling pan (this will make sure that the meat is not cooked in its juices). Unlike grilling, the heat when broiling is above the meat.

Marinating: The process of soaking meat or vegetables in some kind of liquid (most of the times acidic), herbs and spices, before cooking. This process adds flavour to the ingredients being marinated. It also tenderizes the meat, when some kind or acidic liquid is used. Typical ingredients for marinates include lemon, vinegar or wine (for the acidic part), oil, salt, pepper, herbs and other spices. The marinate process can vary from a few hours to a day or more.

Pot roasting (pot roast): To cook meat (usually beef with some liquid, vegetables, herbs and spices) in a covered pot, in the oven or over medium heat. This process results in a moist, softer meat and is suitable for cheap, tougher meat cuts.

Roasting (roast)
: To cook meat or vegetables using dry heat. The most common way of roasting is using the oven. Roasting usually results in the caramelization of the surface being roasted, which adds an extra flavour to the dish.

Skillet: To cook using a skillet (frying pan). This method is ideal for lean, tender cuts of meat that require little cooking.

Stewing (stew): The process of cooking meat (together with onions and other vegetables) in water or other liquid, over low heat (simmer), for a long amount of time (longer than other cooking methods). The meat and other ingredients are served with the cooking liquid.

Stir-frying (stir-fry): A cooking method that is very popular in Asian cooking, stir-frying is the process of fast cooking meat, fish or vegetables over a high heat source while tossing continuously. The classic pan used for stir-frying by the Chinese is the wok, a round-bottom iron pan.

Typical cooking temperatures for beef

Internal temperature of the meat

Appropriate 'cooked' term

115°F – 125°F (46°C – 52°C) Very rare
125°F – 130°F (52°C – 54°C) Rare
130°F – 140°F (54°C – 60°C) Medium rare
140°F – 150°F (60°C – 66°C) Medium
150°F – 160°F (66°C – 71°C) Medium well
Over 160°F (>71°C) Well done

'Cooked' term details

Very rare : The meat has a blood red color throughout and is very juicy and tender.

Rare: Beef cooked rare is red in the center, gray on the outside, juicy and tender. True steak lovers eat their steak either rare or very rare as this cooking method provides the best possible beef taste, juicyness and tenderness.

Medium rare: Beef is pink in the center and turns gray towards the outside. It is often juicy and tender.

Medium: The beef here is pink in the inside and turns gray towards the outside. It is less tender and less juicy than medium rare.

Medium well: Beef is gray throughout, tougher and juiceless.

Well done: When cooked well done, beef is gray-brown throughout, is tough and juiceless.

Primal cuts, steak cuts and common steak names

Steaks from the Chuck cut

Main steak cut

Steak names

Chuck 7-Bone Steak Center Chuck Steak
Chuck Arm Steak Arm Swiss Steak
Chuck Steak for Swissing
Round Bone Steak
Chuck-Eye Steak, boneless Boneless Chuck Fillet Steak
Boneless Chuck Slices
Boneless Steak
Bottom Chuck
Chuck Mock Tender Steak Chuck-Eye Steak
Chuck Fillet Steak
Fish Steak
Chuck Tender Steak
Shoulder Steak, boneless Arm Swiss Steak
Chuck Steak
Cold Steak
English Steak
Long Broil
Shoulder Steak Half Cut
Top blade steak, boneless Boneless, Blade Steak
Chuck Eye Steak
Book Steak
Butler Steak
Flat Iron Steak
Lifter Steak
Petit Steak
Top Chuck Steak

Steaks from the Rib

Main steak cut

Steak names

Rib Steak Boneless Rib Steak,
Delmonico Steak
Market Steak
Ribeye Steak,
Spencer Steak

Steaks from the Short loin cut

Main steak cut

Steak names

Sirloin Steak,
Top Sirloin Steak
Beef Loin
Bottom Sirloin Butt
Flap Steak
Flat-Bone Steak
Pin-Bone Steak
Round-Bone Steak
T-Bone steak Porterhouse Steak
Tenderloin Steak Chateaubriand
Filet Mignon
Fillet Steak
Top Loin Steak, boneless Ambassador Steak
Boneless Cub Steak
Hotel-Style Steak
Kansas City Steak
New York Strip Steak
Strip Steak
Veiny Steak
Top Loin Steak, bone-in Chip Club Steak
Club Steak
Country Club Steak
Delmonico Steak
Shell Steak
Sirloin Strip Steak
Strip Steak
Tri-Tip Steak Triangle Steak

Steaks from the Round cut

Main steak cut

Steak names

Round Steak London Broil Steak
Round Tip Steak (thin cut) Ball Tip Steak
Beef Sirloin Tip Steak
Breakfast Steak
Knuckle Steak
Sandwich Steak
Minute Steak

Steaks from the Plate cut

Main steak cut

Steak names

Skirt Steak Fajita Steak
Inside Skirt Steak
Outside Skirt Steak
Philadelphia Steak
Hanger Steak Butcher's Steak
Hanging Tender Flank Steak Fillet
Jiffy Steak

Steaks from the Flank cut

Main steak cut

Steak names

Flank Steak Flank Steak Fillet
Jiffy Steak
London Broil Steak