A Guide to 12 Cuts of Steak and How To Cook Them
by HexClad Cookware
When it comes to the question, “What are the best cuts of steak?” there is not really one answer. Depending on how you’re going to cook the meat, what’s available at the butcher, and your preferences, “best,” will mean different things to different people. The good news is, cooking steak at home is delicious and a wonderful way to have a restaurant-quality meal without too much work. We’re covering the most common cuts of steak, plus some more boutique ones to try out.
Whether you like blue steak or something closer to well done, the great thing about cooking steak at home is all you need is a good piece of meat and a great pan. Thankfully, HexClad has you covered. For a steak that serves 1 or 2, opt for a 10-inch pan, if you’re cooking two steaks or a big cut like tomahawk, use the 12-inch.
The 5 Most Popular Cuts of Steak
Tenderloin (aka filet mignon, filet, chateaubriand)
Often the priciest steak on the menu or behind the butcher counter, the tenderloin includes short loin and sirloin from under the cow’s ribs. Tenderloin a long cut that tapers at one end. Filet mignon comes from the tapered end, while chateaubriand is cut from the wider end.
How to cook it: Whether cooking the whole tenderloin or the cuts, start by searing the meat in a pan, then finishing in the oven for gentle, even cooking. Pick filet mignon if you’re looking for a classic steak au poivre.
New York Strip (aka NY strip, Kansas City strip, top sirloin)
There’s a reason at least two cities lay claim to this well-marbled steak. A New York strip is usually boneless, and comes from the short loin part of the cow, which is found behind the ribs. You’ll find larger pieces of fat around the edges and a nice ratio of lean meat to fat.
How to cook it: New York strips do well over high-heat, so opt for a pan sear or use the grill. Slice up leftovers for killer steak sandwiches.
Ribeye (aka Delmonico, Spencer, beauty, sarket, and Scotch)
A steak of many names, the ribeye cut is known for tender, buttery meat. This cut comes from the beef rib, a place on the cow that naturally has more intramuscular fat, which means the meat is beautifully marbled. Ribeyes tend to be extra tender and juicy—no wonder they’re so popular! If you’re a fan of prime rib, that’s essentially a several-rib section from the same section of the animal.
How to cook it: Whether bone-in or boneless, ribeyes do well over high heat.
Porterhouse (aka T-Bone)
This bone-in beauty is a cross-section of the short loin, which means it has pieces of tenderloin as well as New York strip. To be classified as a Porterhouse steak, the USDA says that the tenderloin portion of the steak must be at least 1¼-inches wide. A T-bone steak, however, only needs to be ½-inch wide.
How to cook it: The tenderloin portion of a porterhouse or t-bone steak will cook more quickly than the NY strip side, so whether searing or grilling, angle the tenderloin portion of the steak away from the heat source for the best results.
This cut comes from the area that runs along the cow’s abdomen. Due to its low-fat content, flank steak takes well to marinades. For even cooking, choose a flank steak that has uniform thickness. This cut can be tough, so slice it against the grain for the most tender pieces.
How to cook it: Whether you marinade or not, cook flank steak quickly over high heat for the best results, whether in a pan, broiling, or on the grill.
7 Other Steak Cuts Worth Trying
Not to be confused with the similar-looking flank, skirt steak comes from the cow’s diaphragm muscles.
How to cook it: Cook it churrasco-style. To make this Puerto Rican dish, you’ll marinade skirt steak, then grill it and swerve it with an herb sauce. We like this recipe from The New York Times.
This newish cut comes from the shoulder area of the cow and is prized for its tenderness and beefy flavor.
How to cook it: Flat iron cooks relatively quickly—sear or grill for best results.
Bavette Steak (aka flap meat, sirloin tip)
This flat, flexible cut is popular in France—the name means “bib” in French—is known as flat meat stateside. Incredibly tender and juicy, these inexpensive cuts are gaining popularity.
How to cook it: because it’s so thin, you’ll want to quickly cook a bavette steak over very high heat. If you like, the cut takes to marinating nicely.
Tomahawk Steak (aka bone-in ribeye, tomahawk chop)
Carved from the beef rib—the same section as other ribeye steaks—you can recognize this cartoon-perfect cut by its signature, extra-long bone that’s cleaned of meat.
How to cook it: Because of its thickness, tomahawks are best either seared and then roasted in a low-heat oven or grilled over indirect heat, then finished with a sear over direct heat.
Picanha Steak (aka rump cap, sirloin cap, culotte)
If you’ve been to a Brazilian steakhouse, then you’ve likely enjoyed a picanha steak. Known as rump cap or sirloin cap in the US, this cut is covered by a distinctive fat cab.
How to cook it: Picanha steak does well on the grill and on the stovetop. Whichever method you choose, make sure to render plenty of the fat and get a nice golden brown crust.
Denver Steak (aka bottom chuck, underblade)
The Denver steak comes from below the shoulder blade of the cow—beneath where the flat iron is found. Despite lacking a fat cap, this cut is known for being tender and juicy, thanks to an impressive amount of intramuscular marbling.
How to cook it: Cook a Denver steak quickly over very high heat, whether in a skillet over on the grill.
Chuck Eye Steak
The chuck eye comes from where the chuck ends and the ribeye begins. If you like a ribeye, this is another great pick, but at a lower cost.
How to cook it: Cook a chuck eye steak the same way you’d cook a ribeye: over high heat on the stovetop or grill.