10 Best Steaks to Grill for Smokey, Juicy Flavor
08.10.2020 Meat Tip Monday
There are few things in life that taste better than a properly grilled steak. Its smokey and juicy flavor with a lightly crisp crust makes a steak worthy as a celebratory entrée yet it’s quick and easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
Before firing up the grill, you must first pick your cut of beef. The best steaks to grill will often come from the beef primal cut called the short loin, but we have also included a few exceptional stand-outs from other cuts of beef. Any of the beef cuts below will make a delicious, drool-worthy grilled steak.
The ribeye steak is perhaps the finest of all steaks due to its combination of luxurious tenderness and 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 “ribeye” and other times a “rib steak,” but for all practical purposes, the two terms are synonymous. Grill ribeye steaks over medium-high heat until it reaches your desired doneness.
Also 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 of an 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.
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.
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. Because they come further away from the rump, the ribeye muscle in the t-bone is slightly more tender than in a porterhouse.
The skirt steak comes 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 quickly on a very hot grill (even directly on the coals), the skirt steak will make a splendid dinner. Be sure to slice it against the grain and try it in tacos!
Top Sirloin Steaks
Top sirloin steaks are 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 it.
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.
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 across it, making the flat iron steak more tender. Cook flat iron steaks quickly over high heat until medium-rare and enjoy!
Chuck Eye Steaks
Sometimes referred to as a “poor man’s ribeye,” 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!
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 filet mignon comes from. Lower fat content can make tenderloin steaks dry if they’re overcooked.