An Interactive Visual Guide to the Common Cuts of Beef


Beef. A staple of the American diet, and the stereotypically macho meat. Put simply, men love beef. But…it can be quite confusing. Unlike a chicken which has only a few types of cuts to remember, there are dozens for beef. Plenty you’ve heard of, porterhouse, T-Bone, chuck, sirloin, but do you even know what any of it means?

The next time you’re out to eat for a steak dinner or grilling one at home, do yourself (and those you’re serving) a favor and become familiar with the most common cuts of beef, what they’re good for, and the best ways to cook them.

Don’t assume you have to buy filet mignon to have beef that has both taste and flavor. As long as you prepare it correctly, any of these cuts will be delicious.

I consulted with Lou from the famous Maraconda’s butcher shop right here at the Los Angeles Famers Market. Family owned since 1941, they know a thing or two about beef.

What is a steak?

A “steak” is nothing more than any meat cut across the muscle into a thick slice. Technically, steak can come from any animal, but the word is often associated with higher-quality beef cuts.

What is a roast?

A roast is a cut of meat that is usually cooked whole. They serve several people, and often use the “roasting” cooking method, which is heating in a dry oven. Roasts can also be braised, which involves frying the outside then cooking it slowly in a closed container, often with some sort of liquid.

What is Kobe beef?

Kobe beef has been an emerging delicacy, but what is it? A trademark of a Japanese company, the cuts are from a specific breed of cattle known as Wagyu, and are raised in strict conditions. In the US, domestically raised Kobe-style beef is available. When compared to USDA ratings, Kobe beef is considered two grades higher than Prime. Pure Kobe beef from Japan cannot be purchased legally.Those who have tasted it either consider it the best beef in the world, or don’t understand the hype.

What is Angus beef?

Angus beef comes from a breed of cow with the same name. However, Certified Angus Beef is beef from black Angus cattle that has met certain qualifications involving marbling, size, and quality. The certification comes from The American Angus Association, a private, non-government organization, and shouldn’t be confused with USDA grading. Angus in general is a common breed for beef, but much of it is not certified.

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Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page.