How to Chose the Right Steak for Grilling & Cooking

Choosing the right steak for grilling or cooking can be difficult. You want the steak to be tasty, tender, and juicy, but you also want to be able to cook it on the grill without it becoming dry. It’s also important to pick a steak that will cook well and will taste good, as you don’t want to waste a good cut. You should also consider the size of the steak, as a thicker steak will take longer to cook than a thinner cut. Here are some additional factors to consider when picking out a steak:

The perfect Raw Steak.

I love a good filet mignon, but I’m not sure I’ll ever love it as much as the next person. It’s not because I’m picky, it’s because I have a system for picking the perfect steak for the grill. There are three main factors I look for when choosing my steak: marbling, doneness and price. Here’s why:

Picking the right steak featured image

It doesn’t get much better than the summer heat and the aroma of grilled steak. It makes little difference if you use a gas, charcoal, or mesquite flame since you must first choose a steak that meets your criteria for a delicious piece of meat. The beauty of it is that even your neighborhood supermarket now has a larger selection of cuts than in previous years.labeling cow butcher

We’ll look at the distinctions between steak cuts, what they imply for you, and how you may improve your meal. Taste, texture, and certain price factors are the qualities we’ll compare.

Texture vs Taste

Grilled steak on dark surface with knife and fork

A less tender steak will usually have more taste, whereas a more tender cut of beef will have less flavor. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s an excellent starting point for meat choices. There are also certain visual cues that may help you choose a better piece of meat within the context of the cut. The cut, on the other hand, is very important. Don’t get too thrilled about those beautiful slabs of round steak in the supermarket, or those lovely imitation tenders made from chuck. Slow cooking is required, and treating them like a grilled steak would only result in a chewy outcome.

Look for marbling, the flecks and bits of fat visible throughout the steak. This is not the thick channels of fat that run through some cuts, nor is it the fat caps that surround some cuts.comparing marbling in steaks How marbling is rated and scored.

Will my steak taste bad if there isn’t enough of the proper type of marbling? Yes, in a simple sense, the bigger the marbling flakes, the worse the eating experience, and the less marbling in the steak, the worse the eating experience.


It’s a well-distributed, sometimes scarcely noticeable type of fat particles that may be found all over the place. Because greater marbling is one of the major deciding criteria for USDA meat grading – more marbling equals a better grade – you’ll want to learn to check for it while you’re out shopping. The amount of marbling in your steak determines how moist, juicy, and tender it will be when cooked.

Making It Through

A woman cutting meat with knife on table

Almost every steakhouse you visit will provide one or more of the big four, the classic cuts we associate with a steak. Filet from the tenderloin, Ribeye from the loin strip, The Strip in New York from the loin strip, and Sirloins from the top or ball tip portions are all examples. Each one will offer something unique to the table.

A quick aside, Porterhouses and T-bones often appear on these menus and in the store. First off, they are essentially the same steak as we just lied, and integrate two of the cuts mentioned above.comparing two cuts of steak The distinctive T shaped bone separates a New York strip and a tenderloin. On a T-bone proper the tenderloin section is typically less than 1-½”, where the Porterhouse must be bigger than that. porter house steak labeled There are some honorable mention steaks of different, perhaps more obscure cuts to be aware of. A Hanger steak, often called the butcher’s cut because they would keep it for themselves, is a well flavored steak with a slight bit of chew to it. Flank steak used to be cheap but now people clamor for it. With a little work, usually a marinade and thinly sliced across the grain, you’ll get a tasty meal.


Sirloin on gray surface

While not inexpensive, sirloins are the most cost-effective of the big four. On one or more sides, they will almost always have a noticeable fat cap with little marbling across the grain. They’re also renowned for displaying a wide range of colors in their packaging. The pinker steaks are usually more tender than the deeper red steaks.

Other cuts of sirloin may be found within the sirloin umbrella. The tri-tip is the most well-known, and its popularity has risen dramatically in recent years. They have an elongated triangle form when whole and weigh 3-5 pounds, and are frequently sliced against the grain when made into smaller steaks. They’re best served whole, roasted, and cut after cooking.

New York Strip

New York Strip on wood surface

You really have an 8-13 pound strip of meat with a hefty fat cap on what we call the top before chopping it into New York steaks. As a consequence, they make an excellent roasting substitute for prime rib. Cutting down from the top, as it should be for a steak cut, is also across the grain. You’ll end up with a steak that has a lot of flavor but isn’t very tender and still has some chew.

When the fat cap is sliced into a steak, it forms a layer of fat that runs the length of one side. You’re still looking for marbling in the steak’s meat. You should also keep an eye out for a layer of gristle between the fat cap and the flesh. A white star, which may be a nerve terminal, is another visual signal to avoid. There will be some chewier bits to work through with them.


3 Filet steaks on dark gray surface

The tenderest and mildest-flavored of the main four cuts is the filet mignon. It is usually the most costly per ounce, although connoisseurs would argue that it is well worth it. It originates from the tenderloin, as the name suggests. The complete chunk will have a bigger end with a chain connected, which is a strip of spherical flesh that tapers away from the larger end. The entire tenderloin weighs approximately 3-4 pounds and tapers quite a bit from the big end to a flatter tip.

The majority of the steaks are sliced from the thicker end, with a diameter of approximately five inches. Some will come from deeper inside the filet, particularly if it’s a tiny filet (typically six ounces or less) from the filet’s smaller diameter portions. Although filets contain some marbling, they are renowned for having the least apparent and most integrated marbled fat content.


Ribeye in white plate

Ribeye is the big daddy of the steak world, and it’s arguably the most popular cut. This is most likely due to the great balance of texture (which is quite soft) and taste (which is medium and rich).labeling rib eye

The ribeye is a naturally fatty cut of meat that produces a better steak. Some of this is visible in the steak’s fat bands on the exterior and between the cap and the central eye. As a consequence, they respond nicely to grilling, developing a beautiful crusted surface from high heat while retaining a juicy, tasty interior. Look for fat that is evenly distributed throughout. You may have them sliced fairly thick since the prime rib they come from is big. Consider grilling one bigger steak for a satisfying two-person dinner.

Butcher Paper Wrapped

Steak Wrapped in butcher paper on wood surface

A steak from your local butcher shop is usually of higher quality than one from a bigger supermarket. You will, however, pay a price for that quality. The opportunity to ask questions at a butcher shop, on the other hand, is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the experience. Take advantage of this as you discover what characteristics are most important to you while looking for the ideal steak.

Because of the way restaurant steaks are prepared, they may taste better than steaks prepared at home. Salt. They are usually more liberal with the salting before cooking, which is usually the distinguishing distinction. On a good steak, most experts suggest just salt and pepper to bring out the full taste of the meat. For a good medium rare, use a high heat cooking method and approximately five minutes each side. Cook up a storm while the sun is shining!

I am often asked for my recommendations on the best steaks and grilled dinners for the grill. I’ll give you a few tips to help you choose the different cuts.. Read more about what is the best steak for grilling and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best thickness for grilling steaks?

That depends on how you like your steak. Thicker steaks will take longer to cook, but they will be more tender. Thinner steaks will cook faster and are less tender.

How do I choose meat for grilling?

Meat is typically cooked on a grill over an open flame. When cooking meat, the temperature of the flame should be high enough to sear the outside of the meat but not so high that it burns or chars the inside.

How can you tell a good steak?

A good steak is a steak that has been cooked to the desired temperature and then allowed to rest for at least ten minutes.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • tender steak cuts
  • best cuts of steak in order
  • tender beef steak
  • how to season steak for grill
  • how to cook a tender steak