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The Best Cheap Steak Cuts for a Budget-Friendly Meal

cheap steak cuts

Looking for juicy, tender, and not expensive steak? Here’re the best cheap steak cuts (in no particular order): chuck-eye, chuck, flat iron, merlot, Denver, tri-tip, beef shank, petite tender.

Do not be fooled by the price tag. These steak cuts are just as good – if not better – than their more expensive counterparts. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up one of these cheap steaks.

I’ll show you the best cooking method for each cheap steak cut. As a chef, I have experience working with less popular cuts. Trust me; there’re numerous amazing recipes you can do with a steak cut that is half the price of rib-eye steak.

Best Cheap Steak Cuts

The list below consists of 8 budget-friendly steak cuts. And if you want to learn more about different steak cuts, click on one of the links below:

Chuck-Eye Steak

chuck-eye steak

Chuck-eye steak cut is a cut from the upper shoulder of the cow. It is a less tender cut than more premium steak cuts (rib-eye is a good example), but it has a good amount of marbling. We all know – that the more marbling, the more flavor. You get loads of amazing beefy flavor for the price you pay.

The best way to cook a chuck-eye steak is to pan-fry it. Remember, it’s a very similar cut to rib-eye steak. Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat until scorching hot. Sear the steak for about two minutes per side. Turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking to the desired doneness.

Chuck Steak

chuck steak

Chuck steak is a cut from the cow’s upper shoulder and lower neck area. It is a very tough cut with lots of connective tissue (often referred to as the “seven bone steak). That’s why it needs to be cooked slowly over low heat. The good news is that chuck steak is packed with flavors and relatively inexpensive.

The best way to cook chuck steak is in a slow cooker or Dutch oven. First, sear the steak in a hot skillet for a couple of minutes per side. Then, add the steak to your slow cooker or Dutch oven, along with some beef broth and seasonings. Cook on low heat for several hours until the steak is tender and cooked through.

Flat Iron Steak

flat iron steak

A flat iron is a steak cut from the cow’s chuck shoulder primal area (from the top blade). It’s a relatively new cut that was discovered in the early 2000s. Considering the price tag, flat iron steak is a well-marbled and very flavorful piece of meat. It’s also quite tender – especially when cooked properly.

The best way to cook a flat iron steak is to pan fry it or grill it. If pan-frying, preheat your skillet over medium-high heat until it’s scorching hot. Sear the steak for two minutes per side. Then, turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking to the desired doneness. If you’re grilling, preheat your grill until hot enough to gill, and cook the steak for two to three minutes per side. I recommend setting up the grill for two zone cooking. Here’s how to set up the grill.

Merlot Steak

merlot steak

Merlot steak is a cut that comes from right above the shank and below the bottom round (gastrocnemius). It’s a small and lean cut of meat that is not well-marbled. However, it does not lack flavor. In fact, it’s very similar in terms of taste and texture to the flank steak. This cut is cheap and not readily available at supermarkets, so you’ll have to go to your local butcher shop or specialized online store.

The best way to cook merlot steak is to pan fry it or grill it. Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Sear the steak for two minutes per side. Then, turn the heat down to medium and cook to the desired doneness. If you’re grilling, preheat your grill until it’s hot enough to charr and cook the steak for two to three minutes per side. To keep the meat tender cook until steak is medium-rare to medium doneness level. Slice across to keep the steak as tender as possible.

Denver Steak

denver steak

Denver steak cut comes from the under-blade portion of the chuck roll (from the shoulder area). It’s a relatively new cut of meat that was discovered in the 2000s. This steak is well-marbled and packed with incredible beefy flavors. Tenderness-wise, it sits somewhere between chuck steak and flat iron steak. While it costs more than chuck steak, it’s still relatively inexpensive. However, it’s not readily available; therefore, you’ll have to look for it at the butcher shop or specialized online store.

The best way to cook Denver steak is to pan fry it reverse sear it or grill it. If pan-frying, preheat your skillet over medium-high heat until it’s scorching. Sear the steak for two minutes per side. Then, turn the heat down to medium and cook to the desired doneness. If you’re grilling, preheat your grill until it’s hot enough to charr and cook steak for two to three minutes per side. Then, move the steak from the direct heat and continue cooking to your liking. When reverse searing, start cooking your steak in the oven until it reaches 15°-20° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. I recommend setting the oven to 275° Fahrenheit. Take the steak out of the oven and sear it for one to one and a half minutes on each side on a scorching hot pan.

Tri-tip Steak

tre-tip steak

Tri-tip steak is a cut that comes from the bottom sirloin primal area. It’s a relatively tough and lean cut of meat with little to no marbling. What it lacks in fat it makes up for in flavor. This steak is perfect for budget-friendly family meals as it’s pretty cheap.

The best way to cook tri-tip steak is to braise it. When braising, brown the steak in a hot pan, add it to a pot with beef broth and your favorite herbs and spices. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two to three hours.

Beef Shank

beef shank

A beef shank is a cut that comes from the lower leg of the cow. It’s a tough and sinewy cut of meat with little to no fat content. Despite that, it’s a very flavorful piece of meat. This steak is perfect for budget-friendly family meals as it’s pretty cheap. Yes, it does require a long time to cook to break down the muscle, but it’s well worth it because of the fantastic flavor.

The best way to cook beef shank is to braise it or slow cook it. When braising, brown the steak in a hot pan, then add it to a pot with beef broth and your favorite herbs and spices. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two to three hours. If you’re slow cooking, place the steak in a slow cooker with beef broth and your favorite herbs and spices. Cook on low for six to eight hours. Alternatively, sous vide the beef shank for 24 hours at 130° Fahrenheit. In fact, sous vide might be the best way to cook this tough cut as it results in very tender and flavorful meat.

Petite Tender

petite tender

Petite tender is a cut that comes from the chuck primal or the shoulder of the cow. It’s a small and very tender cut of meat with a great beefy flavor. It’s very similar in both flavor and tenderness to the flat iron steak. It is pricier than some of the other cheap cuts on this list, but it’s still relatively inexpensive.

The best way to cook petite tender is to pan-fry or grill it. Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat until it’s very hot. Sear the steak for two minutes per side. Then, turn the heat down to medium and cook to the desired doneness. If you’re grilling, preheat your grill on high heat until it’s hot enough to charr and cook the steak for two to three minutes per side. Move steak from direct heat and continue cooking to your liking.

FAQ

What is the most affordable cut of steak?

The most affordable cut of steak is chuck-eye steak. This steak is also known as the poor man’s ribeye. This steak is very flavorful and perfect for budget-friendly family meals.

What is the best way to cook a cheap cut of steak?

The best way to cook a cheap cut of steak is to braise it or slow cook it. The most affordable steaks are lean without much marbling; therefore, they benefit from a slow cooking methods

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