Have you ever been overwhelmed by the number of different beef cuts in the meat department? Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. Most of us don’t know a porterhouse from a tri-tip. We know that filet mignon is expensive, but don’t know why. It’s important to first learn about various factors such as tenderness, thickness, bone-in or bone-out, marbling, flavor, and appearance. Once you learn the basics, you can start to appreciate the variety of meat that is offered. In this article, we’re going to focus on the most tender cuts of steak, and what makes each unique.

First of all, it’s important to know that cuts are separated based on the part of the cow from which they come. Certain locations of a cow’s body produce meat that is more tender, juicy, marbled, etc. Cheaper cuts, such as top round, come from the back of the cow, producing meat that is tough and chewy. These cuts are fine if you’re on a budget, and also useful in meals like stew.

Specific Cuts in a Cow

The infographic below shows where different types of meat come from. Depending on where you purchase your steak, names may vary slightly.

cuts of beef

Image credit: The BBQ Depot

What makes meat tender?

If you purchase a tough piece of meat, it’s possible to make it softer by tenderizing it. This will help make the steak more tender, but it won’t replace a cut from a softer part of the cow. You also need to consider flavor, thickness, marbling, and more when you choose a steak.

beef marbling standards

Grades of beef marbling, using the Japanese BMS (Beef Marble Score) index.

What is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu is the generic name for Japanese cattle. Their beef is extremely popular because of its fat marbling, extreme tenderness, and rich flavor. 

Wagyu are bred and fed using the highest standards. Each cattle is fed a special diet of rice straws and whole crop silage and concentrate. They are individually named, brushed, massaged, and cared for in a very specialized manner. Wagyu beef is normally the highest graded type of beef on meat scores.

What is Kobe Beef?

Kobe beef is a popular type of Wagyu from the Tajima breed. It can only be raised in the Hyogo province of Japan to be classified as Kobe.

Kobe and most types of Wagyu beef are extremely expensive compared to other cuts of beef. A premium price is placed on this beef because of its extremely rich flavor and tenderness.

Most Tender Cuts of Steak




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Strip Steak


Top Sirloin

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T-Bone & Porterhouse Steaks

t-bone steak


Density of muscle-proportion of muscle, fat, and collagen-are what makes the steak tender. The most tender cuts of meat are tenderloin, ribeye, strip, top sirloin, and porterhouse. Step 1 is choosing the right cut. Step 2 is learning how to cook each cut properly. Try out different types, take notes, and truly learn what makes each cut unique. Eventually, you’ll be able to get creative with your cooking process. Mix it up and try different recipes with different cuts of steak. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results. Now, time to start cooking. Enjoy your steak dinner!

About The Author

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As Founder of Handbook of Man, Tommy Murata helps men of all ages and backgrounds reach their full potential. A self-proclaimed renaissance man, he enjoys golfing, skiing, DIY projects, and learning new skills. When he’s not playing outdoors, Tommy enjoys learning web design and playing music.

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