Cuts of Beef
Beef is divided into large sections called primal cuts. These beef primal cuts, or "primals," are then
broken down further into individual steaks and other retail cuts.
A "side" of beef is literally one side of the beef carcass that is split through the backbone. Each side is
then halved between the 12th and 13th ribs into sections called the forequarter and hindquarter.
The most tender cuts of beef, like the rib and tenderloin, are the ones furthest from the horn and the
hoof. By contrast, the neck and leg muscles are worked the most, which makes them tougher.
Consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade and upper arm, beef chuck is a
tough cut of meat with a good deal of connective tissue. This makes it a good
choice for making braised dishes like beef stew or pot roast. Because of its fat
content, beef chuck is also excellent for making ground beef.
Made from the center section of rib, the beef rib primal cut is used for the traditional
standing rib roast (sometimes referred to as prime rib). It's also the source of the
popular rib eye steak as well as the classic French entrecôte.
Because it's so tender, beef rib is well suited for various forms of dry-heat cooking.
Beef brisket is another tough cut frequently used for pot roast. Beef brisket is
also used for making corned beef.
Also called the short plate, beef plate includes the short ribs and the skirt
steak, which is used for making carne asada. Beef plate contains a lot of
cartilage, making it good for braising. It's also used for making ground beef.
The beef shank is the leg of the animal, and is extremely tough and full of
connective tissue. (Note also that each side of beef has two shanks, one
in the forequarter and one in the hindquarter.) Beef shank is used in
making the luxurious Italian dish osso buco.
Beef Short Loin:
Beef short loin is where we get many of the most desirable cuts of
meat, including T-bone and Porterhouse steaks, as well as the strip loin
or strip steak. Dry-heat cooking is best for the tender cuts from the short
Beef Sirloin &Beef Tenderloin:
Another tender cut, beef sirloin is an excellent choice for roasting or barbecuing.
Possibly the finest cut of beef, the beef tenderloin is found inside the loin, and is
where we get filet mignon, which is made from the very tip of the pointy end of the
tenderloin (as seen above). Chateaubriand is made from the center cut of the
Beef tenderloin should only be cooked using dry heat methods such as grilling and
Though often grilled, beef flank can be tough when prepared this
way, which is why it is usually marinated first. Beef flank is much better
suited for braising or for making ground beef.
The beef round primal cut basically consists of the back leg of the steer. The round is
a fairly lean cut, but also tough, since the leg muscle gets a lot of exercise.
Beef round is best prepared using moist-heat, and it's a good choice for making pot
roast. Subprimal cuts taken from the round include the top round (or inside
round), eye round and bottom round. Beef round is traditionally where we get cube