Confession time: when I bought my first grill I didn’t know anything about how to cook a steak, let alone what steak I should buy. I used to walk by the cases of meat in the supermarket, and wonder just what the heck I was looking for.
Now that I’m a little wiser (and have a more marbled waist-line) I’m able to share some of my favorite cuts of steak with you, and give you a little advice on how to serve them.
Click to jump straight to each topic
Basics – Before we Begin
Before we start rhyming off a list of the various different kinds of steaks you can buy, I felt it might be best to run down some basic things you need to know when it comes to picking out your steak.
If learn all about steak check out our Ultimate Guide to Steak.
Grade of Beef
No matter what cut of steak you buy, you want to make sure it is graded at choice or above. See, not all steaks are created equal. The key thing with steak is that the more marbling it has running through it, the more tender the end product will be.
In the USA the beef you find in your supermarket is typically graded as choice or select, with the choice having more fat than select.
You can also make a trip to your butcher and see if they have any prime grade beef, which would contain even better marbling than choice.
We also have a list of our 10 favorite online butchers for mail order steak.
How to Cook Steak
With steak you are going to basically prepare it one of two ways: you are either going to use the reverse sear, or you are going to cook it hot and fast. Both methods can be done in gas or charcoal grill, or even a cast iron pan.
- Reverse sear – Prepare your grill for a two-zone indirect fire, then slowly cook your steak on the indirect side. Then when it is almost done, you are going raise the temp of your grill to quickly sear the steak at the end. This typically works best with cuts of steak that are at least 1.5” thick.
- Hot and fast method – Quickly sear the steak over direct heat. Depending on the thickness of your steak it may only need a quick sear for a minute or two on each side before it is done. If after searing your steak you still need the temp to be higher, you can simply place the steak on the indirect side until it reaches your desired doneness.
In the video below you can see the Hot and fast method in action.
Read more – Guide to steak doneness.
Considered by many to be the king of all steaks, the ribeye is known to be tender, juicy, and well-marbled. There’s no wonder why the ribeye is used by the Steak Cookoff Association for their competitions.
You can purchase them bone-in or bone off. When shopping, look for steaks that have streaky marbling running throughout but avoid cuts that have big globs of fat in the middle.
You can have your butcher prepare your steak anywhere from ½” thick to 2+” thick. For cooking, these steaks do amazing when seared at a hot temp and finished on the cool side of the grill, or vice versa.
Also known as the New York Strip, Kansas City Steak, club steak, and shell steak. Very tender and well-marbled, with a very beefy flavor make this another classic cut that is a favorite in many steakhouses the world over.
Like the ribeye, your butcher can prepare this steak anywhere from ½” thick to 2”+, and also does well with being eared over direct heat and finished on the cool side of the grill or vice versa.
Section: Short Loin
3) Filet Mignon
Cut from the tenderloin, the Filet Mignon is one of the most tender cuts of beef available. The average steer provides no more than 500 grams or filet mignon.
Because of these two traits, filet mignon is arguably one of the most expensive cuts of beef available. Although it is very tender, the filet mignon is not overly flavorful and is commonly wrapped in bacon.
Section: Short Loin
Recipe: Traeger Filet Mignon
The t-bone is a favorite among carnivores the world over. This steak is rather large as it actually contains two steaks in one.
The striploin is to the left of the bone, and a part of the tenderloin is to the left of the bone. These can be tricky to prepare since it is easy for one steak to finish cooking before the other.
For best results, have the butcher cut yours at least 2” thick, and prepare using the reverse sear.
Section: Short Loin
Some people believe that T-Bone and Porterhouse are the same steaks, but they would be mistaken. The Porterhouse is cut further up, resulting in a much larger section of the tenderloin.
Like the T-Bone, you are best to have your butcher cut it thick and cook with the reverse sear.
Section: Short Loin
6) Flat Iron
This boneless cut comes from the shoulder clod near the (you guessed it) shoulder of the steer. Second, only to the filet mignon in tenderness, this well-marbled steak is great for grilling.
Ranging in thickness from ¾” to 1¼”, this is a steak that can be seasoned with a simple salt and pepper then quickly cooked on a hot grill until medium rare for some delicious eats.
7) Top Sirloin
Cut from the sirloin primal, Top Sirloin is great for those of us on a budget. While it is much less tender than most of the other steaks on this list, it is very flavorful.
It is best to quickly grill this steak and check the internal temperature often to avoid going past medium-rare doneness and ultimately drying out your steak.
8) Flank Steak
As the name implies, this cut comes from the belly area (or the “flank”) of the cow. It is both flavorful and tough. As with many thinner steaks, it needs to be grill quickly and over high heat, and never past medium rare. For maximum tenderness: slice against the grain.
9) Skirt Steak
Have you ever had fajitas? Then you’ve probably had skirt steak. This is another thin steak that does best with a hot and fast sear directly over your heat.
A marinade or spice rub can complement the beefy flavor very nicely, just be careful not to overdo it so it doesn’t burn. Once finished, make sure to slice it against the grain for maximum tenderness.
Recipe: Grilled Skirt Steak
10) Hanger Steak
This cut is also known as a “Butcher Steak” because it was a favorite amongst butchers. So much so that they would keep it for themselves!
This cut hangs between the rib and the loin, where it supports the diaphragm. The meat is not overly thick, so it is best to prepare this steak quickly over direct heat. Like skirt and flank steak, it is best to slice against the grain for maximum tenderness.
Section: Short Plate
Recipe: Grilled Hanger Steak
Wrapping it up
There’s a world of different steaks out there to enjoy! Head down to your local supermarket and grab something a little out of the ordinary, and step outside of your comfort zone. Try different things and learn what you like and what you do not like.
What do you make of our list? Did your favorite cut make it? Please leave us a comment down below to let us know what you think.