The Fattiest Cuts of Steak
Fat is flavor period, and people should know what steaks pack on the most. A big key to a tender steak is the intramuscular fat in the cut of meat, also known as marbling. All that fat rendering during the quick cooking process enhances a steak’s flavor and helps maintain a tender texture. So if…
Fat is flavor period, and people should know what steaks pack on the most. A big key to a tender steak is the intramuscular fat in the cut of meat, also known as marbling. All that fat rendering during the quick cooking process enhances a steak’s flavor and helps maintain a tender texture.
So if you love steaks, it makes sense you’d want to know what the fattiest cuts of steak are, right? All that fat helps keep your steak tender throughout the cooking process and results in a nice juicy bite.
So what is the fattiest cut of steak? It’s arguably the most beloved steak, the ribeye. It has plenty of marbling, it’s super tender and delivers a consistently great meal.
Now you might be wondering if there are concerns with eating the fattiest steak cuts, and we’ll dive into that. We’ll also round out the top five fattiest steaks, give you an option that isn’t the most common, and also talk a little about Wagyu beef because no article about the fattiest cuts of steak would be complete without talking about the most incredible buttery steaks you’ll ever taste.
Why Do We Care About The Fattiest Cuts Of Steak?
There are multiple reasons to care about how much fat is in your steak. There are benefits to cooking a more fatty steak. It will be flavorful, tender, and juicy when you cook it. That fat rendering out, especially if you’re cooking it in a skillet or on a griddle, will also help aid in the cooking process so you don’t need to add butter or oil when searing if you don’t want to.
Some people are also trying to cut back on fat while still enjoying a steak. So you might be looking at this article from the perspective of “Hey, these are five steaks I need to avoid” or “Hey, these are five steaks that I should only have once in a blue moon as a special meal.” That’s perfectly fine and commendable. Take care of yourself as best as you possibly can while finding ways to enjoy food and cooking/grilling.
Is Enjoying Fatty Cuts Of Steak A Bad Thing?
By itself, enjoying a nice quality ribeye or any of the other steaks on the list isn’t a bad thing. In fact, there’s a lot of nutrition to be found in steaks. Ribeye steaks are a phenomenal source of protein, Vitamin B12, iron, potassium, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are helpful for managing bad cholesterol.
Ribeye steaks, along with the other fatty steaks on this list, also contain saturated fats. That can cause cholesterol levels to rise as well as increase the risk of heart problems. However, if you’re only consuming steaks occasionally and taking care of any cholesterol-related issues, a ribeye by itself is still good to enjoy. However, if you do have cholesterol issues or a family history of heart problems, it never hurts to talk with your doctor about any adjustments you should be making to maintain a healthy life.
What About Wagyu Steaks?
When assembling this list, I considered standard beef cuts of steak that you would find at most grocery stores, supermarkets, and even your local butcher. If you are able to get your hands on true Wagyu steaks, that surpasses the marbling on any normal store-bought steak. Wagyu cows (redundant in technical linguist terms since Wagyu literally translates to Japanese cows) are either one of four breeds if you’re getting Japanese Wagyu or are descended from one of those four breeds: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn.
These breeds are prized for the incredible level of marbling not seen on any other breed of cow in the world. Even if you purchase the best store-bought prime Angus steak to compare, the marbling won’t be even in the same ballpark.
Now you can find real American Wagyu, but it’s essentially a 50/50 crossbreed between Japanese Black or Brown Wagyu cattle and Angus cattle. It’s still an incredible experience, but it isn’t quite to the same level as a 100% pure-blood Wagyu experience.
For more information, check out our article on Wagyu steaks that is a deep dive on everything you need to know to get started with Wagyu.
The Fattiest Cuts Of Steak
1. Ribeye Steak
To some, a ribeye steak is the king of steaks. It comes from the rib area of the cow which is an area that did not see much work during the cow’s life. The rib primal is comprised of ribs six through 12. Ribs one through five are part of the chuck primal while the rest of the ribs beyond 12 are part of the loin primal.
Thanks to the low amount of work the muscles associated with the ribeye did during the cow’s life, it’s tender, well-marbled, and part of everyone’s favorite big roast, the prime rib. You can find ribeye steaks that are an inch thick or up to three inches in thickness with a rib bone or boneless. If you find a bone-in ribeye that’s two to three inches thick and the end of the bone has been frenched, or cleaned of any meat and connective tissue, you’ve got a cowboy steak ideal for reverse searing. Cowboys are very similar to a Tomahawk steak, but they do not have the long french cut bone attached.
If we consider ribeyes to be the king of steaks, and you want the best of the best, you’ve got to look for genuine Wagyu ribeyes. Check out our review of The Meatery’s American and Australian Wagyu ribeyes then head over to the website in the review to check them out for yourselves. If you’re looking for a true steak-eating experience, you can’t go wrong with Wagyu ribeyes from The Meatery.
3. New York Strip Steaks
Whether you call it a New York strip steak or a Delmonico steak, this steak cut from the short loin on a cow is one of the best steaks out there. The short loin doesn’t do much work during a cow’s life so it’s tender and has plenty of marbling. That ensures a final steak that is juicy and has a big, beefy flavor.
New York strip steaks are not typically thick enough that reverse-searing is necessary for a tender result, but you can absolutely do that if you want. However, most people prefer the simple method of searing over high heat whether on a grill or in a skillet. For more info on New York strip steaks and how to cook them, check out our write-up of the iconic steak.
3. T-Bone Steak
Maybe you can call this a little unfair since the New York strip steak is actually part of a T-Bone steak, but since you can buy a T-Bone steak, it makes the cut. The T-Bone is from the front part of the short loin with the iconic t-shaped bone running through the middle of the steak that gives it its name.
The larger meat section of the T-Bone steak is the New York strip if separated. The smaller side is the beef tenderloin. So in fact, T-Bone steaks are two separate cuts of beef in one that requires a bit more attention than a New York strip steak by itself.
What might confuse you even further is that the next steak on this list, the Porterhouse, features the same two cuts of meat.
4. Porterhouse Steak
If you looked at a T-Bone and a Porterhouse steak side-by-side and didn’t know exactly what you were looking for to differentiate between the two, you might think you were looking at two fo the same steaks. That’s because both steaks feature the New York strip steak and the tenderloin.
So what’s the difference between a T-Bone and a Porterhouse steak? There are actually two, but you can only visually identify one of them. Though technically the visual difference is thanks to the other difference. You’ll understand in a minute. First, the Porterhouse is cut from the rear of the short loin. Now there’s no major visual marks distinguishing between the front of the short loin and the rear of the short loin.
However, due to that location, the tenderloin section of the steak on a Porterhouse is larger than on a T-Bone. Technically, the tenderloin on a Porterhouse is at least 1.25 inches across at the widest point according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A T-Bone steak’s tenderloin section is anywhere between 0.51 and 1.24 inches wide at its widest point.
The tenderloin is wider due to coming from the rear of the short loin where the tenderloin is simply larger. All that is to say that if you’re looking for a fatty steak, a T-Bone and a Porterhouse will do you just fine. Just don’t get too thin of a steak. The end product won’t be as enjoyable.
Check out our article on T-Bone vs Porterhouse steaks for more information!
5. Chuck Eye Steak
Now this is not the most common cut of steak you’ll find, but it’s certainly one of the fattiest. It comes from the chuck primal around the cow’s shoulder. There are only two of these steaks per cow so that might explain why you haven’t found them in your local grocery store.
However, like you can smoke a chuck roast to be a poor man’s brisket, a chuck eye steak is often called a poor man’s ribeye. That is due in part to being cut from by the cow’s fifth rib while ribeyes are cut from ribs six through 12. Both cuts are extremely well-marbled and deliver great flavor. Chuck eye steaks, despite how few there are per cow, are cheaper than ribeyes due to the lack of demand.
So if you can find chuck eye steaks at your local butcher, give them a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Lean Steak Alternatives
If you’re looking for an enjoyable steak experience but are looking to cut back on fat, there are still some great steaks out there. The best one in my personal opinion is a top sirloin steak. It’s lean, but if you reverse sear it and keep it around medium-rare, it’s got a lot of beefy flavor and it will be tender when you eat it. You don’t even need to soak it in a marinade.
You can also go with eye of round steak or a bottom round steak which are still quite lean, but they are less tender than a top sirloin steak. You’ll definitely want to look into a marinade to help tenderize before reverse-searing.
For more information on the different types of sirloin steaks, check out our article comparing sirloin and ribeye steaks.
Wrapping It Up
If you’re looking for a steak that has plenty of marbling to keep the meat moist and flavorful, you should start first and foremost with the king of steaks, the ribeye. You want to have an even better experience than a ribeye steak? Go check out The Meatery and pick up a Wagyu ribeye. It’ll blow you away.
If you’re looking for a lean steak that still delivers plenty of flavor, check out a top sirloin steak. It’s lean, but you can reverse-sear it for maximum tenderness and flavor.
Are you a fan of fattier steaks or lean steaks? Let us know in the comments what’s your favorite!
Question: Is Filet Mignon Fatty?
Answer: While just about every cut of beef has some level of fat, filet mignon is not on the same level of fattiness as the rest of these steaks. Despite being a bit leaner, it’s still extremely tender and juicy when cooked properly which makes it one of the most popular steaks in the world. So it would not qualify as one of the fattiest cuts of steak, but a filet mignon is still an extremely tender cut of steak.
Question: Is Skirt Steak Fatty?
Answer: You might see some people calling a skirt steak fatty. In fact, you’ll find people pretty divided on the question. Our very own dietician, Julie Harris, calls skirt steak lean along with its closely-related cousin, the flank steak. Now there’s nuance to this discussion. Skirt steak is not as lean as a bottom round steak. It does have some marbling and even some layers of fat on the surface of the muscle. However, you’ll never confuse a skirt steak with a ribeye. Plus you don’t prepare them the same way. Skirt steak is incredibly tough, so you should start with a marinade to help tenderize and enhance its flavor before you grill it hot and fast.
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