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!
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 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 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 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 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.