What Are the Different Types of Steak?

Steak, the undisputed king of meats, has been a culinary staple for centuries. From the humble backyard barbecue to the big steakhouses, the allure of a perfectly grilled or pan-seared steak is undeniable. However, “steak” encompasses various cuts with unique flavor profiles, textures, and cooking methods. Let’s find out what are the different types of steak options.

In this article, we’ll explore the steak, unveiling the various types, their characteristics, and the best ways to savor them.

The Cuts of Beef: A Primer

Before looking into what are the different types of steak, it’s essential to understand the basic anatomy of a cow. The various cuts of beef are derived from specific muscle groups, each with its unique texture and flavor. The tenderness of a steak depends on the connective tissue and the degree of muscle usage during the animal’s life.

The most prized cuts come from the loin and rib areas. Here the muscles are used less frequently, resulting in tenderness. On the other hand, cuts from the chuck, round, and brisket areas tend to be tougher. This is due to the higher concentration of connective tissue and more frequent muscle usage.

Tenderloin: The Aristocrat of Steaks

When it comes to steak, few cuts can match the tenderness and elegance of the tenderloin. Also known as the filet mignon, this cut is taken from the psoas major muscle, which runs along the spine and is used minimally by the animal. As a result, the tenderloin is exceptionally tender and lean, making it a favorite among steak enthusiasts.

The tenderloin is typically prepared by grilling, broiling, or pan-searing, allowing its delicate flavor to shine. Due to its leanness, it’s often recommended to cook the tenderloin to no more than medium-rare to avoid drying it out. While it may lack the robust flavor of some other cuts, the tenderloin’s unparalleled tenderness and buttery texture make it a true indulgence.

Ribeye: The Flavor Powerhouse

If you’re seeking a steak with bold, beefy flavor and a tender, juicy texture, look no further than the ribeye. Also known as the Delmonico or Cowboy steak, the ribeye is cut from the rib section of the animal, where the muscles are well-marbled with flavorful fat.

The ribeye’s marbling, or the distribution of fat throughout the meat, is what gives it its signature flavor and tenderness. When cooked properly, the fat renders and bastes the meat from within, resulting in a rich, juicy, and deeply satisfying steak-eating experience.

Ribeyes are best cooked using high-heat methods like grilling or cast-iron searing, allowing the exterior to develop a delicious crust while the interior remains perfectly tender and juicy. Whether you prefer it with a simple seasoning of salt and pepper or topped with decadent compound butter, the ribeye is a true crowd-pleaser.

Strip Steak: The Goldilocks of Steaks

The strip steak, also known as the New York strip or Kansas City strip, is a versatile cut. It strikes a balance between flavor and tenderness. Coming from the short loin area, this steak boasts a good amount of marbling! This contributes to its robust flavor and juicy texture.

The strip steak offers a happy medium that appeals to a wide range of steak lovers. Its meaty flavor and moderate tenderness make it a reliable choice for many cooking methods, including grilling, broiling, and pan-searing.

The strip steak’s versatility extends to its preparation as well. You can enjoy it simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Alternatively, its best with compound butters, sauces, or even stuffed with flavorful ingredients like cheese or mushrooms.

Flank Steak: The Grillmaster’s Favorite

For those seeking a leaner and more budget-friendly option, the flank steak is a beloved choice. Cut from the belly muscles of the cow, this long, flat cut is known for its intense beefy flavor and distinctive grain.

While not as tender as some of the more premium cuts, the flank steak more than makes up for it with its robust flavor and affinity for marinades and rubs. Its leanness also makes it a healthier option for those watching their fat intake.

The key to enjoying a flank steak is proper preparation and cooking technique. It’s best marinated for several hours to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. When it comes to cooking, high-heat grilling or broiling is recommended to achieve a nice char on the outside while keeping the interior juicy and tender.

We often slice the flank steak against the grain before serving. It helps to further tenderize the meat and make it easier to chew. Whether you opt for a marinade or a simple dry rub, the flank steak is a versatile and flavorful choice.

Skirt Steak: The Flavor Bomb

Hailing from the plate section of the cow, the skirt steak is a long, thin cut with incredible flavor intensity. Similar to the flank steak, it’s a relatively tough cut due to its high concentration of muscle fibers and connective tissue.

However, what the skirt steak lacks in tenderness, it more than makes up for in its robust, beefy flavor. Its coarse texture and intense beefiness make it a favorite among those who prefer bold, meaty flavors.

Like the flank steak, the skirt steak benefits greatly from marinating or dry rubbing to tenderize and infuse it with additional flavors. It’s best cooked over high heat, such as grilling or cast-iron searing, to achieve a nice char on the outside while keeping the interior juicy and tender.

Skirt steak is often sliced against the grain and served in fajitas, stir-fries, or as the star of hearty salads. Its bold flavor profile pairs exceptionally well with bold marinades, sauces, and accompaniments, making it a versatile and flavorful addition to any menu.

Hanger Steak: The Butcher’s Secret

Often referred to as the “butcher’s steak” or the “hanging tenderloin,” the hanger steak is a lesser-known but highly prized cut among steak connoisseurs. It’s sourced from the plate section of the cow, near the kidneys, and is known for its intense flavor and tenderness.

Despite its tenderness, the hanger steak has a coarse, grainy texture due to its high concentration of muscle fibers. This unique texture, coupled with its robust flavor, makes it a favorite among those seeking a steak with character and depth.

Due to its leanness and tenderness, the hanger steak is best cooked using high-heat methods like grilling or pan-searing. It’s important not to overcook it, as it can become tough and dry if cooked beyond medium-rare.

While not as widely available as some other cuts, the hanger steak is a true gem for those in the know. Its rich flavor and unique texture make it a standout choice for those seeking an exceptional steak-eating experience. Still want to find out what are the different types of steak, let’s check out.

Flat Iron Steak: The Unsung Hero

The flat iron steak, also known as the top blade steak, is a relatively new cut that has gained popularity in recent years. Derived from the shoulder area of the cow, this steak was once considered a tough and undesirable cut. However, thanks to modern butchering techniques, the flat iron has emerged as a tender and flavorful option.

This cut is characterized by its long, flat shape and significant marbling, which contributes to its juicy texture and rich flavor. While not as tender as the tenderloin or as flavorful as the ribeye, the flat iron steak strikes a nice balance between the two, making it a versatile and affordable choice.

The flat iron steak can be cooked using a variety of methods, including grilling, broiling, and pan-searing. It’s important to cook it to the desired doneness, as overcooking can cause it to become tough and dry.

Whether marinated, rubbed with spices, or simply seasoned with salt and pepper, the flat iron steak is a reliable and delicious option for steak lovers on a budget or those seeking a change from the more traditional cuts.

T-Bone and Porterhouse: The King of Steaks

No discussion of steak varieties would be complete without mentioning the iconic T-bone and Porterhouse steaks. These cuts are truly the royalty of the steak world. They are combining the best of both worlds – the tenderloin and the strip loin.

The T-bone steak is named after its distinctive T-shaped bone. It separates the tenderloin from the strip loin. The Porterhouse, on the other hand, is essentially a larger version of the T-bone. It is with a more substantial portion of the tenderloin.

Both cuts offer the unparalleled tenderness of the tenderloin and the bold and beefy flavor of the strip loin. These steaks are truly a feast for the senses, with their juicy, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and rich, satisfying flavors.

Cooking a T-bone or Porterhouse steak requires a bit of finesse. This is because the different muscles have varying levels of tenderness and may require slightly different cooking times. Most often, these steaks are grilled, broiled, or pan-seared to achieve a perfect crust on the outside while preserving the desired doneness on the inside.

Whether you prefer the classic simplicity of a well-seasoned T-bone or the indulgent luxury of a Porterhouse topped with a compound butter or red wine reduction, these steaks are sure to impress and satisfy even the most discerning steak lovers.

Tri-Tip Steak: The Californian Gem

Hailing from the Golden State, the tri-tip steak has gained widespread popularity for its affordability, flavor, and versatility. This cut is sourced from the bottom sirloin area of the cow, and its triangular shape and generous marbling make it a standout choice for grilling and smoking.

The tri-tip steak is known for its robust, beefy flavor and tender, juicy texture when cooked properly. Its unique shape and marbling allow it to develop a delicious crust on the outside while remaining tender and moist on the inside.

This cut is particularly beloved in California, where it’s often seasoned with Santa Maria-style dry rubs or marinades and grilled or smoked to perfection. The tri-tip’s versatility also allows it to be sliced into thin strips for fajitas or cubed for kebabs or stir-fries.

Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or simply looking for an affordable and flavorful steak option, the tri-tip is a must-try for any steak lover. Its unique flavor profile and versatility make it a true gem in the world of steak.

Chuck Eye Steak: The Affordable Delicacy

For those seeking a budget-friendly alternative to the more expensive cuts, the chuck eye steak is an excellent option. This cut comes from the chuck, or shoulder area, and is often overlooked in favor of its more famous counterparts.

Despite its humble origins, the chuck eye steak boasts a rich, beefy flavor. It has a surprisingly tender texture when you properly cook it. Its marbling and location near the ribeye area contribute to its depth of flavor and juiciness.

One of the key advantages of the chuck eye steak is its affordability! It is a cost-effective choice for those on a tighter budget or for feeding larger groups. It’s also a versatile cut that you can cook using a variety of methods, including grilling, broiling, and braising.

When prepared correctly, the chuck eye steak can be a true delight. It offers a satisfying steak-eating experience without breaking the bank. Whether you marinate it for added flavor or keep it simple with just salt and pepper, this underrated cut is sure to impress.

Denver Steak: The Hidden Gem

The Denver steak (Denver cut or the Zabuton steak) is a relatively new addition to the steak scene. However, it has quickly gained a cult following among steak enthusiasts. This cut is sourced from the chuck area of the cow, specifically from the serratus ventralis muscle.

What sets the Denver steak apart is its unique combination of tenderness and flavor. Despite coming from the chuck area, which is known for tougher cuts, the Denver steak boasts a surprisingly tender texture.

At the same time, this cut packs a punch when it comes to flavor, with a rich, beefy taste that rivals some of the more premium cuts. Its marbling and location near the ribeye area contribute to its depth of flavor and juiciness.

The Denver steak is best cooked using high-heat methods like grilling or pan-searing. It allows it to develop a delicious crust while preserving its tenderness and juiciness. You can season it simply with salt and pepper or dress up with compound butter, sauces, or marinades to enhance its flavors.

While still relatively unknown to many, the Denver steak is quickly gaining a dedicated following. Many steak enthusiasts appreciate its unique combination of tenderness, flavor, and affordability. If you haven’t tried this hidden gem yet, it’s definitely worth seeking out.

Tomahawk Steak: The Showstopper

For those seeking a truly impressive and theatrical steak-eating experience, the tomahawk steak is the ultimate showstopper. This massive cut is essentially a ribeye steak with an extra-long bone. It gives it a distinctive and visually striking appearance.

The tomahawk steak is not just about looks! Its generous portion of ribeye meat ensures a flavorful and tender eating experience. The characteristic marbling and rich, beefy taste is what makes them special.

Cooking a tomahawk steak is an event in itself. It often involves special equipment and techniques to ensure even cooking throughout the thick cut. It commonly requires a combination of high-heat searing and lower-temperature roasting or smoking. This allows the exterior to develop a delicious crust while the interior reaches the desired doneness.

Serving a tomahawk steak is a true spectacle, with the long bone often used as a handle for dramatic presentation. Whether you’re hosting a special occasion or simply indulging in a decadent meal, the tomahawk steak is sure to leave a lasting impression on your guests.


The world of steak is vast and diverse, offering a myriad of flavors, textures, and cooking methods to explore. From the tender and delicate tenderloin to the robust and flavorful skirt steak, each cut has its own unique taste.

Whether you’re a seasoned steak connoisseur or a newcomer, understanding the different types of steak can unlock a world of mouthwatering possibilities. By appreciating the distinct characteristics of each cut and mastering the appropriate cooking techniques, you can elevate your steak-eating experience to new heights.

Now that we know what are the different types of steak, the next time you find yourself at a steakhouse or firing up the grill, embrace the opportunity to explore the rich tapestry of steak varieties. Savor the tenderness of a perfectly cooked filet mignon, revel in the bold flavors of a well-marbled ribeye, or discover the hidden gems like the Denver or tri-tip steak. The sizzling world of steak is yours to conquer, one delectable bite at a time.

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Will Frost

Will Frost

When Will is not behind the grill at one of his two Texas Steakhouses, He can be found exploring new recipes, researching the latest grilling gadgets, or sharing his culinary adventures on social media. Join Will Frost on CookAsteak.com as he embarks on a flavorful journey, unlocking the secrets to mastering outdoor cooking and creating unforgettable meals that bring people together.

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