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Home » Steak Guides: Understanding Steak Varieties

Steak Guides: Understanding Steak Varieties

Confusion abounds while perusing the meat department of your local supermarket or the menu of an affluent restaurant.

With so many various cuts and names, it’s difficult for you as a diner seeking for a nice steak to find one.

Then you’ll have to wade through the language and marketing to get what you’re looking for.

What kind of aging do you prefer? Are domestic Wagyu and Japanese Wagyu the same thing? Is a Porterhouse steak the same as a T-bone steak?

We’ll teach you all you need to know about steak, from the finest cuts to the best ways to prepare them.

The basics of steak

STEAK — Basics With Babish

When we say “steak,” what precisely are we referring to?

A steak is any piece of beef that is sliced across the muscle fibers at its most basic level.

Pork steaks, fish steaks, and even cauliflower steaks are all examples of steaks that are often referred to as “steaks.”

Although various forms of meat may be used to make steak, this article will concentrate on beef steak.

What portion of the cow is used to make steak?

How to Cook Beef: The Best Cooking Method for Every Cut (Part 1) - Verde Farms

Almost every section of a steer’s carcass may be used to make different kinds of steaks. The four most typical places linked with beef steaks are, however, as follows:

The Rib

Delmonico, Tomahawk, and Ribeye are all cut from the Rib region of the carcass.

The Short Loin

T-bone, Porterhouse, and Club Steak are all cut from the Short Loin of the cow.

The Sirloin

This is where you’ll find Sirloin and Pin Bone Sirloin Steaks, so it’s not a surprise.

The Tenderloin

The sought-after Filet Mignon and Chateaubriand steaks can be found in the Tenderloin.

Muscles at the top and center of a steer’s carcass are highly sought after because they receive little exercise during the animal’s life cycle.

The tissue is still tender because the steer doesn’t use them much in his daily routine.

This is especially true in the Tenderloin, which is why it’s called that.

What’s up with the high price of steak?

Ribeye, T-Bone, and Striploin are all pricey cuts of steak that originate from the four sections of the carcass indicated above.

Because of a variety of factors, you pay more for the most tender steak.

Demand and supply

The rib, shortloin, tenderloin, and sirloin are known for their tenderness and taste, respectively, as are other cuts of meat from these animals. This reputation, coupled with the ease with which these cuts may be seared in a pan or on a grill, drives demand and keeps prices high.


Only 8% of a steer’s carcass is comprised of ribeye, New York strip, tenderloin, T-bone, and porterhouse cuts. Prices for the most sought-after cuts are kept high because of the poor meat-yield.

There is a lack of understanding of other cutbacks

Most people are familiar with ribeye steaks and are glad to order or purchase one at a restaurant or grocery store. Those unfamiliar with the Denver Steak, or any other cut of beef, are less inclined to buy it.

As a general rule, “steak” is a term that implies a high-priced piece of beef.

All three of these steaks, as well as the less costly Denver and Ranch Steaks, come from the same part of the carcass: the beef chuck.

Even though they need a bit more time and work to prepare, these meats are nonetheless tasty when done correctly.

Cuts of steak that are ideal for grilling (or ordering at a steakhouse)

1. The Ribeye

The ribeye has a well-earned reputation for taste and softness, making it one of the most famous steaks in the world.

The ribeye is sliced from the longissimus dorsi muscle, which is seldom used by the steer throughout its lifespan. As a result, the flesh is very delicate.

Additionally, the Ribeye has a significant amount of marbling, and that intramuscular fat turns down wonderfully when suitably cooked, contributing to both the silky texture and deep meaty taste.

What is its origin?

Steaks are typically butchered between 6 and 12 ribs up from the loin. Using the Ribeye cut as a benchmark, the USDA grading system grades the whole carcass.

In addition to being known as the Ribeye,

  • Entrecôte (in France)
  • Delmonico (after the restaurant)
  • Scotch fillet
  • Spencer Steak
  • Market Steak
  • Cowboy Steak (with the bone in)
  • Tomahawk Steak (with between 8 and 20 inches of the bone showing)

Recommendations for preparing food

Grilling and pan-searing the Ribeye is a great way to prepare it because of its tenderness and plenty of marbling.

The reverse sear approach yields the finest results with 1.5-2 inch thick ribeyes.

If you’re pan-searing or grilling a Ribeye, make sure you have a cover or tongs on hand in case of a flare-up.

2. The Strip Steak

When it comes to steak, Strip Steak is a restaurant staple thanks to its medium amount of marbling and the cap of fat on its side.

The flesh has a firmer texture than the Ribeye or the Tenderloin, making it excellent for individuals who want their steaks to be a bit more chewy and flavorful.

What is its origin?

In the same way that the longissimus dorsi yields the Ribeye, the loin yields the Strip Steak.

Also known as:

  • The New York Strip
  • Ambassador Steak
  • Country Club Steak
  • Kansas City Steak
  • Shell Steak (if served with the bone in)
  • Top Loin Steak
  • Hotel Cut Steak.

Recommendations for preparing food

Similarly to the Ribeye, the Strip Steak like to be cooked at a high temperature, whether it pan-searing or broiling.

With less marbling than a Ribeye, it is simpler to cook quickly and hot since it is less likely to flare up.

3. The Tenderloin

The Tenderloin, a neighborhood on San Francisco’s west side.

Since the Tenderloin is a muscle section that does not see much action during the course of the animal’s life, it retains its tenderness exceptionally well.

It’s tastier and leaner than Ribeye, but still has a milder flavor.

What is its origin?

To get a Tenderloin Steak, you’ll need to use the thicker parts of the carcass that are, unsurprisingly, found in the Tenderloin section, namely the back and the haunches.

Also known as:

  • Filet
  • Filet mignon (when cut from the narrower end of the Tenderloin)
  • Chateaubriand (when cut from the thickest end of the Tenderloin).

Recommendations for preparing food

In order to preserve the tenderloin’s unique buttery-smooth texture, avoid any cooking procedures that may alter its flavor.

You should sear your Tenderloin in a pan or a grill to get the Maillard Reaction going, then finish it in an oven with a gentle heat.

In order to prevent drying out, the Tenderloin is frequently cooked with additional fats, such as butter, or wrapped in fattier meats, such as bacon.

4. The T-Bone

The Tenderloin and Strip Steak come together in the T-Bone, making it a really unique cut of meat.

The T-shaped bone that gives this cut its name separates the two pieces of meat.

What is its origin?

the short loin, which is located just above and in front rib cages, produces a T-bone.

T-Bones and Porterhouses are two different cuts of meat.

Porterhouse steaks are generally cut from the back of the short loin, while T-Bone steaks are typically cut from the front of the short loin.

There should therefore be more Tenderloin in a Porterhouse steak, while there should be more Strip Steak in the T-Bone.

A Porterhouse’s Tenderloin should be at least 1.25 inches (32 mm) thick, but only 0.5 inches (13 mm) thick on a Tenderloin, according to the only official guidelines, the US Department of Agriculture Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications.

Also known as:

  • Porterhouse
  • Date Steak.

Recommendations for preparing food

In order to prevent one side of the T-Bone/Porterhouse from drying out or undercooking, it requires a little more attention when cooking.

A two-zone cooking method is the best way to prepare a T-Bone. As a result, the Tenderloin section won’t dry out and the Strip Steak section will be cooked to perfection without being harmed.

Know these lesser-known steak varieties

You can acquire most of your steak from a butcher or at a restaurant from the four steak cuts listed above.

You’re losing out on a whole world of taste if you stick to the most typical cuts of steak.

The underappreciated inexpensive cuts of steak will wow your butcher and provide you more meat for your money.

1. Flank steak

A steer’s flank is located on the animal’s abdomen, near the animal’s hind legs. Because of its lean nature, steak from this location might be difficult if not grilled correctly. When it comes to steaks, the Flank steak and the Bavette steak are commonly mistaken for one other.

If you’re cutting Flank steak against the grain, you can see the muscular fibers easily.

Flank steak is usually used in recipes like fajitas, stir-frys, and bibimbap that are prepared quickly and hotly.

2. Skirt steak

As the diaphragm muscle, the skirt is sometimes mistaken for flank steak, despite the fact that both are utilized extensively during an animal’s lifespan.

Cooked poorly, the Skirt has a reputation for being chewy and rough despite its rich beef taste.

There are a lot of marinades and rubs to choose from, just as with Flank steak.

If you’re looking to make fajitas or a hearty chili, you’ll want to use the skirt cut of meat. Skirt steak is a good value since you receive a lot of meat for your money, because to the Skirt’s size.

3. Hanger steak

The Hanger steak, in contrast to the Flank or Skirt, is more likely to appear on a menu at a steakhouse.

Between the Tenderloin and the Rib, it “hangs” this portion of flesh, thus its name.

The Flank and Skirt are active muscles, however the Hanger steak is not, making it less tender than any of the Tenderloin’s other cuts.

Its primary function is to stabilize the diaphragm, not move it. This signifies that the meat is much more tender and has a decent level of marbling than its neighboring portions.

Traditionally, hanger steak is used in recipes like carne asada or bulgogi, but it may also be eaten on its own if thinly sliced and grilled against the grain to a medium-rare finish.

4. Flatiron steak

The Flat Iron is both a classic and a more recent addition to the steakhouse menu.

Because of the dense connective tissue that used to be present in this incision, it was difficult to do anything with it, but it has now been reduced to its original form.

To match the suppleness of the New York Strip, culinary scientists discovered in 2002 a process comparable to fish filleting for cutting around this vein of connective tissue.

Strip Steak’s more costly cousin, the Flatiron, has now become a popular choice for those who can’t afford Strip Steak’s high price tag.

5. Tri-tip steak

The Sirloin Primal’s lower half yields the triangular-shaped Tri-Tip.

With a considerable amount of marbling and a rich meaty taste, the Tri-Tip is a lean and soft cut of meat.

The Tri-Tip resembles a less expensive version of the Ribeye in many aspects.

It’s flavorful and well-marbled, although it’s a little leaner than rib-section slices.

Overcooking the meat (even to medium-rare) dehydrates it, thus marinating it for an hour or two before cooking helps to keep it wet.

This cut also works well with the reverse sear technique. For a step-by-step guide, see our tri-tip recipe.