12 Steak Cuts To Grill or Not: Ranked from Best to Worst
Tired of eating the same steak cut again and again, and too afraid to break the routine? Well, say goodbye to your good old steak because in this article we bring you a list of all the steak cuts you need to know before getting your hands on a new steak! And not just a list, these steak cuts will be ranked from best to worst so you can have an idea about where each of these steaks stand.
So move along and get your dose of confidence and courage to release yourself from the shackles of the same old steak you’ve been eating for weeks – seriously, have some mercy on your taste buds and give it a change it deserves.
Steaks are one hell of a succulent thing. One bite of it and there is no way back, unless of course you mistakenly came across a very bad steak. But what really makes a steak good or bad? That is the question we will be answering in this article!
From worst to best, cheap to pricey, and tender to chewy, we will discuss all these things that comes along with each and every steak, so you don’t have to worry about wasting your money or gagging on a bad steak. May the good steak be always in your favor!
Before we get down to the detailed rankings of the steak cuts, I have decided to put these different steaks in some of the categories that they suit best. So, if you are running out of time or seriously have no clue when it comes to steak, this information will definitely come in handy.
Best Steak Cuts For Grilling
Under this category, you will find steaks that were bound to become steaks one day. And they really did! These steaks come with enough marbling or fat that immediately helps in making your steak flavorful and tender. After all that’s the job of the fat in the beef. Without it, you can’t really have that flavor your heart truly desires.
- Filet Mignon (Tenderloin)
- T Bone
- NY Strip
- Hanger Steak
Steak Cuts That Are Best But Need A Little Altering
If you are running a little tight on budget but still crave to have a bite of tender juicy steak, then the steaks mentioned below are guaranteed to get you intrigued. These cuts usually don’t come with enough fat, so our butchers have blessed us with few tricks to get your steak as near to ribeye steak as possible.
For instance, NY Strip isn’t generously marbled like those top-notch cuts, however, if the thickness of this Strip is maintained between 1 to 1 ½ inch then you can end up with tender, tasty and juicy steak.
- NY Strip
- Hanger steak
- Skirt Steak
- Tri Tip
Steak Cuts To Be Avoided At All Cost
I have no grudge against these beauties mentioned below. Sure these beef cuts taste lovely when smoked for hours, but they really are not suitable for grilling or as steaks generally.
Why is that so? These cuts are terribly tough because they are somehow in constant movement by the cow. Transforming its toughness to tenderness would require long hours of cooking – that is, low and slow cooking method.
- Round Steak
12 Steak Cuts Ranked From Best To Worst
12. Round Steak
Round primal is a good meat, but the idea of using it as a steak really doesn’t sound amusing. It is found at the hind legs of the cow, and of course these legs are in constant motion which makes it one of the toughest meat to deal with. And it’s not just about toughness, Round Steaks are lean and lacks the marbling – making it the least flavorful steak.
Round primal is often divided into three cuts – Top Round, Bottom Round and Eye of Round. Although these three cuts share more similarities than differences, top round steak is considered to have more flavor than the other two cuts.
If you are still in the mood to give the round primal a try, then make sure you rub in the marinades and cook it up low and slow.
Brisket is a huge chunk of beef found at the breast of the animal. It has one side completely covered with fat, and is considered as one of the toughest meat to deal with. Though, brisket has lots of fats to make it irresistibly flavorful, it also comes with lots of collagen too – making it very tough.
It comes as no surprise to see brisket ranked at the bottom. Brisket takes hell lot of time to get cooked – or more preferably to liquefy those tough tissues. Unlike other premium steak cuts, brisket is well cooked through low and slow smoking/cooking. Besides, it’s a bit chewy as well. Still not convinced? Give it a try yourself!
10. Tri Tip
Tri Tip is a triangular shaped beef cut obtained from the bottom sirloin near the rear of the cow. This steak cut was usually ignored by the butchers and dishearteningly used as ground beef until it gained popularity.
Tri Tip became people’s favorite because it comes at a reasonable price without any compromise on its taste and quality. Tri Tip Steak is a lean meat that comes with less fat, however, the evenly distributed marbling in it makes the steak naturally tender and flavorful.
Since Tri Tip Steak lacks the tough connective tissue, this makes it super easy and quick to cook!
P.S. Tri Tip is a great substitute for Brisket.
9. Flank Steak
Flank Steak is obtained from the abdominal muscles of the cattle – more specifically behind the chest and near the rear legs. Also known as the London Broil (due to its popularity in the city), flank steak comes with deliciously beefy flavor.
But what really keeps it between the best and the worst? Well, flank steak is quite tricky to cook. A single misstep could make this steak tremendously chewy.
Flank Steak has comparatively low fat, and your cooking style will have a crucial impact on how your steak turns out. The trick to enjoy the tenderness and savory flavor of flank steak is to grill it on high heat for few minutes before dishing it out. Flank steak is commonly used in tacos and fajitas.
8. Skirt Steak
Skirt steak is just like the flank steak with, of course, few exceptions. At first glance both the flank and skirt steak may look just the same, but with a bite of skirt steak you will notice that it comes with a lot more beefy flavor. Skirt steak is divided into two types – the inside and the outside skirt. The outside skirt is my favorite, it is a lot thicker and tender than the inside skirt.
The reason why I have put skirt steak above the flank steak is that it is comparatively cheaper, has greater fat content, and its lean texture allows marinades to penetrate into it which helps in enhancing the flavor. Like flank steak, skirt steak is also commonly found in fajitas and tacos.
7. Hanger Steak
Hanger steak is neither too tender nor too chewy, but when it comes to flavor it will have you bobbing your head in approval.
To me, hanger steak seemed like a really better version of skirt steak – it shouldn’t come as a surprise because both hanger and skirt steaks really do come from the same muscle. It is usually found hanging somewhere between ribs and loin and hence the name Hanger Steak.
As it is comparatively a tender and lean cut, hanger steak gets super delicious after marinating and grilling it with quick hot heat. If you plan on eating a hanger steak, I can assure you that this piece of meat will surely never disappoint you.
6. New York Strip Steak
New York Strip Steak is found near the rear portion of the cow – more specifically behind the ribs. Its location allows it to possess less fat as compared to the other steak cuts obtained near to it – I am looking at you ribeye.
Since it lacks the marbling, NY Strip usually has a chewier texture with somewhat rich beefy flavor. Although NY Strip comes with a strip of fat attached to it, that chunk of fat really isn’t deemed eatable. The trick to get your strip steak tender is to not overcook it, but I think this rule applies to each and every steak, right?
If New York Strip comes with Tenderloin and a bone attached to it, it transforms into a Porterhouse Steak. What exactly is that? You will find that out in few minutes.
5. Filet Mignon (Tenderloin)
Tenderloin is found sandwiched between two renowned cuts Sirloin and t Top Sirloin, with its one end extending into the Short Tenderloin. This extended tube shaped part of the tenderloin makes up the Filet Mignon, giving it the classic round shape.
Filet mignon is a French word that surely means something – I’m not really good in French, but at least I am better at judging a steak. This steak cut is extremely tender as this muscle is barely used by the cow, but this comes as no surprise.
Tenderloin is famously known for its tenderness – I mean, it literally has the word ‘tender’ attached to it! Although, tenderloin receives praises from all around the world, unfortunately, it lacks the marbling. Less marbling means less flavor, so you can give your tenderloin a flavor through marinades.
4. Porterhouse Steak
Obtained from the very back end of the short loin, Porterhouse Steak is composed of two steak cuts – NY Strip and Tenderloin Steak. These two steaks are joined together by a bone closely resembling the letter T.
Porterhouse is mostly regarded as the T Bone Steak, but the truth is they aren’t exactly identical. Porterhouse is a greater version of T Bone Steak, and it comes with more Tenderloin in every aspect.
And since it comes with more Tenderloin, it also means Porterhouse is rather an expensive steak. But the advantage of buying Porterhouse Steak is not just getting more Tenderloin, it also gives you an option to convert the Porterhouse into a T Bone Steak.
Porterhouse is tender, and comes with less fat as well – meaning it takes less time to get it done.
3. T Bone
Unlike Porterhouse Steak, T Bone is found at the frontal end of the short loin, and can’t really convert back to Porterhouse. Many people consider these two steak cuts the same, and speaking in terms of flavor and tender, they really are.
The only difference between these two steak cuts is that T Bone steak is a smaller version of Porterhouse steak as tenderloin comes in small quantity with it. This is the reason why I have put T Bone above Porterhouse.
It is comparatively cheaper because it comes with less tenderloin, and comes with the perfect amount of meat to have your tummy full without feeling guilty of the leftovers. Hence, T Bone steak is perfect if you are single!
When there is a ribeye in town, it automatically wins the price of being the master of the steaks. This premium cut is surely one of the best steaks to grill. It is achieved from the front part of the animal – specifically the top of the ribs.
Ribeye steaks are famously known for its juiciness and tenderness, and where does that come from? The generosity of fat content in it.
These beauty steaks are heavily marbled, making it super soft and flavorful. But there is a drawback for me here, this heavy marbling makes my steak too greasy for my liking.
I know I will be bashed for not siding with Team Ribeye, but I have been a number one fan of Ribeye until I gave other steak cuts a try.
1. Sirloin (Top Sirloin)
Sirloin comes in two parts, Top Sirloin and Bottom Sirloin. Top Sirloins are best suited as steaks for grilling while Bottom Sirloins are ideal for roasting. Tri Tip comes from the Bottom Sirloin, but under this section we’ll be solely focusing on the top cut.
Top Sirloins come with less fat marbling, and it is comparatively more tender than the Bottom Sirloin – gets an advantage of being spotted at the tender rear part of the cow.
Its tenderness is further retained by maintaining its thickness no more than 2 inches as thick steaks usually helps in keeping it moist and soft. As for its flavor, Top Sirloin comes with slightly intense beefy flavor.
Top Sirloin is personally my favorite. When natural beefy flavor of steak gets along with the marinades so well, this magical combination really brings out the true flavor of Sirloin!
Most Expensive Cut Of Steak
All good things come with a price. If you are on a voyage to find the best steak cut, make sure you are accompanied with a treasure box full of cash. Too much? Don’t blame me, I just like being hyperbolic sometimes.
I have discussed about what makes each steak cut the best (or worst), but I never really got to tell which ones come with a price that shouldn’t really be ignored. Below you’ll find the list of handful steaks that are quite expensive but can’t really be sidelined.
- New York Strip
- What Is The Most Expensive Cut Of Beef Per Pound?
If I really have to choose the most expensive steak cut from the above, then my pointed finger would land on the Tenderloin. Known as one of the prestigious steak cuts, Tenderloin generally costs around $25 to $35 per pound. However, do keep in mind that the price could sometimes be found out of the range mentioned.
Most Tender Cut
Amongst the 12 steak cuts mentioned above, the most tender cut is the Tenderloin. This comes as no surprise as its tenderness is a fact and not an opinion. Once in your mouth, Tenderloin Steak really knows how to melt – it really does feel like munching on a very beefy flavored butter. However, speaking of taste, I personally found Tenderloin a little bland in taste.
But you don’t really have to worry about that, the well-picked marinades can give tenderloin the ideal enhanced flavor!
Now that you have read the rankings of these steak cuts in my perspective, I would really love to know about your favorite steak(s) and how you would arrange the rankings according to your preference!