How to Select the Best Cuts of Beef

The mouth-watering appeal of beef is universal thanks to its inimitable combination of umami and fat. Knowing the best cut of steak will elevate an already delicious food into the sublime.

Not all cuts of beef are created equally. Each varies in toughness, taste, and how it should be prepared.  

If you feel a little overwhelmed when facing the endless choices and names of different cuts of beef, then this cheat sheet is for you! Each is listed, along with its location and characteristics.

Beef cutsCow cuts of meatCharacteristics
Tenderloin steakBeneath the ribs, along the backbone.Lean, boneless. Tender and soft. Succulent, but not very juicy.
Ribeye steakFound in the upper rib cage section.Most flavourful and juicy. Less tender than tenderloin.
Striploin steakFound in the loin section, near the tenderloin.An ideal combination of tenderness and flavor.
Tomahawk steakRib primal under the front section of the backbone.Thick and juicy. Bone in.
Coulotte steakFrom the top sirloin butt area.Tender and tasty.
Porterhouse steakA striploin on one side and tenderloin on the other.Tender and delicious.


The best cuts of beef are the most popular, and also a smaller proportion of the cows’ anatomy. That said, judging beef cuts by price alone is not a true reflection of how good they are. Understanding what makes a cheap cut of meat different from an expensive one helps you to choose the right cut for your needs.

Knowing the characteristics of beef cuts of meat from the table above, you can compare it to the cost of each.

At face value, ribeye steaks are the most expensive cut, followed by striploin, and then tenderloin steaks. What can alter that, however, is what has been done to the beef parts, for example deboning or deconstructing. Similarly, a cheaper cut, like flank for example, from a better grade of beef can result in just the steak you are looking for.


Beef is graded to establish the standards for quality levels of beef. The benefit to you is best described by The Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA): “Grading attempts to ensure that consumers have an improved product through greater consistency and predictability in the eating quality of specific grades of beef.”

In Canada, beef is divided into 13 grades from Canada Prime to E. Grade is assessed according to factors like “tenderness, juiciness, flavour, consumer acceptability, shelf life, and cut yield”.


Apparently, to beef up for her role in Monster, Charlize Theron ate a lot of red meat with fat on. On a far subtler scale, it is the intramuscular fat, or marbling, in beef that adds so much of its flavour. Accumulated between the muscle fibre bundles and within the muscle, the fat of marbling prevents your steak from drying out when cooked.

Because marbling affects not just the taste, but the tenderness and moistness too, it plays a role in evaluating the grade of steak. Various breeds, like those that produce Wagyu beef, marble well. Similarly, different feed impacts marbling.

Connective Tissue

In essence, steaks are muscles sheathed in connective tissue. Beef cuts that come from locomotive muscles like the legs and shoulder are generally tougher. Lesser used supportive muscles found in the upper middle part of the cow will result in tender meat. This is partly due to the connective tissue found in the muscles that get a lot of exercise.

Made up of the proteins elastin and collagen, connective tissue reacts when cooked. No matter how you cook it, elastin remains a tough gristle. On the other hand, collagen forms the grain of meat and can be melted down to a gelatin coating that adds to its succulence and texture.

To classify a piece of meat as a steak, the cut must have little enough connective tissue that it does not need slow cooking. Steaks are fast-cooking cuts.

Whatever your taste buds desire, there is a cut of beef for you. Making it effortless to enjoy quality you can taste, order online from our superior selection of popular beef cuts. Check out Chophouse Steaks now and have the best cut of steak delivered right to your door (or you can pick up from our warehouse).