Get to know your meat: Beef cut guide

Hello cow. Hello bison.

Are they food or friends?

For me I have never had a “pet” cow or bison (but I would sure love to raise one someday). Right now they are food for me. They are both beautiful strong animals that provide so much nourishment for the human body.

I feel like if I am going to eat a food, I have to “get to know it”. Each muscle part of the cow has a certain name. Now lets not limit ourselves to only muscle meats. Hey this is gutsy talking–bring out the organ meats!

Of course grass fed is always best!

get to know your meat

What cut is that?

For now I am just going to teach you the different cuts of muscle meats because the organs are a whole separate post. Since bison is the only real food I eat–I have gotten to know the parts very well (cow and bison have similar anatomy).

Out of each “cut” there can be steaks or roasts. Usually roasts are cooked longer and steaks are cooked like a steak. I prefer to grind the roasts because they are less expensive. I also usually eat my meat raw or at least very rare. (click here to find out why raw meat is healthy.)

Figuring out beef cuts can drive you crazy..the names are endless! I hope my breakdown will help you sort things out ūüôā Also,the prices ($) are just general, but will greatly vary from farmer to farmer. The recipes are outstanding and are contributions from my fellow VGN bloggers (thanks) !


sirloin 4


top: More prized for texture and flavor.

bottom: Usually sold as sirloin steak. Less tender then top sirloin.

Names: Sirloin steak, Trip-Tip steak (Culotte), Trip-Tip roast, Ball-Tip roast, flat bone sirloin, pin bone sirloin, rump steak, wedge bone sirloin, round bone sirloin, cubed steak.

Flavor: This muscle region works hard. Chewier and dryer then short loin. Tender but lacks the fat to keep it “juicy”. Sometimes they are named according to the type of bone that is in it (flat, round, wedge, or pin). It has Grassy and nutty notes. A good blank canvass slab of meat. If it comes without a bone it will dry faster.

Fat content: low

cook: Good for roasting, grilling, or grinding. Don’t over cook.

 cost: $

recipe: Sweet and Salty Pineapple Tenderloin skewers, Beef and mushroom Kabobs, Country fried steak



Names: : “filet mignon”

Flavor: Very tender-usually eaten rare-medium rare. Mild steak taste-not the most flavorful. Delicate.

Fat content: low

cook: Grilling or broiling. Eaten rare.

cost: $$$

recipe: How to cook beef tenderloin (This applies to most steaks).



Names: Chuck Blade steak, Chuck Eye steak, flatiron steak, arm roast, Chuck Blade roast, Chuck short ribs.

Flavor: Provides a good amount of fat and collagen. Well balanced flavor ,but lacks in high note flavors..its your regular meat cut. Usually comes with a bone. The collagen gives it a richer taste too.

Fat content: high

cook: Slow braising, slow roasting, meat stock. The slow cooking = a tender meat! Great for grinding burgers-good fat ratio.

cost: $

recipe: italian beef sandwiches, pot roast,

 ribs 4


Names: Bone in rib steak, Rib-eye steak, Rib-eye roast, Standing rib roast, Short ribs, Back ribs.

Flavor:¬†A generously marbled cut of meat. Succulent well-bodies flavor of meat. Grilling, slow cooking (fall off the bone). Slabs are best braised. This can be argued as one of the best flavor in any cut. Juicy and tender. Short ribs are rich and nutty–umami is a good flavor to describe them.

Fat content:  very high

cook: Slow braising, slow roasting, meat stock. The slow cooking = a tender meat! Great for grinding burgers-food fat ratio.

cost: $$

recipe: Cocoa-Ancho Beef Ribs, slow cooker beef short ribs


Short loin

Names: Porterhouse steak, T-bone steak, New York strip steak

Flavor:¬†Many of your popular steaks come from this area. Juicy “steak” flavor. The flavor and juices will “lock” inside if you let the steak sit covered after they are cooked. Grassy and savory are good words to describe these cuts.

Fat content: medium

cook: Dry heat–grilling is best.

cost: $$$

roast 4


Names: Bottom round roast, Top round roast (London Broil)Rump roast, Eye of round.

Flavor:¬†Smooth and tender (when cooked right). Popular when used in sausages and burgers. It is the leg region ¬†of the cow, so it has very little marbling due to its extensive use. Tougher and dense with little “connective tissue”. Grassy yet mild flavor.

Fat content: low

cook: Slow roasting or grinding. Can be difficult to cook due to very low fat content. I like to grind round meat because it is lean and easy to eat raw.

cost: $$

recipe: Rogan Josh, homemade beef Jerky (from a roast), easy crock pot meal, beef stroganoff

 oxtail 5

Ox tail

Names: Chuck Blade steak, Chuck Eye steak, flatiron steak, arm roast, Chuck Blade roast, Chuck short ribs.

Flavor:¬†Extremely savory a rich nutty flavor. Sooo good! The most flavor –compared to any other cut. The tail never stops moving so lots of nutrients (blood flow) in this area. Leaves a delicious coating on your tongue after you eat it. mmm…

Fat content: very very high

cook: Stew, stock, brasing.

cost: $

recipe: oxtail pho , The best oxtail stew ever!, Oxtail glazed with red wine, orange and rosemary 


brisket 444


Names: Brisket First cut, Brisket Front cut.

Flavor: Grassy flavor with sour notes. Tough cut. No bone. Light iron smell (probably because it is near the belly). A little grainy when you grind it.

Fat content: medium to low

cook:¬†Slow cooking in liquid, smoked, “Pickled” (corn beef & pastrami).

cost: $

recipe: Salpicon (cold Mexican brisket), Maple Cider Brisket, traditional corned beef



Names: Skirt steak, Plate short ribs.

Flavor: Gamey flavor and slight sourness. Rope-y texture and need to be cut against the grain. Slightly gritty. Used for fijitas.

Fat content: medium to low

cook: Marinated and  then quick seared or grilled. Plate Short ribs are good braised or slow cooked.

cost: $$

 flank 10


Names: Hanger steak, (“tummy muscle”)

Flavor: Long flat cut. Lean and rope-y (similar to plate steak)-sliced across the grain. Commonly used as “stir fry” meat. Pure and lean. Slightly sour but mild (light) flavor.

Fat content: low

cook:¬†Marinated and ¬†then quick seared or grilled. Cut up and cooked in fat (stir fry). A steak “roll” can be made if you are get creative!

cost: $

recipe: Steak roll with tomato gravy (OMG yum!), Grilled Steak Caesar, Chilled Soy-lime Flank steak salad, Seared Bavette, Mongolian Beef, GAPS balsamic flank steak, marinated flank steak, fajitas!



Names: Foreshank, Hindshank, “shin of beef”

Flavor: This is the leg of the animal so it is dense and tough. Naturally not tender, but can become so if you cook it the right way. Full of connective tissue (making it good for stock–very healing) which gives it a deep, well-rounded flavor.

Fat content: low

cook: Long slow cook in low heat. Best for meat stock or soup.

cost: $

recipe: deeply rooted beef stew

ground chuck

**Ground meat:

Learn how to grind your own beef (picture tutorial) here!

Ground meat is not a specific “cut” in particular. There is ground chuck, ground roast, ground sirloin, and then ground beef–but really you can grind any cut.

Ground beef¬†is usually a combination of many different cuts (and sometimes even different cows–if you buy it from a unknown source!) Most likely it is a combination of trimmings from the neck, plate, shank, round, flank & chuck. But really it can contain any part of the cow. Usually it is from 20-30% fat (juicy and moist!)

Good tasty ground meat usually consists of chuck–Ground chuck— (15-20% fat), this is the most popular and favorite cut to grind. Round —Ground Round–(10-15% fat) & sirloin —Ground Sirloin–(5-10% fat) are popular too. Usually you pick a combination of cuts to make the flavor and fat ratio to your liking. (You don’t want to buy pure ground round or ground sirloin without combining it with a cut that has more fat, otherwise your ground meat will be dry.)

recipe:¬†(ground meat–you can use any of the “ground” options above)¬†meatloaf,¬†beefy taco salad,¬†Sweet n’ Glazey Totally Beefy Meatloaf,¬†Ground Beef, Parmesan and Spinach Fritatta,¬†Chili,¬†Hamburgers,¬†Italian wedding soup,¬†bacon meatballs,¬†cottage pie,¬†ground beef skillet,¬†pumpkin chili,¬†bacon and cheese stuffed burgers


What do you think? Did you learn anything? Now maybe you won’t be so scared to pick up that piece of meat you had no idea what it was called ūüôā







~Stay Gutsy, Caroline

disclosure 3


  1. Dinnie says

    What part of the cow is called beef lite. I remember my mom cooking this many years ago, and it was very good. I don’t know the name, so I can buy some.

Speak Your Mind