Cut out the confusion when choosing your beef
Nothing satisfies like your favourite meat dish. No matter your meat preference, knowing your cuts will help you to choose the right piece of meat for every meal every time.
Cut out the confusion and get a real taste for beef, lamb, and pork cuts with our comprehensive guides.
The flesh from a steer, cow, or other bovine animal is referred to as beef. The meat from the animal can be separated into 17 different cuts, each with its own unique cooking characteristics. Take a look at our guide to beef cuts, and then get inspired with our beef recipes.
Your guide to beef cuts
- Hump: Hump contains the meaty portions on the top of the first few ribs. It consists of several muscle layers running in different directions. Hump makes a wonderful pot roast or slow-cooked oven roast, also suitable for boiling as a joint.
- Neck: A very tasty cut, neck meat consists mostly of meat, with some connective tissue that becomes gelatinous during cooking. The meat can be minced or cubed, with bones used for the stock pot.
- Shin: When cross-cut into slices, shin makes fantastic osso buco. Shin is home to the marrow bones, which are delicious in soups and stews. The collagen in the meat turns to a soft gelatine while cooking, keeping the meat extremely tender.
- Bolo: Used whole, the bolo’s rich flavour makes a fabulous pot roast. Cube for stewing, slice with a knife for braising, or turn into a steak beef olive for frying. Bolo should be prepared medium to medium rare to prevent toughness. Slow, moist cooking methods work well for this cut.
- Chuck: With the chuck, the challenge is to soften the tough meat so that you can enjoy its flavour. Chuck steaks are usually marinated before cooking. Chuck is one of the most popular cuts for making ground beef, so it's also favoured for meatballs and burgers.
- Flat rib: Beef flat rib, sometimes called beef short rib, is a favourite cut of beef for roasting. When braised adequately, this cut can become meltingly tender. It’s also delicious when sliced thin (with or without the bones) and cooked quickly over high heat.
- Brisket: This large piece of flavour-packed beef is often cured or smoked, but it's also one of the best cuts for braising and slow cooking. Brisket toughness can be counteracted with long, slow cooking to deliver a rich, tender meat.
- Prime rib: Prime rib is juicy, tender, and marbled with fat. Its tenderness comes from muscles that aren't heavily used, and it stays juicy because of its fat. Grilling or roasting are both suitable cooking methods that will brown and melt the tasty fat on the outside – but take care not to overcook the inside.
- Soft flank: A long, flat cut of meat from the abdominal region, this steak comes from hard-working muscles. The resulting meat is fibrous and tough, but packed with flavour. Inexpensive flank steak, marinated and pan-seared, is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
- Wing rib: This cut consists of the backbone, three or four ribs, the large eye muscle, and an even covering of fat. Wing rib makes for tasty oven roasts and steaks that are best grilled or pan-fried.
- T-Bone: T-Bone is considered one of the highest quality dinner table steaks. Its distinctive 'T' shaped bone is nestled between two steaks, each one a prized cut of beef. Choose a cut with slight marbling and healthy-looking red colour. Use a fast dry-heat method of cooking the meat.
- Rump: Rump is one of the more tender portions – and probably the most sought-after steak in South Africa. This is because it’s one of the most active areas of the cow’s body and requires a long time to cook in order to soften. Ideally, rump steak should be cooked on low heat for several hours. For an excellent taste, rump should be cooked while submerged in What's Cooking Beef stock or cooking wine.
- Fillet: Fillet has very little fat or sinew and is evenly shaped. It’s quick to prepare and always tender. It often needs a good flavour enhancer as the meat itself is not very robust.
- Topside: Topside comes from the inner muscle of the thigh. This muscle is quite tender and very lean, making it ideal for roasting and carving into lean slices. Make sure you baste your topside regularly while it's in the oven.
- Silverside: Taken from the hindquarter, this is a large, lean, boneless cut of meat with very little marbling of fat and a wide-grained texture. It gets its name from the shiny silvery membrane covering its internal surface. Similar to topside, this cut will need to be cooked at a slower pace to achieve tenderness.
- Aitchbone: This cut of beef is taken from the rump area of the cow, and it includes a wishbone-shaped bone through the piece of meat. It isn't quite as tender or well-marbled as sirloin, but the lean meat is certainly flavourful. Aitchbone beef roast should be cooked slowly to retain as much moisture as possible.
- Thick flank: This cut is ideal for a lean, juicy Sunday steak. Trim it before cooking in the oven or boil it tender in a classic French casserole. Due to the low level of fat and a large amount of connecting tissue with only one thin membrane running through it, the loin is best suited to a pot roast, cooked slowly in high humidity over a long period.