Beef vs Steak: What is the difference? In this post, we will answer that question for you as these terms are often used interchangeably. There is a distinction between them though that can significantly impact your dining experiences.
Beef vs Steak
In one really quick answer, beef is the meat from cattle, while steak is a cut of meat that comes from many animals, although beef steak is the most popular. But, if you want to know more than just a general term, keep reading for a more in depth answer.
What is Beef?
Beef is an overarching term for meat from cattle, usually from a steer if you are buying from a local rancher, but many places also use cows for meat. It includes various cuts, each offering distinct flavors and levels of tenderness. Maybe it’s ground beef for burgers, stewing beef for hearty soups, or roasts for slow-cooked perfection on a Sunday night. Learning how to cook the different cuts will transform your meals.
When buying beef, each cattle will give different amounts of meat and many factors go into it. To figure out how much beef you might get from a cow, check out this post.
There are many different cuts of meat when talking about beef. There are eight main primal beef cuts, which are then divided into subprimal cuts. So, while you can get steaks with your beef, not all steaks are beef. Learn all about the different cuts of beef here.
Common cuts of beef are:
- Ground Beef
- Prime Rib
- Stew Meat
- Beef Brisket
- Chuck Roast or Pot Roast (Roasts have thick muscle fibers so they are best cooked low and slow)
- Porterhouse Steaks
- Short Ribs
What is Steak?
Steak is a specific cut of meat that is typically pan-seared or grilled. There are bone-in steaks or boneless steaks. A boneless steak will have less flavor than a bone-in steak. Steaks are tender enough to eat without cooking for long periods of time. There are also different types of steak available. A steak can come from cattle, but it can also come from many other types of animals, for instance, pork steak comes from a pig and bison steak comes from bison. Let’s just assume you want to know about beef steak though. Steak is typically known for it’s tenderness, marbling, and robust flavor.
Talking about what makes something a steak can be a bit difficult. You could have a whole loin roast, however once that exact roast gets cut into smaller slices, that roast turns into strip steaks. The best way to cook the whole roast would be to slow cook it for a long time, but the cooking method changes once it turns into a steak, typically high heat for short periods.
Here are the different types of steak cuts available:
- Filet Mignon
- New York Strip Steak
- Rib-eye Steak (a high-quality steak)
- T-bone Steak
- Porterhouse Steak
- Sirloin Steak
- Flat Iron Steak
- Tomahawk Steak
- Top Round Steak
- Tri-tip Steak
- Skirt Steak
- Flank Steak
- Hanger Steak
- Round Steak or Rump Steak (Do not cook these on high heat. Cook these individual steaks on a low heat for extended period of time)
Depending on your location in the world, there may be other types of steak or some of these may have an alternative name to them.
What Else to Know About Beef vs Steak
The major difference between beef vs steak is the way the meat is cut and what animal the meat came from. There are other differences however. Meat products from beef will generally be cheaper than buying an individual steak.
Different nutrition values come from different cuts as well. Each animal and each cut is going to be different. The way the animal was raised impacts the nutritional value.
The choice is make is ultimately up to you on what your culinary preferences are, how much room you have in your budget, and how much time you have to cook the meat.
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