What Beef Cut To Choose

We have all been there.  Standing in the grocery store, staring at the beef section.  Steak or roast? What even is chuck, anyway? And, once you choose a cut of beef, what do you do with it to make it taste amazing?  

This quick reference guide can help you learn how to choose the best cut of meat for your table and what you should do to make it’s flavor stand out.

There are eight main cuts of beef to choose from.  Of course, your first step should be choosing high quality, grass fed beef (learn why here).  From there, it’s a choice of flavor and preparation.


Chuck meat comes from the cow’s shoulder.  Because the cow’s shoulder is a strong, frequently used muscle, this cut tends to be a bit tougher and loves the low-and-slow method of cooking.  This cut is also extremely flavorful and can be cut into many ways to maximize your cooking.

Chuck is most frequently used for ground chuck, flat iron steak, chuck short ribs, stew cut chuck and chuck pot roast.  There are many other cuts to be made, so, when in doubt, ask your butcher or beef supplier what is best for you.

Chuck is great for balancing flavor and cost, so use this cut to experiment with all kinds of meals!


Brisket comes from the chest of the cow.  Although this cut is usually tough and fatty, it is one of the most popular for melt-in-your mouth flavor.  Barbecue and pot roast are frequently made from cuts of brisket. Season well and cook low-and-slow. You can’t go wrong!


Shank is located in the forearm of the cow.  This is one of the toughest cuts and is mostly used in stews and soups, allowing the beef to become more tender.  One of the most famous preparations of a shank cut is Osso Buco, which is tenderized through braising.


Ribs may be one of the most self-explanatory cuts.  Made from around the ribs and backbone, there are thirteen pairs of ribs, but only 6-12 are outside of the chuck cut.  But don’t let the name fool you. Beyond your assumption, ribs can be used for boneless ribeye roasts, cowboy steak, ribeye steaks and more.  Anytime you’re looking for flavor and delicious marbling, ribs are a great choice.


This is the source of short ribs.  Found by the abdomen, its fattier than the similar rib cut.  This meat is frequently used for fajitas, skirt steak, philadelphia steak and short ribs.


This is where the most expensive cuts of beef are found.  The loin is directly behind the ribs, and is a less frequently used muscle, leaving the beef tender and soft.

There are two parts to the loin: short loin and sirloin.  Short Loin gives us cuts like filet mignon, tenderloin steaks, T-bone and strip steak.

Now that you have a better idea of all the possibilities from just a few cuts of beef, it’s time to find your favorite recipes and styles for each.  If you want to find all your new favorites, it’s important to choose local, grass fed beef for the best flavor and to know your cows were well cared for.

Esworthy Farms is a family owned farm, locally owned in Western Maryland.  For generations, we have raised happy cows who are cared for every day by our family.  Our beef cattle are fed grass and grain grown and stored on our farm, so we know exactly what they eat.  If you want to taste the difference, contact us today!

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