how many cuts of beef are there

There are 8 main primal cuts of beef: chuck, rib, loin (consisting of the short loin and the sirloin), round, flank, plate, brisket, and shank. Divided by groups of muscles, the meat from each primal has its own unique flavor, texture, and level of fat and marbling due to how hard the muscles were worked.

One of the most common questions we hear from those thinking about ordering large quantities of beef from us is “What cuts of beef will I get if I order a quarter, half or whole cow?”

That’s a great question. Your question shows that you know that a steer is made up of more than just steaks — a lot more!

In this post and video we hope to explain a little more about each of the cuts of beef and where the best cuts of beef are found. Plus, we will discuss exactly what cuts you get if you order a quarter, half or whole beef from our farm.

Where beef cuts come from:

Since you probably don’t want to carry around a beef cuts chart in your pocket, here’s what you need to know about each of the cuts:

how many cuts of beef are there

Meat from the chuck primal cut is from the cow’s shoulder. Cows use their shoulder a lot, so it’s a tougher cut of beef. However, it’s also a very flavorful cut, and butchers cut it in a variety of ways so you have lots of options at the grocery store.

Types of cuts you’ll see for chuck are ground chuck (hamburger), flat-iron steak, chuck short ribs, shoulder tender medallions, chuck pot roast, blade roast, boneless chuck short ribs, stew meat, country style ribs, and top blade steak, just to name a few.

You should choose chuck beef when you want lots of flavor, but need to be cost conscious too.

how many cuts of beef are there

The brisket is the steer’s breast. Beef brisket is usually tough and contains a substantial amount of fat, but don’t let that fool you! Chefs know that if you tenderize it with a marinade or rub, and cook it low and slow, it’ll melt in your mouth. Brisket is primarily used for barbecue, corned beef or pastrami.

The shank is located at the animal’s forearm in front of the brisket. It is one of the toughest cuts. One of the most famous dishes that comes from the shank is Osso Buco, which requires braising to make the meat more tender. Make stews and soups with the shank.

how many cuts of beef are there

The cow’s ribs and backbone make up the ribs. There are 13 pairs of ribs, but only the last section (6-12) are in the primal section of the ribs. The others are in the chuck cut. Ribs have lots of flavor and marbling. Types of cuts you’ll see for ribs are Delmonico steak, boneless ribeye roast, cowboy steak, ribeye steaks and beef short ribs. Choose ribs when you want a tender cut of beef with extra marbling.

The other popular (and expensive) cut you can find from this section is the Prime Rib Roast is also known as the Prime Rib, Ribeye Roast, Holiday Roast, Rib Roast, or Standing Rib Roast. It’s the king of roasts due to its size and marbling. It can be found with both boneless and bone-in options. The prime rib comes from the best part of the animal’s rib, between rib bones seven and 11. This area has a very thick cap of marble. Prime rib is an expensive cut of beef, but it’s not complicated to make. Here’s our favorite Prime Rib Roast with Garlic Herb Butter recipe.

The beef plate, or short plate, is the other source of short ribs and it’s found near the abdomen. It is fattier. Make fajitas, pastrami, skirt steak, Philadelphia steak and short ribs with this cut and you’ll be happy with the results.

The loin is where the most expensive cuts of beef come from. It is located at the top of the steer directly behind the rib, and since it’s not a heavily used muscle, it’s very tender and flavorful. The loin has two parts: shortloin and sirloin.

how many cuts of beef are there

Popular cuts from the shortloin are filet mignon, tenderloin steak, T-bone, Porterhouse steaks, strip steak, New York Strip, and KC Strip.

The sirloin area is a little less tender than the shortloin, but it’s also more flavorful. Common cuts from the sirloin area are sirloin steak, center cut sirloin steak, top sirloin steak, bottom sirloin, ball tip steak, Tri-Tip Roast and Tri-Tip Steak.

how many cuts of beef are there

The round is a lean and inexpensive cut. It’s found at the cow’s rump and hind legs, so it’s sometimes tough. When you’re at the store, you’ll often see round sold as ground beef. Other common cuts are round steak, eye of round, tip steak, tip roast, top round steak and bottom round roasts.

The flank is located below the loin. It has no bones, and is very flavorful but also very tough. It used to be less expensive at the grocery store, but this has started to change because flank steaks are known for being lean. Since consumers want lean meat more than ever before, it’s increased flank steak’s popularity and price. Popular flank cuts are flank steak and London broil.

What are the best cuts of beef?

The best, most expensive and tender cuts of beef are always from the center of the steer, which is the loin or rib section. The four most popular cuts from this area are the tenderloin (a.k.a. filet mignon), ribeye, strip and T-bone steaks.

If you’re wondering, “why the center of the steer?” Take a moment and look at the diagram above. When an animal is alive, their legs and neck muscles do most of the work. So, the muscles there are firmer and that beef is the toughest. The loin and ribs are at the center of the animal and they don’t do much work, so they’re tender cuts.

Another way to say this that you may hear from your butcher is that “beef gets more tender as the distance from horn and hoof increases.”

how many cuts of beef are there

What about cuts like Delmonico and Club Steaks?

A comment we sometimes hear is that people are surprised that there aren’t more unique cuts on our standard beef cut list, such as Porterhouse Steak, Delmonico Steak, Club Steak, etc.

The reason for this is because a steer is made up of more than just steak. In fact, the number of steaks that can be cut from a steer is surprisingly small.

Let’s explain this even more by looking at one cut of beef. A T-Bone Steak. The larger side has the strip steak, and the smaller side is the tenderloin.

You’re probably familiar with a T-bone steak with its famous “T” shaped bone in the center. Depending on how you cut the T-bone and the size of it, it can have many different names.

For example, if you decide to cut the bone out, you would no longer have a T-bone. Instead, you would have two distinct cuts — a tenderloin (or filet) and a strip steak.

And if it’s an extremely large T-bone, it would be called a Porterhouse Steak, not a T-bone. According to the USDA, if the tenderloin section that is at least 1.25 inches across at the widest section, it’s a porterhouse steak. However, if it’s between 1.24-0.51 inches, it’s a T-bone. If it’s less than that, it’s a bone-in strip steak.

Keeping in mind that there’s a limited amount of beef in each animal, if you’re purchasing a whole steer, and you want filets and strip, you won’t get T-bone or Porterhouse steaks. You can have EITHER t-bone steaks OR filets and strips. You can’t have both since all of those cuts come from the same section of beef.

There are plenty of other examples we could give like this where steaks have slightly different marketing names, but they’re really extremely similar cuts.

There are 8 main primal cuts of beef: chuck, rib, loin (consisting of the short loin and the sirloin), round, flank, plate, brisket, and shank. Divided by groups of muscles, the meat from each primal has its own unique flavor, texture, and level of fat and marbling due to how hard the muscles were worked.


What are the 10 different beef cuts?

The many different types of beef cuts are broken down by the section of cow that they come from, called primal cuts of beef. The nine primal beef cuts are the chuck, brisket, rib, plate, shank, short loin, sirloin, round, and flank.

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