The best cuts of beef for a juicy steak are well-marbled cuts with visible flecks of white fat throughout the cut.
The USDA’s beef grading system helps with this: beef graded as “prime” has the most marbling and is cut from young, well-fed cattle; beef graded as “choice” has less marbling but will still be tender, juicy, and flavorful. Both are ideal choices for grilling!
More specifically, here are the beef cuts that are a cut above the rest – for the grill, at least!
Best Boneless Cuts for Grilling: Ribeye, Top Loin, or Top Sirloin
For a boneless cut, look for ribeye, top loin, or top sirloin.
- Ribeye is cut from the center portion of the rib, same as a prime rib. These steaks are well marbled, very juicy, and have a full beef flavor.
- Top loin is cut from behind the ribs and is also known as strip steak, Kansas City steak, or New York strip. It’s full-flavored and very tender.
- Top sirloin steak is cut from the hip of the cow (known as the sirloin) and is also called London Broil. Top sirloin steaks vary in tenderness and marbling and are leaner (and less expensive) than the other two boneless options.
Best Bone-in Cuts for Grilling: T-Bone, Porterhouse, or Rib Steak
For a bone-in cut, look for T-bone, porterhouse, or rib steak.
- T-bone and porterhouse steaks are crosscut from the loin, which is behind the rib. Both are made up of two types of steak: strip and tenderloin. T-bone steaks are cut from the front of the loin and have more strip and less tenderloin. Porterhouse is cut from the back of the loin and contains more tenderloin. Both are very tender, and very large; one cut will feed 3-4 people.
- Rib steak, also known as bone-in ribeye, has the same marbled, juicy cut as the boneless ribeye. It can feed 2-3 people.
Steaks should be at least 1 1/2 inches thick so they’re easier cook to the desired level of doneness. Boneless steaks have the advantage of being easily sliced and served family-style, whereas large bone-in steaks will need to be sliced off the bone before serving.
Senior Editor Summer Miller’s cut of choice is the ribeye. She likes its flavor, size, and the fact that it’s boneless. As she writes in her guide to grilling steak, “I wanted to slice and serve this steak family-style, and the fact that it doesn't have a bone makes that easier.”
A few final tips:
- No matter the cut that you choose, plan about 8 ounces per person.
- Don’t forget the steak knives!
- Steak can be refrigerated for 3-5 days before cooking but check the expiration date on the package; it may need to be grilled sooner.
- For a strong beef flavor, choose grass-fed beef. For a milder, sweeter flavor, buy grain-fed. Either way, buy local for the freshest beef!