What are the best cuts of steak in the supermarket?
Every delicious steak starts with a good cut of meat. But with a plethora of names that vary from around the world, it can be difficult to choose the right cut – especially if you’re trying to match it to a recipe from a different country.
For example, a Porterhouse in Australia is a sirloin, a sirloin in America is a New York strip, and in Britain the term “sirloin” could refer to a roast beef – a completely different cut and cooking method altogether. (Still with us? Good stuff.)
We’ve taken the liberty of compiling all the best cuts of beef for steak, featuring some old favourites and newer ones, each with different qualities and cooking methods.
Get ready to beef up your knowledge of the best steak cuts before your next trip to the meat section of the supermarket by following this guide for some rare – and well done – advice.
The best cuts of beef for steak
Australian name: Scotch fillet or rib fillet
American name: Rib eye (without the bone)
British name: Sirloin rump
French name: Entrecote (this term is used to describe a premium cut of beef, usually a boneless rib eye)
The scotch fillet is on the more premium end of the steak spectrum. Taken from the rib section of the animal, scotch fillets are basically a boneless rib eye.
When shopping for a scotch fillet, look for a vibrant colour with an abundance of rich marbling – this will contribute to the final juiciness of the steak, making it one of the most flavoursome steaks you can get.
While you’ll probably find single scotch fillet steaks easily at your local supermarket, you can also buy the whole fillet and slow roast it in the oven – or test your butcher skills and slice it into individual steaks yourself.
Although scotch fillet isn’t quite as tender as an eye fillet, it is still one of the more tender cuts available, while offering a superior taste because of its ample fat content.
About the terms “Rib eye” and “Prime rib”
The rib eye is cut out of a prime rib roast, and can be served as individual steaks with the bone in or out, or roasted whole on the rack.
While eating around the bone can make it slightly harder to tackle this cut with a knife and fork, the bone does provide extra moisture and fat that will make your meal even more delectable.
About the term “tomahawk”
A tomahawk is a rib eye steak with an extra long bone (at least 5 cm) attached. The name resembles its striking shape, reminiscent of a North American indigenous axe.
Australian name: Eye fillet
American name: Beef tenderloin
British name: Fillet steak or beef fillet
French name: Fillet mignon (the term “fillet mignon” in Australia describes an eye fillet wrapped in bacon)
A classic cut, the eye fillet comes from the strip of muscle tucked against the backbone of the animal, the “tenderloin”. The creme de la creme of steaks, eye fillets are the most tender cut of beef – which also makes it the most expensive, and arguably the most desirable.
We say “arguably” because what they gain in tenderness, they lose in flavour. While the eye fillet is supremely lean, it doesn’t have any intramuscular fat or marbling that gives other cuts their rich taste. A properly prepared and cooked eye fillet will melt in your mouth, but it relies heavily on the sauce you pair it with – or the bacon wrapped around it – which is often the most flavoursome thing about this cut.
The eye fillet is a subjectively delicious cut with an objectively high price tag. Whether it’s worth the money for you will depend on how much you value tenderness over flavour – it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
Australian name: Sirloin or Porterhouse
American name: New York strip or striploin
British name: Short loin or rump. (Be careful here – the name “sirloin” in England could refer to the roast beef sirloin).
Sirloin comes from the hindquarter of the animal, where the tenderloin and top loin meet. This is a great all-rounder that is lean, tender, flavoursome and juicy steak – the Goldilocks of steak cuts, if you will. Sirloin is not quite as tender as the tenderloin, or loaded with quite as much flavour as the Scotch fillet, but for many steak lovers, it’s just right.
Sirloin also forms the larger part of the T-bone. While the names sirloin, striploin and Porterhouse originate from different parts of the world, all three terms are accepted at most supermarkets, butcher shops and restaurants.
There are very few downsides to the sirloin – just keep in mind that because it tends to be on the leaner side, it’s easy to overcook.
The best part is that because it has a bit more chew and slightly less marbling than other cuts, sirloin also tends to be less expensive. Talk about a crowd pleaser!
Australian name: Rump
American name: Round steak
French name: Culotte
A traditional pub favourite, rump steak is sliced from – you guessed it – the rear section on top of the hindquarters of the animal.
Rump is a great all rounder that won’t break the bank, with a firm body and beefy flavour. It tends to be slightly tougher in texture than, say, en eye fillet. You might even notice a difference from one end of your rump steak to the other, because it’s actually a cross-section of three different muscles, resulting in varying degrees of tenderness in the same cut.
For these reasons, rump will rarely be a favourite of chefs at high-end restaurants, but it is a full-flavoured cut that tends to be quite large in size, so you get plenty of bang for your buck.
Rump steak is best when seared over a high heat, or cooked whole as a rump roast.
Fun fact – in France, rump steak is commonly known as “culotte”, which literally translates to “panties” or “underwear”.
Other names: Porterhouse (if the fillet is larger)
Italian name: Florentine steak
This classic steak is probably the most identifiable cut around the world, given its unique T-bone shape. T-bones feature a sirloin on one side of the bone and an eye fillet on the other, making it perfect for people who don’t like to choose. Note that cuts with a larger fillet are sometimes called Porterhouse steaks.
Offering the tenderness of a fillet and the taste of a sirloin, T-bone steaks offer the best of both worlds. It does tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum, however, and since you’re essentially cooking two different types of steaks at the same time, it can also be more difficult to cook.
Generally, the fillet will cook faster than the sirloin because it has less fat, and the meat closest to the bone on either side will cook slower than the rest of the steak.
It all adds up to making the T-bone a great choice next time you’re at a steakhouse, but a challenge to cook at home for a novice chef.
In Italy, if this cut comes from the Chianina breed of cattle it is referred to as a Florentine steak, and is served in the traditional Italian dish, Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
American name: Florentine steak
British name: Feather steak
If you’re a newcomer to cooking steak and you’re looking for a lean cut with hearty beef flavour and a pleasant texture (but you don’t want to risk burning a gourmet fillet), the oyster blade is a fantastic option.
This popular steak comes from the blade primal cut, which is connected to the animal’s shoulder blade. With a line of sinew running down the centre, it may require some skill on the part of the butcher to prepare – but once they’ve removed the surrounding silverskin and sinew, you’re left with an extremely versatile cut that is delicious and tender.
Because oyster blade is a lean, usually thinner cut, it takes well to marinades and quick sears.
About the term “Bolar blade”
If you’ve bought a primal cut such as a bolar blade, you can roast it whole or slice it into steaks and sear over a high heat grill. Bolar blade can also be diced and slow cooked in a casserole or curry.
About the term “Flat iron steak”
While oyster blade steak contains a thin line of gristle, a flat iron steak will have all of its connective tissue removed and is portioned up ready to go.
Australian name: Chuck beef or diced beef casserole
American name: Gravy beef
British name: Braising steak
Beef chuck comes from the forequarter of the animal (the shoulder and upper arm) with an abundance of collagen, which means it is a hard-working muscle that requires a longer time to break down.
Basically, chuck steak becomes more tender and juicy the longer you cook it. Chuck steak is ideal for braised dishes like stews and casseroles which tenderise tougher cuts. Due to its reasonable amount of intramuscular fat, it also makes an excellent ground beef.
Read more: The best beef cuts for slow cooking
Australian name: Sizzle steak
American name: Minute steak
Canadian name: Cubed steak
If you’re looking for a quick and cheap steak to throw on the barbecue to feed a lot of people, sizzle steaks are your go-to. Cut from the knuckle or hip, the term “minute steak” is given because that’s pretty much how long it takes to cook.
These thinly sliced steaks take well to marinades, are great in steak sandwiches or breaded and fried like these country fried steaks.
Australian name: Rump cap or picanha
American name: Top sirloin cap
Brazilian name: Picanha
A relatively recent addition to the steak lexicon in Australia, rump cap has been a prized cut of beef in Brazil for years. Picanha is taken from the rump of the animal, and has a distinctive triangular shape with a thick fat cap.
You might not find a rump cap in your local supermarket (depending on how well stocked it is) but any good local butcher should be able to point you in the right direction. Look for a smaller cut around 1kg to 1.5kg in size – any larger and you might also be taking home the tougher outer-thigh region that runs below the rump.
Roast the rump cap whole – or if you’ve bought individual picanha steaks, sear them over a high heat grill or barbecue traditional Brazilian style.
Read more: What is picanha?
Other names: The Butcher’s Steak or The Butcher’s Cut, hanging tenderloin
French name: Onglet
This next cut can be quite tricky to find. You see, hanger steak is cut from the lower belly of the animal, and there is only one hanger steak per animal – which means savvy butchers would often keep it for themselves (hence its alternative name).
At first glance the hanger isn’t a pretty sight as it comes wrapped in tough gristle and silverskin, but most butchers will sell it trimmed.
Relatively tender and packed with beefy flavour, hanger steak is versatile in that you can use many cooking methods – but always aim for medium rare so it stays nice and tender.
Hanger steak has grown in popularity as the butchers’ secret has spread, but still tends to be more affordable than more famous cuts like the eye fillet and Scotch fillet.
Other names: Insight skirt, outside skirt
Spanish name: Entrana
Skirt steak is a thin, long and versatile cut that comes from the diaphragm and abdominal muscles of the animal.
There are two types of skirt steak – the inside skirt, which lends itself better to tenderisation, and the outside skirt, which is more desirable if you’re looking for a flavoursome bit of steak.
While your average skirt steak is unlikely to take home any awards from steak lovers, it has its charms – a beautiful texture and easy to cook with a strong, beefy flavour.
To get the most out of your skirt, your best bet is to marinate it before grilling or pan-searing over high heat as quickly as possible. And always served rare or medium rare.
Other names: Jiffy steak, plank steak
American name: London broil
French name: Bavette
Spanish name: Arrachera
Flank steak is a long and flat cut that is packed with intense beefy flavour – but at the expense of tenderness.
Technically, flank isn’t a steak at all. Cut from the well-exercised belly muscles of the animal, this is a flavourful piece of meat that is very lean with almost no fat.
The flank steak is extremely versatile. Perfect for thin slicing for a stir-fry, flank steak also performs extremely well under slow-cooking conditions. After slow-cooking, this beef cut can be shredded with a fork and added to burritos or salads.
This article was originally published on 4 February 2020 and updated on 21 December 2021.