The world of steak cuts is incredibly diverse. Steaks differ significantly in fat content, tenderness, thickness, and flavor. And since everyone’s taste is different, there’s no single ‘best’ steak that suits all. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steaks that get all the love and some that deserve more attention. Plus, I’ll touch on the cuts hyped up more than they should be and the hidden gems so you can spend your steak budget wisely.
Listed below are the 18 steak cuts ranked from best to worst.
- Ribeye Steak
- Picanha Steak
- Strip Steak
- Flat Iron Steak
- Tenderloin Steak
- Chuck Eye Steak
- Ribeye Cap Steak
- Skirt Steak
- Flank Steak
- T-Bone Steak
- Porterhouse Steak
- Flap Steak
- Hanger Steak
- Tri-Tip Steak
- Denver Steak
- Oyster Steak
- Baseball Steak
- Top Sirloin Steak
Every cut of steak brings something special to the table, which is why I’ve put together a quick rundown of their key features. Curious for more details? Just click on the link below each summary to access a full article dedicated to that cut.
1. Ribeye Steak
The ribeye steak is very often at the top of the list for the best steaks because of its very rich beefy flavor, generous marbling, great tenderness, availability, and ease of cooking. Dominating steakhouse menus, it’s a popular pick for good reason.
The ribeye’s intramuscular fat melts during cooking, resulting in a juicier and more tender steak. This melting fat gives the ribeye a delightful melt-in-your-mouth texture. Due to this marbling, the ribeye is also one of the fattiest steaks.
The ribeye comes in both bone-in and boneless forms and goes by various names. Take the tomahawk steak, for example, which is a ribeye that features a long rib bone. There’s also the cowboy steak, a ribeye, yes, but with a shorter bone. Having the bone doesn’t flavor the meat; you’re paying extra for the look. But let’s be honest, a bone-in ribeye does make for a stunning centerpiece on your plate, especially for a special dinner.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the ribeye is a fantastic cut of steak. However, in my opinion, it’s a bit overhyped because of its very high price tag. There are plenty of other steaks that are just as interesting and won’t break the bank. Still, the ribeye’s rich taste is something you’ve got to experience at least once.
2. Picanha Steak
The picanha steak, also known as coulotte or top sirloin cap, is a very popular cut of beef in South American countries. It’s been catching on in the United States, too, especially as a top choice for grilling. Not too long ago, it was more of a hidden gem in the beef world.
There’s a lot to love about picanha, from its robust flavor to its tender texture that stays juicy. What sets it apart is the generous layer of fat on one side, impossible to miss and key to its flavor. Finding it might be tricky at your local grocery, but it’s worth looking online. Some online butcher shops specialize in these harder-to-find cuts.
3. Strip Steak
The strip steak, known also as the new york strip or kansas city strip, is a favorite in steakhouses, coming in just behind the ribeye in steakhouse popularity. The strip steak is a solid pick for a more regular steak dinner.
The strip steak is well-marbled and packs a beefy punch in flavor. Though it’s not quite as tender as the ribeye, it has a bit of a chew. It’s perfect for those looking for a steak that’s on the leaner side but still packed with beef taste and has a decent tenderness. Plus, you’ve got your choice of bone-in or boneless. And just a heads-up, having the bone in doesn’t change the taste; it’s all about the look.
4. Flat Iron Steak
The flat iron steak is an underrated cut of beef that didn’t get much attention a few years back. But it’s been gaining ground lately. Even though prices have gone up and it’s not always easy to find, that hasn’t made it any less interesting to beef lovers.
Flat iron steak is a bit more tender than ribeye, which is pretty impressive. It’s probably the second-most tender cut you can get from a cow. In terms of shape, it’s quite different from your classic steaks like ribeye or strip steak. And while it doesn’t have those big chunks of fat or gristle, it’s got this nice even marbling all over. Honestly, it’s a great piece of meat, really tender and packed with that beefy taste people love, just like a ribeye.
The flat iron steak stands out for its unique ability to be cooked to higher temperatures while still maintaining tenderness and juiciness. That’s great news for those who love their steak well done. If you haven’t had the chance to try a flat iron steak, I’d suggest it. It’s one of those underrated cuts of the beef world, often overlooked in favor of more well-known cuts.
5. Tenderloin Steak
The tenderloin, or filet mignon, is the priciest beef cut you’ll find out there. It’s super tender, no doubt, and if that’s what you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. But honestly, I think it gets more hype than it deserves. You’re paying a lot for amazing, mouthwatering tenderness, but for flavor, there’s a whole world of steaks out there that can give you more bang for your buck.
The tenderloin steak is all about tenderness, offering a milder flavor because it doesn’t have much fat running through it. That’s why it’s perfect with a rich sauce or some herbed butter to jazz it up. Remember, since it’s lean, it cooks fast and can dry out if you leave it on the heat too long, so watch it closely and try not to go past medium.
6. Chuck Eye Steak
The chuck eye steak is an excellent cut that isn’t as well-known as the ribeye, although it shares many similarities. It has plenty of marbling, tenderness, juiciness, and a robust beefy flavor, making it a great option for those on a tight budget.
Chuck eye steak comes from the beef chuck roll, the area between the ribeye and the chuck. It’s cut from the fifth rib, while the ribeye comes from the sixth to the twelfth rib. This means the chuck eye steak shares similar qualities with the rib steaks found between these ribs. On average, from half a carcass, you can only get one to three chuck eye steaks, depending on how thick you want them.
In my opinion, it’s one of the most underrated cuts of beef. It’s often confused with tougher cuts from the chuck primal, which doesn’t help its popularity.
7. Ribeye Cap Steak
The ribeye cap steak, also known as spinalis dorsi muscle, is a part of the ribeye. Ribeye cap steak is considered one of the most flavorful cuts. It’s like getting the best of both worlds: the tenderness of a tenderloin and the buttery, beefy taste of a ribeye.
Are you curious how butchers get that whole ribeye cap? It’s trimmed from the rib section before steaks are cut into individual portions. The whole spinalis dorsi muscle generally measures about 15-16 inches long and 7-8 inches wide, with a thickness of around an inch.
You can find ribeye cap in two versions: one is a single muscle that looks much like a flat iron steak, and the other is rolled into a shape quite similar to filet mignon. The ribeye cap steak’s only real downside is its price — it’s pretty expensive.
8. Skirt Steak
Skirt steak has a rich, beefy flavor, offering a juicy and tender experience when cooked and sliced against the grain. It’s a fantastic alternative to classic steaks like ribeye or strip. Its marbling and unique texture make it excellent for marinating. There’s a world of ways to cook this versatile cut.
This cut loves a good rub or a soak in a tasty marinade, thanks to its marbling and texture. But be careful, it’s a thin cut that doesn’t take kindly to overcooking. A hot, quick sear is the way to go. Don’t forget to let it rest before you dig in. And for that perfect tenderness, slice it against the grain – it makes all the difference.
Not everyone knows this, but skirt steak comes in two types: the outside skirt and the inside skirt. The outside skirt comes from the cow’s diaphragm muscle, right out of the plate area – that’s your go-to cut for fajitas. The inside skirt, though, is from the cow’s flank. The inside skirt is usually easier to find at the store.
9. Flank Steak
Flank steak is a highly popular cut of beef known for its robust flavor and relatively tender texture. When cooked properly, it offers a satisfying chew while being incredibly flavorful. This ease of preparation makes flank steak a go-to when feeding a crowd. However, its popularity can drive up the price, making you wonder if it’s worth it compared to other, more wallet-friendly cuts. That’s just my take, and it doesn’t mean the steak isn’t great.
Like other lean cuts, flank steak does best with quick cooking at high temperatures. Grilling is the way to go, using a mix of indirect and direct heat to get it just right. And remember to let it rest after cooking, then slice it against the grain. Trust me, it makes all the difference for tenderness and juiciness.
10. T-Bone Steak
The T-bone steak is easily one of the most iconic cuts of beef, offering a two-for-one experience. It features the strip steak on one side — flavorful and with a decent amount of tenderness, boasting a bold, beefy taste. On the flip side is the tenderloin, prized for its extremely tender texture.
People often confuse the T-bone with its cousin, the porterhouse steak. The trick to telling them apart lies in the size of the tenderloin. Remember, the T-bone is cut from the short loin’s front end, where the tenderloin starts, which is why its tenderloin part measures somewhere between half an inch to an inch and a quarter in width. On the other hand, the porterhouse boasts a bigger tenderloin, at least an inch and a quarter across. A quick look at the photo below can help spot these differences.
T-bone, especially porterhouse, are big enough to feed two, which is perfect for a date night at home. Sure, it’s pricier, but that makes it perfect for those extra-special dinners. Plus, let’s be honest, a T-bone on the plate just looks impressive. It’s got that wow factor we all love when celebrating something special.
11. Porterhouse Steak
The porterhouse steak is like the T-bone’s big brother, thanks to its bigger tenderloin section, which measures at least 1.25 inches across. Because of its generous size, it’s perfect for sharing, making it a top pick for a steak dinner for two. Plus, if you’re all about that tenderloin tenderness, the porterhouse gives you more of what you love in a two-in-one cut.
12. Flap Steak
Flap steak, also known as flap meat or bavette steak, is an underrated beef cut that deserves a spot on my list of the best cuts. It’s cut from the bottom sirloin butt, similar to the tri-tip. Flap steak has a lengthy shape, moderate fat content, a pronounced grain, and a rich, beefy flavor. Its loose texture makes it an excellent choice for marinating and absorbing flavors, so feel free to play around with your favorite flavors. Just remember, flap steak isn’t the same as flank steak. Despite some similarities, they’re two different cuts.
Because of its thinness, a flap steak is best when cooked quickly over high heat for a perfect sear. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be extremely high.
And remember, whether it’s your first or tenth time cooking bavette, the golden rule is to slice it against the grain after cooking it to at least medium rare. This isn’t just me repeating myself. It’s crucial for cuts like bavette, flank, skirt, tri-tip, and hanger. Slicing against the grain breaks up the fibers and makes every bite tender.
13. Hanger Steak
Hanger steak, also known as butcher’s steak, was once a hidden gem not many knew about until recently. The name ‘butcher’s steak’ comes from the fact that butchers would typically keep this cut for themselves. Hanger steak comes from the plate area of the cow, specifically from the front of the belly, where it hangs from the cow’s diaphragm, hence its name.
What makes the hanger steak stand out is its flavor. It’s just as rich and beefy as the pricier ribeye or strip steak, which is one of the reasons why I highly recommend it. The hanger steak has a loose texture with a distinct grain, making it ideal for marinating (similar to skirt steak). There are only two hanger steaks on each cow, making them rare and a bit pricier as they’ve become more popular. But even with the price bump, they’re still a great deal, especially when you compare them to the fancier cuts.
When preparing hanger steak, cooking it just right is crucial: aiming for medium-rare to medium doneness. Remember that overcooking will result in toughness while undercooking can leave the steak too rare for some tastes. After cooking, give it a rest, then slice it against the grain to serve up the best flavor and tenderness.
14. Tri-Tip Steak
Tri-tip is a large, triangular muscle cut from the bottom sirloin section of a cow. It’s popular in California, especially around Santa Maria. That’s where they make it the star of their famous Santa Maria-style barbecue. It’s a lean cut of beef with beefy flavor and a good balance of juiciness and tenderness. It’s not just about the flavor, though. The tri-tip is super versatile, too.
You can cook tri-tip in a couple of ways. Roasting it whole is one approach, but remember that its unique shape makes it a bit tricky to cook evenly. The other way is to slice the tri-tip into steaks, sometimes called newport steaks, and grill them as you would with your usual steaks.
Remember to cook tri-tip steak at a high temperature and aim for medium-rare doneness to maintain that perfect tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. After cooking, it is essential to let the tri-tip rest before cutting it against the grain for the best results.
15. Denver Steak
Denver steak is an underrated cut from the shoulder area of the cow, specifically from underneath the blade. Denver steak surprises with its beefy flavor and mix of juiciness and tenderness. What’s interesting is that butchers often rank it as the fourth most tender steak, following the tenderloin, flat iron, and ribeye.
One of the standout features of a denver steak is the beautiful marbling. That’s where all the rich flavor and tenderness come from. Like other great steaks, cook it high and fast on a grill or in a skillet, and shoot for medium-rare to get the most out of it. Don’t forget to let it rest once it’s off the heat. That’s your secret to a juicy steak. Also, don’t forget to cut it against the grain.
16. Oyster Steak
The oyster steak, also known as the spider steak, is, in my opinion, an incredibly underrated and relatively unknown cut of beef. It’s cut from the round, right inside the hip bone. What makes it even more intriguing is its rarity. There are only two oyster steaks in each cow, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see it at your local butcher or grocery store.
The oyster steak, or the spider steak, owes its name to the unique marbling that looks like an oyster, shell, or a spider’s web. This steak’s marbling not only adds a burst of flavor but also keeps it tender and juicy. When cooked to perfection, this relatively thin steak offers a delightful combination of taste, tenderness, and juiciness with a good chew. I recommend cooking it at high temperatures on a skillet or grill for the best results.
Another thing: Don’t confuse oyster steak with oyster blade or blade steak; they’re different cuts from different cow parts.
17. Baseball Steak
The top sirloin fillet, also known as the baseball steak, comes from the sirloin area of a cow. The baseball steak is a thick, round-shaped cut of beef known for its low-fat content nature, yet it still delivers a good beefy flavor and decent tenderness. How tender and flavorful it turns out depends on the steak’s grade. Plus, it’s one of the more wallet-friendly options.
It’s easy to confuse baseball steak with a tenderloin steak or filet mignon at first look because they look quite similar. Also, don’t confuse the top sirloin fillet (baseball steak) with the top sirloin steak – they’re different cuts altogether.
18. Top Sirloin Steak
The top sirloin steak is cut from the sirloin section of the cow, more precisely, from the upper part. It’s a lean cut with a good beefy flavor. It’s medium-firm but can be tender and delicious with the right cooking technique. It’s a budget-friendly option, but you’ll need to give the top sirloin steak extra care to bring out its flavor.
When cooking a top sirloin steak, aim for medium-rare if you want it at its best in tenderness and juiciness. It’s a different cut from your high-end steaks, so instead of just salt and pepper, why not try a marinade? It can kick up the flavor and tenderness a notch.
How to Choose the Right Steak?
Choosing the best steak is key to a great dining experience. There’s a lot to consider with so many steaks, so it’s crucial to consider a few criteria to pick the one that ticks all your boxes: taste, tenderness, and, of course, your budget. Let me walk you through a guide to help you nail down the best steak:
Type of meal: Think about what kind of meal you’re aiming for. A laid-back dinner with friends or a fancy date night? This will help you decide how much to spend on the steak.
Set specific goals: What’s your taste preference? Are you looking for something extremely tender, with a strong beefy flavor, or maybe a milder taste? Understanding your preferences will help you pick the right steak.
Choose your cooking method: Match the steak to your kitchen skills and tools. Can you grill, broil, or pan-sear at home? Make sure it’s something you can comfortably do in your kitchen.
Thickness: Check the steak’s size and thickness. You’ll want a piece that’s not only big enough for everyone but also the right thickness to achieve your preferred doneness.
Grade & Marbling: Consider the grade and the marbling of the steak. The higher the grade, the more marbling you’ll find, which means a more flavorful, juicy, and tender steak. Remember, though, that higher-grade steaks come with a higher price tag.
Aging: Check out if the steak is dry-aged, wet-aged, or fresh. Aging improves the steak’s flavor and texture, but it also increases the price of the steak.
Price: Compare prices to get the best steak for your money.
Which steak is the best?
Many people consider ribeye to be the best steak. It’s one of the most popular beef cuts worldwide and is readily available and easy to prepare, even for beginners. Ribeye has a very rich flavor and a very tender texture. It’s a great steak for people who want to try steak for the first time.
What is the worst cut of steak?
Determining the ‘worst’ steak cut is subjective because it’s all about personal preference, how it’s cooked, and what you use it for. However, if I have to consider which cuts are less popular, it’s often those from the round section that get labeled as the ‘worst. They’re very, very tough and not as rich in flavor.
Which steak is the most expensive?
Filet mignon, also known as tenderloin steak, is considered the most expensive steak worldwide. It’s a popular choice in restaurants and steakhouses for casual and special dinners. People love the extremely tender texture of filet mignon. It’s one of the most popular cuts among people who rarely eat steak. On average, prime-grade filet mignon is a bit more expensive than other pricey cuts like the porterhouse or ribeye, especially the bone-in tomahawk version.
Which steak is the most tender?
Undoubtedly, even those new to steaks know that filet mignon, also known as tenderloin steak, is the most tender cut from a cow, boasting an almost melt-in-the-mouth texture. That’s why it’s so popular and, unfortunately, why it’s also an expensive choice. Many people choose tenderloin for its exceptional tenderness.
Which steaks are the fattiest?
Ribeye steak and ribeye cap are considered some of the fattiest cuts. A ribeye steak boasts a rich marbling with two specific muscles, the spinalis dorsi and longissimus dorsi. The ribeye cap, on the other hand, is made up entirely of the richly marbled spinalis dorsi. Besides these, steaks like the porterhouse, high-grade strip, skirt, and chuck eye are also known for their higher fat content.
Which cuts are best for grilling?
When it comes to grilling, you can’t go wrong with steaks like the porterhouse, t-bone, strip, ribeye, skirt, flank, flap, hanger, tri-tip, denver, and picanha.
The Bottom Line
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the variety of steaks available? Unsure of which one to choose or what steps to take next? I’ve got you covered. Below, I have compiled comprehensive guides that will teach you everything you need to know to cook your first mouthwatering steak right in the comfort of your home.