Choosing the best steak cuts for grilling can be somewhat difficult for an amateur home cook. There are many different steak cuts to choose from. It all comes down to what you want in a steak. Some people prefer a well-marbled steak with fat, while others prefer a leaner cut of beef.
To sum it up quickly, these are some of the best beef cuts for grilling because they offer the best of both worlds (tenderness and flavor): ribeye steak, t-bone steak, strip steak, and a tenderloin steak. You’ll find the full list below.
In this article, I’ll show you some of the best steaks for grilling and how to choose good quality meat. I’ve also included steak grilling tips so that your steak comes out perfectly every time.
The 10 Best Steak Cuts For Grilling
You’ll find some of the most tender and extremely flavorful steak cuts you can buy in the list below. Most of these cuts require simple seasoning. Perfectly grilled steak is delicious as it is. After all, it’s one of the best steak cooking methods. Lots of smoke equals lots of smokey flavors. Some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper are all you need for seasoning.
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Rib-eye steak is a cut of beef that comes from the rib area. It’s well-marbled with fat, which gives it a lot of flavors. This steak cut is amazing for grilling. In fact, it’s one of my favorite meats to grill since it’s so delicious and easy to cook. The combination of charcoal and fat dripping from the steak onto the hot coals creates a lot of amazing flavors that are hard to resist.
The T-bone steak is a cut of beef that contains both the strip steak and the tenderloin. It’s a very flavorful and tender piece of meat. It’s also one of the more expensive steak cuts, so keep that in mind when you’re at the butcher shop. However, grilling t-bone steak requires more skill since it’s easy to overcook the tenderloin part. In general, cooking a bone-in steak requires more time and skill because of the fat on one side and lean meat on another. So please do not leave it unattended on the grill.
Porterhouse steak is a cut of beef that is very similar to the T-bone steak. The only difference is that the porterhouse contains a larger portion of tenderloin. For this reason, it’s even more expensive than the t-bone steak. It’s also one of the most flavorful and tender steak cuts you can buy. Like with t-bone steak – grilling porterhouse steak requires more attention since it’s easy to overcook the tenderloin. When cooked properly, the smoky flavor and the juicy texture of the meat are heavenly.
The strip steak is a cut of beef that comes from the short loin area. It’s relatively lean and has a good amount of flavors. This steak is perfect for those who don’t like their steak too fatty or too lean. It’s well balanced in terms of flavors and tenderness without offering an excessive amount of fat. New York strip steak is one of the most popular cuts nowadays. It is also one of the easiest steaks to grill, unlike the t-bone or the porterhouse. To keep strip steak juicy, grill it medium-rare or medium.
Skirt steak is a cut of beef that comes from the plate area. It’s a very flavorful and lean piece of meat. The only downside is that it’s quite tough. To make it more tender, you can marinate the steak for a few hours before grilling (ideally for 24 hours before grilling). Skirt steak is one of my favorite cuts of beef because it’s not expensive, and it’s very flavorful when cooked properly. Just make sure not to overcook it, or it will be tough and chewy.
Flank steak is a cut from the beef’s abdominal area. It’s a relatively lean and tough piece of meat. It has a little bit of marbling, but that’s not enough to make it juicy and tender. You need to marinate it for at least a few hours (preferably overnight). Alternatively, dry brine the steak with a generous amount of kosher salt to make it more tender. When cooked properly, flank steak is very flavorful and juicy. I highly suggest grilling it until it’s medium-rare or medium.
Flat Iron Steak
A flat iron is a steak cut from the chuck shoulder primal. It’s a well-marbled, very flavorful, and extremely tender cut of beef. When buying flat iron at a butcher shop, ask to remove sinew. It’s a white stringy tissue that’s not very pleasant to eat. Like with any other steak, do not overcook the flat iron, or it will be tough and chewy. It’s a thin cut of steak. Grill it medium-rare or medium for the best results.
Top Sirloin Steak
Top sirloin is a cut of beef that comes from the primal loin area. It’s a very lean and relatively tough piece of meat. To make it more tender, you need to marinate it or dry brine, preferably overnight. It does not have a lot of marbling; therefore, if you’re looking for lean meat to grill, this is a good option. Top sirloin is also a relatively inexpensive steak cut, so it’s perfect for those on a budget. Just make sure not to overcook it, or it will be tough and chewy. Grill it medium-rare or medium to retain the meat juicy.
Tenderloin steak comes from beneath the ribs, next to the backbone. It’s the most tender and juicy steak you can buy. However, it’s also the most expensive one. Tenderloin steak is very lean and has very little marbling. The muscle is inactive; therefore, it’s very tender. Filet mignon is a type of tenderloin steak. When grilling filet mignon or tenderloin steak (Chateaubriand) pay attention not to overcook it, or else it will be dry. Grill filet mignon medium-rare or medium. Anything more than that can ruin this premium cut.
Chuck Eye Steak
Chuck eye steak is a cut from the chuck shoulder primal. It’s well-marbled and very flavorful. Chuck eye steak is also known as the poor man’s ribeye because it has a similar flavor profile, but it’s much cheaper. The only downside of this steak cut is that it can be tough if overcooked. So to retain the amazing, intense beef flavor, keep an eye on it when grilling.
Steak Buying Guide
Here’s a bullet list of things you need to know when shopping for beefsteak:
- Marbling. Marbling is the amount of intramuscular fat. The more marbling a steak has, the more tender, juicy, and flavorsome it will be when cooked on a grill;
- Smell. A good quality steak should smell fresh, not fishy or sour;
- Color. The color of a good-quality steak should be deep red, with some parts being almost purple. Avoid steaks that are brown in color as they are most likely old. Grass-fed beef steaks are darker red and have less fat (fat is yellowish on a grass-fed steak), while grain-fed steaks are pink with significantly more white marbling;
- Bone-in vs. boneless. Bone-in steaks have more flavor, but they are also harder to cook evenly. Boneless steaks are easier to cook, but the taste is not as intense;
- Thickness. The thickness of a steak is very important when grilling. If it’s too thick, it will be harder to cook evenly throughout. If it’s too thin, it will dry out quickly. The sweet spot is from one to one and a half inches;
- USDA grading. The USDA grades beef based on the amount of marbling and the cow’s age. The highest grade is prime, followed by choice and then select. Prime beef is only available in restaurants or specialty butcher shops as it’s too expensive for most people. Choice and select grades are widely available in supermarkets. Read more about USDA grading;
Note: it’s very common nowadays to hear grass-fed (organic) or grain-fed beef. The difference between the two is that grass-fed beef comes from cows fed only grass, while grain-fed beef comes from cows fed mostly grains (corn, soybeans) with some hay. In other words, a grain-fed diet is not natural for cows. Beef that is grain-fed tends to be larger and have more marbling, resulting in a more tender, juicy, and flavorful steak. Some steak lovers will tell you that grain-fed beef is too buttery. On the other hand, grass-fed beef is leaner and has a more intense beefy flavor. It’s also more expensive, but at the same time, it has a richer nutrient profile.
Tips For Grilling Steak
If you want to grill a perfect steak every time, then make sure to follow the tips below:
- Bring steak to room temperature. Before grilling steak, take it out from the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking. It will cook more evenly that way;
- Preheat the grill. Make sure the grill is hot. A hot grill will give the steak a nice sear. However, remember to finish cooking steak on medium heat. You’ll need to prepare a grill for two zone cooking;
- Season the steak. Season your steak with some kosher salt (and some freshly ground pepper if desired) about 30 minutes to an hour before grilling. Please do not overdo with the seasoning because steak is already a flavorful cut of meat (depending on the cut some are more flavorsome than others) and you don’t want to overpower it;
- Temperature. Make sure to check the doneness of the steak. Use a meat thermometer or your finger to check the steak’s internal temperature. There’s nothing worse than an overcooked steak;
- Rest the steak. When the steak is done, transfer it to a cutting board or a wire rack and let it rest for at least five minutes before slicing into it. This will help all the juices redistribute evenly throughout the meat.
Note: the boneless cut is cooking faster compared to the bone-in one. So let’s take a primal cut – bone-in ribeye. Same thickness steak with a bone will cook approximately 2-3 minutes longer than a boneless steak. Thick steak takes longer to cook as well.
What are the top 5 most tender steaks for grilling?
Here’re the top 5 most tender steak cuts for grilling: tenderloin steak, t-bone steak, porterhouse steak, rib-eye steak, and flat iron steak.