5 Best & 5 Worst Cuts of Steak+How to Choose a Steak in the Store

by Ella

Steak is a beloved and classic protein source that graces the plates of millions around the world. Whether enjoyed in an upscale restaurant or cooked to perfection at home, steak has an enduring appeal that transcends culinary boundaries. Beyond its exquisite flavor and juicy tenderness, steak also offers a rich source of essential nutrients. However, not all steaks are created equal when it comes to nutrition. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of steaks and rank various cuts based on their nutritional profiles. Whether you’re a health-conscious consumer or simply looking to make more informed choices at the butcher’s counter, this article will help you navigate the diverse landscape of steak cuts to find the best and worst options for your dietary needs.

Steak nutrition facts

Nutrition facts for steak can vary depending on the cut and preparation method. Here is a general overview of the nutritional composition of a 3-ounce (85-gram) cooked, broiled, or grilled beef steak:


Calories: Approximately 180-220 calories


Protein: Approximately 25-30 grams


Total Fat: Approximately 7-14 grams


Saturated Fat: Approximately 2.5-6 grams

Cholesterol: Approximately 65-75 milligrams

Iron: Approximately 2-3 milligrams (about 10-15% of the recommended daily intake)

Zinc: Approximately 3-4 milligrams (about 20-25% of the recommended daily intake)

Vitamin B12: Approximately 1-2 micrograms (about 40-80% of the recommended daily intake)

Niacin (Vitamin B3): Approximately 4-6 milligrams (about 20-30% of the recommended daily intake)

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Approximately 0.1-0.2 milligrams (about 10-15% of the recommended daily intake)

Vitamin B6: Approximately 0.3-0.4 milligrams (about 15-20% of the recommended daily intake)

Sodium: Varies depending on seasoning and preparation

The 5 Worst Cuts of Steak

10. The #1 Unhealthiest Steak: Ribeye Steak (Fatty Cut)

Protein Content: Moderate

Fat Content: High

Calories: High

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

While the lean version of ribeye steak can be a good choice, the fatty cut is a nutritional minefield. It’s rich in saturated fats and calories, making it less suitable for those concerned about their cardiovascular health or weight.

9. Porterhouse Steak

Protein Content: High

Fat Content: High

Calories: High

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

Similar to the T-bone steak, the porterhouse steak combines a tenderloin and a strip steak. However, it tends to have a larger fat cap, resulting in higher fat and calorie levels. Enjoy it in moderation.

8. New York Strip Steak

Protein Content: High

Fat Content: Moderate to High

Calories: Moderate to High

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

The New York strip steak, while delicious, can vary in its fat content. Some cuts are leaner, while others have a significant amount of marbling. Check the marbling pattern and trim excess fat before cooking if you opt for this cut.

7. Skirt Steak

Protein Content: High

Fat Content: Moderate

Calories: Moderate

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

Skirt steak is known for its intense flavor and unique texture. While it’s not as fatty as some other cuts, it’s still higher in fat and calories compared to leaner options like filet mignon or sirloin.

6. Porterhouse Steak

Protein Content: High
Fat Content: High
Calories: High
Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

The porterhouse steak, while delicious, is a high-calorie and high-fat option, particularly if you don’t trim excess fat. It’s best enjoyed occasionally rather than as a regular part of your diet.

The Best Cuts of Steak

5. Flank Steak

Protein Content: High

Fat Content: Low

Calories: Low

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

Flank steak is a lean, flavorful option that’s perfect for grilling. It’s a great source of protein and contains minimal fat and calories. Plus, it’s versatile and can be used in various recipes, from fajitas to salads.

4. T-Bone Steak

Protein Content: High

Fat Content: Moderate

Calories: Moderate

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

T-bone steak offers the best of both worlds, with a tenderloin on one side and a strip steak on the other. While it has a moderate fat content, it’s still a great source of protein and essential nutrients. Just be mindful of portion sizes to control calorie intake.

3. Ribeye Steak (Lean Cut)

Protein Content: High

Fat Content: Moderate

Calories: Moderate

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

The ribeye steak, when trimmed of excess fat, can be a nutritious choice. It retains its rich flavor while delivering a good amount of protein and essential nutrients. Opt for a leaner cut to keep the fat content in check.

2. Sirloin Steak

Protein Content: High

Fat Content: Moderate

Calories: Moderate

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

Sirloin steak offers a balanced nutritional profile with high protein content and moderate fat levels. It’s flavorful and versatile, making it a favorite among steak enthusiasts. Choose a lean sirloin cut for a healthier option.

1. The #1 Healthiest Steak: Filet Mignon

Protein Content: High

Fat Content: Low

Calories: Low

Vitamins and Minerals: Good source of iron and B vitamins

Filet mignon, often referred to as the “king of steaks,” is prized for its tenderness and mild flavor. It’s also a nutritional superstar, boasting high protein content and relatively low fat and calorie levels. If you’re looking for a lean and nutritious steak, filet mignon is an excellent choice.

What are the different cuts of steak?

There are several different cuts of steak, each with its unique characteristics in terms of tenderness, flavor, and texture. Here are some of the most common cuts of steak:

Tenderloin (Filet Mignon): This is one of the most tender and lean cuts of steak. It comes from the loin area and is known for its buttery texture and mild flavor. Filet mignon is often considered a premium cut and is typically smaller in size.

Ribeye: Ribeye steak is cut from the rib section of the cow, and it’s known for its rich marbling, which makes it incredibly flavorful and juicy. It has a higher fat content compared to some other cuts.

Sirloin: The sirloin is a leaner cut of steak that comes from the back of the cow. It offers a balance between tenderness and flavor, making it a popular choice for many steak enthusiasts.

New York Strip: Also known as the strip steak or top loin, this cut is taken from the short loin area. It’s well-marbled and has a robust, beefy flavor. It’s slightly leaner than ribeye but still offers great flavor.

T-Bone and Porterhouse: These cuts are known for their T-shaped bone that separates two different sections of meat—the tenderloin and the New York strip. The porterhouse is larger and includes a more significant portion of tenderloin. They provide a combination of tenderness and flavor.

Flank Steak: Flank steak is a lean, flavorful cut that comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It’s often used in dishes like fajitas and stir-fries. It’s important to slice it thinly against the grain to maximize tenderness.

Skirt Steak: Skirt steak is similar to flank steak and is known for its intense beefy flavor. It’s also commonly used in Mexican and South American cuisine. Like flank steak, it should be sliced thinly against the grain.

Round Steak (Top or Bottom Round): Round steak comes from the rear leg of the cow and is typically leaner and less tender than some other cuts. It’s often used in recipes where slow cooking or braising can help tenderize the meat.

Chuck Steak: Chuck steak is cut from the shoulder of the cow and is well-suited for slow cooking methods like braising or stewing. It’s flavorful but can be tougher if not cooked properly.

Flat Iron Steak: This relatively newer cut is taken from the shoulder area and is known for its tenderness and rich flavor. It’s a good option for grilling or pan-searing.

Hanger Steak: Hanger steak is prized for its tenderness and beefy flavor. It’s often marinated and grilled, making it a favorite for steak lovers.

Culotte Steak: Also known as the top sirloin cap or picanha, this cut is popular in Brazilian barbecue (churrasco). It’s flavorful, tender, and often skewered and grilled.

Tri-Tip: Tri-tip steak is triangular in shape and comes from the bottom sirloin. It’s versatile, tender, and can be grilled or roasted.

See Also: ABCs of Slicing Meat: Techniques, Tools & Tips

How do I choose the right steak at the butcher or grocery store?

Choosing the right steak at the butcher or grocery store involves considering several factors to ensure you get the best quality and cut for your preferences. Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:

Select the Cut: Determine the cut of steak you want based on your taste preferences and the intended use. Some cuts are leaner, while others are more marbled and flavorful. Common cuts include ribeye, sirloin, tenderloin (filet mignon), New York strip, and T-bone, among others.

Inspect the Color: Look for steaks with a bright, vibrant red color. Avoid steaks that appear grayish or have a brownish tint, as these may be less fresh.

Check for Marbling: Marbling refers to the white streaks of fat within the muscle tissue. More marbling generally indicates a juicier and more flavorful steak. If you want a more tender and flavorful steak, opt for cuts with visible marbling.

Consider Thickness: Choose steaks that are relatively uniform in thickness. This ensures even cooking. Steaks that are too thin can overcook quickly, while extremely thick steaks may require longer cooking times.

Look for Uniformity: If you’re buying multiple steaks, aim for cuts that have similar sizes and shapes. This helps ensure consistent cooking when preparing them together.

Check for Freshness: Ensure the steak looks fresh and doesn’t have an off-putting odor. Fresh steak should have a clean, meaty scent.

Ask the Butcher: Don’t hesitate to ask the butcher for recommendations or assistance. They can provide information about the available cuts, suggest options based on your cooking method, and even help with custom cuts if needed.

Consider the Grade: In the United States, steaks are often graded based on quality. The most common grades are Prime, Choice, and Select. Prime is the highest quality with the most marbling, while Select is leaner. Choice is a good balance between the two. Your budget and preference for marbling will influence your choice.

Packaging: Check the packaging date to ensure the steak is fresh. Vacuum-sealed or airtight packaging can help maintain freshness.

Mind the Price: Higher-quality cuts and grades are often more expensive. Consider your budget and how you plan to cook the steak when making your selection.

Consider Dry-Aged Steak: Some butchers and specialty stores offer dry-aged steaks. These have been aged in a controlled environment, which can intensify the flavor and tenderness. Dry-aged steaks are typically pricier but can be a gourmet treat.

Ask About Sourcing: If you’re concerned about the source of the meat (e.g., grass-fed, organic, or local), don’t hesitate to inquire about its origin.

Plan Ahead: If you have a specific recipe or cooking method in mind, consider the requirements. For example, if you’re making a stir-fry, opt for a thin and tender cut like flank steak.

Cooking Methods and Nutrition

The way you prepare and cook your steak can significantly impact its nutritional content. Here are some considerations:

1. Grilling: Grilling is a popular method for cooking steak, and it can be a healthy option when done right. Use lean cuts like sirloin or flank steak and trim visible fat before grilling. Avoid excessive use of high-calorie marinades or sugary sauces.

2. Broiling: Broiling is a cooking method that allows excess fat to drip away from the steak. It’s a good choice for lean cuts like tenderloin or round steak. Season with herbs and spices for flavor without adding extra calories.

3. Pan-Searing: Pan-searing steak in a hot skillet with a small amount of healthy oil can create a flavorful crust while retaining moisture. Lean cuts like sirloin and tenderloin work well with this method.

4. Roasting: Roasting is ideal for larger cuts like prime rib. While it can be a high-fat option, you can trim excess fat before cooking and use a rack to allow fat to drip away.

5. Slow Cooking: Slow cooking is best suited for fatty cuts like short ribs. While it doesn’t reduce the fat content, it creates tender, flavorful dishes with minimal hands-on effort.

Healthy Steak Consumption

Enjoying steak as part of a balanced diet is entirely possible. Here are some tips for incorporating steak into your diet while maintaining overall health:

1. Choose Lean Cuts: Opt for lean cuts like tenderloin, sirloin, and round steak whenever possible. These cuts are lower in saturated fat and calories while still providing essential nutrients.

2. Control Portion Sizes: Keep portion sizes in check to manage calorie intake. A serving of steak should be about the size of a deck of cards, which is roughly 3-4 ounces.

3. Trim Visible Fat: Before cooking, trim any visible fat from the steak to reduce saturated fat content. This step can make a significant difference in the overall fat content of your meal.

4. Balance Your Plate: Pair your steak with plenty of colorful vegetables and whole grains to create a balanced meal. This helps increase the overall nutritional value of your meal.

5. Limit High-Fat Cuts: While indulging in a ribeye or prime rib on occasion is fine, try to limit your consumption of high-fat cuts due to their impact on saturated fat intake.

6. Choose Healthier Cooking Methods: Experiment with different cooking methods that allow you to enjoy the flavor of steak without excessive added fats or calories.

7. Monitor Seasonings: Be mindful of seasonings, sauces, and marinades that can add hidden calories and sodium to your steak. Opt for herbs, spices, and low-sodium options when possible.

FAQs about steak

Q1. What is marbling, and why is it important in steak?

Marbling refers to the white streaks of fat within the muscle tissue of a steak. It’s important because it contributes to the steak’s tenderness and flavor. More marbling typically means a juicier and more flavorful steak.

Q2. How should I store raw steak?

Raw steak should be stored in the refrigerator at temperatures below 40°F (4°C). It’s best to keep it in its original packaging or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Consume it within a few days of purchase or freeze it for longer storage.

Q3. What is the best way to cook steak?

The best cooking method for steak depends on your preferences and the cut you have. Common methods include grilling, broiling, pan-searing, roasting, and slow cooking (for tougher cuts). The key is to cook it to your desired level of doneness, whether rare, medium-rare, medium, or well-done.

Q4. How can I tell if a steak is cooked to the desired doneness?

There are a few methods to check doneness:

Touch Test: Press the steak with your finger; it should feel soft for rare, slightly firmer for medium-rare, and even firmer for medium and well-done.

Meat Thermometer: Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature: 125°F (52°C) for rare, 135°F (57°C) for medium-rare, 145°F (63°C) for medium, and 160°F (71°C) for well-done.

Q5. Should I let steak rest after cooking, and why?

Yes, it’s a good practice to let steak rest for a few minutes after cooking. This allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak. Tent it with foil to keep it warm while resting.

Q6. Are there health concerns associated with consuming steak?

Steak can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. However, some cuts are higher in saturated fat, so it’s advisable to choose lean cuts and be mindful of portion sizes. Overconsumption of red meat, especially processed meats, has been associated with certain health risks, so balanced consumption is recommended.

Q7. Can I freeze steak, and how long does it last in the freezer?

Yes, you can freeze steak to extend its shelf life. Properly wrapped and stored, steak can be kept in the freezer for up to 6-12 months. Ensure it’s well-sealed to prevent freezer burn.


Steak can be a nutritious and delicious addition to your diet when chosen and prepared wisely. By understanding the nutritional differences between various cuts and following healthy cooking practices, you can savor the flavor of steak while prioritizing your health. Whether you prefer the tenderness of filet mignon, the lean profile of sirloin, or the robustness of New York strip, there’s a steak cut that suits your taste and dietary needs. Enjoy your steak in moderation as part of a well-rounded diet, and relish in the culinary pleasure it brings to your table.



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