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Beef Cuts - Cut the Confusion

Just like anything new, Beef cuts are confusing. The confusion is compiled by:

1. butchers processors cuts different than the butcher down the road

2. each butcher has their own specific cuts they offer

3. a wide selection of cuts developed through the years, this makes the usual beef charts extensive but the cuts offered at the store or form your local butcher are typically limited

So what are the basics, and what should you know?


The chuck is the front shoulder. This area can be cross cut leaving lots of sections and packaged as a steak or roast. This is a well sought after roast for the crock pot and is full of flavor. Due to the many section and large size, the chuck left as a large steak will be about a 1 lb steak when cut an inch thick. The many cross sections require lots of cutting to get the bite sized steak chunks and can be cumbersome to many. We have customers that LOVE chuck steaks on the grill and we have customers who won't buy them. It is all customer preference.

The cool thing about chuck steaks is they can be broken down into smaller steaks. Not every butcher offers this option, and you will pay more because it takes more time for the butcher to break it down. Thing about eating string cheese. You can bite it or peel the string. Either way it is good but the pieces don't always peel the same size. When the butcher breaks down the chuck some of the cuts are larger than others. They can be broken down into the following steaks:

Chuck eye - also called the poor man's delmonico. Very tender steak about 5-8 oz in size, great flavorful steak for grill

Denver - about 5-6 oz, tender cut similar to chuck eye but a little smaller, great flavorful steak for grill

Flat Iron - flat iron is a lot like a flank steak, thin and easy to marinate, stir fry, grill or saute

Ranch - similar to the chuck eye but not quite as tender, great flavorful steak for grill

Sierra/Vegas - thin steak that is more narrow than the flat iron steak about 2-3 inches across, again easy to marinate and quick to cook, stir fry, grill or saute


The rib has less movement muscles than the chuck and typically the cuts have more marbling and tenderness.

Rib roasts are your delmonico or prime rib steaks left on the bone for a prime rib roast

Rib steaks ranch from plain rib steak, delmonico to ribeye. A large meat processing plant that supplies big grocery chains and restaurants will separate the front rib from the back rib steaks so they can label as Ribeye and charge a premium. Any butcher we use will label the rib steaks all the same.

More confusion is seen with the rib steaks because some butchers like our current butcher will label the rib steaks if cut bone out as delmonicos. Other butchers will do the opposite. I wish this wasn't so but I have been told exact opposite ways of thinking from one butcher to another. When you buy a delmonico from us it will be a bone out rib steak which may possibly be a ribeye but we don't charge the ribeye high end premium.


The loin is probably the most confusing area for cuts. It is the highest valued cut area with rib being a close second.

Here are the basics:

A porterhouse is a larger bone in steak than the T-bone but is the same muscle cut section. A porterhouse has a larger tenderloin and a T-bone is the narrower/smaller end of this same cut section with less tenderloin.

Your NY Strip steaks can be cut bone in or bone out.

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