A Guide To Cuts of Beef

by Pamela

A Guide To Cuts of Beef

Have you ever been confused at the grocery store when trying to figure out what all the cuts of beef are? What are all those different names? Is the meat tough or tender? Why is the same cut of meat called one thing on the East coast and another on the West coast? It’s all so confusing. Well, I’ve got a beef cuts chart that will hopefully help you to make sense of it all.

I get asked, a lot, what are the different cuts of meats and where do they come from. Those questions are usually followed up with “so how do I cook it?” I’m hoping that with the help of this beef cuts chart and a little explanation of the butchering process I can help to clear up some of the confusion.

To start…the cow is divided into 4 sections. There are 2 forequarters (the front end) and 2 hindquarters (the back end). From there, the meat is cut into what’s called “primal” cuts. The primal cuts are the names of the different sections on the diagram below and in bold and caps. Think of these as the basic cuts.

From the primal cuts, you get all the individual cuts that you find in your grocer’s case.

The cuts of beef that are listed on the chart are the American cuts. These should also be the same cut names in Canada. But if you’re from another country, these cuts aren’t going to be the same for you. Even if the cut has the same name, it may not even be from the same part of the cow.

A Beef Cuts Chart Showing Where the Cut Comes From and What it's Called

I’ve also made this chart downloadable so you can keep a copy of this for reference. Just click on this link Cuts of Beef Chart.

As far as how to cook the cuts of beef, I’m not going to get into each and every one of them (the post would be so long NO ONE would read it). But as a general rule, anything that’s close to the legs is going to need long, low and slow cooking to make it tender. (Cows move around a lot so these muscles get worked and tend to make for a tougher cut of meat.) The further away from the legs you get, the more tender the cut of meat. (See where the tenderloin is? That part doesn’t get a whole lot of movement, that’s why filet mignon is so tender.)

I’ve tried to list as many different names for the cuts of meat as I could, but I’m sure there’s some that I’ve missed. Please feel free to leave any that you know in the comments. You’ll definitely be helping everyone out if you do.

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