There’s nothing quite like a bite of tender steak melting in your mouth before being washed down with a nice red wine. Whether you’re celebrating an achievement, a loved one, or simply treating yourself for all those hours of hard work, enjoying a good cut of steak is a fabulous way to spend an evening. It would be an absolute shame to miss out on some of the best cuts out there by merely not knowing about them, so we’ve created a list of the best cuts of steak ranked based on flavor and tenderness (and the opinions of professional chefs).
Cuts of Steak, Ranked from Best to Worst
Rib-Eye Cap/Deckle Steak/Spinalis Dorsi
If you ask high profile chefs worldwide about their favorite cut of steak, it’s incredible how much “The Cap” specifically comes up over and over. Also known as “Butcher’s Butter,” or occasionally even jokingly referred to as “meat butter,” this cut rests just above the rib-eye on the other side of a thick line of fat. Lingering on the outside edge of prime rib, it can either by the tastiest part of a rib-eye itself—also considered one of the most flavorful and ideal cuts—or the cap can be trimmed in advance to make a separate steak altogether. Think of it as the best bites of a quality rib-eye, but the size of a full steak.
Rib-eye cap is described as having the richest, most tender meat. It boasts the buttery softness of the filet mignon while still maintaining a robustly rich, beefy flavor due to the high fat content. It’s the perfect combination of juicy, tender, rich and flavorful.
Chef tip: Test a bite before adding any sauces or extra salt. The fat complex already gives it mouthwateringly hearty flavor. By many it’s considered to be the best steak you will ever try.
Almost a twin of the T-bone steak, both cuts are essentially two steaks in one. One side of the bone holds the tender, buttery tenderloin, and the other side has flavorful, marbled strip steak. Although the tenderloin is lean, the strip gets its flavor from heavy fat marbling. In other words, it has the best of both worlds: soft as can be filet on one side and the richer NY strip on the other. Keep in mind, this also means it’s a hefty cut. Some restaurants recommend sharing it with another person and plan the menu and sides accordingly.
What differentiates it from the T-bone? Size. Porterhouse steaks follow strict guidelines according to the USDA to include a certain amount of tenderloin in order to qualify as a porterhouse. Otherwise, they’re labeled as T-bone. Either cut will have the two sides and enriched flavor from the bone itself.
Also known as filet mignon, tenderloin steak is the most tender cut of beef and often the most pricey. Cooked efficiently, it’s famous for being soft enough to cut with a butter knife, maybe even a fork. The melt-in-your-mouth quality makes it a prized and popular cut for many diners.
Sourced from inside the cow’s ribcage, the muscle remains less worked, which is how it keeps its lean, velvety texture. Although many consider it the best cut of steak overall, a surprising number of chefs refer to filet mignon as wonderful but overrated. The lack of fat makes it slightly less flavorful than other cuts. One way to remedy this is to cook it bone-in to infuse extra flavor.
Sourced from the underbelly of the cow, this cut is tender as can be. A derivative of “hanging tenderloin,” hanger steak has decent marbling that allows for rich, prime flavors. Still sometimes referred to as “Butcher’s Steak,” butchers used to set it aside for themselves as their own insider secret. Since customers didn’t know to ask for it, the butchers would take it home for themselves. Being that only each cow only has one hanger steak, it can be harder to find. Ask your butcher to save their next cut for you and you won't be disappointed.
Often underrated, the Coulotte steak is a lean cut coming from the cow’s hindquarters. Anyone who enjoys a crispy outer crust but thick and tender bites in the middle will be in steak heaven. The tenderness comes from having only light marbling, but the steak itself is generally a couple inches thick with a defining layer of fat on one side. The thick swath of fat imparts richer flavor and adds to the crisp outside. The thickness combined with how lean the inside is makes it super tender. It has a great balance of textures with an undeniably satisfying flavor.
When it comes to ranking the best steaks, it's hard to beat the classics. Some prefer the buttery tenderness of the filet, while others can't get enough of the "Damn, that's beefy" flavor that only a bone-in Porterhouse gives you. Either way, it's safe to say we owe our meat-eating ancestors a huge thank you for their generations of cultivating and cutting before us.