The Beef Primal Cuts: A Beginner’s Guide

The Beef Primal Cuts: A Beginner's Guide

If you’ve never been to a butcher before, you’ll be in for a rude awakening when he or she asks you the question, “Which type of cut do you want?” Each part of the cow is separated into sections so we can easily identify them.

A majority of people aren’t aware of this, which is why the butcher usually ends up explaining to you what each cut is before you finalize your decision.

Other than knowing the cut, there are a handful of aspects of the meat you must inspect before you bring it home. Knowing the difference between high-quality meat and subpar meat is a skill that you hone as time passes.

Primal Cuts Of Beef

Hopefully, you get to read this guide before you visit the butcher shop, so you already know what you want and how to refer to it correctly. Our guide to beef primal cuts will have every aspect of beef cuts explained, so you can go to your butcher worry free.

Knowing the different cuts of beef and how to refer to them will help you figure out which type of cut you prefer. We all have a cut preference and knowing the terminology to pinpoint the type of cut is a great way to know exactly what your taste palette prefers.

Types Of Beef Cut

First off, beef can be divided into massive sections called primal cuts. Then these primal cuts are split up into even more specific parts called sub-primal which are otherwise known as food service cuts.

These beef cuts are them chopped and sliced into the steams and roasts we see neatly packaged for us in supermarkets. Below we will break down major primal cuts that you use for everyday meals.

Beef Chuck

Beef chunk consists of the upper arm, sections of the neck, and shoulder blade. When you bite into a beef chuck cut of primal beef, the meat will be tough yet flavorful. People largely use this cut for stews and pot roasts.

If you're a fan of the seven bone roast, you'll be happy to hear that it comes from the beef chuck cut. The Denver steak, as well as the flat iron steak, also comes from the same section.

Beef Brisket

You’ll find beef brisket near the cow’s breastbone, so it’s safe to assume that it is the pectoral muscle of the animal. When cooked properly, beef brisket can be loaded with delicious flavors that leads to dishes that taste out of this world.

This section of beef is relatively fatty, which is good news because it means that the meat stays tender and moist.


Not many people think that we make meals out of the leg of the cow’s thigh, but there is an Italian dish that calls for this specific beef cut. This cut type is mostly made up of connective tissue, which means it is very tough to chew on.


Beef primal rib includes the sixth to the twelfth rib of the animal, which is actually the traditional way of cutting the beef. In this section, you'll have access to the ribeye steak which is an all-time favorite for a lot of people

Short Loin

Moving on from the rib cut, right next to it near the back of the animal is the short loin primal cut. Out of all the cuts there are, short loin contains some of the most sought-after parts.

The meat here can be eaten with a small number of spices since the meat itself carries a lot of flavors. Anything from porterhouse steaks and t-bone to strip steaks can come from short loin cuts.


Sirloin takes up a chunk of the animal since it refers to everything from the thirteenth rib to the hip bone of the animal as well as the backbone to the belly.

Beef Sirloin

Butchers normally have to divide the sirloin cut into two sections. You can get a steak out of sirloin called the pin-bone, which closely resembles a porterhouse steak.


If you're searching for the most tender part of beef that you can find, that would be the beef primal tenderloin cut. From this section, you can ask for filet mignon as well as Chateaubriand.

On What To Pay Attention When Buying Meat

When you're on a budget, buying high-quality meat can be a struggle, but you can always compromise for other options that are just as healthy.

If you pay attention to the deals that supermarkets are offering around you, there might be a discount of a particular type of beef primal cut that you’ve had your eye on for some time.

Other than searching for the best deal possible, you need to ensure that you're making healthy choices when it comes to consuming beef. Certain beef cuts are healthier for you than others because they contain fewer levels of fat.

Healthy Beef Cuts Come First

The best cuts for both you and your family to eat on a regular basis should contain the words "round" and/or "loin."

When you're purchasing ground beef, it should have a sticker saying that it is at the very least 85 percent lean ground beef. The best choice available would be 90 to 95 percent lean, but sometimes the more lean beef is, the higher it costs.

If the beef contains a label from an organization that you know is trustworthy when it comes to inspecting food, then you shouldn’t hesitate to eat it.

What About Famous (And Expensive) Beef Cuts?

Now that you know a majority of beef cuts, you can delve deeper into the world of beef primal cuts by informing yourself on some of the most famous and expensive cuts out there.

List Of Expensive Beef Cuts

  • Kobe
  • Wagyu
  • T-bone
  • Filet Mignon
  • Porterhouse
  • New York Strip

Preparing and cooking these beef cuts is a delicate process that requires your utmost attention. If you ever plan on treating yourself to a nice piece of beef primal cut, then you should choose one of these cuts.


Going to the butcher shouldn’t be a problem for you anymore since you can identify all the main beef cuts that you’re most likely going to eat.

Meat On Table

There are other cuts that we haven’t mentioned above, but those are for specific stews and dishes that you wouldn’t necessarily need for everyday cooking. 

If you still have questions regarding primal beef cuts, you should leave a comment below. We will make sure to get back to you.

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