The Absolute Best Cuts Of Steak To Grill, According To A Chef

With the perfect combination of a delicious charred outer crust and a juicy, succulent interior, nothing beats a freshly grilled steak. It's always important to choose the best cuts of steak for different cooking methods, so which ones can withstand the intense dry heat of the grill and still produce a tasty and tender result? Food Republic asked a chef for some expert advice.

For chef CJ Jacobson of Aba restaurant in Miami, the secret is fat — or, more specifically, marbling. "The best cuts of steak, that can weather either a hot or not hot enough grill, are those that offer beautiful marbling like a New York or skirt steak," he advises. "These cuts offer marbling throughout and give home cooks the great flavor with a little bit of grace cookery."

Fat means flavor, and the little white threads that run through an evenly-marbled piece of steak add an extra-rich taste as they melt into the meat during cooking. But, as Jacobson points out, the fat content also makes it a more forgiving choice than something that's too lean. Well-marbled meat is a much easier option if you want a steak that remains tender and juicy on a hot grill, with less risk of the protein drying out or becoming overly tough.

Marbled steaks are easier to grill for a juicy result

Also known as a Kansas City strip, chef CJ Jacobson's choice of New York strip comes from the short beef subprimal portion of the animal — the same part you get T-bone and porterhouse steaks from. With a robustly beefy taste and good even marbling, it is well-suited to being cooked quickly on a fiercely hot grill. It will take around nine to 12 minutes in total on the grill for a New York strip that's an inch thick. Just remember to rest your steak after grilling (for about half the time it was cooked for) to get the juiciest result.

Skirt steak, which comes from muscles either inside the abdominal cavity or chest, is a tougher cut than strip. But its high proportion of fat distributed throughout means it stays succulent and tender when grilled hot and fast. It's best when served medium-rare to medium, so don't overcook it — a recipe for perfectly grilled skirt steak should note that you only need three to five minutes on each side. Slice it against the grain for the tenderest meat. 

The skirt cut is naturally full of intense flavor, but if you want to add even more then it also suits being marinated before it hits the hot grill. Take a tip from Jacobson, who serves skirt steak frites with a tasty shawarma spice at Aba. Or for extra richness, treat your steak to a boozy compound butter once grilled.