Juicy, smokey, and with just the right amount of crisp in the crust, a perfectly grilled steak is unforgettable from the very first bite, but you need the right cut. The best cut of steak to grill at home is one that’s tender with the right amount of marbling for maximum flavor and mouthwatering satisfaction.
Generally, you want to go with a primal cut from the short loin, tenderloin, or rib sections, but there are a few other standouts cuts to also keep in mind. In my well-charred opinion, you can’t go wrong with any of the cuts of beef below.
Steak Grilling Basics
Ready to get grilling? Hold your propane!
Before we jump into our succulent list of good grilling steaks, let’s first go over some steak shopping and grilling basics.
Picking the Perfect Steak
When shopping for a great steak to toss on the grill, there’s more to consider than just the cut. You also need to think about the thickness of the cut and the grade of the beef.
Grade of Beef
Whether you go with a ribeye or a New York Strip, you want to pick out a steak graded choice or above. You see, there are different levels of steak awesomeness.
Most steaks in US supermarkets are usually graded choice or select. Steaks with the “choice” designation have more fat, giving them more flavor.
Prime grade steaks have even more fat marbling running through them than choice, but a trip to the butcher is usually needed.
If you can’t seem to find any specific beef grades at your local supermarket, have no fear. If a cat hasn’t been graded, you can tell its quality by, you guessed it, looking at its marbling. In general, the most flavorful steaks have the most marbling.
If you’re getting your steak from the supermarket, then your options are limited to the steaks they have in the meat case or out on the shelf.
If you go to a butcher, however, they may be able to cut your steaks on the spot just the way you want. This means you can specify the thickness.
Personally, I like my steaks right around 1 ½ inch. An inch can be easy to overcook and is a bit too thin for my carnivorous taste buds.
Two inches is little bit much. Not only can it be tough to chew up that much meat in each bite, but grilling a thick steak takes just the right technique in order to avoid having a perfectly cooked outside and an underdone middle.
A steak cut to 1 ½ inch in thickness is almost always just right.
Grilling the Perfect Steak
Whether you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, there are two different routes you can take when grilling steaks.
Hot & Fast Method
This grilling method involves using direct heat to give the steak a nice sear. Depending on how thick your steak is cut, it may only take a couple of minutes of searing on each side before it’s done.
Reverse searing requires an indirect dual-zone fire. First, you slowly cook the steak on indirect heat. Then, you raise the grill’s temp when the steak is almost done to finish with a good quick sear. This method is best for thicker steaks 1 ½ or more inches thick.
Best Steak Cuts for Grilling
The Ribeye is the Cadillac of steaks. It’s juicy, tender, and thanks to its marbling, delivers a big steak flavor that practically melts in your mouth.
After all, there’s a reason it’s the steak of choice for all Steak Cookoff Association competitions.
Whether you go with the bone-in or boneless variety, these steaks are great for the grill.
Just make sure to pick one with nice even marbling throughout and have your butcher cut it to at least an inch for a truly luxurious bite.
Ribeyes do great on the grill when seared hot and fast, but thicker cuts may need to finish cooking indirectly on a cooler section of your grill.
- More marbling than other cuts
- Extremely juicy and tender
- Big, bold steak flavor
- Does great on the grill
Commonly called the New York strip, the striploin or strip steak is right up there with the ribeye in terms of steak superiority.
This classic cut is slightly less tender than the ribeye, but it’s every bit as marbled and packs an even bolder beef flavor, making it a steakhouse favorite.
Striploin generally comes boneless, but you may run across the bone-in version from time to time.
Similar to the ribeye, this steak can be cut thinly or up to 2+ inches and grills great when seared hot and fast and finished over indirect heat.
- Excellent marbling
- Very juicy and flavorful
- Less expensive cut
- Does great on the grill
The filet mignon is cut from the point of the beef tenderloin. It’s arguably the most tender cut of steak money can buy.
When you consider the average steer only provides up to 16 ounces of filet mignon as well, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the more expensive cuts of steak available.
Despite being super tender, the filet mignon is leaner and not as flavorful as the ribeye, striploin, and some of the other steaks on this list. That’s why you always see it wrapped in bacon.
Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon. However, when you’re paying for a good steak, it shouldn’t need bacon to satisfy the taste buds.
- Extremely tender
- Nice, thick cut of meat
- Limited supply
Every carnivore loves a good t-bone. Why? Well, because t-bones are pretty large and actually provide two steaks for the price of one.
Similar to porterhouse steaks but a little further from the cow’s rump, t-bones have a bone separating two different cuts of beef.
To the right of the bone is part of the tenderloin, and to the left is the striploin.
Unfortunately, having two separate cuts of meat in one steak makes grilling a good T-bone a little tricky. The key is to choose a nice thick t-bone and grill it via the reverse sear method.
- Big cut of beef
- Two steaks in one
- Tender and flavorful
Like the t-bone, the porterhouse steak is actually two different cuts of beef in one.
This big steak cut is taken from the short loin near the rump end and features a big chunk of tenderloin on one side of the bone and ribeye on the other.
A good porterhouse will cost a pretty penny at a decent steakhouse, but you can get it from the butcher at a fraction of the price. For the tastiest results, get it cut thick and grill it by reverse searing.
- Two steaks in one
- I will definitely fill you up
- Features ribeye for flavor and tenderloin
The flat iron cut comes from the cow’s shoulder. Not only is it well-marbled, but it’s extremely tender too. This combination makes the flat iron great for grilling.
This often-overlooked steak cut is only available up to 1 ¼ inch in thickness, which makes it super easy to cook up on the grill.
Just season it and grill it quickly using the hot and fast method for some tasty tacos and fajitas or simply enjoy it all by itself.
- Great for grilling
- Almost as tender as the filet mignon
- Very well-marbled and flavorful
Top sirloin steaks are an excellent compromise between tenderness, flavor, and cost.
It’s taken from the section running from the hip bone to the lower back known as the sirloin primal cut.
Top sirloin steak isn’t as tender as steaks cut from the short loin primal, like striploin and the filet mignon, but it’s tender enough to cook on the grill.
Just make sure to cook it fast on a hot grill and keep a watchful eye to avoid overcooking. It’s best-eaten medium-rare.
- Very budget-friendly
- Decent flavor
- Tender enough for grill
As its name suggests, flank steak comes from the belly or the beef “flank” primal cut of the steer.
Similar to the skirt steak, which is next on our list, it’s flavorful but tough due to the thicker fat bundles that run throughout.
Since it’s a thin steak, flank steak should be grilled quickly over direct high heat.
Make sure not to go past medium-rare and do yourself a favor by slicing against the grain to maximize tenderness.
- Solid steak flavor
- Easy to grill
If you’re in the mood for carne asada or the sound, smell, and taste of sizzling fajitas, then skirt steak is a great choice.
This thin steak comes from the inside of the abdominal and chest cavity known as the primal beef plate cut.
Like the flank steak, it’s thickly grained and has chewy fat and connective tissue running throughout.
While this makes skirt steak tougher, it’s extremely flavorful. It also does great with rubs and marinades to punch up the flavor even more.
Since it’s thin, once again you should grill it quick and fast over high heat.
- Very flavorful
- Easy to grill
- Versatile but great for fajitas, tacos, etc.
Last but not least, we have the hanger steak. This cut is a favorite of butchers, so you know it’s a good piece of beef.
However, since butchers don’t like to part with it, hanger steak can be harder to find.
This cut comes from the section between the loin and rib. Like flank steak and skirt steak, it’s also pretty thin and is best when quickly grilled over direct heat.
- A favorite of butchers
- Great flavor
- Perfect for the grill
Making the Decision
As you can see, there’s a butcher case full of juicy and delicious steaks out there to drool over. Whether you’re getting into grilling for the first time or an experienced BBQer looking to make your smoker jealous, you can’t go wrong with any of these cuts of beef. From the top-down, they’re the best steaks to put on the grill, period.
Now, it’s time to pick out one (or several) and fire up your grill. You don’t have to have the best grill for meat to cook these steaks up. Just a quality cut and the right grilling technique. Happy grilling!