Steak Cuts explained
The world of steak is a beautiful, delicious mess when it comes to steak cuts. But we’ll clear things up.
Mere knowledge of the different kinds of steaks is a good start, but somehow between the Anglo-Saxon brothers of the world we’ve managed to abandon a standard description of each cut and instead opted to confuse each other by using the same name for different cuts. A sirloin may well be sirloin in the UK, but if you ask for Sirloin in the US, you’ll end with a cut of Rump. Similarly you’ll find London Broil in the states, but not in London where you’d need to ask for Flank Steak.
We’ve got to the bottom of the problem with our steaksplanation. You can click on the pins below to get an explanation of each cut of steak as well as it’s regional variations, or scroll down below to read in chronological order.
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The key steak cuts
The following steaks cuts are the most popular cuts. You’ll see these in supermarkets or restaurants.
Fillet (UK), Tenderloin (US), Eye Fillet (AUS/NZ)
The ace of steaks; the fillet is the most premium and tender of all cuts and a properly prepared and cooked fillet steak will melt in your mouth. Fillets steak will usually be more expensive and smaller than other cuts and what they gain in tenderness over cuts like Sirloin, they lose in taste.
Rib Eye (UK)
A large, tasty and tender steak from the rib section of the cow. Usually has a high degree of marbling (a desirable dispersion of fat throughout the steak resulting in a more juicy and flavorful steak). Can be served with bone (bone in rib eye) or without. Most steakhouses will offer Rib Eye and it will typically be at the premium end of their menu.
Rump Steak (UK/AUS/NZ), Sirloin/Scotch Fillet (US)
A tasty and lean steak from the lower back area of the cow. Tasty, lean and relatively tender you’ll find Rump steak in most steakhouses. Typically you’ll get a larger amount of Rump steak at a lower cost compared to cuts like Rib Eye.
Regionalisation is confusing with the ‘muricans calling this cut Sirloin or Scotch Fillet.
Sirloin (UK), Strip/Porterhouse (US), Porterhouse (AUS/NZ)
A very tasty and fatty steak from the back area of the cow. The sirloin steak is a famous and common steak known by many names including New York Strip, Kansas City Strip Steak as well as Porterhouse. Sirloin steaks with more marble (fat throughout the steak) are more likely to be tasty and moist. Note than when attached to the bone (thoracic vertebrae) the Sirloin is joined with a Fillet/Tenderloin and is called a T-Bone steak.
A very large and tasty steak made up of two cuts of steak separated by the thoracic vertebrae bone. This steak offers the best of both worlds: The taste of the sirloin and the tenderness of the fillet. The difference between the T-bone steak and Porterhouse is that the T-Bone is cut from the centre back of the cow resulting in a smaller fillet while the porterhouse is cut from the lower back resulting in larger cut of fillet.
We have a special feature on the T-Bone Tour of London, where Steak Boner is attempting to find out which London Butcher has the best T-Bone steak. Check it out here.
Other steak cuts
You may come across the following steak cuts from time to time (especially the Butler’s steak/Flat Iron if you’re a fan of the Flat Iron restaurants in London).
A tasty economical cut of beef from the breast area of the cow. Similar to Shank, Skirt and Flank in tenderness and recommended to slow cook to get the most tenderness
Butler’s Steak (UK), Flat Iron (US), Oyster Steak (Aus/NZ)
A tasty and fashionable steak from the ‘feather’ muscle in the shoulder area of the cow. This steak is marbled and succulent. It’s also sold cheaply which makes it excellent value. This is the cut of choice at London’s popular Flat Iron restaurants.
Flank (UK/AUS/NZ), London Broil (US)
A tasty steak taken from the lower chest of the cow. Very similar to skirt steak, this steak also favours taste over tenderness.
Taken from the leg of the cow, Shank is lean but very tough and would make poor steak. Instead cuts of shank should be ground or slow cooked to maximize tenderness
Skirt (UK/AUS/NZ), Hanger (US)
A tasty steak taken from the belly of the cow. Very similar to flank steak, this steak also comprises tenderness for taste.