Articles | Cutting Order | Beef 101

Beef becomes leaner as you move from left to right on the beef.
Therefore, a cut of meat from the round section is leaner than a cut of meat from the chuck section.

**Click on the various parts of the beef above to see what cuts are available from each section**

A Beef is comprised of two (2) front quarters and two (2) hind quarters.
Below are the cuts of meat available from each quarter and the amount of
 roasts (rsts), steaks (stks), packages (pkgs) or pounds (lbs)
you would expect (approximately) to get from each quarter:

Front Quarter

Hind Quarter

Arm Roast 4-6 rsts Rump Roast 3 rsts
Chuck Roast / Steak 1-2 rsts / 3 pkgs Sirloin Tip Roast 2-3 rsts
Neck Roast 6-8 rsts T-Bone Steak 16 stks
Rib Steak / Ribeye Steak 10-12 stks Sirloin Steak 6-8 stks
Short Ribs 2-4 pkgs Round Steak / Cube Steak 12-15 pkgs
Soup Bones (Shank) 2 pkgs Soup Bones (Shank) 2 pkgs
Ground Beef 30 lbs Ground Beef 20 lbs
Stew Meat 3 lbs Stew Meat 3 lbs

Front Quarters weigh
approximately 210 pounds.

Hind Quarters weigh
approximately 190 pounds.

One (1) front quarter + one (1) hind quarter = a side (½) of a beef.

Half (½) a front quarter + half (½) a hind quarter = a split side (¼) of beef.

   Beef Grading

The highest grade of meat containing the greatest degree of marbling*. It is generally sold to finer restaurants and to select stores.  It is always higher priced because it is produced in very limited quantities.

This is the grade that is generally sold at retail stores.  It's preferred because it contains sufficient marbling* for taste and tenderness but is less costly than U.S. Prime. 

Lower-priced grade of meat with less marbling* than U.S. Choice.  It's good eating and as nutritious as the other grades, though not as tender.

* Marbling is the term for small flecks of fat that are interspersed with the lean (muscle).
It contributes to tenderness, juiciness and flavor.

Buying Beef

How beef looks is an important factor in buying beef. 
Look at the color of the muscle, the amount of marbling and the fat cover.

The color of the muscle of the beef should be bright to deep red, unless it is cured, aged or cured and smoked. 

When first cut, beef is dark, purplish-red. After exposure to the air, the cut surface becomes bright red due to a reaction with oxygen in the air.  This is why the outside layer of ground beef is often red while the middle is darker.  The middle will also redden as it is exposed to the air.


The small flecks of fat throughout the muscle are called marbling.  Marbling improves the meat's flavor, tenderness and juiciness.  Excessive marbling yields extra calories.

Fat Cover:

The fat which covers the exterior of most beef cuts is called fat cover.  It keeps beef from drying out before cooking and helps in retaining juices during cooking. 

Cooking Beef

Information provided by the

National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Any cut can be made tender,  juicy and flavorful when cooked by the right method. 
Tender cuts are best cooked by dry heat methods.
Less tender cuts require moist heat methods.
1. Heat oven to desired temperature (325°-350° for most cuts, 425° for tenderloin cuts).
2. Place roast from refrigerator, fat side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan.  Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of roast, not resting in fat or touching bone. Do not add water.  Do not cover.
3. Remove roast 5
°-10° below desired degree of doneness. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil (temp will continue to rise 5°-10° to reach desired doneness and roast will be easier to carve).
Cut Preheated
Oven Temp
In pounds
Total Cooking Time
Internal Temp*
Ribeye Roast 350°F 4 to 6 Medium Rare: 1¾to 2 hr 135°F
Medium: 2 to 2½hr 150°F
  6 to 8 Medium Rare: 2 to 2¼ hr 135°F
Medium: 2½to 2¾hr 150°F
Rib Roast 350°F 6 to 8 Medium Rare: 2¼ to 2½ hr 135°F
Medium: 2¾ to 3 hr 150°F
  8 to 10 Medium Rare: 2½ to 3 hr 135°F
Medium: 3 to 3½ hr 150°F
Sirloin Tip Roast 325°F 3 to 4 Medium Rare: 1¾ to 2 hr 140°F
Medium: 2¼ to 2½ hr 155°F
  4 to 6 Medium Rare: 2 to 2½ hr 140°F
Medium: 2½ to 3 hr 155°F
  6 to 8 Medium Rare: 2½ to 3 hr 140°F
Medium: 3 to 3½ hr 155°F
Note: All cook times are based on beef removed directly from refrigerator.
Medium Rare doneness is 145°F final meat temperature after 15 minutes standing time.
Medium doneness is 160
°F final meat temperature after 15 minutes standing time.
*Remove from oven when internal temperature reaches Internal Temp. on chart above.
1. Place beef on rack in broiler pan.  Place one-inch steaks or patties 2 to 3 inches from heat; thicker cuts, 3 to 5 inches.
2. Broil until top surface is brown.
3.Season after browning.
4.Turn meat with tongs, cook until done.  Do not use a fork as it will puncture the meat, releasing juices.
For medium rare to medium
Thickness Distance From Heat Total Cooking Time
Tenderloin 1 inch 2 to 3 inches 13 to 16 minutes
Ribeye Steak ¾ inch 2 to 3 inches 8 to 10 minutes
  1 inch 3 to 4 inches 14 to 18 minutes
Rib Steak ¾ inch 2 to 3 inches 9 to 12 minutes
  1 inch 3 to 4 inches 13 to 17 minutes
T-Bone/Porterhouse Steak ¾ inch 2 to 3 inches 10 to 13 minutes
  1 inch 3 to 4 inches 15 to 20 minutes
Sirloin Steak ¾ inch 2 to 3 inches 9 to 12 minutes
  1 inch 3 to 4 inches 16 to 21 minutes
1. Prepare charcoal (because gas grill brands vary, consult owners manual for guidelines).  When coals are medium, ash covered (approx. 30 minutes), spread in single layer. Position cooking grid.
2. Season meat (directly from refrigerator), as desired. Place on cooking grid directly over coals.
3. Grill to desired degree of doneness, turning occasionally.  After cooking, season with salt, if desired.
Cut Thickness Total Cooking Time
Ribeye Steak ¾ inch 6 to 8 min
  1 inch 11 to 14 min
Porterhouse/T-Bone Steak ¾ inch 10 to 12 min
  1 inch 14 to 16 min
Tenderloin Steak 1 inch 13 to 15 min
Sirloin Steak ¾ inch 13 to 16 min
  1 inch 17 to 21 min
Round Steak¹ ¾ inch 8 to 9 min
  1 inch 16 to 18 min
  1 ½ inch 25 to 28 min*
Ground Beef Patties² ½ x 4 inches
(4 patties per 1 lb)
11 to 13 min
  ¾ x 4 inches
(4 patties per 1
½ lb)
13 to 15 min
Note: Use instead of oven broiling for small, tender beef cuts, 1 inch thick or less.
*Grill covered

¹ Marinate, Recommended cooking to medium rare (145°F doneness only.
² USDA/FSIS recommends cooking to medium (160°F) doneness or until centers are no longer pink.
1. Place beef in heavy frying pan.
2. Do not add fat or water. Do not cover.  Covering creates moisture which braises the beef (a moist heat method).
3. Cook slowly,  turning occasionally.
4. Pour off fat as it accumulates.  If it collects,  the beef will panfry instead of pan-broil.
5. Brown meat on both sides.
6. Season and serve at once.
Cut Thickness Total Cooking Time
Note: Use instead of oven broiling for small, tender beef cuts, 1 inch thick or less.
1. Place beef in a small amount of heated fat in frying pan.
2. Brown on both sides.
3. Season, if desired.
4. Do not cover.
5. Cook at moderate temperature until done, turning occasionally.
Cut Thickness Total Cooking Time
Note: Use for very thin,  tender beef cuts and cuts made tender by pounding, scoring, cubing or grinding.  Also, use for cuts coated with flour, meal or eggs and crumbs.
1. Cut ingredients to uniform side, shape and thickness before beginning to cook.  Beef should be sliced thin, across the grain.
2. Heat oil in pan.
3. Place one food at a time in the pan.
4. Stir continuously until cooked.  Push cooked pieces up the wide sides of the wok or remove from the pan.
5. Repeat until all foods are cooked.
6. Combine all foods in pan.  Add sauce, if desired, and cook until thickened.  Serve at once.
Cut Thickness Total Cooking Time
Note: Stir-frying is a form of pan-frying used in Oriental cookery.  A wok, large frying pan or electric fry pan can be used.
1. Brown beef in its own fat or in a small amount of added fat in a heavy utensil.  Brown all sides slowly.  The beef may be dredged in flour.
2. Season.  Herbs and spices can be added to flour, if desired.
3. Add small amount of liquid (¼ - ½ cup).  Use water, soup stock, vegetable juice or marinade.
4. Cover tightly.  A tight lid holds in the steam needed for softening the connective tissue and tenderizing the beef.
5. Cook at low temperature until tender.  Cook on top of range or in a slow oven at 300-325° F (use chart below).  Remove beef to heated platter and make sauce or gravy from the liquid in the pan, if desired.
325°F Oven Temp.
Thickness / Weight Total Cooking Time
Arm Roast Boneless 2½ to 4 pounds 2 to 3 hr
Round Steak Boneless ¾ to 1 inch 1¼ to 1¾ hr
  1 to 1½ inches 1¾ to 2½ hr
Cooking In Liquid
1. Dredge beef in seasoned flour, if desired.
2. Brown the cut on all sides in a heavy utensil in its own fat or drippings, when desired.
3. Cover with liquid, cover utensil, cook just below boiling point until tender. (Boiling will toughen the meat.)
4. Add vegetables (whole or cut in large pieces) just long enough before serving to be cooked.  When done, thicken pan juices, if desired.  If the beef is to be served cold (e.g., corned beef), refrigerate it in the stock in which it was cooked.
Cut Thickness / Weight Approximate
Total Cooking Time
Beef for stew 1 to 1½ inch pieces 1¾ to 2 ¼ hr
Short Ribs 2 x 2 x 4 inches 1½to 2½ hr
Shanks 1 to 1½inches 2 to 3 hr
Brisket, corned 3½ to 5 pounds 3½ to 4½ hr


Chuck Rib Loin Round Brisket, Plate, Flank, Shank

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