The Absolute Best Cut of Meat to Grill, According to a Butcher

This steak reigns supreme.

May 14, 2019

Whether it's Memorial Day, Labor Day, or the 4th of July—you're probably getting ready to grill some meat, right? To help you decide the best meat to grill, including which cuts of steak work particularly well on an open flame, our writer Valerio Farris has interviewed an expert. See his findings below, and be sure to read on for our best grilled meat recipes to test our expert's opinion.

Labor Day is but a blink away. Oh, didn't you hear? The proverbial "end of summer" is fast approaching. I'm from Texas, so I've never really bought into the whole "summer is over" deal. Where I'm from, we've got at least two more months of 80+ degree weather. Still, this final hurrah is a nice chance to get outdoors, gather friends and, should you feel so inclined, fire up that grill. We've spent the past few months dreaming up the best foods to toss on that outside furnace.

But what about meat? Grilling meat can be daunting, even if you do it every summer. As we all get ready for the upcoming holiday weekend, I thought it'd be nice to get some tips from a pro. I reached out to Frankie from Ottomanelli Brothers, a New York City–based butchery, to find out the absolute best cuts of meat we should be grilling—before it's too late.

For a little background, the Ottomanelli family has been in business since 1900 (!) getting New Yorkers all the cuts of meat they want. Summer, what with all those grills on the loose, is a particularly busy season. I for one am partial to the simplicity of a burger, but after a quick convo, Frankie started to convince me otherwise. Maybe grilling a nice steak doesn't have to be as complex as I previously thought:

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Top Comment:
“In the Chicago area, certain cuts of beef are labeled London Broil. Doesn't look like a steak, more like a small roast.”
— Jaye B.

"I like to take all of my steaks out of the fridge an hour before I cook them and let them get to room temperature," he tells me over the phone. "If you take them out of the fridge, they lose some of that moisture from sitting in the fridge. Then, I like to season simply with kosher salt and pepper."

Now we're talking. Like Frankie, I tend to lean toward simpler recipes, preparations that are clean rather than complex. But that doesn't have to be the case. Every now and then there's the chance for a marinade or a grilled steak sandwich.

As for cuts of meat, Frankie recommends a few go-tos when feeding a large crowd: sirloin, flank, or even skirt steak should do the trick. Those are all pretty simple and take well to the grill's smoky treatment. Plus, they err on the side of affordable, so you can keep a whole crowd fed without worrying about the old wallet.

So, what's the best meat to grill?

"I’d say a nice porterhouse," Frankie says. "You get the best of both worlds: a piece of filet and a nice strip steak all together. You have a bone that gives you nice flavor as well."

What's YOUR favorite meat to grill? Tell us in the comments below.

Our Best Grilled Meat Recipes

This very popular piece was originally published in August 2018, but we're bringing it back just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Fire up those grills!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Richard H. August 25, 2020
I never pass up a Hanging Tender when I see one. Delicious, beefier if that is possible. A little work trimming but once grilled around medium rare it is absolutely worth it.
Tia December 8, 2019
Ribeye bone less!
SB July 2, 2019
Rib eye on the bone for me. Served medium rare with tarragon butter & red wine jus, side of Paris mash and grilled asparagus. Giddy up !!
Linda M. June 20, 2019
A porterhouse is the perfect choice as long as both sides of the bone have a good amount of meat.
Karin B. October 4, 2018
I think a nice thick rib eye with all the fat is best. I eat it medium rare from the outside in until I get to the lean center which I save to have on a lad sliced very thin.
Karin B. October 8, 2018
I meant to say "salad"
Michael C. August 31, 2018
Petite Tender sounds like an overpriced small filet to me.
Barb September 2, 2018
I'm a small woman, I can't tell you how often (yes I can, every single time) I wish restaurants would offer a 6 oz steak, so I can only take home half my dinner.
R C. September 5, 2018
Actually you can google it, it is above the front shoulders, muscle that does not get used a lot, about 9-11" long, 10-11" diameter. here are utube links to cut it, but still cannot find anyone to do it properly...
Underpriced better than filet if u can find a butcher.....
R C. August 31, 2018
We used to get a cut called Petite Tender when we lived in BVI (oddly an island with no cows) however pricey, it was excellent. Since we returned home (California) cannot seem to find butchers who know how to cut it. Help?
Nan G. August 31, 2018
Filet Mignon. I buy whole filets from a restaurant supply market. Cut it THICK. then often stuff it before grilling. (Roquefort cheese)
I like a coffee-based dry rub on it.
A neutral wood like oak or apple.
Michael C. August 31, 2018
Great point Stephen, you must get the chill off of meat when cooking or any protein for that matter. If you do not, the outside will burn up before the inside warms up. Ya gotta get the chill off.
Smaug August 31, 2018
Depends a lot on the room- my kitchen is apt to be 95 degrees in the summer and things warm up pretty quickly, especially if you put them in front of a fan.
Stephen S. August 31, 2018
I keep reading that you should take steak out of the fridge for an hour so it gets to room temperature. But unless it's a paper thin cut, it needs much longer than an hour. Stick a thermometer in when you take it out and see for yourselves.
Jaye B. August 31, 2018
Any conversation about "best" steaks, or any meats, needs to consider what is sold in different parts of the country. When I moved out West from the Midwest, I had to re-learn much of what I knew about meats because cuts I was familiar with either have different names or are not available at all. Sirloins here are not like sirloins in Chicago. Yes, there are some of the same cuts like T-bones and Porterhouse and Ribeye, but many other cuts are different. It took me awhile to find simple ground beef that tasted right. This goes for pork, too. There are regional differences in butchering that make blanket recommendations a bit iffy. Also, supermarkets hardly ever butcher their own meats - most of it comes from mass producers and that creates geographic differences. Costco is probably one source that has continuity, but there you have to buy quantity which doesn't always work, at least for me because I never buy fresh meat and then freeze it at home because I assume it was already frozen once for the transportation process. I have yet to find a good way to prepare Tri-Tip here!
Hank A. August 31, 2018
Low and slow at 225F, hits 130-135F pull it, if not 125F ... you'll have the small end Well, and the rest Med at most. Salt & Pepper and maybe a bit of Garlic Powder.
Buddy S. August 31, 2018
A simple method of coarse salt and fresh coarsely ground pepper, sear it over a bed of HOT mesquite and finish to your liking over indirect heat. I go for 140 - 145 F and tent it for 10 - 15 minutes before slicing. Perfect for our local, grass fed beef.
tamater S. August 31, 2018
I know what you mean. My parents regularly served what they called London Broil, but I have yet to see it on the west coast.
DMStenlake August 31, 2018
Check with the butcher but I think it’s called top round. We like to grill this one med rare simple s and p enjoy
Jaye B. August 31, 2018
Tamater - skirt steak where I live is often called "flap meat" steak so it's possible London Broil is called something else out here. I don't understand why these discrepancies exist.
DMStenlake August 31, 2018
Thank you for your comments. Although we eat red meats only on occasion We’re trying to make sense of the discrepancies as well. We have real butchers st our local market and it’s always interesting to have these types of discussions with them. So we’re checking with them. Also, tri-tip low and slow! Mooo 🐄 (thats a milk cow!)
Barb September 2, 2018
London Broil is a recipe, not a steak. At least, that's what I keep reading.
Jaye B. September 2, 2018
In the Chicago area, certain cuts of beef are labeled London Broil. Doesn't look like a steak, more like a small roast.
tamater S. September 3, 2018
Maybe it's both, depending upon where you live. I know my parents would order it as a certain cut, and then they'd do it different ways, (but I don't remember them broiling it!).
Smaug September 3, 2018
London broil is a method of cooking, but butchers on the west coast generally label thick cuts of top round as London Broil, much as they label similarly cut hunks of chuck as pot roast, although you can pot roast all kinds of cuts. Including "London broil".
tamater S. August 31, 2018
"a nice porterhouse," ? - Ok, but first, I'll have to take out a 2nd mortgage on my house.
Mark W. August 31, 2018
I still love a really good skirt steak, it takes to the grill like a brother and is a flexible meal served as either fajitas or as a steak smothered in onions and a multitude of peppers...
Hank A. August 31, 2018
Tri-Tip, hands down, and I'm not from California!!
Michael C. August 31, 2018
Does it have to be beef? If not, have your butcher cut a two inch steak off a pork shoulder. So inexpensive, but flavor to excess and VERY INEXPENSIVE.
Abyforce August 31, 2018
Yes the muscle used for cappacollo is excellent on the grill and a contender.
tamater S. August 31, 2018
I'm with you on this one, Michael.
Anastasia August 31, 2018
I’ve been wanting to try this, but am intimidated by the tough cut. I’ve only ever cooked it low and slow for pulled pork or carnitas. Any advice to move me past my fear and into successful action with a pork shoulder steak?
Abyforce August 31, 2018
Some parts of the long shoulder or pork butt or sometimes called the money muscle are delicious as steaks. Ask your local butcher for help with this.
Jaye B. August 31, 2018
Pork shoulder steaks are great from the grill, especially served with zucchini & onions that have been dabbed with diluted barbeque sauce.
Mary L. August 31, 2018
I like a ribeye, medium rare, just salt and pepper, sliced thin
Fran M. August 27, 2018
My favorite is tenderloin little salt and caramelized in a pan with a little olive oil then I finish it in the oven. Tender & delicious.
sarah August 27, 2018
Our favorite cut is a 2 inch porterhouse. We have the butcher leave the fat as that adds flavor. A quick coating of olive oil, a nice dose of salt and pepper, and then onto the grill. Cooking it to medium rare to rare and then letting it sit before slicing. After it's plated another drizzle of olive oil is all that it needs.
ArcticChar August 26, 2018
I WAS a diehard skirt steak griller until I moved to Alaska where finding skirt steak is a challenge. Now my go to griller is ribeyes for small get together or Tri-Tip for a crowd.
Abyforce August 26, 2018
As football season begins I've decided to draft on my team the best players. At quarterback bone in Ribeye, at running back Coulotte, tightend Tritip, wide receiver NY Strip and my entire offensive line...Flatirons. Feeling confident on the grill field.
William G. August 26, 2018
The team must be the Memphis Meateaters or the Charlotte Carnivores...lmao