what is the best beef for stir fry

Flank steaks are the most popular choice for making a stir-fry. However, you can also use sirloin steak, skirt steak, Denver steak, or even beef chuck. Beef chuck steak is the most economical choice, but it does require some extra trimming. You’ll want to remove the tough tissue from the steaks before frying.

If youre looking for an easy weeknight meal that packs in protein and veggies, then stir-fry is going to be your new best friend. Stir-fry is traditionally made with thin slices of protein, cooked very quickly in a hot pan. Fresh, crisp vegetables are added, and you can serve them with rice or with many different types of noodles. Whether you use beef, chicken, pork, or lamb, choosing the right cut is of the utmost importance. The texture of the meat depends on where the butcher cut it from the animal. According to Texas A&M University School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, muscles that are used more will produce leaner, tougher cuts of me. At the same time, less-used parts of an animal have more fatty marbling and tenderness.

Youll also want to consider the grade when selecting meats for stir-fry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture explains that marbling, along with the animals maturity, the meats color, and the muscles firmness, are all part of that assessment. We recommend sticking with meats that earned a Choice or Prime grade, as these will have the best mixture of both. As food prices remain high, our picks for the best meats for stir-fry, along with some tips for preparing them, will help you make the most out of turning your groceries into a delicious meal.

Flank steak is arguably the most suitable cut of beef for stir-fry. Butchered from the abdominal muscles of the cow, the long flat is lean but high in protein (via Chicago Steak Company). This cut has a rich, beefy flavor, with a texture that can be softened if cooked and marinated correctly. Its attributes make it perfect for any stir-fry dish (and home cooks can also use it in fajitas and stews).

One important flank steak cooking rule you cant skip is to use high heat and cook it quickly. According to Food Network, as the grain of flank steak can be very long, it does well with a marinade to eliminate any toughness. To marinate flank steak, slice it thinly into strips. Choose a stir-fry sauce recipe and pour it over the steak strips. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. Cook on very high heat for only a few minutes in a wok or on a grill, and enjoy a flavorful steak stir-fry.

Chuck steak is not to be confused with a chuck roast. According to Chicago Steak Company, the chuck roast is cut from the shoulder area below the rib and above the brisket. A beef chuck steak is then a portion cut from that large slab of meat. It has a rich, beefy flavor and is an affordable cut of meat for stir-fry. Chuck can come with or without the bone, but we recommend always choosing boneless for stir-fry. Since chuck steak comes from a leaner part of the cow, you will need to cut it properly to ensure it is chewable in your stir-fry recipe.

As with all meat in this list, you want to cut beef chuck steak against the grain when preparing it for stir-fry. The grain is the pattern in which the muscle fibers run within a cut of meat. In this case, cutting steak against the grain is important because it shortens the muscle fibers and makes certain cuts of beef softer and easy to chew. Chuck steaks grain runs vertically, so start by cutting the steak into long chunks and then looking at the grain on the inside of the steak. Chop the beef into pieces against the grain and then slice into smaller, thinner strips.

Top sirloin is a bit more expensive than beef chuck steak, but it is more succulent and slightly marbled with fat for amazing flavor. The top sirloin is cut from the sirloin primal, located between the back of the ribs and the rear of the cow (via Chefs Resources). It has an intense flavor, and its soft and easy-to-nibble quality adds a great addition to your favorite stir-fry.

Top sirloin is the cut of choice for many chefs stir-fry concoctions, such as Andy Ricker, who chooses it in a spicy Thai beef and vegetable stir-fry recipe. Slice the sirloin into thin, uniform pieces for the best results. You want it to cook fully within just a couple of minutes before adding additional ingredients such as chiles, long beans, and baby corn to the mix. Since sirloin is not overly tough, you do not have to marinate it before adding it to your dish, making it a great choice for a quick and easy weeknight stir-fry.

Skirt steak is another great cut of meat for a stir-fry and is very similar to flank, despite originating from a different location on the cow. Taken from the cows plate, the long flat cut is full of flavor (via Omaha Steaks). Keep in mind that there are two cuts of skirt steak: the outside skirt and the inside skirt. The outside skit is a boneless part of muscle attached to the underside of the cows ribs. It is usually a smaller cut and more tender than the inside skirt, which is a boneless portion of the cows flank. We recommend choosing the outside skirt for stir-fry.

While this cut of steak is delicious in our selected dish, it can be less delicate than some other cuts. Youll want to cut against the grain and slice it quite thin. To get the desired width and uniform slices of skirt steak, a great freezer tip is to thinly slice your meat after stashing it in the icebox for 15 to 30 minutes. It will make the meat more firm so your knife can easily cut through.

If you want to treat yourself to a sumptuous stir-fry, try using beef tenderloin. Chicago Steak Company notes that the popular filet mignon is cut from the tenderloin, giving you a good sense of how juicy and flavorful this hunk of meat is. Beef tenderloin works well with high-heat cooking in a wok or skillet because of its lack of toughness. It should come as no surprise that tenderloins decadent flavor and easy-to-work texture make it one of the pricier cuts of beef for stir-fry. But in our opinion, it is worth every penny.

To choose a great tenderloin for stir-fry, youll want to look for a cut that is about one-and-a-half inches thick that has been trimmed of fat. When cutting tenderloin, youll notice the grain is very hard to see because the muscle fibers are thin. This means that beef tenderloin will be easy to chew no matter how you cut it. Strips of tenderloin are delicious when pan frying, but you can also cut them into bite-sized cubes.

Strip steak is a very common menu item to see at steak houses, and for a good reason. It is also known as the New York Strip, and while it is not the cheapest cut for stir-fry, it is more affordable than a beef tenderloin or a ribeye steak — both pieces being that have a similar composition in terms of fat, intramuscular tissue, and meat. Among the things you should know about NY strip steak is what to look for when purchasing. We recommend focusing on an even width that stays consistent throughout the steak. Your cut should also have just ⅛-inches of fat, which means it was cut from the center of the strip loin and will ensure great flavor and juiciness for your stir-fry.

Strip steak has a delicious, mineral-rich taste. Chicago Steak Company explains that this cut comes from above the belly, which gets very little exercise and results in a softer makeup that is easy to eat and ideal for the high-heat method of stir-fry cooking. This cut of steak tastes best when cooked to no more than medium temperature and marinaded for a few minutes in soy sauce, sugar, and Chinese cooking wine.

The flat iron steak as we know it was not “discovered” until 2002, per Omaha Steaks. The cut itself was long considered an unusable piece of beef due to a tough connective tissue and sinew that runs through the bulk of the meat. This was the case until researchers from the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida came up with an inventive new way to trim said meat, resulting in a tender, easy-to-chew steak known as the flat iron. Intramuscular marbling makes it a prime piece of beef for high-heat cooking, as the fat keeps things moist and eatable.

Almost as supple as the sirloin, according to Certified Angus Beef, flat iron steak has an intense grassy flavor and exceptional fat marbling. However, that doesnt necessarily translate to an unhealthy amount of fat; as Chicago Steak Company reports, a serving has only 3 grams of saturated fats. This composition turns flat iron steak into an ideal cut of meat to consider for stir–fry recipes. It cooks better when marinated rather than thrown directly on the grill. Yet, either method you choose, the marbled fat gives it a juicy texture that is also great in fajitas or alongside our silky cauliflower purée recipe.

A round steak is a cut from beef rounds or the cows hind legs (via Tonys Meats and Market). These cuts are similar to the loin and rib cuts but are not as pliant because they come from a very active and exercised part of the cow. Just like the sirloin, there are top round and bottom round steaks. As BBQ Host explains, top rounds steaks are from the inner back leg of a cow and have less fat. Bottom round steaks are cut from the outer part of the back leg and have a bit more marbling.

Since round steak is from a hard-working muscle, it does well with a method called velveting, a Chinese cooking technique that achieves the most tender meat possible. Velveting is a process of making tougher cuts of meat softer by slicing them thin and marinating them in a mixture of corn starch, egg white, rice wine, and salt. Youll let the meat sit in the refrigerator in this marinade for 30 minutes and then par-cook it quickly in hot oil. This creates meat that is succulent and velvety in stir-fry recipes. This technique can be used on all meats, but the ingredients in the marinade may vary. Tougher cuts like round normally call for long spells under moist heat, but with velveting, you can cut the preparation time all while priming your steak for new possibilities.

Opposite the Inside Skirt Steak, this cut is known for its robust flavor profile. Marinate and grill hot for fajitas or use for stir-fry.

Boneless, lean and a good value for this fairly tender cut. Marinate before grilling for the best experience.

Cut from the center of the Under Blade, these steaks are extremely tender with a good amount of marbling and beef flavor. Best when cooked over high heat on the grill.

A flavorful cut that’s versatile and juicy. Great served as a steak or cut into kabobs.

Lean and boneless with lots of intense beef flavor. Best when marinated and grilled or sliced thin and stir-fried.

Boneless skinless chicken breast

Chicken breast is a nutritious and low-fat choice for meat in a stir-fry. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a 3-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast yields 140 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 1 gram of saturated fat. Chicken breast may have a reputation as a demanding cut (we all know the displeasures of overly dry chicken), but Readers Digest suggests you can negate this with velveting or other tenderizing techniques.

When prepared correctly, chicken breast is a juicy and flavorful addition to your meal. One chicken breast cooking tip we recommend is to always start by pounding your poultry flat until it has a level of thickness. This helps the chicken cook evenly and defends against dryness and overcooking. Pounding the chicken also softens it, so you have the perfect-sized bite in your favorite chicken stir-fry. Chicken meat, like beef, also has a grain. Youll get juicy and easy-to-chew chicken by cutting against that grain pattern. Chicken breasts can also be cut into strips or chunks. Just be sure theyre no wider than one inch for either type of cut and that all the pieces are uniform in size.

Flank steaks are the most popular choice for making a stir-fry. However, you can also use sirloin steak, skirt steak, Denver steak, or even beef chuck. Beef chuck steak is the most economical choice, but it does require some extra trimming. You’ll want to remove the tough tissue from the steaks before frying.


What is the most tender cut of beef for stir fry?

Packages of pre-cut beef strips, beef for stir-fry, are often available in the meat case. Most tender beef cuts, such as sirloin, tri-tip, ribeye, top loin (strip), tenderloin, shoulder center (Ranch Steak), shoulder top blade (Flat Iron) and shoulder petite tender, can be cut into strips for use in stir-fry recipes.

What is the best stir fry beef to buy?

Flank steak is arguably the most popular when it comes to choosing a cut for your stir fry. This long and thin cut comes from the belly muscles of the cow and is full of intense beef flavour. It is best when sliced thin and takes to marinade well.

Why is Chinese stir fry beef so tender?

Cornstarch is the foundation of Chinese cooking and this magical pantry ingredient is commonly used to thicken soups, stews and sauces. It’s also the primary ingredient in making a slurry to coat the meat. Chen says cornstarch helps the meat retain moisture while it cooks, thus yielding a silkier texture.

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