what cut is best for beef stew

Chuck. Chuck is one of the leaner types of beef, making it perfect for stews because it melts into delicious pieces as it cooks. A chuck roast has a large amount of connective tissue, which allows it to retain its moisture during the cooking process.

On a cold winter night, few other dishes offer the satisfying comfort of a warm bowl of beef stew. An excellent batch relies on slow-cooked beef that’s rich in flavor and tender in texture, but still has some bite. You can’t get that from any old cut of meat ― and surprisingly, you likely won’t get it from the most prized, expensive cuts of meat.

“You want to use meat that, when simmered in liquid for an extended amount of time, breaks down and becomes tender and flavorful,” explained Sarah Blair, a professionally trained chef and recipe developer. Advertisement

According to professional chefs, the following six beef cuts (and a wild-card option that’s plant-based) are ideal choices for an unforgettable pot of stew.

Overall, beef chuck (either chuck steak or chuck roast), which comes from the lower back and upper shoulder of the cow, got the most votes from the chefs we consulted. Chuck tends to be readily available at grocery stores, which gives it major convenience points.

“Beef chuck is best for stew,” said Arjuna Bull, chef/partner of Luthun in New York City. “It has some fat but not too much, and it also has a good ratio of meat and fat. Beef chuck often has the most consistent meat-to-fat ratio [of beef cuts in general], making it a good, safe choice [for beef stew].”

Brian Theis, the chef and cookbook author behind The Infinite Feast, is also a big proponent of beef chuck in stew. He told us that “chuck is easy to find at most grocers, [it’s] affordable, and [it’s] succulent due to the connective tissues that are marbled into the meat. Chuck is very moist and doesn’t dry out during [slow cooking] because of its release of gelatin.” Advertisement

Whether you’re using chuck steak or chuck roast, cutting the beef into smaller chunks (1 to 2 inches in length) allows it to cook to perfection in the context of the stew.

While short ribs aren’t the most tender cut of beef, their slightly tough texture combined with their higher fat content makes them excellent candidates for slow cooking ― a category that definitely includes beef stew.

“The flavor derived from the fat is what makes short ribs great. As I preach to my 4-year-old daughter, ‘fat is flavor,’” said executive chef Jay Rohlfing of Perennial in Towson, Maryland. “I love the muscle structure, and you can [first] sear and braise them with bones in, which will add lots of flavor to the stew.”

Another beef cut that’s easy to find at the supermarket, beef round is “a cut from the back leg, which means it’s tougher and leaner,” explained Gill Boyd, a chef and instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. “However, it is great for long, slow cooking. Round is usually a [better] price value compared to other cuts and is sold not just in cut cubes, but also as one-to-three-pound steaks.” Advertisement

As Boyd mentioned, beef round cooks nicely in a low-and-slow format. Specifically, the process of stewing works well for this cut because “the slow, moist heat tenderizes it and holds in all of the moisture,” explained Eric Tiglao, chef de cuisine of Taureaux Tavern in Chicago, Illinois.

The meat in the tail of any type of cattle (not just oxen) is known as “oxtail” in the butchering industry. Many grocery stores carry this cut, but if yours doesn’t, a dedicated butcher shop will be a reliable place to find it.

“Oxtail is my favorite cut for stews because it is fatty and full of collagen,” said Alex Guzman, chef/owner of Archer & Goat in New York City. “Oxtail can take a little longer to cook to fall-off-the-bone tenderness, but the meat is so flavorful that it is worth the wait.”

Beef shin may be harder to find than other cuts of meat; you’ll likely need to look for it at a butcher shop. It’s best cooked with the bone in, which will require you to pull the meat from the bone before serving the stew. However, Zach Preece, executive chef of Josephine in Jacksonville, Florida, told us that beef shin is well worth the effort.

“Beef shin is great to use in a beef stew, particularly because of the bone-to-meat ratio,” Preece said. “Since beef shin is not a muscle that is used [by the cow] as frequently as others, it has less collagen in it, meaning that it does not need to braise as long as other cuts of meat, but it still offers a lot of flavor and melts in your mouth when cooked properly. There’s a good amount of bone marrow in shin, which is an added bonus, due to its health benefits. The bone marrow also gives a rich, heartier flavor to the beef stew.”Advertisement

Beef Stewing Cut Closer Look: Bone-In Short Rib

what cut is best for beef stew

Short ribs come from a primal cut on the underside of the cow called the plate, not, as one might expect, from the rib primal. They are, in essence, the ribs right down where they get close to the belly. They tend to be more expensive than chuck, and you have to consider that some of what youre paying for is bone weight, but what they offer is a deep beefy flavor with a beautiful, even grain throughout.

Verdict: If you want consistency in both texture and flavor, short ribs are where its at, but they come with a high price tag.

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On a cold winter night, few other dishes offer the satisfying comfort of a warm bowl of beef stew. An excellent batch relies on slow-cooked beef that’s rich in flavor and tender in texture, but still has some bite. You can’t get that from any old cut of meat ― and surprisingly, you likely won’t get it from the most prized, expensive cuts of meat.

“You want to use meat that, when simmered in liquid for an extended amount of time, breaks down and becomes tender and flavorful,” explained Sarah Blair, a professionally trained chef and recipe developer. Advertisement

According to professional chefs, the following six beef cuts (and a wild-card option that’s plant-based) are ideal choices for an unforgettable pot of stew.

Overall, beef chuck (either chuck steak or chuck roast), which comes from the lower back and upper shoulder of the cow, got the most votes from the chefs we consulted. Chuck tends to be readily available at grocery stores, which gives it major convenience points.

“Beef chuck is best for stew,” said Arjuna Bull, chef/partner of Luthun in New York City. “It has some fat but not too much, and it also has a good ratio of meat and fat. Beef chuck often has the most consistent meat-to-fat ratio [of beef cuts in general], making it a good, safe choice [for beef stew].”

Brian Theis, the chef and cookbook author behind The Infinite Feast, is also a big proponent of beef chuck in stew. He told us that “chuck is easy to find at most grocers, [it’s] affordable, and [it’s] succulent due to the connective tissues that are marbled into the meat. Chuck is very moist and doesn’t dry out during [slow cooking] because of its release of gelatin.” Advertisement

Whether you’re using chuck steak or chuck roast, cutting the beef into smaller chunks (1 to 2 inches in length) allows it to cook to perfection in the context of the stew.

While short ribs aren’t the most tender cut of beef, their slightly tough texture combined with their higher fat content makes them excellent candidates for slow cooking ― a category that definitely includes beef stew.

“The flavor derived from the fat is what makes short ribs great. As I preach to my 4-year-old daughter, ‘fat is flavor,’” said executive chef Jay Rohlfing of Perennial in Towson, Maryland. “I love the muscle structure, and you can [first] sear and braise them with bones in, which will add lots of flavor to the stew.”

Another beef cut that’s easy to find at the supermarket, beef round is “a cut from the back leg, which means it’s tougher and leaner,” explained Gill Boyd, a chef and instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. “However, it is great for long, slow cooking. Round is usually a [better] price value compared to other cuts and is sold not just in cut cubes, but also as one-to-three-pound steaks.” Advertisement

If you do purchase a chuck steak, Boyd recommends “cutting round meat into one-inch cubes.”

As Boyd mentioned, beef round cooks nicely in a low-and-slow format. Specifically, the process of stewing works well for this cut because “the slow, moist heat tenderizes it and holds in all of the moisture,” explained Eric Tiglao, chef de cuisine of Taureaux Tavern in Chicago, Illinois.

The meat in the tail of any type of cattle (not just oxen) is known as “oxtail” in the butchering industry. Many grocery stores carry this cut, but if yours doesn’t, a dedicated butcher shop will be a reliable place to find it.

“Oxtail is my favorite cut for stews because it is fatty and full of collagen,” said Alex Guzman, chef/owner of Archer & Goat in New York City. “Oxtail can take a little longer to cook to fall-off-the-bone tenderness, but the meat is so flavorful that it is worth the wait.”

Beef shin may be harder to find than other cuts of meat; you’ll likely need to look for it at a butcher shop. It’s best cooked with the bone in, which will require you to pull the meat from the bone before serving the stew. However, Zach Preece, executive chef of Josephine in Jacksonville, Florida, told us that beef shin is well worth the effort.

“Beef shin is great to use in a beef stew, particularly because of the bone-to-meat ratio,” Preece said. “Since beef shin is not a muscle that is used [by the cow] as frequently as others, it has less collagen in it, meaning that it does not need to braise as long as other cuts of meat, but it still offers a lot of flavor and melts in your mouth when cooked properly. There’s a good amount of bone marrow in shin, which is an added bonus, due to its health benefits. The bone marrow also gives a rich, heartier flavor to the beef stew.”Advertisement

Beef Stewing Cut Closer Look: Bohemian (Bottom Sirloin Flap)

what cut is best for beef stew

This cut is a little harder to find unless you go to a good butcher. It comes from the sirloin, the part of the cow right in front of its hind legs. According to one butchery book I have, it used to be left attached to T-bone steaks (it made the steaks look like they had long, thin tails), but these days its sold separately. A lot of sources recommend high, dry heat for the cut, like grilling, and indeed its delicious that way—meaty and buttery. But it turns out to work well as a stew meat, too. If I had to describe the taste and texture, its almost like the love child of a hanger steak and a short rib, tender enough but still with some chew.

Verdict: If you love deep beefy flavor and dont mind chewing a little more, you may like this one.

Chuck. Chuck is one of the leaner types of beef, making it perfect for stews because it melts into delicious pieces as it cooks. A chuck roast has a large amount of connective tissue, which allows it to retain its moisture during the cooking process.

FAQ

What is the best cut of beef for beef stew?

The best cuts of stew meat are lean with a high concentration of collagen-rich connective tissues—such as chuck or shoulder cuts—that also have some fat marbling for flavor. Lean cuts of meat come from parts of the animal that have lots of muscle, like the legs.

Is beef stew meat the same as chuck roast?

Beef stew meat typically comes from the large shoulder of a cow, more commonly called “chuck”. But roast, top and bottom round, tips, and even steak can be used as stew meat.

What cut of beef is most tender?

The most tender of all cuts of beef, tenderloin steaks are lean and known for their delicate, butter-like texture and thick cut. These mouthwatering steaks are so tender they can be “cut with a butter knife.” Tenderloin steaks are commonly known as filets or filet mignon.

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