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Know Your Beef Cut Guide

Beef is the ultimate crowd pleaser. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, trying to impress a date, inviting friends over to watch the game or simply wanting to spice things up for a midweek family dinner, serving a tender, flavor-packed beef entree can be a sure-fire win for every home chef.

If you’re trying a new recipe or are less experienced with cooking beef, choosing the right beef cut can be intimidating. Not all cuts are created equally. Each brings unique elements to the table that are ideal for certain cooking styles. Knowing which cut of beef offers the right texture and tenderness for your dish is crucial to winning over your guests.

Braveheart has compiled the following guide to help you navigate the beef cut selection process so you can cook with professional-chef-level confidence and wow your dinner guests.

As a bonus, we’ve included a few recipes that will really put your steak of choice a cut above the rest.

What Are the Different Beef Cuts?

Beef cuts are divided up into primal cuts and sub-primal cuts.

Primal cuts are the main parts of the cow. These include the loin, rib, round, flank, chuck, sirloin, and brisket. These cuts are those that are farthest from the horns and hooves. Because of this, they are the most tender.

Tougher cuts are located closer to the muscles around the leg and shoulder. These muscles do most of the grunt work, which greatly impacts the meat’s texture.

Primal cuts are divided into sub-primal cuts. These include distinct steaks and chops, such as the flank steak, flat iron steak, filet mignon, and rib eye.

Keep reading for a more detailed breakdown of specific beef cuts.

Beef Cut Profile

Top Blade Cut

Other Names:

  • Flat Iron Steak
  • Boneless Flat Iron
  • Boneless Top Blade
  • Whole Top Blade Roast
  • Flat Iron Roast


This is the second most tender beef muscle. It is a flavorful, juicy, well-marbled beef cut. This cut averages 8 oz and thickness varies from ¾ inch to 1-¼ inches.

The top blade cut is best prepared using dry heat and cooked to medium-rare or medium, though it stays tender even when cooked to well done. There is no need to marinate this cut. Grill or pan-broil it and serve it just as you would a Strip Steak or Ribeye.

You can thinly slice it for fajitas, sandwiches and salads, slice it into strips for stir-fries, skewers and pastas, or cut into cubes for kabobs.

Chuck Roll

Other Names:

  • Denver Cut Steak
  • Chuck Under Blade Steak
  • Under Blade
  • Center Cut Steak
  • Chuck Shoulder Tender
  • Petite Tender
  • Petite Tender Medallions
  • Shoulder Tender Medallions

This cut is generously marbled, juicy and tender. Cut from the fourth most tender muscle located in the Chuck Roll, this versatile cut is suitable for any occasion. It is best prepared using dry heat and is perfect for grilling. You can heighten the flavor by marinating or using a dry rub.

Cook the beef whole for a classic, center-of-the-plate steak experience or slice into strips for stir-fry or cubes for kabobs.

Teres Major

This cut is a tender, juicy muscle from the shoulder near the top blade, offering versatility and upscale plate presentation similar to the beef tenderloin (filet mignon). It is best prepared using dry heat. Teres major can be prepared and served whole, cut across the grain into ¾” to 1”- thick medallions, portioned at 2-3 oz each, or sliced thin for use in salads, sandwiches, pastas, wraps and appetizers.

It is excellent grilled, pan-broiled or sauteed when portioned as medallions - treat as you would beef tenderloin.

Ribeye (Boneless or Bone-in)

Other Names:

  • Boneless Ribeye Steak
  • Delmonico Steak
  • Fillet Steak
  • Bone-in Rib Steak
  • Cowboy Steak
  • Tomahawk Cut (Long Bone)
  • Frenched Ribeye

The ribeye is one of the most tender beef cuts. It is fine-grained and full-flavored with generous marbling. Convenient and versatile, these ribeyes are best prepared using a dry-heat cooking method such as broiling or grilling.

Short Loin

Other Names:

  • Beef Loin
  • Short-Cut
  • Porterhouse
  • T-Bone
  • Kansas City Strip (A Bone In Strip Steak)

The cut of beef comes from the back of the steer. The short loin contains part of the spine and includes the top loin and tenderloin. This cut yields Strip Steak, Kansas City Strip, New York Strip, Porterhouse and T-Bone (cuts containing partial meat from the tenderloin).

The T-Bone also yields Bone-In Kansas City Steaks, basically the T-Bone without the tenderloin portion. To distinguish between a Porterhouse and T-Bone, look at the tenderloin muscle. If it’s larger than a silver dollar - it’s a Porterhouse.

This is a tender, flavorful cut that delivers a quality eating experience which operators can charge a premium for. The Short Loin fulfills patron’s desires for cuts they prepare less often at home. What’s more, it is one of more than 29 beef cuts that qualify as lean.

Dry heat is recommended. These tender cuts should be grilled or broiled to perfection. In order to satisfy customer cravings for meals they don’t prepare at home, take time to test cooking time and temperatures for cuts with different thickness to ensure the exact doneness every time.

Strip Steak

Other Names:

  • New York Strip
  • Boston Strip
  • Ambassador Steak
  • Country Club Steak
  • Top Loin Steak

This cut offers superb taste and flavor is one of the most tender cuts of beef. The Strip steak also qualifies as one of the 29 lean beef cuts.

A strip loin is a boneless whole muscle fabricated from the loin primal. All bones and tail have been removed.

Tenderloin

Other Names:

  • Filet Mignon
  • Medallions
  • Butt Tenderloin
  • Short Tenderloin
  • Tenderloin Tips
  • Tenderloin Filet
  • Filet Mignon
  • Filet Steak
  • Tender Steak

The tenderloin is cut from the most tender muscle and is a highly-valued cut that offers versatility in portion options, cooking applications and preparation methods. It can be easily fabricated into portion steaks. It is one of more than 29 beef cuts that qualify as lean and is the most flexible cut available.

It is best prepared by using any dry cooking method including roasting, grilling, sauteing and smoking. The tenderloin is also a great cut for poaching.

PSMO

PSMO stands for “Peeled Side Muscle On” and has all the outside fat removed. Silver skin is the connective tissue that surrounds the tenderloin muscle. “Peeled” refers to all outside fat and connective tissue.

Coulotte

Other Names:

  • Top Sirloin Cap Steak
  • Culotte Steak
  • Boneless Top Sirloin Cap
  • Sirloin Filet

This is a boneless steak made by slicing the Sirloin Cap at a right angle to the grain or direction of the muscle fibers, maximizing tenderness. It is easy to prepare, making it perfect for at-home chefs.

The coulotte is one of more than 29 beef cuts that qualify as lean. Prepare using dry heat. It is best when marinated or seasoned with an herb rub, then dry roasted or grilled. Cut across the grain for maximum tenderness.

Top Sirloin

This is a boneless steak made by slicing the Sirloin Cap at a right angle to the grain or direction of the muscle fibers, maximizing tenderness. It is easy to prepare, making it perfect for at-home chefs.

The coulotte is one of more than 29 beef cuts that qualify as lean. Prepare using dry heat. It is best when marinated or seasoned with an herb rub, then dry roasted or grilled. Cut across the grain for maximum tenderness.

Flank Steak

Other Names:

  • Beef Flank
  • London Broil

A single flat muscle cut from the flank region of the beef. The flank cut has a robust, beefy flavor. The versatile cut is ideal for virtually every cooking style. Limited fabrication or trimming time is required which means lower labor costs for operators.

The flank steak is one of the more than 29 beef cuts that qualify as lean. Since there are only two flank steaks per beef carcass, the price of flank steak can vary slightly throughout the year. It is best prepared using dry heat. Carve thinly across the grain to promote tenderness.

Hanger Steak

This steak is cut from the portion of the diaphragm muscle that is attached to the back section of the last rib. There is only one hanging tender per beef and is ideal for thin cuts and is easy to slice. The Hanger steak is popular because it arrives pan-ready, requiring little trim.

Dry heat is recommended. Hanger steak is most frequently seasoned, grilled or broiled, then sliced and fanned on the plate.

Short Rib

Other Names:

  • Boneless Short Ribs
  • Boneless Beef Ribs
  • Bone-in Short Ribs
  • Bone-in Beef Ribs

This cut consists of the rib section from any rib and/or plate item and contains two but no more than five ribs. It offers a rich, deep flavor ideal for signature rubs and sauces and adaptable to various ethnic flavor profiles. It is the ultimate comfort food cut.

Short rib is best prepared using dry heat for thinner cuts, moist heat for thicker cuts. Short ribs require a long, slow cooking time to tenderize. The result is moist tender full-flavored ribs. Braising short ribs with wine, vegetables, seasoning and stock enhances taste and tenderness.

Skirt

Other Names:

  • Boneless Beef Plate
  • Fajita Steak
  • Fajita Meat

Skirt steak is the trimmed, boneless portion of the diaphragm muscle which is attached to the 6th through 12th ribs on the underside of the short plate. The flavorful steak is ideal for a variety of profitable dishes, such as fajitas. Carve thinly across the grain to promote tenderness.

It is best prepared using dry heat including grilling, broiling and stir-frying.

Compound Butter and Pan Sauce Recipes for Steaks

Now that you’ve made your cut selection, it’s time to add a little something extra to take your beef entree to the next level with a mouthwatering selection of homemade compound butters and pan sauces.

Don’t worry. These additions won’t steal the show. Like the perfect accessory, these pairings are crafted to let the beef shine.

Compound Butter Recipes

For each recipe, place room-temperature butter in a mixing bowl and whip in other ingredients. Roll the butter mixture into a tube in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Chipotle Butter

  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. Cilantro, minced
  • 1 tsp. Lime juice
  • 1 tsp. Chipotle pepper, pureed

Basil Butter

  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. Basil , minced
  • 1 tsp. Lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. Tabasco* sauce

Espresso Butter

  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. Ground espresso
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • ¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon

Sriracha Butter

  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. Cilantro, minced
  • ½ tsp. Lime juice
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha sauce

Pan Sauces

Chefs take their entrees up a notch with luxurious pan sauces, and you can too. Here are some timeless recipes that you can use to make your favorite meat extra special.

Sriracha Butter

  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 stick butter (clarified)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small sauce pan placed over high heat, add vinegar, wine, tarragon and shallots. Cook until reduced by half.

  2. In a blender add egg yolks and the reduction. While on puree, slowly drizzle the clarified butter into the blender. Season with salt and pepper.

Horseradish Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups Alfredo sauce (boil in bag)
  • 1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp. Parsley, minced
  1. After Alfredo sauce is warm, whisk in parsley and horseradish. Keep warm until serving.

NOTE: product will last for one week when refrigerated.

Creole Mustard Demi-Glace

  • ½ cup demi-glace (or beef broth)
  • 1 cup creole mustard
  • ⅛ tsp. Salt
  • ⅛ tsp. Black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic. Minced
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  1. Heat demi-glace to saucepan over medium heat.

  2. Whisk in mustard, cream, salt and pepper

  3. Allow sauce to reduce by half, stirring occasionally

Mushroom Demi-Glace

  • 1 cup demi-glace
  • 1 shiitake mushroom, sliced
  • 1 cremini mushroom, sliced
  • 1 button mushroom, sliced
  • 1 tsp. Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. red onion, minced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp. Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  1. Add oil to a saucepan over medium-high heat.

  2. Add garlic, mushrooms and onions and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add win and reduce by half.

  3. Add demi-glace and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper and butter, then serve.

The Braveheart Difference

Knowing which cut of beef to seek out for your recipe of choice is a great first step. But can you trust that the beef you’re purchasing is a high quality product?

Braveheart Black Angus Beef guarantees the most premium, mouthwatering, tender steaks. We’ve gone above and beyond to create industry-leading standards that ensure quality and sustainability from ranch to plate.

Steakhouses across the country have trusted us to provide the beef for their menu, and now you can enjoy it at home.

What makes us different?

Braveheart cattle are fed and cared for in the Midwest, the heart of cattle country. All Braveheart feedyards are managed by the Beef Marketing Group.

Our Unique PathProven® program means Braveheart cattle are carefully cared for. They are fed a 100% U.S. grain-based diet, then finished on Midwestern corn for superior marbling and flavor.

Braveheart Black Angus Beef is aged for a minimum of 21 days, which is scientifically proven to create the most tender, delicious meat.

We verify our Braveheart Beef cattle as majority black-hide Angus, which is known for producing the most succulent steaks. This is done through DNA Traceback®, the nation’s first-of-its-kind DNA-based traceability system. This technology allows us to trace every cut of meat back to the animal it came from.

The process ensures a consistent product quality that you can count on.

Don’t worry. These additions won’t steal the show. Like the perfect accessory, these pairings are crafted to let the beef shine.

Get Braveheart Steaks Delivered Right to Your Door

To the home chef looking to make a statement: Braveheart is for you.

Braveheart’s steaks are known for their superior flavor and tenderness, made for at-home cooking with extraordinary quality and consistency, flash frozen and shipped right to your door.

SHOP BRAVEHEART BEEF NOW