What Is the Best Cut of Steak for Fajitas and More? A Butcher Weighs In

Plan which cut to use for every steak recipe.

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Not all steaks are created equal. And if you can’t tell from the pricing, some steaks are certainly higher quality than others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive steaks are always better. Some lean steaks work better in certain dishes, while a heartier chop may be best utilized in another recipe. Before you grind up that filet for a hamburger, or use your New York strip for fajita night, look to our expert-sourced advice on which cut of steak to use for your favorite beef recipes

Best Cut of Steak for Fajitas

“For fajitas, I like something relatively tender and evenly marbled,” says Jake Dickson, owner of butcher shop Dickson’s Farmstand Meats. “I cut ¼-inch slices from the meat, toss with heavy seasoning, and sear. My go-to would be flatiron or Denver steak.”

Best Cut of Steak for Tacos

“For steak tacos, I go two ways, either classic ground beef (80/20 lean to fat) for an 80s style [Americanized] taco or steak,” says Dickson. Another option? “Something nicer that I cook is a whole steak to medium-rare, then slice and serve [as tacos]. For this, a wide range of cuts can work, such as flank steak, skirt steak, or New York Strip, if I'm feeling fancy. The tougher the cut, the thinner I slice it.”

Best Cut of Steak for Hamburgers

The best hamburgers are made from hand-ground beef. “Grinding meat tenderizes it by breaking up the muscle fibers, so there is no reason to grind a tender cut,” says Dickson. “I use a tough yet flavorful cut from the chuck. For lean ground, I use the shoulder clod. For fattier ground, I use a chuck eye. It all depends on which type of burger I'm in the mood for.”

Best Cut of Steak for a Stir Fry

“Just like a fajita, I love me some flatiron or Denver steak for a stir fry,” says Dickson.

Best Cut of Steak for Salad 

Topping salad with steak is a fantastic way to boost protein and flavor, and turn a side into a complete meal. “I like a really tender cut for salad, and I slice it quite thin,” says Dickson. “It's the only time I'd advocate for beef tenderloin as a good option, but flatiron will work just as well and have better flavor.”

Best Cut of Steak for Sandwiches

If it's sliced really thinly—we par freeze [our steak] and put it on a deli slicer—pretty much any cut will work,” notes Dickson. “If you're doing it yourself, grab whatever cut looks best at the butcher, toss in the freezer for 30 minutes, and take out your sharpest knife and slice as close to paper thin you can. Better to have it shred and fall apart than be too thick.” 

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