Few things are better than a properly grilled steak. Smokey, juicy, with a lightly crisp crust, it's an entrée worthy of a celebration meal but quick and easy enough for a weeknight.
Before firing up the grill, pick your cut of beef. For the most part, the best steaks to grill will come from the beef primal cut called the short loin, but we've included standouts from some of the other cuts of beef as well. Any of the cuts below will make a great, drool-worthy grilled steak.
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The rib-eye steak is perhaps the finest of all steaks, offering a combination of luxurious tenderness plus big, beefy flavor. Whether you opt for the boneless or bone-in version, ribeye steaks are ideal candidates for the grill. Sometimes you'll hear it called a rib-eye, other times a rib steak, but for all practical purposes, the two terms are synonymous. Cook over medium-high heat until it reaches the desired doneness.
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Alternately called a New York strip, Kansas City strip, strip loin, or top loin steak, the strip steak is every bit as magnificent as the ribeye. Strip steaks might pack more intense beef flavor than a ribeye, possibly at the expense of tenderness, but there are so many variables—including grading, aging, and marbling—that it's a draw. The bone-in version, while less common, is sometimes called a club steak.
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Beef tenderloin is the most tender and expensive cut of beef. This long, pencil-shaped muscle resides deep within the beef short loin where it avoids most of the heavy lifting that can make a steak tough. The downside? It's not particularly flavorful. Cuts from the pointy part of the pencil are where we get filet mignon (beware of butchers who call any tenderloin steaks filet mignon). Lower fat content can make them dry if overcooked.
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The porterhouse steak is a cross-section of the beef short loin taken from the rump end. It features a cross-section of the backbone with a portion of the ribeye muscle on one side and a slice of tenderloin on the other side. These will cost you an arm and a leg at a steakhouse, but you can grill porterhouse steaks at home for a fraction of the cost.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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T-bone steaks are a lot like porterhouse steaks, only they are cut slightly forward on the short loin and thus have less or even none of the tenderloin muscle attached. Conversely, because they come further away from the rump, the ribeye muscle in the t-bone is slightly more tender than in a porterhouse.
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Our first selection to come from somewhere other than the short loin section of the cow, skirt steak comes to us from the beef plate primal cut, specifically from the inside of the chest and abdominal cavity. Thick-grained and bound with chewy connective tissue, the skirt steak is nevertheless extremely flavorful. If you cook it very fast on a very hot grill (even directly on the coals), it will make a splendid dinner. Be sure to slice it against the grain and try it in tacos.
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Top Sirloin Steaks
Top sirloin steaks represent a compromise between cost, flavor, and tenderness. Taken from the beef sirloin primal cut, which runs from the lower back to the hip bone, top sirloin steak is much less tender than its counterpart in the short loin, but still tender enough to grill. It will be drier and tougher, so take special care to avoid overcooking.
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Flank steak comes from the beef flank primal cut or the belly, and like the skirt steak, it is both flavorful and tough, with fat bundles of muscle fibers that make up its thickly grained texture. As with the skirt steak, flank steak needs to be grilled quickly over very high heat and sliced against the grain. A good marinade will add flavor (but marinating does not tenderize the meat).Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Chuck Eye Steaks
Chuck eye steaks are the very first or maybe first two steaks cut from the beef chuck primal cut, right where it joins the rib primal. Since the precise location of the division is arbitrary, the first chuck eye steak is basically a ribeye. But because it came from the chuck rather than the rib, it can't be called a ribeye and costs a lot less.
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Flat Iron Steaks
Flat-iron steaks are taken from the beef chuck primal and are basically a top blade steak that's cut lengthwise rather than crosswise. This avoids the thick seam of gristle that traverses it, making it more tender. Cook it quickly over high heat until medium-rare and enjoy.