As we’ve been told time and time again, “fat is flavor.” Nowhere is this more applicable than in steaks, where the fat-to-meat ratio can mean the difference between a tough, chewy steak and a tender and delicious one. We’ve ranked 11 different steaks according to fat content, starting with the leanest and finishing with the fattiest.
On a steak, fat appears in two places. The first is extra-muscular fat, or fat trim, which can be found on the outside of the muscle and is easily trimmed off. It’s also generally not eaten, as it’s basically just gristle. Intramuscular fat, on the other hand, is a whole other story. Commonly referred to as “marbling,” it’s the fat that weaves its way through the steak itself, melting as it’s cooked and making the steak tender, juicy, and decadent.
Different steaks have plenty of different uses, largely dependent on the intramuscular fat content. A nice New York strip has excellent marbling, and is best when simply fried in a pan or broiled. Chuck steak, on the other hand, has nearly no marbling and will result in a tough piece of meat if simply grilled, so it’s best when braised and allowed to get fall-apart tender, which can take a couple hours.
It’s also good to know the fat content of steaks when you’re in a steakhouse. If you’re not a fan of fatty meat, for example, then you probably shouldn’t order a rib-eye, which will leave you hacking for pieces of fat-free meat. A filet mignon, on the other hand, while nowhere near fat-free, is usually entirely edible with no visible gristle.
Kobe beef (and its cousin, Wagyu), have been all the rage lately, and the primary reason behind that is marbling. To produce these varieties of beef, cows are granted a life of luxury, and as they fatten up more and more fat works its way into the muscles. Therefore, if you ever spring for a Kobe or Wagyu steak, you can expect the results to be super-marbled. These steaks should never be cooked more than medium-rare, and it’s so tender it’ll melt in your mouth.
But for today’s purposes, we’re talking about the everyday steaks that you’ll find in the butcher counter or at your favorite steakhouse. Read on to learn which steaks have the most fat, and which steaks have the least. Nutritional facts are from Calorie Count, and are based on a six-ounce cut.