How do you choose the right cut of steak?
Each different cut offers different experiences when it comes to texture, tenderness, and the amount of fat you want in your piece of steak.
Which cuts are worth spending more money on and why, and which cut are you craving?
Here is the ultimate list to find the perfect cut for you.
Eye Fillet (aka Fillet or Tenderloin):
This cut comes from the strip of muscle that is tucked against the backbone of the animal, and it is very tender because it does little work. This results in it being the most tender cut of beef that you can purchase, as well as the most expensive. Filet mignon makes up 8% of meat on cattle, driving higher prices. When it comes to restaurants and butcher shops, the tenderloin has to be cut down, producing waste. That trim that is considered waste gets added back into the cost of the cut.
For some people this is the most desired part of the steak, and for others it is not. While it has a buttery texture, it can also be bland and flavorless. It is lean and lacks any marbling. When buying this cut, quality becomes incredibly important to ensure the best possible flavor is produced.
For this, you’re craving that “melt in your mouth” moment over flavor.
This cut is the Frank Sinatra of cuts. Just like Sinatra melts souls with his music and charm, so does this cut melt in your mouth.
Our box The Showman would be the perfect box for you. We include 4 USDA Prime 8 oz Filet's, our house made Maitre d' Butter, and Au Jus.
Scotch Fillet and Ribeye
This cut, which comes from the rib section, is one of the most flavorsome pieces that you can get. While tender, it’s not one of the top tender cuts. This cut has much more marbling, and, therefore, much more flavor due to all the fat.
The Scotch fillet is cooked with the bone removed, and the ribeye refers to the same cut, but with the bone in, which gives it even more moisture and fat.
For this, you’re craving a burst of flavor.
This cut is the Betty Grable of cuts. Just like Grable was a burst of life (a pin-up girl, actress, model, and dancer), this cut pops with bold flavor that you won’t soon forget.
This cut is a ribeye that’s cut with at least 5 inches of rib bone left on it. This French culinary technique is the same technique that shapes a rack of lamb. The meat and fat are trimmed with the bone left intact where it resembles a handle, or a Native American tomahawk axe. The muscles in this cut aren’t used as much as others, which results in the tender and soft meat.
For this, you’re craving something exquisite. Not only does it have a beautiful shape, but it also has a large amount of marbling and tender and flavorful meat.
This cut is the Marilyn Monroe of cuts. Just like Monroe was curvy with an exquisite figure, this beautiful cut is more than easy on the eyes and taste buds.
Our box The Gunslinger would be the perfect box for you. We include 4 USDA Prime 22 oz Bone-in Ribeye's, our house made Maitre d' Butter, and Au Jus.
This cut, according to many, is the best cut of the animal. It comes from the outer rim (the outer muscle) of the ribeye roll (where the ribeye and prime rib are from).
This rare cut is thought of as the best, most flavorful, and most delicious cut that you can get. This is the most tender, marbled (fat filled), cut that has a delectable flavor and texture, providing you with an out-of-this-world eating experience.
For this, you’re craving the best and rarest piece of steak that your money can buy you.
This cut is the Elvis Presley of cuts. Just like Presley was known as “the King”, this cut is truly the king of the cuts.
Sirloin / Porterhouse / New York Strip
This cut comes from the hindquarter of the animal. It is boneless, lean, tender, full of flavor and juicy. Considered to be the “goldilocks” of steak cuts, it is not quite as tender or flavorful as the two previously listed cuts, and it is less expensive because it is chewier with less marbling. This is a far more popular cut to order.
For this, you’re hankering for something easier on your pocket book and yet still tasty as all heck.
This cut is the Joe Dimaggio of cuts. Just like the legendary Dimaggio was known as “The Yankee Clipper” and played for the New York Yankees for 13 years, this equally popular cut will truly knock your taste buds out of the ballpark.
This cut comes from the bottom tip of the sirloin of the animal. The name is self-explanatory as it is a triangle-shaped cut and it comes from the tip.
Not only is this cut on the cheaper side, but it’s also a healthier choice as it’s leaner than other cuts.
For this, you’re craving something with a burst of rich meaty flavor, that’s fairly tender, but that is lower in fat.
This cut is the Billy Baxter of cuts. Baxter was notorious for his poker playing and sports betting, won multiple tournament titles, and was even inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. Although you may feel you are taking a gamble when purchasing tri-tip because of the leaner cut and lack of marbling, like Baxter, the cut will overcome the odds stacked against it. It will show you that leaner cuts can, indeed, be absolutely delicious when cooked right.
This cut of the steak comes from the best of both worlds - a cut of both the sirloin and the eye fillet. It is a t-shaped bone that has the striploin on one side and the eye fillet on the other.
The fillet is tender and the sirloin is juicy. This cut can be more expensive, but totally worth the tantalizing taste bud experience.
For this, you’re just an indecisive person who cannot choose just one cut!
This cut is the Nat King Cole of cuts. Just like Cole was renowned for his soothing voice that was described as a “magic spell” being cast upon listeners, so will this cut cast a spell over your taste buds.
This cut is from the lower neck and upper shoulder of the animal. This cut can be tough if not cooked properly, but is delicious when it is! This cut has great flavor.
It needs a little extra love when it comes to cooking it, so that it’s cooked properly and not hard to chew. It has lots of fat and gristle, which is what makes it taste so delicious.
For this, you’re craving something with great flavor that’s easier on the wallet.
This cut is the John Wayne of cuts. Just like Wayne, who was an American icon in countless films, showed his tender side with the ladies and his tough side with the action scenes, this cut also turns from tough to tender when cared and cooked for properly.
Yes, this is from the rear end of the animal. This cut can be tougher in texter. It is a cross-section of three different muscles, and can result in different pieces of the cut being different degrees of tender.
For this, you just want quantity over quality, and don’t mind the tougher texture of the meat. You’re really, really hungry, but don’t want to break the bank.
This cut is the Tony Spilotro of cuts. Just as Spilotro, also known as Tony “The Ant”, was a ruthless Chicago mob representative in Las Vegas, this cut can also be on the more ruthless side when it comes to toughness.
This cut comes from the lower belly. It is the piece that hangs from the diaphragm. This is also known as “the butcher’s cut” because butchers know how delicious it is and would keep this little gem for themselves because of the punch of flavor. Beware, it’s not pretty until it’s been trimmed!
For this, you’re yearning for one of the “secret” best cuts that, although it’s not always pretty, will deliver a burst of some of the best flavor.
This cut is the Muhammad Ali of cuts. Just like Ali would punch his opponents in the ring, this cut, while often underestimated, will truly deliver an unexpected punch of flavor.
This cut comes from the portion of the diaphragm muscle that is the underside of the short plate. It is a think-grained cut. Flavor over tenderness is definitely a factor in this cut!
For this, you’re craving flavor over tenderness and something easy on the wallet. You love marinades as well, because that’s what it might take to tenderize this tough guy.
This cut is the Sammy Davis Jr. of cuts. Davis was one tough cookie, fighting against racism and segregation his whole life, and overcoming it throughout his career.
This cut is from the well-exercised abdominal muscles of the lower chest of the animal. It has lots of connective tissue. While it’s a tougher cut, it’s still very flavorful, and this cut is also on the cheaper side.
For this, you’re craving fajitas, as this is the cut that are often restaurants’ go-to for making that.
This cut is the Rat Pack of cuts. A legendary group, the Rat Pack was connected as a tough front when dining at the Golden Steer Steakhouse with Sammy Davis Jr., fighting back against segregation in the restaurants and hotels. This cut has equal toughness, and is just as versatile as the group.
This cut comes from the animal’s shoulder blade. This cut is marbled, tender when cooked right, and has an abundance of beefy flavor.
For this, you want the best of both worlds. While a little pricey, it won’t break the bank. You just can’t choose between flavor and tenderness.
This cut is the Benny Binion of cuts. Binion straddled legal and illegal operations by, among other things, establishing illegal gambling operations in Texas and also being convicted of murder. He later opened up the legal gambling establishment Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Vegas. This cut also straddles the line. A mixture of marbled amazingness and bold flavor, it’s so good that it should be illegal.
Now that you are a pro at picking the cuts, here are a few more factors to focus on:
Are you picking out prime beef (aka the top of the line) with the most tasty goodness and flavor?
Have you decided on wet aged or dry aged steak?
Do you buy it frozen, or is the thawed stuff at the store better?
READ NEXT: USDA Grading 101: What is Prime Beef?
Photo credit: Kyle Mackie