Table of Contents Show
- Filet Mignon
- New York Strip
- Prime Rib
- Flat Iron
- Top Sirloin
- Short Ribs
- Sirloin Bavette
- Denver Cut
- Rump Steak
If you are a steak lover, you know what makes a great steak — a big, fat, beautiful slab of beef. When coupled with garlic pepper sauce, creamed spinach, some sautéed vegetables, and perhaps, a glass of red wine, it is like a party in your mouth, with your taste buds dancing all around in utter glee.
Have you noticed though, every time you go to a steak house you are asked two questions about your order: the temperature you want your meat cooked at and your preferred cut of steak?
While you probably know whether you want your steak medium-well, rare, well-done, etc., the latter question may have you guessing. And that’s where we come in: what is the difference between a Ribeye and Filet Mignon? Or why is Tenderloin always so expensive? Read on for the answers.
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Cultural Significance behind Steak
Back in time, human populations hunted, fished and foraged for their food. And one of the most readily available options for their nutritional intake was meat from animals. For example, the northern Sámi were dependent on reindeer herds, while kangaroo was a staple source of protein for Aboriginal Australians.
Etymologically, steak itself is from the Old Norse word, ‘steik.’ As far back as the 17th century, London, England had chophouses serving cuts of meat or chops. Italian-Swiss immigrant brothers, Giovanni and Pietro Delmonico, opened their first fine-dining restaurant in New York City in 1827, which over the years introduced several iconic dishes, including a thick-cut ribeye called the Delmonico Steak.
What Makes a Delicious Steak?
There are two key characteristics that give a good steak its name: flavor and tenderness.
Flavor here doesn’t include the addition of seasonings and sauces but only refers to the inherent taste of the meat. The true flavor of the steak comes from the diet of the animal source, the amount of fat present and the aging of the meat.
The ratio of the three main types of bodily matter contained in the meat go a long way toward determining the quality of the cut: fat essentially provides the flavor, collagen the structure, and muscle is the key ingredient for tenderness.
The importance of tenderness can’t be emphasized enough. It is the tenderness of the meat that makes the steak enjoyable to chew.The amount of muscle present in the cut of meat is dependent on how the muscle was used by the animal source. For instance, the muscles in the backbone would be used to a lesser extent than the muscles in the shoulders.
Main Types of Steak Cuts
Filet Mignon, or Tenderloin steak, is served boneless and is usually the most expensive cut of steak on a menu.
Interestingly though, as tender as the steak cut is, it is slightly opposite in terms of flavor — its level of flavor doesn’t match the tenderness. This is primarily because there is a lack of fat and marbling in Tenderloin which results in a very mild, buttery taste. However, the lack of taste is often compensated by wrapping the meat with a strip of bacon that adds texture and zest.
The Tenderloin basically starts out wide from under the ribs and then narrows down towards the end. Filet Mignon is cut from the smaller, narrower end and is very lean and fine-grained in texture. The meat is also small and compact once the fat and gristle are removed so it is often cut thicker than most steaks.
Porterhouse, also called T-Bone Steak, mainly comes from the strip loin and tenderloin. To the naked eye, T-bone and Porterhouse will appear almost identical, however, there is a slight difference in the way both are distributed. Porterhouse has a smaller strip segment while T-bone consists of a smaller tenderloin area. Porterhouse is basically a bone-in steak cut that is taken from the rear part of the short loin and the T-shaped bone is cut from the spine that intersects the tenderloin and top loin.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the cut was first served by the owner of a Manhattan porter (ale) house back in the 19thcentury.
Often described as the “best of both worlds” the cut is a superbly tender, buttery strip of extremely juicy steak.
Ribeye is also known by several other names such as Spencer, Scotch fillet, Delmonico and entrecôte. The cut is also often referred to as the “King of Steak,” owing to its flavorful taste, and the high-fat content that produces an utterly palatable and delicious steak.
Ribeye is usually sold and served boneless or bone-in and comes from the upper ribcage. A Ribeye is essentially a prime rib or a Rib Roast sliced down into individual steaks.
The steak is marbled with fat that makes it the juiciest of all cuts. It also has a less tender texture as compared to Tenderloin; however, it is still loved by steak enthusiasts because of the flavored chewiness it has to offer. Visually, large pockets of fat and meat are interspersed throughout the cut. While the outer section appears to be fattier and looser, the middle or the central eye consists of a finer grain texture.
4.New York Strip Steak
Some of its other common names include Top Sirloin, Strip, Manhattan, contre-filet, Kansas City Strip, and Top Loin.
New York Strip is usually sold and served boneless and is taken from the short loin behind the ribs. It is quite similar to a T-bone, considering how both of them use the same standard meat portion, that is, either the short loin or strip sitting on the underside of beef cattle.
The cut is super fine-grained in terms of texture and consists of some amount of fat marbling minus large pockets of fat. It has a nice, beefy taste and is slightly tender, too, owing to the decent fat content present in it, however, it is not as tender as a Ribeye or Tenderloin.
Also known as a Butcher’s Steak, this type of steak is prized for its excellent flavor. It comes from a hanging muscle supporting the diaphragm of beef cattle. Because it is not connected to any bone, it has been given the nickname “hanging tender.”
The edges of Hanger Steak are zesty and tender, while the center bears a more sinewy and slightly tough texture.
6. Flank Steak
Most commonly used in steak-reliant dishes like a steak stir fry, Flank is a thick type of steak cut and is relatively large in size that comes from the abdominal region. It is very lean in texture and contains a large number of muscle fibers. In terms of tenderness, it falls somewhere in the middle since it is neither too tough nor very soft and chewy.
A popular way of cooking Flank Steak is through moist heat-cooking techniques like braising that helps breakdown tough muscle fibers present, rendering it moist and tender.
Tri-Tip Steak is also called Bottom Sirloin because it is a large boneless triangular-shaped meat that is cut from the bottom sirloin of beef cattle.
It has quite low-fat content as compared to a few other cuts of steak however, despite the low-fat amount it is nicely tender and flavorful. The added flavor and taste comes from the use of slightly tougher parts.
8. Prime Rib
A Prime Rib Steak is often compared with Ribeye however, they are not quite the same.
Prime Rib is also called ‘standing rib roast’ and is considered to be the undisputed king of large beef cuts.
A whole prime rib consists of six ribs and is typically sold boneless or bone-in, and usually contains a large ‘eye’ of meat in the very center.
The meat eye is juicy, tender and greatly marbled with fat. The eye in particular is enclosed within a fat-marbled muscle and the entire beef cut has a thick cap-like layer of fat around it. Since the muscle layer isn’t heavily used, the Prime Rib results in great aroma, taste, flavor and zest.
Because of the size, amount of fat and flavor, Prime Rib is usually the most expensive cut of meat. It is also extremely thick which means it needs a generous amount of seasoning to get the full flavor out of it.
9.Flat Iron Steak
A steak cut also known by many other names such as Butter Steak, Shoulder Top Blade Steak, Boneless Top Chuck Steak, and Top Blade Steak, to name a few.
Flat Iron Steak is from the animal’s shoulder area called the ‘chuck’ and is usually cut with grain from the shoulder. This area yields extremely juicy and beefy cuts that are rich with flavor.
Lately, the Flat Iron has been gaining in popularity and is a good alternative to other more expensive cuts.
Wagyu literally means ‘Japanese cattle.’ There are four breeds of Wagyu beef cattle in Japan: Japanese Black, Japanese Polled, Japanese Brown and Japanese Shorthorn. Japanese Black make up 90% of the herds, Japanese Shorthorn less than 1%. All Japanese beef cattle are indigenous Wagyu crossed with imported stock introduced in the early 20th century.
Within Wagyu there are further subcategories identifying the meat according to the type of cattle breed and the region. Some of these include full-blood wagyu, purebred Wagyu, Akaushi beef, crossbred wagyu and Kobe beef. Wagyu cattle are now raised in many other parts of the world, especially Australia, the Americas and United Kingdom.
Wagyu beef is one of the most highly prized steaks because of its soft, buttery flavor and extremely tender texture.
11.Top Sirloin Steak
A lean steak cut, also known as Boneless Top Sirloin Steak, Top Sirloin Steak Top Off, and Sirloin Butt Steak.
The cut is from the primal sirloin or the subprimal sirloin of the animal. It differs from Sirloin in that the tenderloin, bottom-round muscles and the bone are removed.
Top Sirloin is considered to be an extremely versatile, tender and juicy piece of steak packed full of flavor.
Also known as Philadelphia Steak, Romanian Steak or Churrasco, Skirt Steak is basically cut from two separate muscles of the animal from the abdominal cavity and from inside the chest.
The ‘inside skirt’ comes from the transversus abdominis muscle and the ‘outside skirt’ comes from the diaphragm muscle. It has quite a sinewy texture with an intense beefy and juicy flavor. While both types are flat and long, the inside skirt is thin with an irregular shape and the outside skirt is thicker and much more uniform in terms of shape.
Skirt steak is excellent for grilling.
Brisket comes from the breast which is just behind the foreshank. It is considered to be one of the leaner and tougher steak cuts with a lot of beefy, juicy flavor.
Although it is a fairly tough cut of meat, when it is slow-cooked all the connective tissues are broken down, resulting in a tender, moist and rich flavor.
Interestingly, Brisket is a cut that tastes better the next day because it gives the beef a chance to absorb all the flavors overnight.
For a lean cut of beef with bold flavor, you can’t go wrong with the Coulotte steak. The Coulotte steak comes from the sirloin tip, which is located at the short loin’s top portion. You’ll find this steak just underneath the tenderloin. In terms of size, this steak is generally four inches long, two inches wide, and 1/2 inch thick.
You can expect a super tender steak with plenty of marbling from the Coulotte steak, especially for a lean cut of beef. A four-ounce serving of this steak has 24 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, and about 210 calories. Coulotte steaks are less expensive than top sirloin steaks.
There are a few different ways you can cook a Coulotte steak, and most home chefs like to pan-sear this meat in a heavy skillet. Coulotte steaks are also well-suited to grilling, stir-frying, oven-roasting, and sous vide cooking.
15. Short Ribs
What’s the difference between beef short ribs and beef back ribs? While you can cook both types of ribs in ways that are similar, they come from different areas of the cow.
Back ribs come from the cow’s upper back, and short ribs come from the cow’s front section. Short ribs are located right beneath the cow’s back ribs in the lower part of the rib cage.
Another key difference between the two types of ribs is that short ribs have a fat layer that makes them much more tender and juicy. In comparison, beef back ribs are fairly lean. Also, with back ribs, the meat is located between the bones. Beef in short ribs sits atop the bones.
Short ribs can be cut in different sizes. The English cut is popular for Texas-style BBQ, and it’s about two inches wide by four inches long. A flanken cut, popular in Korean cuisine, is about an inch long. The most popular way to cook short ribs is to braise them.
16. Sirloin Bavette
If you’ve never heard of the Sirloin Bavette, you’re not alone. Also called flap steak, Sirloin Bavette is a cut of beef that doesn’t get as much use. This steak is similar to a skirt steak or flank steak, but it’s thicker in size and has a bolder beefy flavor. At the butcher’s or grocery store, you’ll sometimes see this steak called sirloin tip.
The Sirloin Bavette comes from the sirloin, and it’s not as tender as other cuts of beef. However, if you slice it against the grain into thinner strips, you’ll get the maximum tenderness from this cut.
Because this steak is so flavorful, it’s sometimes called the “butcher’s cut” because butchers tend to save it for themselves. You can use Sirloin Bavette to make fajitas. This beef is also great for stir-frying, grilling, braising, and broiling. If you want to make beef jerky, the Sirloin Bavette is perfect for that.
17. Denver Cut
In the last several years, Denver steaks have become more popular. This cut is located in the beef chuck primal cut, which produces some lesser-known steaks and flavorful chuck roasts. Denver steak comes from the cow’s serratus ventralis muscle, which is located in the chuck roll’s under-blade portion.
A cow’s shoulder gets lots of exercise, and this usually means that meat from this area is tougher. Because of this, people often slow-cook chuck portions because slow cooking helps to tenderize the meat. However, Denver steaks are fairly tender, have good marbling, and they’re loaded with beefy flavor.
Denver steaks should be cooked in a method that gives you high heat. That means you can broil or pan sear these steaks. Also, you can grill Denver steaks as long as you trim and slice them correctly. Your Denver steaks will turn out better if they’re cooked to medium rare or rare.
18. Rump Steak
One of the most popular cuts of beef is the rump steak, which is also known as round steak. The main reason rump steak is so popular is that it’s more affordable than most other types of steak.
Because rump steak isn’t as tender as other cuts, it’s perfect for recipes that make use of sauces. Stews, slow-cooked steak in gravy, and casseroles are all ideal uses for rump steak. What rump steak lacks in tenderness, it makes up in flavor.
For best results, make sure the round steak you buy is well aged. It also helps to choose a large rump steak that’s fairly thick. Before you put your rump steak in the oven, Instant Pot, or slow cooker, sear it in a heavy pan with a little olive oil. Cast iron is ideal for searing rump steak because it does a great job of retaining heat.
How Well Is Your Steak Cooked?
Every time you go to a steak house, once you’ve decided what type of steak you want, the next question always concerns what temperature you want the steak cooked at.
The size and shape of the steak cut and also the method of preparation need to be taken into consideration when deciding on temperature.
It is also about personal preferences. While some people love to see a slightly pink center in their steak, others prefer a browner shade.
Blue Rare Steaks
Extra rare cook almost equal to being raw at a temperature of 115 Fahrenheit. At this level, the steak is completely red and purple throughout with a slightly seared cover. Because it is barely cooked, the meat retains its gel-like texture, which makes it incredibly chewy. Also, the juices are still intact and don’t flow out of the meat.
Cooked at 120 Fahrenheit and is almost 75% red throughout with a seared outside. Once the steak is off the stove, it is allowed to rest for a while which completes the process of heat transfer. This results in an absolutely juicy and tender steak with some of the juices slowly flowing out. Often called ‘the perfect steak,” the meat is bright red and warm in the middle.
Medium Rare Steaks
At this point the steak and is seared with a 50% red center with hints of pink, and red and brown on the outside. The surface of this steak is firm but should have a springy middle.
Cooked at 134 Fahrenheit the meat is dry and chewy, charred and seared on the outside, with a mix of brown and pink in the middle. In terms of texture, it is a mix of firm and soft.
Medium Well Steaks
At 150 Fahrenheit, no brown on the outside and very slight pink shades through the middle.
Well Done Steaks
The brownest of steaks, completely cooked through with brown in the middle and the outside. It also feels solid to the touch and is surprisingly the hardest to cook.
Different Cuts of Steak
Best Steak for Various Recipes
Who doesn’t love a good steak straight off the grill? For grilling, you’ll want to choose a tender steak with good marbling. The best cuts of steak for grilling are:
- Boneless Ribeye
- New York Strip
John Castellucci, executive chef at Cooks & Soldiers in Atlanta, grills ribeyes at home. When asked how long he cooks the steak, the chef responded that he does eight to 10 minutes on the first side (assuming it’s a three- to four-inch ribeye) with quarter rotations every two to three minutes and then flips it. “What that allows me to do is just to get a nice, hot crust on the steak without getting direct flame, which is going to create that carbon flavor profile . . . When you get that really, really hot crust, it’s going to create the Maillard reaction with the proteins.”
Nothing says summer like some juicy steak kabobs on the grill. For kabobs, you’ll want to choose a cut of steak that is both tender and lean. The best cuts of steak for kabobs are:
- Flank steak
- Skirt steak
Sirloin is at the top because it is both lean and tender. Flank steak is a good choice because it is relatively lean and has a good amount of flavor. Skirt steak is also a good choice because it is very flavorful.
With tacos, you have a few different options. The best cuts of steak for tacos are:
- Flank steak
- Skirt steak
- Flat iron
Flank is first because it’s the leanest option. A flat iron steak is a good choice because it is relatively lean and has a good amount of flavor. Skirt steak is a good option because it is very flavorful. Tenderloin works for its name — it’s a very tender cut of steak. Sirloin is also an excellent alternative because it is both lean and tasty.
For stir fry, you’ll want to choose a cut of steak that is both lean and tender. The best cuts of steak for stir fry are:
- Flank steak
- Skirt steak
- Beef tenderloin
Sirloin is a good choice because they are both lean and tender. Flank steak is on the list for the same reason. Skirt steak is also an excellent option because it is lean and has a lot of flavors. Beef tenderloin is last because it is the most expensive option but also the most tender.
The air fryer is the way to go if you want to make a quick and easy steak dinner. For an air fryer, you’ll want to choose a lean cut of steak. The best cuts of steak for an air fryer are:
- Flank steak
- Skirt steak
Whichever cut you choose, ensure it is thinly sliced, so it cooks evenly in the air fryer.
For a salad, you’ll want to choose a leaner cut of steak. The best cuts of steak for a salad are:
- Flank steak
- Skirt steak
- Beef tenderloin
The best thing about a salad with steak is that any cut can work in a pinch.
This dish is typically made with skirt steak, but you can also use flank steak. The best cuts of steak for Carne Asada are:
- Skirt steak
- Flank steak
These cook quickly and are easy to slice thinly, making them the perfect choice for this dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do steaks come from? How many steaks in a cow?
Steaks are mainly cut from cattle but can also come from other animals like deer, turkey, reindeer, pigs, ostrich, sheep, kangaroo, horse, goat, camel, bison, and some types of seafood such as salmon and large fish (shark, marlin and swordfish).
The number of steaks in cows depends on factors like breed, size, weight and processing method. You might get about 180 steaks from a cow. A cow produces about 250 lbs. of beef for steaks.
Which steak is the most tender?
Filet mignon is considered the tenderest steak on the market.
How are steaks aged?
Steaks are aged through a dry-aging process where they’re put or hung on racks at a controlled temperature for about 120 days to tenderize and make them more flavorful. The moisture is also drawn out of the meet to help concentrate the flavor.
How Long do steaks last in the fridge? How Long is raw steak good in the fridge?
Steaks can last in the fridge for about five days.
What to do with leftover steak?
Leftover steak can be prepared and served in various ways. My favorites include steak burritos, steak nachos, flatbread pizza with steak, steak salad, or even steak rice bowls with taco toppings.
Nothing compares to a leftover steak cooked perfectly, particularly if you like to grill your steaks.
Can you cook steak from frozen?
Yes! You can successfully cook a frozen steak, and when done correctly, it can be one of the best ways to cook a perfectly seared juicy steak.
How long do steaks last in the freezer?
A steak’s freezer life might last between four to 12 months at 0° Fahrenheit if you use the proper storage technique.
Can steak be refrozen?
Yes, you can refreeze steak and other cuts if they have been kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
Can you cook steak in an air fryer?
Air frying is the best technique for preparing tender steak with a nice crust and sear. New York strip and Ribeye steak taste delicious when prepared in an air fryer. Moreover, other cuts like flank steak, tri-tip, and top round work well.
How long do you cook a steak for medium rare?
For about five minutes: place the steak on your grill and cook until slightly charred and golden brown.
Flip the steak and continue to grill for another five minutes for medium-rare at 135 degrees Fahrenheit, six to eight minutes for medium (150 degrees Fahrenheit), or 10 minutes for medium-well (170 degrees Fahrenheit).
Can you cook steak in the oven? How long do you cook steak in the oven?
Yes, and it’s easy and quick; no grill is needed. Just pick your favorite steak, season it with pepper and salt, sear in a skillet, and place it into the oven to finish. At 450° Fahrenheit thicker steaks should take about 10 minutes. For thinner steaks, under your broiler should take about 5 minutes per side. Ensure you flip it halfway through.
What are steak frites?
Steak Frites is a dish consisting of steak paired with French fries. It’s mostly served in European brasseries and is considered to be the national meal for Belgium which is believed to be the place of its origin.
Moreover, there are different types of steaks like sauces, seasonings, and cuts of steak, depending on the region. Originally, rump steak was usually used, but contemporary cuts include rib eye, porterhouse and flank steak.
What temp should steak be?
According to USDA, steaks should be cooked to 145° Fahrenheit (medium) and rested for about three minutes. Ground beef should be cooked to 160° Fahrenheit (well done) to ensure food safety. Check with a thermometer because color alone isn’t a foolproof indicator.
Can you get sick from eating rare steak?
There is no risk of sickness. Any steak bought from a reputable source doesn’t carry the risk of E. coli, salmonella, or other diseases linked to undercooked meat.
So, eating your rate or medium steak won’t make you sick. Ensure you cook a rare steak to 135° Fahrenheit to kill the bacteria that cause diseases.
Do steaks have carbs?
Meat is your best choice when it comes to no-carb meals. Almost all fresh meat has zero carbs regardless of the fat content. Meat is mainly fat and protein and is a staple food on low-carb diets.
Can steak have worms?
Steak tapeworms are rare in the U.S, but they can contaminate your food supply when you live close to cattle or in unhygienic conditions.
You might suffer from trichinosis by eating undercooked steak infected with Trichinella roundworms. Ensure you cook meat at the appropriate temperatures to help prevent infections.
Are steaks gluten-free?
Yes, steaks are naturally gluten-free. But be cautious with floured or breaded meats, which usually contain wheat and gluten. Avoid meats covered or marinated in broths and sauces, and ensure you read labels and check for any added ingredients.
Teriyaki and soy sauces usually contain gluten, so steaks marinated in these sauces are unsafe if you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Moreover, pick gluten-free products when buying hot dogs, sausages, hams, etc. Regarding deli meats, choose certified gluten-free products and be cautious about potential cross-contact contamination sources like knives, slicers, and nearby gluten-containing products.
Plus, avoid meat or poultry products that don’t list the source of starch or dextrin on the product label.
Can dogs have steak bones?
Dogs shouldn’t have cooked T-bone steak bones, rib bones, or other cooked bones such as chicken bones or pork bones. Pet parents should consider the health risks before giving their pooch a ribeye steak or T-bone steak. Feeding bones to your puppy might lead to:
- Intestinal blockage or choking: Watch for the bones you feed your puppy, and constantly monitor them as they chew the bones. Your puppy might swallow a small bone or ingest smaller chunks of bones which might lead to an intestinal blockage.
- Intestinal damage: Bones might splinter when your puppy chews on them. These splinters enter your puppy’s stomach and cause digestive problems or health risks. Cooked bones are mainly prone to splintering. Give your puppy raw steak bones to chew on.
- Digestive disorders: The raw meat on the bones might contain dangerous bacteria like salmonella or E. coli which might cause diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach upset.