Steak: Types, Cooking, and Health Benefits

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 27, 2022

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A steak is a cut of meat sliced perpendicular to the muscle fibers, potentially including a bone. When the word “steak” is used without qualification, it generally refers to a beefsteak. In a larger sense, there are also fish steaks, ground meat steaks, pork steak and many more varieties.

A steak is a cut of beef taken from the primal cuts, including the rib, loin, flank, brisket, and short loin. It’s usually cooked by grilling, frying, or broiling. The word “steak” is a noun that means the cooked meat and a verb that means to cook the meat.

In this article, I’ll explain its history, the different types of steak, and how to cook it properly.

What is steak

Steak: A Tasty and Versatile Cut of Beef

Steak is a type of meat that is taken from specific cuts of beef. It is a thick cut of meat that is generally sliced across the muscle fibers, sometimes including a bone. The following are some of the most popular cuts of steak:

  • Ribeye: This is the best type of steak and is known for its tenderness and marbled texture. It is taken from the end of the ribs and is usually thick and juicy.
  • Sirloin: This is a leaner cut of steak that is still very tasty. It is taken from the area behind the ribs and is usually sold boneless.
  • Flank: This is a tough cut of steak that is best cooked slowly to increase tenderness. It is taken from the abdominal muscles of the cow and is usually sliced thin.
  • T-bone: This is a big, thick cut of steak that is taken from the short loin. It is called a T-bone because it has a T-shaped bone in the middle.
  • Skirt: This is a flat, thin cut of steak that is taken from the diaphragm muscles of the cow. It is similar to flank steak but is tastier and more tender.
  • Hanger: This is a fashionable cut of steak that is taken from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It is lean and very tasty but can be tough if not cooked properly.

How is Steak Cooked?

Steak is normally grilled or fried, but it can also be cooked in other ways, such as:

  • Slow cooking: This is recommended for tougher cuts of steak, such as flank or brisket. Slow cooking can increase tenderness and make the meat more flavorful.
  • Minced and formed: Steak can be minced and formed into patties, such as hamburgers.
  • Cooked in sauce: Steak can be diced and cooked in sauce, such as in steak and kidney pie.

What are the Best Cuts of Steak?

The best cuts of steak are those that are tender and flavorful. The following cuts are generally considered to be the best:

  • Ribeye
  • Sirloin
  • Tenderloin
  • T-bone
  • Porterhouse

What is the Difference Between Steak and Pork Chops?

Steak is taken from beef, while pork chops are taken from pork. The two types of meat are cooked in a similar way, but steak is generally considered to be tastier and more tender than pork chops.

Where Can You Find Steak?

Steak can be found in most restaurants and grocery stores. It is also possible to buy steak online and have it delivered to your home.

What Should You Remember When Talking About Steak?

When talking about steak, it is important to remember the following:

  • The best cuts of steak are those that are tender and flavorful.
  • Steak can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, frying, and slow cooking.
  • Economical cuts of steak can be just as tasty as more expensive cuts.
  • Steak is taken from beef, while pork chops are taken from pork.

The Juicy History of Steak: From Old Norse to Your Plate

The word “steak” has a relatively simple history. It originates from the Old Norse word “steikja” and the Middle English dialect word “stickna.” These words both mean “to roast on a spit.” The word “steak” itself is a noun and a verb, meaning to cook or prepare a thick slab of meat.

Steaksteaks: The Plural of Steak

The plural of “steak” is simply “steaks.” However, in some countries, such as the United States, the word “steak” can be used as a collective noun to refer to a number of different cuts of beef.

The Evolution of Steak

Steak has been a featured food in many cultures throughout history. In the past, people would eat venison, bear, turtle, salmon, cauliflower, eggplant, and even insects as a form of steak. Nowadays, steak is mostly associated with beef, and it is prepared in a number of ways, including broiled, roasted, and grilled.

Steak in the Market

The market for steak has grown extremely large in recent years, with many countries devoted to producing the best beef. The Gulf countries are known for producing some of the best beef in the world, while the United States has a long and historic tradition of producing beef in stockyards.

The Best Way to Eat Steak

The best way to eat steak is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer their steak rare, while others like it well-done. However, most people agree that a good steak should be thick, juicy, and cooked to perfection.

Where Does Steak Actually Come From?

When people refer to steak, they are typically talking about a specific cut of meat taken from a cow. Beef cattle are the main population used for steak, and the term “steak” is commonly used to describe a piece of meat that has been cut perpendicular to the visible striations. However, there are exceptions to this, and the term can also refer to cuts from other animals, such as pigs, sheep, and goats.

The Different Cuts of Beef

Beef can be broken down into different cuts, which are then divided into primal and subprimal cuts. These are further broken down into specific areas of the cow, such as the forequarters and hindquarters. Some of the most common cuts of beef used for steak include:

  • Ribeye
  • Sirloin
  • Filet Mignon
  • T-Bone
  • Porterhouse
  • New York Strip

How to Prepare and Cook Steak

Once you have your steak, there are a variety of ways to cook it to your liking. Some people prefer to grill their steak, while others like to pan-sear or broil it. Here are some tips for cooking steak:

  • Bring your steak to room temperature before cooking it.
  • Season your steak with salt and pepper before cooking it.
  • Cook your steak to the desired level of doneness (rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, or well-done).
  • Let your steak rest for a few minutes before cutting into it.

The History and Origins of Steak

The term “steak” originates from the Old Norse word “steikja,” which describes a piece of meat that has been staked or stuck. Inextricably related to identifying steak is the breeding of cows. Steers, bulls, and castrated males are commonly used for beef production, while dairy cows, heifers, and mature females are not. The Denver steak, which is a relatively new cut of meat, comes from the chuck area of the cow and is gaining popularity. Venison steak is also a popular alternative to beef steak.

Frequently Asked Questions About Steak

Here are some straightforward answers to common questions about steak:

  • How much does a steak weigh? A steak can weigh anywhere from a few ounces to a pound or more.
  • What is the best way to cook a steak? This is subjective and depends on personal preference. Some people prefer to grill their steak, while others like to pan-sear or broil it.
  • What is the difference between a T-Bone and a Porterhouse steak? The main difference is the size of the filet mignon portion. A Porterhouse has a larger filet mignon portion than a T-Bone.
  • Is steak healthy? Steak can be a good source of protein and other nutrients, but it is also higher in fat and calories than other types of meat.

How to Judge the Quality of a Steak: A Discerning Shopper’s Guide

When it comes to buying a good quality steak, appearance is key. Here are some things to look out for:

  • The color of the meat should be a deep red, not grey or brown.
  • The fat should be creamy white, not yellow or grey.
  • The meat should be slightly marbled with fat, but not too fatty.
  • The cut should be even and not too thin.

Feel Matters

The way a steak feels can also give you clues about its quality. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • A good quality steak should feel firm to the touch, not mushy or slimy.
  • The fat should feel slightly firm, not hard or funky.
  • The meat should feel slightly springy, not too tough or too soft.

Learn to Judge

Judging the quality of a steak takes practice, but with these tips, you can become a discerning shopper in no time. Remember to use all your senses when shopping for meat and don’t be afraid to ask your butcher for advice. With a little bit of knowledge and practice, you can find the perfect steak for your next meal.

Cooking a Steak: Achieving the Perfect Cut

When it comes to cooking a steak, there are two main methods: grilling and broiling. Grilling involves cooking the steak over an open flame, while broiling involves cooking the steak under a high heat in the oven. Both methods can result in a delicious steak, but there are some differences to consider:

  • Grilling is generally preferred for thicker cuts of steak, while broiling is better for thinner cuts.
  • Grilling can result in a more charred exterior, while broiling tends to sear the steak more evenly.
  • Grilling can be done outside on a barbecue, while broiling can be done indoors in the oven.

Cooking Times and Temperatures

The cooking time and temperature for a steak will depend on a few factors, such as the thickness of the cut and how well-done you prefer your steak. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Rare: Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side at a high heat (around 130°F).
  • Medium-rare: Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side at a medium-high heat (around 135°F).
  • Medium: Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side at a medium heat (around 145°F).
  • Well-done: Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side at a low heat (around 160°F).

Cuts and Characteristics

Different cuts of steak will have different characteristics and may require different cooking methods. Here are some common cuts of steak and their characteristics:

  • Ribeye: A well-marbled cut with a rich flavor, best cooked medium-rare to medium.
  • Flank: A lean cut that is best marinated and cooked quickly over high heat.
  • Beefsteak: A common cut in Europe, generally cooked until it is blue or rare in the middle.
  • London broil: A North American cut that is usually marinated and cooked by broiling or grilling.
  • Filet mignon: A tender cut that is best cooked rare to medium-rare.

Maillard Reaction and Searing

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction that occurs when proteins and sugars are heated together, resulting in a browned and flavorful exterior. Searing a steak is a way to achieve this reaction and can be done by cooking the steak over high heat for a short amount of time. Here are some tips for achieving the perfect sear:

  • Make sure the steak is dry before cooking to avoid steaming.
  • Use a high-heat oil, such as canola or vegetable oil.
  • Don’t move the steak around too much while cooking to ensure an even sear.
  • Let the steak rest for a few minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute.

Differing Recipes and Techniques

Different countries and regions may have their own recipes and techniques for cooking steak. Here are some examples:

  • In Argentina, steak is commonly cooked over an open flame and served with chimichurri sauce.
  • In Japan, steak is often cut into thin slices and served with dipping sauces.
  • In France, steak is commonly served with a red wine sauce.
  • In the United States, steak is often cooked using the broiling or grilling method and served with a side of vegetables or potatoes.

Farming and Butchering

The way the animal is farmed and butchered can also affect the quality of the steak. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Grass-fed beef may have a different flavor and texture than grain-fed beef.
  • The age of the animal can also affect the tenderness of the meat.
  • The way the meat is cut can result in different textures and flavors.

Tips for Trying Something New

If you’re looking to try a new cut or cooking technique for your steak, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Start with a high-quality cut of meat.
  • Research the best cooking method for the cut you’ve chosen.
  • Experiment with different marinades and seasonings to suit your taste.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new – you might discover a new favorite way to cook steak!

Why Eating Steak is a Wonder for Your Health

Steak, a type of beef meat, is loaded with numerous health benefits. Here are some of the positive effects of consuming steak:

  • Provides essential protein: Steak is an excellent source of protein, a macronutrient that our bodies need in large amounts to function. Protein is critical for maintaining our hair, nails, skin, bones, cartilage, and blood in good shape. A 3-ounce serving of steak provides about 25 grams of protein, which is about half of the daily protein needs of an average adult.
  • Supports energy production: Steak is rich in iron, a mineral that carries oxygen to different parts of our bodies. Iron is critical for energy production and maintaining an active lifestyle.
  • Helps in glucose control: Steak contains a type of fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been linked to lower glucose levels in the body. CLA is also believed to prevent the production of new fat cells and block the absorption of fat in the body.
  • Lowers the risk of heart attack: Contrary to popular belief, the fat content in steak is not all bad. Steak contains a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats, and the type of fat found in steak is neutral or slightly positive for heart health. Research has shown that people who eat steak regularly have a lower risk of heart attack compared to those who don’t.

Steak vs. Plant-Based Diets

While plant-based diets are gaining popularity, steak still has its place in a healthy diet. Here’s why:

  • Steak is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that our bodies need. Plant-based protein sources, on the other hand, may lack some of the essential amino acids.
  • Our bodies convert the protein in steak more efficiently compared to plant-based protein sources. This means that we need to eat less steak to get the same amount of protein compared to plant-based protein sources.
  • Steak contains critical nutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, which are not found in abundance in plant-based foods.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Type of Steak

Not all steaks are created equal. Here are some tips to help you choose the right type of steak:

  • Look for steaks with a lower fat content. While some fat is necessary for flavor, too much fat can increase the calorie count significantly.
  • Choose leaner cuts like sirloin, flank, or tenderloin. These cuts are lower in fat and calories compared to fattier cuts like ribeye or T-bone.
  • Opt for grass-fed beef whenever possible. Grass-fed beef has a higher concentration of beneficial compounds like CLA and omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef.

Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Steaks: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to beef, there are two main types of diets that cows can be raised on: grass-fed and grain-fed. Here are some important differences to keep in mind:

  • Grass-fed cows are allowed to roam and graze on grass and other plants, while grain-fed cows are typically confined to feedlots and fed a diet of corn and other grains.
  • Due to their diet, grain-fed beef tends to have whiter colored fat and typically has more marbling. The marbling is responsible for a lot of the flavor and tenderness of beef and is used when grading quality.
  • Grass-fed beef typically has a more yellow-colored fat and is leaner with less overall marbling and fat.

The Complicated Fact of Costs

While grass-fed beef may seem like the healthier option, it can also be more expensive due to the limited availability and higher costs associated with raising grass-fed cows. Additionally, the taste and tenderness of grass-fed beef can vary depending on the animal’s diet and living conditions.

The Importance of Food and Animals

The debate between grass-fed and grain-fed beef has been a topic of discussion for over a decade, with many people arguing that grass-fed beef is better for both the animals and the environment. However, it’s important to note that both types of beef can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation.

The Pop Culture and Internet Influence

In recent years, the internet and pop culture have played a role in shaping people’s opinions on grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef. While it’s important to do your own research and make informed decisions about the food you consume, it’s also important to consider the expertise and experience of professionals in the field.

The Editorial Guidelines and Medically Reviewed Facts

When writing and editing articles about food and health, it’s important to follow editorial guidelines and ensure that all facts are medically reviewed and accurate. As someone who has previously worked for one of the largest proofreading agencies in the United States, I understand the importance of checking and double-checking information before publishing.

The Joneses and Their Calves

At the end of the day, the choice between grass-fed and grain-fed beef ultimately comes down to personal preference and values. Whether you prefer the taste and tenderness of grain-fed beef or the environmental and animal welfare benefits of grass-fed beef, it’s important to make an informed decision based on your own experiences and beliefs.

The Nuances of Choosing Between Steaks and Pork Chops

  • Steaks are larger and have a higher fat content, which means they require longer cooking times and can be a bit more difficult to cook perfectly.
  • Pork chops are smaller and leaner, making them a quicker and easier choice for a simple meal.
  • Steaks are divided into different parts, each with their own flavor and cooking methods, while pork chops are mainly divided into rib chops and loin chops.
  • Steaks are loaded with marbled fat, which makes them juicier and more flavorful, while pork chops have a mild flavor and are leaner.

Cooking Methods and Benefits

  • Steaks are best cooked quickly over high heat, while pork chops can be cooked slower and are more forgiving.
  • Steaks benefit from marinades that can enhance their flavor, while pork chops are flavorful enough on their own.
  • Steaks can be re-heated and still maintain their flavor and nutrition, while pork chops can become dry and lose their flavor when re-heated.
  • Steaks are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients, while pork chops are a good substitute for those who prefer a leaner meat.


So there you have it- everything you need to know about steak. It’s a cut of beef, usually cooked by frying or grilling, and is a type of meat taken from a cow. You can find steak in restaurants, grocery stores, and online, and it’s a delicious and versatile type of meat. So go ahead and enjoy a steak today!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.