Beef is a versatile and popular meat found in a wide variety of dishes. There are many different types of beef, each with its own unique flavor and texture.
Different types of beef come from different areas of the cow, which affects the taste and consistency of the meat. The best way to cook beef depends on the type of beef you are using.
The most common time to eat this heavier meat is dinner, but it can play a significant role in appetizers, lunches, and even breakfast or brunch. Again, it all depends on the type of beef you want to use for that particular meal.
If you are wondering why there are different styles of beef cuts and which ones you might prefer more than the others, you’re in the right place.
Types of Beef
Here is my guide to some of the most common types of beef and their best uses.
Brisket beef comes from the lower chest of the cow and is a tough, lean cut of meat.
It’s often smoked or braised to tenderness in order to give it more flavor.
The taste of brisket is intense and slightly sweet, with a bit of funkiness from the fat. The texture is chewy, with a slightly fatty texture.
Overall, it’s a bit on the tougher side, which is why it often comes in chunks or slices.
I like to cook brisket for a long time in stews, so it breaks down and becomes more tender. I’ll add carrots, potatoes, and onions to the stew for extra flavor and heft.
The best dishes overall for brisket are stews, pot roasts, and sandwiches. With sandwiches, I like placing layers of roasted brisket in them and topping it with creamy coleslaw and tangy pickles.
Flank steak is a type of beef that comes from the cow’s abdominal muscles and is a long, flat cut of meat. It’s a leaner steak with a lot of tough fibers running through it.
Flank steak has a robust, beefy flavor with a hint of sweetness, so they take to marinades quite well.
It’s also one of those cuts that should be cooked quickly over high heat to retain its moisture.
The best dishes to use flank steak in are stir-fries, fajitas, and salads. I also like to slice it thinly against the grain for sandwiches or wraps.
Chuck roast is a type of beef that comes from the shoulder area of the cow and is a tough cut of meat. It’s often braised to tenderness.
The flavor of chuck roast is rich and hearty, with a lot of savory notes. People often describe the texture as “chewy” or “stringy,” but it can be tender, moist, and full of flavor when cooked properly.
I like to cook chuck roast in a slow cooker with potatoes, carrots, and onions. I’ll also add some beef broth and red wine for extra flavor.
The best dishes to use chuck roast in are stews and sandwiches, but I prefer it in pot roasts above all. Chuck roast is also often used in ground beef products as well.
The loin is a section of the cow that runs from the hip to the shoulder.
The loin contains some of the most tender and famous (and pricey) cuts of beef, like the filet mignon and New York strip.
The flavor of loin beef is rich and robust, with a slight sweetness. The texture of loin is tender and juicy, with a bit of fat marbling throughout.
I like to cook loin beef in various manners, depending on the cut. I usually pan-sear it or cook it in a cast-iron skillet for filet mignon. And for a New York strip, I typically pan-sear or grill it.
Overall, loin beef is one of the most versatile types of beef, and it’s perfect for any time of day.
Whether you’re cooking a quick and easy weeknight meal or a more elaborate weekend dinner, loin beef is sure to please.
Shank is a cut of beef from the lower part of the cow’s leg. It’s often braised or slow-roasted to tenderness, as it’s very tough and has lots of connective tissue.
The flavor of shank beef is rich and meaty, with a subtle earthiness. The texture is somewhat stringy and fibrous, with a bit of fat mixed in.
Like brisket, I prefer to braise shank with vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and onions in a slow cooker. It takes a while to cook through, but the end result is tender and flavorful.
Shank is also popular for making ground beef products like burgers and meatballs, as it’s relatively effortless to grind up and is a relatively cheaper cut of beef.
Overall, the shank is a versatile and hearty cut of beef that’s perfect for creating comforting, slow-cooked meals.
As its name suggests, rib comes from the rib area of the cow. It’s a flavorful and tender cut of beef that is often grilled or roasted for short periods.
The flavor of ribs is rich and savory, with a hint of smokiness from the grill or roast. The texture of the ribs is tender and juicy, with a little bit of fat marbling throughout.
I like to cook rib in different ways, depending on the cut.
For prime rib, I usually sear it in a cast-iron skillet first and then finish it in the oven. For short ribs, I’ll braise them in the slow cooker with a flavorful sauce. And for ribeye, I like to grill it over high heat or cook it in the smoker.
While some types of beef are more appropriate to eat with a fork or knife, like a NY strip, I love to eat ribs directly from my hands – no matter how saucy they are!
Round cut beef comes from the cow’s rear end and is often sold as “stew meat.” The rear end includes the thigh, hind legs, hams, and butt area.
It’s a leaner cut of beef that is best cooked slowly to tenderize the meat.
The flavor of round-cut beef is mild and slightly sweet. The texture is lean and somewhat tough but can be tender if cooked properly.
I like to cook round-cut beef in a variety of ways, depending on the cut.
For stew meat, I’ll usually braise it in the slow cooker with vegetables and herbs, or I’ll make a hearty beef chili. And for ground round, I like to mix it with other ground meats to make burgers or meatballs.
While round beef is a versatile and affordable option, it’s not as tender or flavorful as other cuts of beef. However, it’s still a delicious and satisfying option for any meal.
The short plate is a cut of beef from the belly area of the cow. It’s a fatty and flavorful cut of beef that many people use for ground beef products.
The flavor of the short plate is rich and savory, with a hint of sweetness. The texture is fatty and juicy, with a bit of marbling throughout.
There are different ways I might cook short plate beef. For ground beef, I’ll often use it to make burgers or meatballs. And for flank steak and skirt steak, I’ll usually marinate it in a flavorful sauce before grilling or pan-searing it.
While short plate beef is a delicious and flavorful cut of beef, it’s also one of the fattier cuts of meat, which some people might not prefer if they are on a diet or do not enjoy the consistency of beef fat.
Sirloin is a cut of beef from the lower back area of the cow. It’s a lean and versatile cut of meat that can be grilled, roasted, or even cut into steaks.
The sirloin flavor is rich, bold, and savory, with a lot of depth. The texture is lean and slightly chewy but can be tender if cooked properly.
You can cook sirloin in various ways, depending on the specific area it comes from. For example, the top sirloin is best for grilling or roasting, while the bottom sirloin is best for braising or stewing.
Overall, sirloin is an exceptionally tasty and agreeable cut of beef that is perfect for any dinner like a juicy steak or a hearty stew.
As you can see, there are various types of beef, and you can use each one for a different purpose or meal.
Each one also has one or multiple optimal cooking styles due to its natural consistency, fattiness, and flavor.
My favorite types of meat are ribs and brisket because I like braising meat and then adding lots of rich sauce to it. It wouldn’t be appropriate to do that to some other types of meat, like loin beef.
No matter which type you decide to try next, try to opt for the most sustainable, farm-to-table option you can find.
Learn more about food on our blog, like different types of mushrooms or chicken nugget shapes.
Now that you know the differences, which type of beef is your favorite?