ARTICLE / RECIPE ROUNDUP

Get to Know Your Cuts of Steak

We all have our favorites, but there’s a big wide world of steak cuts out there, just waiting for you. Here's how to navigate the meat aisle like a pro.

Every once in a while, you sit down to order and you’re faced with an entirely new cut of steak. Or is it? Your Spencer Steak, on the menu at an out-of-the-way steakhouse in Central California, is the same as that Delmonico Steak in Manhattan, which are both just fancy names for delicious boneless rib-eye steak.

A Zabuton steak — named because, in Japanese, it looks like a “little pillow” — is also known as a Denver steak, and both are the same surprisingly tasty and tender cut of chuck. Or perhaps you run across the culotte, which is better known as picanha at a churrascaria since it’s a cut of sirloin cap that’s more popular in Portugal or Brazil than the U.S.

There’s Teres Major and Spider Steaks and Merlot Steaks and, really, more cuts than you can possibly remember. But a few things are fairly consistent whether you’re in Japan, Brazil, France, London, or Los Angeles. The most tender, most flavorful cuts of beef come from the loin or rib.

While there will always be differing opinions, there are a handful of steaks that, most agree, are the best steaks for grilling, broiling, pan-searing or, if you’re out and about, ordering. Let's take a closer look.

New York Strip

Also known as: Strip Steak, Strip Loin, Kansas City Strip, Club Steak, Shell Steak

What is a New York strip steak?

A steak by so many names must be a pretty tasty steak. Strip steak is a tender cut of meat that comes from the short loin. The flavor is nice and beefy, with a big, beautiful fat cap — all of which makes this cut a steakhouse favorite.

New York Strip Steak Frites with Rosemary Flake Salt

New York Strip Steak Frites with Rosemary Flake Salt

One Pan Steak and Veggies With Garlic Herb Butter

One Pan Steak and Veggies With Garlic Herb Butter

Garlic Butter Herb Steak and Mushrooms

Garlic Butter Herb Steak and Mushrooms

Rib Eye

Also known as: Rib Steak, Scotch Fillet, entrecôte

What is a rib-eye steak?

Rib eye is a very flavorful, tasty, and tender steak that comes — unsurprisingly — from the rib section of the animal. The even marbling of rib-eyes (and high fat content) make them a crowd favorite.

Rib eyes can be bought boneless or bone-in. If the rib bone is still attached, it's known as a cowboy steak. If it has an extra-long length of bone, just for show, it’s called a Tomahawk steak.

Perfect Rib Eye Steak

Perfect Rib Eye Steak

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce

Grilled Ribeye Steaks

Grilled Ribeye Steaks

Porterhouse

Also known as: Tuscan Steak

What is a porterhouse steak?

A porterhouse is truly the best of both worlds — a strip steak on one side and a tenderloin on the other, connected by a big beautiful bone. The tenderloin must be at least 1-1/4 inches wide to be considered a true porterhouse. Otherwise, it’s a T-bone steak — which can have as little as a 1/4-inch of tenderloin. This is date-night steak at its finest.

Perfect Porterhouse Steak

Perfect Porterhouse Steak

Sunday Steak with French Butter

Sunday Steak with French Butter

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Note: This recipe is only available to Yummly Pro subscribers. Learn more here.

Bistecca Fiorentina, Recipe by Daniel Holzman for Yummly Pro

Filet Mignon

Also known as: Tenderloin, Beef Medallion

What is filet mignon?

Known for being the most expensive cut of beef, filet mignon is also the most tender (and — depending on who you ask — the most overrated). The flavor is mild and the meat itself is quite lean. The exorbitant price comes from the fact that only about 500 grams of filet mignon come with each 1,000+ pound steer or heifer. For a great cut of filet, look for a very fine grain (i.e. thin marbling) with little visible connective tissue.

Garlic Rosemary Filet Mignon

Garlic Rosemary Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon with Bordelaise Sauce

Filet Mignon with Bordelaise Sauce

Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon

Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon

Hanger steak

Also known as: Onglet, Bistro steak, Butcher’s steak.

What is hanger steak?

Butchers love this cut. Hanger steak literally “hangs” from the diaphragm, in an area called the plate. Each animal has but one hanger steak, weighing in at about two pounds.

Hanger Steak with Charred Scallion Sauce

Hanger Steak with Charred Scallion Sauce

Hanger Steak with Orange-Oregano Chimichurri

Hanger Steak with Orange-Oregano Chimichurri

Zak Pelaccio's Hanger Steak Salad

Zak Pelaccio's Hanger Steak Salad

Flank steak

Also known as: Bavette, Jiffy Steak

What is flank steak?

Flank steak hails from the belly and can be a bit chewy. As such, it's best when marinated, grilled, and cut against the grain.

Lemon-Garlic-Marinated Flank Steak

Lemon-Garlic-Marinated Flank Steak

Authentic Carne Asada

Authentic Carne Asada

Sugar Steak With Bourbon

Sugar Steak With Bourbon

Skirt Steak

Also known as: Romanian steak, Philadelphia steak.

What is skirt steak?

Like hanger steak, skirt steak hails from the plate. It’s a long, thin strip of steak — with an inside cut and an outside cut. The flavor is great. And because it’s thin, it's the perfect steak for quick cooking methods.

Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak

Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak

Chili Skirt Steak

Chili Skirt Steak

Brazilian Skirt Steak with Golden Garlic Butter

Brazilian Skirt Steak with Golden Garlic Butter

What about the rest?

The most expensive and most common steaks aren’t the only game in town, of course. Here are a few different types of steak to check out:

Top Sirloin

Also known as: Dinner Steak, Finger Steak

What is top sirloin steak?

Sirloin in general is not going to be as tender as the short loin, since the muscles are used more. Still, it’s thick, lean, and one of the most affordable cuts of steak you’ll find at the meat counter.

Tri tip

Also known as: Santa Maria Roast, Bottom Sirloin Roast, Triangle Roast

What is tri-tip steak?

Super-popular out west, the tri tip — a small, triangular cut from the sirloin — is sort of a split between a really thick steak or a really skinny roast. Butchers used to reserve it for ground beef until they realized how delicious it was grilled Santa Maria-style.

Flat iron

Also known as: Top blade steak

What is flat iron steak?

This shoulder — or chuck — cut manages to be pretty tender, tasty, and not all that expensive. Win-win-win.

Top Round

Also known as: London Broil

What is top round steak?

Typically, I avoid steaks labeled “chuck” or “round” since they come from the tougher, harder-working muscles at the front and back, respectively, of the cow. But there are little gems here and there. Top round benefits from a bit of marinating, which is one reason this cut is often mistakenly called “London Broil” — a name that comes from a traditional cooking method.

Did you choose your favorite cut? Before you head to the butcher shop, check out our tips for picking a perfect steak and read through these important secrets to cooking meat before getting to work.

PlanShop