Different Meat Cuts Explained

Have you ever noticed just how many different types of meat there are? There’s steak, ribs, pastrami, and burgers, just to name a few – and that’s only including beef. That’s because meat looks and tastes different depending on where it comes from on the animal. Meat from a cow’s rear end is prepared and served very differently than meat from the cow’s shoulders. The same idea applies to other animals, too, such as pigs. To help you get a better understanding of meat cuts, here’s a breakdown. 

Meat Cuts: Beef

meat cuts cow

The USDA categorizes beef into eight meat regions to indicate where on the cow’s body the meat is coming from. From there, the meat is divided into subcategories.

  1. CHUCK – Chuck is from the cow’s shoulder. It includes cuts like ground beef for hamburgers, country-style ribs, flat-iron steak and more. This type is usually tough and flavorful.
  2. RIB – As you can probably guess, rib meat cuts come from the cow’s ribs. Meat in the center of the cow tends to be the tenderest, which also makes it the most expensive. This is where you’ll find ribeye steak and beef short ribs.
  3. LOIN – Like the rib, the loin is also located in the center of the cow. It’s actually muscle from the top of the cow, behind the ribs. Here, you’ll get meat cuts such as New York strip, T-bone and Porterhouse steak.
  4. ROUND – Round meat comes from the cow’s rear end and hind legs. Because these muscles get used a lot, this meat is often one of the toughest of the cow. It commonly sells as ground beef or roast.
  5. FLANK – The flank is a boneless cut found below the loin. It’s a popular choice at grocery stores, typically sold as London broil or flank steak.
  6. SHORT PLATE – A fattier cut from the abdomen, short plate is used for a lot of different meat. It often sells as short ribs, Philadelphia steak, pastrami and more.
  7. BRISKET – Brisket is a tough, yet fatty, cut that originates from the cow’s chest, below the chuck. This is where you will find meats like pastrami and corned beef.
  8. SHANK – The cow’s forearm area is the shank. This cut is extremely tough, making it a perfect choice for beef soups and beef stews.

Meat Cuts: Pork

meat cuts pig

In the pig, there are seven main meat cuts. They are the belly, loin, leg, spareribs, hock, jowl and shoulder. Pulled pork actually comes from the shoulder, which usually contains both lean and fat meat. The leg, on the other hand, is what you will see on the dinner table around the holidays. Another common cut is the loin, which is where your pork chops and tenderloin come from.

Become an Expert on Meat Cuts

It’s one thing to read about meat cuts, but it’s an entirely different thing to taste them. At Chad’s BBQ, we have a variety of meat on the menu to satisfy everyone’s preferences. Whether you’re in the mood for baby back ribs or a pastrami sandwich, visit us in Edgewater, MD today.