Ingredients

All Types of Steak Explained by Cut

Nov 29, 2021
Coline Richard

A well-prepared steak is one of the classiest meals you can make. In this post, we’ll walk you through all of the different varieties, or cuts, of steak, diving in to explore the unique flavor, texture, and shape of each one.

Then, once you’re ready, head to our website to find fantastic steak recipes, get a grocery list that’s specifically optimized for you and your family, and order your groceries in whatever manner is easiest for you.

New York Strip

The New York strip, also known as strip steak, is cut from the part of the cow known as the short loin. Located just below the ribs, the short loin contains lots of intramuscular fat, which means New York strips will typically have a marbled appearance. 


This steak goes by a lot of different names, taking on different monikers around the globe. While its most popular title is the New York strip, you’ll find strip steaks that are called:


  • Porterhouse steak
  • Striploin steak
  • Boneless club steak
  • Hotel-style steak
  • Ambassador steak
  • Veiny steaks
  • Top loin steak
  • Delmonico steak


Like the ribeye, the New York strip responds well to high heat thanks to its ample fat content. It’s typically cooked with dry heat using a grill or a skillet. Once cooked, many chefs like to top a New York strip with grilled veggies, especially onions or mushrooms. 


As is the case with many fattier cuts, chefs typically season a raw New York strip with a dry rub – or just salt. Using dry seasoning rather than a marinade tends to be better for high-fat meat, but feel free to experiment with a wide array of steak prep methods in your kitchen at home!


Filet Mignon

This type of steak comes from the small part of the tenderloin, which runs along the spine of a cow. This cut’s name is French, and it translates to “tender filet.” In France, “filet mignon” can either refer to the meat from this part of a cow or from a pig.


Since the tenderloin is small and produces a lean, tender, and juicy steak, filet mignon is one of the most expensive cuts of meat you can find at your local market. It’s best reserved for special occasions!


Many chefs cook filet mignon on a grill, cutting the meat into servings that are between one and two inches thick. In the United States, filet mignon is sometimes wrapped in bacon, making this type of steak even more decadent. In addition to grilling, filet mignon can also be pan-fried, broiled, or roasted. Each of these cooking methods can change the steak’s flavor and texture.


Since filet mignon is typically thin and lean, it’s easy to overcook – so even the most skilled chefs have to be careful with it. In many cases, the steak is only exposed to high heat for a short time, getting both sides seared. Then, the heat is turned down to cook through the center. This method of cooking the steak helps to keep it from getting too well done, all the while maintaining that classic seared look and texture.


Hanger Steak

Hanger steaks are cut from the cow’s belly, and they have a similar taste and texture to a flank. These steaks are sometimes referred to as butcher’s steaks or hanging tenderloin, and they’re considered delicacies despite their slightly obscure status.


Hanger steak is a staple in Latin cooking, and it’s known as arrachera in northern Mexico. There, this steak is traditionally used to make delicious tacos, a tradition that has spread to parts of Texas.


Cube Steak

Cube steak comes from the top round of the cow, right around its rump. Unlike most cuts, a cube steak is created using a meat tenderizer, which is used to flatten the cut, leaving it with distinct cube-shaped indentations on its surface.


In some parts of the US, a cube steak is known as a “minute steak” because of how fast you can cook one up. Because this cut is so thin and has already been tenderized, it cooks extremely fast compared to many other steaks. It’s tough for even the most skilled chefs to make a rare cube steak.


Cube steak is often served fried, especially in the southern United States. A common method of preparing cube steak is to use this cut for country-fried steak, which is often served topped with a smothering of gravy. 


Ribeye

Ribeye is a cut of meat that runs across the lower half of a cow’s ribcage. These steaks contain several of the major muscles in a cow’s rib area, including the longissimus dorsi, complexus, and spinalis. Humans have these muscles, too, but a cow’s are much, much bigger.


Unlike filet mignon and other leaner cuts, ribeye steaks have higher fat content, which makes them respond better to high heat. Ribeye is a cut that has a marbled appearance thanks to intramuscular fat, which runs throughout the cut and adds to its rich, juicy flavor. 


The fat content in a ribeye makes this steak chewier than most cuts, but it also adds to its intense flavor. Even a well-done or slightly overcooked ribeye can still taste juicy because of how fatty the cut is. 


Many chefs cook ribeye steaks without using a marinade, thanks to the marbling, which responds better to dry rubs and seasonings than liquids. In addition, it’s often recommended to use a grill or a skillet for cooking ribeyes rather than wet cooking methods – and you don’t have to be afraid to turn up the heat!


Sirloin

Sirloin steak comes from the part of the cow with the same name, which is located behind the rib cage. There’s something of a debate surrounding where the sirloin should be cut from, with the US taking this steak from above the tenderloin and Brits getting their cut from behind the fore rib. American and European classifications of the many cuts of meat can sometimes vary, but everyone at least agrees on the general whereabouts of the sirloin!


Legend has it that this steak got its name after King James I liked a steak so much that he had it knighted, referring to it from then on as “Sir Loin.” While historians have widely dismissed this steak story as a myth, there’s no way to know for sure!


Sirloin steaks are boneless cuts that don’t have as much fat or marbling as ribeyes and New York strips. Because of the lower fat content, a sirloin steak needs to be handled more like something akin to a filet mignon. That means careful cooking and not too much heat. 


Many chefs recommend going nowhere beyond medium-rare when cooking sirloin steaks. In addition, the favorite method of seasoning these cuts is a dry rub, but some cooks like to marinate their sirloin. Common side dishes for sirloin steak include french fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, and other yummy, starchy foods. 

London Broil

This type of steak isn’t really its own cut, but it is usually taken from a specific part of the cow. London broil steaks usually come from a cow’s hindquarters and have a decent amount of marbling and muscle. These steaks are traditionally cooked using a long-term marinade, then exposed to high heat with either an oven or a grill. Then, this large cut of meat is cut into thin pieces, which can be shared by quite a few people.


When preparing a London Broil, one of the most important things to consider is your marinade. This sauce can make or break a steak, and what you make it with makes all the difference. Using a marinade that contains acidic ingredients like vinegar can help to tenderize the steak and bring out its distinct flavors.


Cooking London Broil for too long can leave this cut almost too chewy to eat. To ensure that your steak is as tender and delicious as possible, keep a close watch on your oven or grill! Aim for medium-rare if possible, or medium if you prefer your steak well done.


T-Bone

The T-bone is another cut that comes from the short loin of the cow. However, these steaks are a bit of a hybrid – there’s also some tenderloin there, which accounts for the distinct “T”-shaped vertebrae in the center of the steak. There are several muscles from the tenderloin, including the lumbar vertebra, which gives the steak its shape. 


T-bone steaks are usually big, tender, juicy cuts of meat, and they’re often some of the most expensive entrees at upscale restaurants. Like the filet mignon, which is exclusively tenderloin, this steak contains meat from the most sought-after part of the cow – and it’s absolutely delicious!


Traditionally, T-bone steaks are cooked with high heat for short periods of time. 


Skirt Steak

Skirt steaks are long, muscly, and fatty, making them some of the juiciest cuts you can get! These steaks respond well to high-acid marinades, which can help to tenderize all that muscle mass. They’re also best cooked in a pan with high heat, which brings out the best qualities in the skirt steak’s flavor profile.


Flank Steak

Flank steaks have a lot in common with skirt steaks, but they come from different parts of the cow. The flank tends to be a wider, thicker cut than the skirt steak, and it has less marbling and fat content, as well as less muscle. 


Overall, you can usually treat a flank steak similarly to a skirt steak – both respond well to marinades, and high heat is the way to go. In addition, it’s best to take this steak off the heat before it gets to medium – sticking with medium-rare is always a good move with flanks!

Rump Steak

Rump steak has many similar characteristics to the ribeye. It’s cut from a cow’s hindquarters, and it has minimal fat content, so you can marinate it for long periods of time. Rump steaks cook well in a cast-iron skillet, and they respond nicely to high heat, tasting best when seared.


Flap Steak

Flap steak is technically a sirloin cut, but it looks and tastes quite a bit different from standard sirloin. Like flank steak or skirt steak, flap steak is long, muscly, and a bit marbled. Despite the marbling, this steak tastes best when marinated and cooked over high heat. As is the case with skirt and flank cuts, you can whip up a delicious flap steak using a cast-iron skillet.


Flat Iron Steak

Flat iron steaks come from the chuck, a part of the cow that sits right behind the head. Sometimes called butlers’ steaks, feather blade steaks, or oyster blade steaks, these cuts are tender, juicy, and lean. 


The minimal fat content in a flat iron means it’s best to treat this steak like a filet mignon or a T-bone – skipping the marinade is usually best, and you can use a grill or pan-fry this steak to perfection. 


These steaks are best served medium-rare.


Denver Cut

A Denver cut is another type of steak that comes from the chuck, also known as the shoulder, of the cow. This cut has similar fat content and marbling levels to a New York strip, but it’s often more affordable. Many chefs use the sous vide cooking method to make these steaks taste perfect.


Tomahawk Steak

Tomahawks are ribeye steaks with the rib bone left intact. The inclusion of the bone makes this a very thick cut of meat, and most tomahawks clock in at around two inches of overall thickness. In addition, these steaks can often be split between multiple people. 


Thick steaks like the tomahawk tend to respond well to high-heat cooking. You can prepare a tomahawk steak in a cast-iron skillet or turn up your grill!


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