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Beef Cuts Chart
all BBQ Lovers Should KNOW!

Beef is one of the most loved food items amongst meat lovers. Almost no one can say no to a juicy steak when offered. Now, there is a variety of cuts of meat, and it is quite useful to know each of them.

I am aware that most of the people do not know them. If you are one of them, this article is gonna be helpful to you.

Now, on a cow, there are eight primal cuts. Each cut gives different cuts of meats and several tastes. These are quite easy to remember, and with our help, you'll know just about everything about the cuts.

Let’s get going.

The Eight Primal Cuts of Beef

In the world, there are about 100 different kinds of primal cuts. This depends on which part of the globe you are situated in. In this article, we would be discussing the chuck, ribs, loins, round, brisket, shank, short plate, and flank respectively.

Furthermore, we will provide you with elaborated information about how you can prepare these cuts and what kind of food you cook is best suited for them.

Angus Beef Chart

1. Chuck – Location & the Sub-Primal Cuts

Beef Chuck

If you are wondering about serving some scrumptious roasted beef on the table for your Thanksgiving dinner, using parts from the chuck would be the right idea.

These are situated in the shoulder and the upper region of the cow which gets tons of movements. They are sometimes also referred to as shoulder cuts, like the shoulder steak.

The sub-primal cuts of it are Top Blade, Neck, Shoulder, Ground Beef, Chuck Steak, Bottom Blade, and Beef Ribs.

Breakdown of the Sub-Primal Cuts

  • The blade is about 1 to 2.5 pounds and is sliced into flag iron steak. Their width is around 2 to 2.5 inches, and it has about 17% fat content on average which is why this can't be called lean.
  • The shoulder and the neck are kept as a whole in most cases, and it weighs about 5-6 pounds. In other cases, they are crushed into ground beef. Therefore, the fat content is not measured, but these are counted as a lean cut.
  • Chuck filet and chuck steak are heavy and weigh around 12 ounces steak portions. These portions also contain sizeable fat content which is estimated to be close to 23%.
  • Beef ribs are attached to form a frame and weigh around 5 to 10 pounds. They are a lean cut, and their fat content is 12% on an average.

The Ideal Way to Prepare and Cook the Sub-primal Parts:

• Blades

For blades, you will not have to do any additional preparation. Just straight up place it on top of the grill. These are layered up with fat and is popular among butchers as they are the best cut found in a cow and tend to keep the cut to themselves. 

This part needs to be seasoned properly and should be grilled using direct heat.

• Shoulder and Neck

The shoulder and neck have a distinct odor to them which is why they need to be seasoned heavily. One can also rub it before braising or can do cooking under pressure.

You'll be able to enjoy the shoulder and neck the most when it is cooked for a long period inside an oven with the addition of a liquid. Since it is going to be inside the oven for quite a reasonable amount of time, and the temperature should be kept at low.

• Chuck Filet

A meat mallet has to be used on the chuck filet and chuck steak to ensure it’s tenderized. This allows the meat to be soft and not too chewy. These are then beaten up and layered with raw egg. Usually, the extra portions of the meat are converted into ground beef.

• Beef Ribs

For preparation, you would need to boil the beef ribs in a stove for about an hour. You could also grill it to make it softer by breaking the product up. To add more flavor, just marinade the ribs.

Then coat it with a wet or dry rub and smoke it over a smoker with indirect heat. This could take a long time, so keep the temperature low.

Read more about differences between Chuck Roast and Chuck Steak here.

What Type of Food Should Be Made with These and What Sort of Grill Should be Used?

  • Blades: Blades are quite famous and are in high demand because each cow has a tiny portion of this cut. So, use it on festive occasions to make steaks as they are tough to find. An open flame grill and a grill with direct heat is the ideal type of setup for blades.
  • Shoulder and Neck: Pot roasts and roasts are made the best when the shoulder and neck meat is used. You would need to use a conventional oven for cooking this cut.
  • Chuck Steaks: You could more or less incorporate chucks steaks or chuck filet in every recipe possible if they are adequately grounded. Your traditional oven, grill with direct heat and skillet are the place to cook this.
  • Beef Ribs: Beef ribs are perfect when they are barbecued. You cannot go wrong with BBQ when you use a charcoal grill to carry it out. An indirect heat smoker is also another good option.


Chucks are the cheapest part of a cow except for the blade. So, if you want to cook a good steak for your family and yourself but your budget is prohibiting you from doing so, now you know what to get.

Check the comparison of Chuck Roast vs Brisket here.

2. Ribs – Location & its Sub-Primal Cuts

Beef Ribs

The mouth-watering sight of saucy ribs is pleasing to the eye. This part of a cow can be found towards the center of the organism's back. A big amount of marbling fat content is present here, which makes it extremely flavourful.

Prime Rib, Back Ribs, Rib Steak, Rib-Eye Steak, and Short Ribs are the sub-primal cuts of this portion.

Breakdown of the Sub-Primal Parts

  • The weight of the prime rib is variable. It can weigh from 5 to 10 pounds. This cut contains a significant percentage of fat which can measure up to 45% per serving.
  • Back ribs are small in size and can be said to be the size of a finger. They are connected in such a way that it creates a rack. Only 20% of fat can be found here.
  • Rib-Eye Steaks are everyone's favorite. These weigh up to 1 to 2 pounds. But if one wants, then they can cut it to be as large as 8 pounds. This contains about 25% of fat per serving.
  • The thickness of short ribs differs from one another, and its length is around 2 to 4 inches. They are connected in such a way that it creates a rack. This portion has a quite big amount of fat content of about 55%.

The Ideal Way to Prepare and Cook the Sub-primal Parts

• Prime Ribs:

To cook some delicious prime ribs, seasoning and dry rub of spices must be done before taking it to the grill. You must cook this at a high temperature for a minimal length of time to have a soft and pink center and crispy on the outside.

If you wish to have a well-done steak, then keep it in the grill for a few more minutes.

• Back Ribs:

You would require to add juices and other seasonings to back ribs right before cooking it. After that, you have to "slow" cook the ribs on an offset smoker in low heat till it starts detaching itself from the bone. In the end, drizzle on some sauce you would like to add, and you're done.

• Rib-Eye Steaks:

No preparation has to be made to cook rib-eye steaks. You would need nothing more than salt and pepper to initiate. Flip it over a charcoal grill to give a smoky taste and add your desired seasoning to the part that is being cooked.

• Short Ribs:

Make sure you make your butcher cut the short ribs before you take it home because a specific length is required. With that being said, they also have to detach from one another, and a layer of corn-starch or flour has to be coated around them.

What Type of Food Should Be Made with These and What Sort of Grill Should be Used?

  • Prime Ribs: In most cases, prime ribs are usually used for parties or celebration purposes as it can be fed to approximately 20 people. Since it’s costly, this part is not eaten very often. A traditional oven or a smoker with direct heat has to be used for cooking prime ribs.
  • Back Ribs: When you have plenty of time in hand, take out your secondary heat smoker or whichever smoker you have to make some drool-worthy back ribs. As you have read above, this cut needs the right amount of time to be grilled appropriately.
  • Rib-Eye Steaks: Rib-Eye steaks are the "royals" among all the steaks as they are filled with a significant content of fat. Barbecuing this over a direct heat grill would heighten the flavor contributed by the marbled fat.
  • Short Ribs: For a Korean barbecue, you should turn towards short ribs. This is because when these parts are charred on the grill with BBQ sauce, the taste is out of the world. You could use a conventional oven or a grill with direct heat to make short ribs. 


More or less all the sub-primal portions of ribs are towards the expensive side of the spectrum. Steaks from these cuts are costly but known to be among the best. If you are a steak lover and are down to loosen up your wallet, then you will love this!

3. Loins – Location & Its Sub-Primal Cuts

Beef Loins

Loins are situated at the lower back of a cow and pass along the spinal cord. They are known as an almost inactive muscle. Juicy steaks can be prepared using this as it is very tender and soft.

The sub-primal parts include Club Steak, Filet Mignon, New York Strip, Sirloin Steak, Tri-Tip, T-bone Steak, and Chateaubriand.

Breakdown of the Sub-Primal Cuts

  • Usually, Sirloin Steaks and New York Strips are chopped to 12 ounces to about 2 pounds. But this can be cut into more substantial portions if desired. These two have a fat content of about 29%.
  • Chateaubriand, Tri-Tip and Filet Mignon are sliced into around 1 to 3 pounds. With these portions, however, the entire loin can be used all at the same time. These whole tenderloins weigh from 5 to 20 pounds. Approximately 23% of fat is present in this cut.
  • Club Steaks, T-bones and Porterhouse, are all cut up in such a way that it weighs from 1 to 3 pounds. Size and thickness can be increased if needed. These contain an average fat content of 26%.

The Ideal Way to Prepare and Cook the Sub-primal Parts 

• New York Strips and Sirloin Steaks

They do not need much preparation other than adding some seasoning to them. The best you can get from these is when they are made in the right temperature, medium rare is the most preferred one.

First, you need to add salt and pepper before you put the cuts on the grill. Remember, single steaks are better to cook rather than using an entire strip at once. If a whole strip is used, a uniform cook is hard to achieve due to the structure of the meat and fat.

• Chateaubriand, Tri-Tip, and Filet Mignon

They are very soft, and a lot of attention has to be put while preparing them. First and foremost, take out any cartilage, tendons, or silver skin from the meat before grilling.

If you have chosen a thick portion, be sure to butterfly the steak to have a better grasp at even cooking. Then add your desired seasoning, or you can use salt and pepper to get the job done.

A dry rub is utilized while the steak is inside the oven. It is usually cooked for a short amount of time in high temperatures to get a blast of charred flavor towards the exterior. After it's taken out of the oven, thinly slice the pieces and serve it on the table.

• Club Steaks, T-bones, and Porterhouse

They don't require much preparation. You need to season it when you are initiating to cook.

What Type of Food Should Be Made with These and What Sort of Grill Should be Used?

  • New York Strips and Sirloin Steaks: They can be enjoyed on any day of the week as it requires less time to prepare. A small barbecue gets together occasion is ideal for these cuts. You should use an open grill flame or direct heat grill for this.
  • Chateaubriand, Trip-Tip and Filet Mignon: These are best if saved up for special events because of how expensive they are. To cook these portions, utilize a grill with direct heat, open flame grilled a conventional oven.
  • Club Steaks, T-bones and Porterhouse: Like the cuts mentioned above, for club steaks, T-bones and Porterhouse it is the same. Save them up for an important event and use an open flame grill or direct heat grill for that.


Prices of all the sub-primal cuts of loins are sky-high. The big price tag is mainly because of the flavor these possess and how tender they are. Filet Mignon is the most expensive cut of the loins. You won't regret buying these though if you like excellent steaks.

4. Round – Location & Its Sub-Primal Cuts

Beef Round

The round is situated near the buttocks of the cow. This cut is tougher than most of the other parts as it is leaner and consists of a small quantity of fat. Top Round, Sirloin Tip, Eye of the Round, Bottom Round and Heel of the Round are the sub-primal cuts.

Breakdown of the Sub-Primal Parts:

All of these smaller cuts weigh the same. They are chopped into big roasts which weight about 3 to 10 pounds. These have an average fat content of 12 percent and does not even contain 10 grams of it per serving. This is the reason why they are adamant.

The Ideal Way to Prepare and Cook the Sub-primal Parts:

You will have to cut these parts into smaller pieces if you intend to make a jerky. These thin slices of beef have to be seasoned heavily, and you can choose your desired ones depending on what flavor you want to bring about.

The portion of meat has to be drowned or injected with a pool of tasty juices if you opt for braising.

Furthermore, the round has to be simmered in low temperatures. Since this cut is very lean, additional fat such as eggs has to be added to ensure that the meat does not start to become dry.

What Type of Food Should Be Made with These and What Sort of Grill Should be Used?

The best Italian beef sandwiches and Philly cheese steaks can be prepared using round of a cow. Marinate, tenderize, and cook it slowly in a conventional oven, and you'll be all set for a fantastic meal. Rounds would not make the best steaks because of it being lean and hard.


Since these are not marbled with fat and are more rigorous than the other primal cuts, they are very cheap. If you are in a tight budget and are looking for affordable options, this might be the one for you.

5. Brisket – Location & Its Sub-Primal Cuts

Beef Brisket

It is found in the lower chest region or towards the breast of the cow. This portion of the organism is known to be one of the most active groups. The only conclusion that can be drawn from it would be that the brisket contains less fat so it is lean and tight. It does, although, has flavor etched into it.

The sub-primal parts are the Brisket Point and the Brisket Plate.

Breakdown of the Sub-Primal Parts

Both of the weights of the cuts around 3 to 5 pounds. The thickness varies from 2 to 3 inches. Brisket is said to be the leanest cut and has only 3% of fat within itself.

The Ideal Way to Prepare and Cook the Sub-primal Parts 

The time duration of 4 hours is the minimum requirement to cook a tasty brisket. This needs to be strongly marinated or brine to bring out the flavors. You will need to lather the entire cut with seasonings or dry pepper rubs filled with a big array of spices.

By this method, the crust becomes dark in color and very crispy, and the combination is referred to as "bark."

Some people remove the fat cap off of the brisket. But it should remain there as it only helps the meat to have moisture from the fat content present. Overcooking and drying of the cut are prevented.

You can cook briskets in many methods such as braising, smoking, stewing, and slow cooking.

What Type of Food Should Be Made with These and What Sort of Grill Should be Used?

When you have a lot of time to spare, you should opt to cook brisket. Since brisket is very lean and tight, it requires plenty of grilling time to in low temperatures so that the risk of overcooking is eliminated.

Since the cut needs slow cooking in low temperatures, an indirect smoker is a right place to grill the brisket. When this grill is used, the temperature can easily be controlled. The best smoker thermometer is essential to monitor the temperature of the item.

As long as the temperature is lower than 200 degrees, a conventional oven can also be used.


Briskets are moderately priced. They are not too expensive, neither they are too cheap. This can be used on a day to day basis as this won't create a large dent in your pocket, and you can enjoy the flavourful meal.

Check the comparison of brisket vs tri-tip here.

6. Shank - Location & Its Sub-Primal Cuts

Beef Shank

It is present in the chest region or the lower part of the abdomen. The shank is used by the cow a lot which means that the fat content is considerably low and that it is a lean muscle. Hind Shank, Fore Shank, and Ground beef are the sub-primal cuts off the portion.

Breakdown of the Sub-Primal Parts

If the parts are to be roasted, then they should weigh approximately between 3 to 5 pounds. If ground beef is chosen, then you have to chop them up into cubes of 1 inch for stewing. Since it is classified as an extra-lean cut, the Hind and Fore Shanks have 7% of fat.

The Ideal Way to Prepare and Cook the Sub-primal Parts 

A mallet or near tenderizing seasoning must be utilized to break down the portion. If a marinade is used, it will break the meat and will also increase the flavor of the tough beef cut.

This requires slow cooking in minimum heat to become prepared. You could also place it inside the over at a very high temperature to chop down the structure of the meat.

What Type of Food Should Be Made with These and What Sort of Grill Should be Used?

Shank is ideal when it is chopped up into tiny cubes for a beef stew or to prepare a pot roast. The low-fat content makes it perfect for converting the leftovers into lean ground beef. This, however, is done very rarely.

For ground beef, a direct heat grill is the perfect stoves. And, for stews and or roasts crackpots and conventional ovens should be used.


Shanks are extremely affordable. If you pay more than three and a half dollars for them, then chances you are being fooled by the butcher. Because of its low price, it is accessible to many people and can be used every day. So more delicious stews and pot roasts can be made with a small budget!

7. Short Plate – Location & Its Sub-Primal Cuts

Beef Short Plate

Short plates are situated right beneath the rib cut and the center of the belly of a cow. In a few countries, this cut is thought to be an extension of the brisket. Although the meat has a high amount of fat, it is very tough comparatively.

Brisket, Ground beef, Hangar Steak, and Skirt Steak are known to be the sub-primal cuts.

Breakdown of the Sub-Primal Parts

  • Skirt Steaks: Skirt steak is very long and thin. It measures up to 2 to 5 pounds in the sighing scale. On average, this has about 18% fat.
  • Hanger Steaks: The approximate weight of hangar steak is 1 to 2 pounds. This happens to be a prized steak because of its high-fat content and intense flavors and is usually taken by the butcher. 22% of fat can be found here.

The Ideal Way to Prepare and Cook the Sub-primal Parts 

• Skirt Steaks:

The skirt steak will taste better if marinated in a strong acidic condition for a minimum duration of 12 hours. There are plenty of fibers in this portion, so the acid present in the marinade would allow the beef to loosen up quicker.

After this has been done, you can either use this marinade and proceed to cook, or you can wash it off and layer the cut with a dry rub of spices for new flavors.

The beef should be sliced against the grain of the grill for added softness to the end product.

• Hanger Steaks:

Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the hangar steak and take it to the grill. This does not need any additional seasoning, and the cooking method is similar to the methods used for other types of steak. A medium-rare steak is enjoyed the most using this cut.

What Type of Food Should Be Made with These and What Sort of Grill Should be Used?

  • Skirt Steaks: Fajitas and stir fry are an absolute delight to the taste buds. These can be made using skirt steak. Since the beef is filled with juices and is quite delicate, it can be used in various dishes such as pizza, spaghetti, sandwiches, and lasagna. A direct heat grill or open flame grill is perfect for preparing these food items.
  • Hanger Steaks: The high demand for Hangar Steaks is very challenging to find. So, if you find one, be sure to use it on some special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries or family get together. Open flame grill and direct heat grill are ideal for making this one of kind meat.


Ground beef will always be very affordable. Skirt steaks are not very expensive but are not as cheap as ground beef. The one with a big price tag is the Hangar Steak. This is due to the high demand and low supply of the meat, all thanks to the butchers.

So, if you ever find the latter in the market, grasp on it as quickly as possible as they are incredibly delicious.

8. Flank – Location & Its Sub-Primal Cuts

Beef Flank

The lower side of the belly of a cow has the muscle flank. A lot of fiber is incorporated in this section of the mammal. The sub-primal parts are Ground Beef, London Broil, and Flank Steak.

Breakdown of the Sub-Primal Parts

Flank steak is only a few centimeters thickets than the skirt steak and is generally very long. It weighs between 2 to 4 pounds. All the sub-primal cut of the flank contains fat less than 10 grams and has an average of 11% of fat. Therefore, it can be denoted that these are lean meat.

The Ideal Way to Prepare and Cook the Sub-primal Parts 

Soften the flank steak with the help of a meat mallet or a meat tenderized seasoning just before you start placing them on top of the grill. It is advised to marinate the steak under strongly acidic conditions to loosen up the fiber-filled meat. Acidic fruit juice from lime and lemon are used to carry this process out.

The beef then should be stored in the freezer overnight for at least 10 hours or use a dry rub full of spices and keep it on for an extended period. Cut these up against the grill while they are being cooked to soften the meat further.

What Type of Food Should Be Made with These and What Sort of Grill Should be Used?

Flanks are perfect for pizza toppings, salads, fajitas, and stir-fries. You could use either a direct heat grill or an open flame grill for cooking these food items.


All the sub-primal part of the flank is priced quite averagely. Therefore, it becomes eligible for people who are in a tight budget or who do not pour tons of money on near. Either way, if you get flanks, you'll have some freshly made tasty food on your plate in no time.

Final Words:

Now that we have almost come to an end, you must know that there is no "best cut" in a cow. It comes down to one's preferences and what type of meal they want to feast on. One might be appeased with a medium-rare while the next person finds everything unacceptable other than a well-done steak.

Just remember the appropriate temperature needed to cook each of the cuts mentioned above as it plays a crucial role in how your food will taste.

You do not have to put much thought into these cuts as your butcher would chop it up into sub-primal parts for you. It is highly unlikely to find an uncut primal part in your average supermarket.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your smoker out and start grilling some delicious steaks for you and your family. If you face any trouble, you will always have this article to refer back to.

Happy Grilling!

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