There is nothing like a big and juicy steak. There are cuts of steak for every occasion. The more laid-back family dinner roast beef with french fries, or the five-star ribeye paired with Italian wine and shallot-roasted red-skinned potatoes.
Regardless of the occasion, steak is a favorite protein among meat eaters, and when given the proper cuts, its buttery tenderness goes above and beyond any other type of poultry or fish.
We are excited to explore some of the most famous and best-known cuts of steak to present you with our top 13, ranked from the best cuts for home cooking to those served at five-star steakhouses.
Table Of Contents
- How to Choose the Best Cut of Steak
- What Is the Best Cut of Steak?
- What Are the Best Cuts of Steak?
There is no other piece of meat like steak. It doesn’t matter whether you are celebrating something, planning a lunch with family, or preparing for a Sunday BBQ; a steak is something we all look forward to.
The biggest question is, “What steak to eat?” Choosing the best cut of steak is not easy. With so many choices lined up in the meat section at the grocery store, it can be tough to select the beef cut to take home.
To make things easy, we’ve decided to put together a helpful guide to teach steak fans how to choose a quality cut of steak. We will also share a few characteristics that separate a good from an average one.
- Marbling: You want long lines of marble rather than chunks. The more marbling the steak contains, the juicier it will taste.
- Thickness: Thin steaks are challenging to cook and aren’t that impressive in taste. You want a steak that is at least one inch thick.
- Price: Higher-priced steaks promise more marbling and premium flavor. Cheaper steaks are usually thin and contain less marbling.
While everything revolves around personal preferences and how you prepare the meat, if forced to pick the best cut of steak, we would probably go with the ribeye cut.
It is the most preferred cut of steak of many people worldwide, and for obvious reasons. It comes from the cow’s rib, meaning it contains a high amount of marbling, making the cut very tender and juicy. It doesn’t get better than ribeye when eating a steak.
Besides the ribeye steak, people often consider picanha, skirt, and Denver steaks as the best on the market. Read the rest of the article to learn more about these steak cuts.
What Are the Best Cuts of Steak?
- Ribeye Steak (Scotch Fillet)
- Tenderloin Steak (Eye Fillet)
- Porterhouse Steak
- T-Bone Steak
- Hanger Steak
- Top Sirloin Steak
- Strip Steak
- Flat Iron Steak
- Bottom Sirloin Steak
- Flank Steak
- Picanha Steak
- Skirt Steak
- Denver Steak
1. Ribeye Steak (Scotch Fillet)
This steak makes our best cuts of steak list for an obvious reason: it is the best steak on the market. This steak is found on the rib of the cow, hence the name ribeye. The high amount of marbling on the ribeye is its distinguishing feature and makes the cut very tender, as you get a little salty bit of fat with each bite you take.
Ribeye is known for being among the bigger cuts of steak (especially the Tomahawk Steak), and the marbling runs through all parts of the cut equally, making every bite as tender as the last. Kobe beef, which originates in Japan and is the most expensive cut of steak in the world, comes from the ribeye. To say the least, it does not get any better than this when it comes to eating a steak.
This steak is best handled only by the most experienced chefs because the cutting of a ribeye steak is a true form of art in and of itself. It is complicated and easy to mess up. This is why you always find it at the fanciest steak houses, where chefs with requisite training have been thoroughly schooled in how to properly cut, cook, and prepare ribeye steak.
2. Tenderloin Steak (Eye Fillet)
Even if you are not a steak enthusiast, you may know why the tenderloin has made our top 10. It is one of the most famous cuts of steak out there. The tenderloin is cut from the short loin of the cow, which has little connective tissue and therefore makes for an extremely tender and flavorful cut of meat.
Tenderloin steak is served at the fanciest steakhouses because is some of the most expensive in the world. The filet mignon is a world-class steak. It is found at the end of the tenderloin and extremely tender as a result. It has a subtle flavor, making it a great carrier for other flavors and a favorite cut among chefs.
This steak pairs nicely with almost anything, but it is not easy to cook properly and is best left to those with the right experience and know-how.
3. Porterhouse Steak
Bigger is not always necessarily better in the steak world, but when it comes to discerning a T-bone from a porterhouse steak, bigger makes all the difference. In fact, size is the only thing separating the T-bone from the porterhouse steak. It comes from the hindquarter of the cow, and contains the exact same cuts as the T-bone steak, with slightly more of the tenderloin than in a T-bone. If it did not contain more tenderloin than a T-bone steak, then it would not be considered a porterhouse. When it comes to expensive cuts of steak, the details matter greatly.
Most porterhouses are 3 inches or more in thickness, making them massive cuts of meat. They are large and juicy and full of savory flavors. These cuts of meat are best cooked by experienced steak chefs on a cast-iron skillet for optimal control of heat and depth of flavor. You will want to get the perfect sear on this monster of a steak, or else you will end up with a raw center.
4. T-Bone Steak
A T-bone steak is about as classic as you can get when you think of the top cuts of steak. It is the standard image of an expensive steak and has made our list for good reason. This steak is cut from the short loin of the animal and is more tender because it is closer to the center of the cow’s stomach than the tougher rear of the animal. The T-bone divides two different cuts of meat—top loin on one side, and tenderloin on the other—and people who enjoy this cut like it for the juiciness and tenderness found in both. This is why people who enjoy the variety of quality steak love it.
T-bone steaks tend to be some of the most expensive steak cuts, which can be a downside for many steak lovers, especially those who like to have steak weekly (and not just at fancy steak houses).
These cuts of steak are usually featured at fine dining restaurants. But that does not mean the at-home cook cannot enjoy a nice T-bone with some proper cooking instructions. Make sure you do not overcook this steak, as that would take away from the tenderness and juiciness of the cut. Grilling it is a great option; just make sure you do it properly.
5. Hanger Steak
The hanger steak is cut from the short plate, located on the underside of the animal. It is full of flavor and very tender, unlike other cuts that come from muscles that do more heavy lifting and therefore have a chewier texture. This cut of meat makes our top 10 for being so underrated. It is lower in price than a tenderloin or T-bone, though still a bit on the pricey side, yet lacks nothing in texture and flavor by comparison.
The hanger steak, however, is not easy to find and used to be called the “butcher’s steak” because it was the piece of steak that the butcher preferred to take home and cook.
Hanger steak is very easy to cook because it is so tender, and has the flavor to match. It is hard to overcook this piece of meat and will almost never become rubbery. It is known for its tenderness and for being a rare yet underrated steak.
6. Top Sirloin Steak
This cut of meat is a favorite among steak lovers and is a better and more desirable cut than the tougher bottom sirloin. This cut comes from the top part of the rear end of the cow and tends to be much more tender and flavorful, despite being boneless. If cooked properly, it rarely becomes overly chewy and rubbery. This steak holds its own among some of the more expensive steaks but at a lower price point.
Cooking the top sirloin steak is easy and it can be used for a variety of recipes and dishes. There is no need to worry about overcooking top sirloin, making it more versatile for the creative chef. It packs a lot of flavor and is on the leaner side. Thus, it is a healthier choice for those wanting to watch their diet.
7. Strip Steak
The strip steak is cut from right behind the ribs of the cow, where there is not as much muscle. This makes for a more tender cut of steak. The strip steak makes up half of the T-bone cut of steak. Because this steak has been around for so long, it has many names. You may hear people refer to it as the New York strip, or the strip loin steak. Either way, it is a classic steak for those who enjoy their meat right in the middle of tender and tough.
The strip steak has marbling, which always comes with a price increase, but it is great quality cut for its price range.
You can cook this strip steak in many different ways. You can cook the strip steak in a pan with oil and spices, roast it in the oven with potatoes, or grill it backyard stye and serve it with corn and your favorite brew. The sky is the limit when cooking the strip steak because it is very versatile and its texture is not easily compromised.
8. Flat Iron Steak
Flat iron (feather steak) makes our best steaks list because it is a newer cut of steak that has been overlooked in the past. It has a lot of potential. The flat iron steak is best known for packing a beefy punch. It is cut from the oyster blade of the animal, which is a piece of tissue that is connected to the shoulder blade. It takes a pretty experienced butcher to prepare this cut of steak, but if the butcher does so properly, you are left with a piece of meat that is tender and flavorful.
This cut is best prepared like a fillet and is flavorful enough so that spices are hardly necessary. It is best served rare to medium-rare.
9. Bottom Sirloin Steak
Known for being one of the oldest and most famous cuts of steak, the bottom sirloin makes our list for being a classic cut that rarely disappoints when prepared properly. While the bottom sirloin is not used as often as the top sirloin or the rear part of the tenderloin, it is still loved by many for being less expensive and easy to prepare. This cut comes from the hip of the animal, which tends to be a tougher part of the cow. The magic is all in how you choose to cook it.
Bottom sirloin is best served not as you would a typical steak, as roasting it whole will only bring out the toughness of this type of cut. The way to let the bottom sirloin shine is to add it to stews or sandwiches, where its tenderness and flavor will not be compromised.
10. Flank Steak
The flank steak is number 10 on our list because it is known for its flavor. It comes from the lower side of the plate on the cow, and while this may make it a bit tougher, it makes up for this with full flavor due to it being full of connective tissue. There is not much fat on this part of the animal, so it is easy to clean and quite delicious when cooked properly.
This steak is best cut very thin and marinated. Marinating helps tenderize the meat. Once you apply heat, do so with caution because overcooking this steak will make it too tough to eat. This is a steak that would go perfectly thinly sliced in a sandwich. Any home cook needs to know to slice the flank against the grain for the most visually appealing result.
11. Picanha Steak
Picanha is Brazil’s favorite cut of meat due to its unique flavor when prepared in the local churrasco style. In the United States, you can try it at local Brazilian steakhouses or purchase it from well-equipped butcher shops, broken down into smaller cuts.
Besides its unique flavor, picanha steak is affordable to buy and easy to prepare. It comes from the cow’s rump area above a fat cap. You can also find it under the name sirloin or rump cap.
When it comes to cooking, Brazilians keep it simple. You can season it with sea salt and prepare it on a backyard grill. No other seasoning is necessary to bring out the delicious flavors of this cut.
12. Skirt Steak
The skirt steak is a thin and long steak from the cow’s diaphragm. Because it is relatively thin and comes from a muscular area, this cut is lean and tougher than other beef slices. However, for people who prefer leaner cuts, the skirt steak is the perfect meat to prepare for lunch or dinner.
When cooking a skirt steak, it is essential to cook it rare or medium-rare to turn it into a soft and tender piece of meat; otherwise, it will be difficult to chew. When cooked at the right temperature, it has a very rich and beefy flavor.
You can cook it on the grill or in a pan for 3-4 minutes on each side. We recommend serving it with cream & spinach sauce, mushrooms, and baked potatoes.
13. Denver Steak
The Denver steak is a relatively new beef cut, but due to its excellent price and rich flavor, it has quickly become the go-to steak for many meat lovers.
In the local butcher shops or restaurants, you can find this steak under the names “under blade” or “chuck steak.” It comes from the front shoulder area of the cow, known for containing beefy cuts.
The Denver steak is easy to prepare on the grill. However, if you want to enjoy maximum taste and tenderness, we recommend using the reverse sear cooking method.