Understanding the different cuts of beef and how to cook with them

Understanding the different cuts of beef and how to cook with them

As well as being one of the UK’s most popular meats, beef is an incredibly complex ingredient with dozens of cuts to choose from, each with their own unique and distinct texture & flavour. When picking the right type of beef, it’s not only important to know what cut you're dealing with, but also the perfect way to cook it to get the max amount of taste.

To help you choose the perfect piece of beef for your next culinary adventure, here’s a quick guide to some of our favourite (and some underloved) cuts.

Premium cuts

If you’re looking to create a showstopper dish, there are some fantastic premium cuts of beef to choose from. With the exception of the incredibly lean fillet, the best cuts in this category will have excellent marbling, and will have typically been dry aged for 28 days or more.

  • Sirloin - a delicious and versatile piece of beef, you’re able to buy your sirloin rolled (perfect for a Sunday roast), or cut into a traditional steak portion - this is what the Americans like to call a New York Strip, and is regarded as one of the most premium cuts around. Perfect for roasting, frying in butter or marinating and throwing on the BBQ.
  • Fillet - the beefy equivalent of a Rolls Royce, and one of the UK’s most popular cuts. Whilst delicious in its own right as a simple steak, you’ll get the best from the fillet by getting a bit more adventurous. Try a piece of mid-tail fillet for the perfect beef wellington, or dicing it with shallots, cornichons and a few spices to create a delicate steak tartare (you can see our best ever steak tartare recipe here).
  • Rib - an embarrassment of riches when it comes to prime cuts, the rib is best chosen as a roasting joint thanks to its high degree of marbling and overall tenderness. A forerib of beef roast will be the star of any Sunday lunch, whereas a beautifully trimmed côte de boeuf fried in butter and garlic makes for the perfect date night treat. For something extra special, it’s worth being on the lookout for a Galacian Rib - these are typically ex-dairy cow, delivering an ultra-luxurious flavour thanks to extra marbling and maturation.

Underloved cuts

  • Chuck - this very affordable but often overlooked cut comes from the shoulder of the cow, which makes it perfect for recipes like stews, pies and even tacos. As it’s a little tougher than most, the cooking method is super important here - chuck steak is best suited for low, slow cooking, or pressure cooking if you’re in a rush.
  • Brisket - a much more popular cut over in the States, this is a go-to for Texan pitmasters! If you’re venturing into the world of brisket, you’ll get the most from this cut by slow smoking on the BBQ to extract the maximum amount of flavour. It’s delicious in a roll with spicy mustard and slaw.
  • Flank - another lean yet flavourful cut that’s a lot less common in UK kitchens. It’s great for stir frying or slow cooking, making it a great choice for tacos, fajitas or a warming chilli.
  • Short ribs - following the theme of low and slow, short ribs are a fantastic choice for slow cooking, and often available for a steal from your butchers. You’ll see max flavour by cooking on a low temperature for a minimum of 8 hours, ideally submerged in red wine and a whole bulb of garlic. Serve with a mushroom and pancetta jus, and a side of mash for a real winter warmer.

Now you can create delicious and satisfying meals in the kitchen or on the BBQ, whether you’re in the mood for a rib roast or some Birria tacos. And don’t forget those underloved cuts - often you’ll get more flavour for a more favourable price!

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