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The Primal Cuts of Beef: Chuck

Whether you realize it or not, one of your favorite cuts of beef is the chuck. That’s because chuck beef provides the foundation for popular meals such as juicy burgers and spicy tacos. It’s also likely the source of the roast that’s been in your slow cooker all day. 

Those are all very, very good things. Richly marbled, with an almost buttery flavor, chuck offers the right balance of beef flavor and tenderness. Not only is it the go-to source for burgers and ground beef, but a bone-in chuck steak provides an economical alternative to steaks made from prime cuts.

The Cuts of Beef

Beef is typically broken down into eight “primal cuts” - not be confused with “prime cuts,” a term used to describe the high-end cuts of beef. They are:

  • Chuck
  • Rib
  • Loin
  • Round
  • Flank
  • Short Plate
  • Brisket
  • Shank

Within each of those primal cuts are “sub-primal” cuts, which are the large cuts of beef from which the portion-sized cuts are eventually made.

Where the Chuck is Located

The chuck is a rectangular cut that is about an inch thick and contains part of the shoulder blade. Cuts from the chuck are flavorful and well-marbled. They are the ideal cut for slow braising. They also provide an excellent value for customers, as chuck cuts provide great flavor but are usually not as expensive as those from the loin.

The shape of the bone in some cuts of chuck resembles a “7,” which is why some cuts are called the Seven-Bone Steak or Seven-Bone Roast. Other cuts include:

  • Blade steak
  • Blade roast
  • Beef chuck pot roast
  • Bone-in chuck
  • Chuck roll (boneless version of the bone-in chuck)
  • Chuck eye steak
  • Chuck eye roast
  • Ground chuck

The chuck flap also provides some of the most tender meat available.

How The Chuck Is Used

How isn’t the chuck used? It’s most popular cut of beef for a reason – versatility and flavor.

In the United States, everyone at some point has enjoyed a burger grilled at a picnic or in the backyard. Chances are that’s one of your best memories of beef. Most likely, that burger came from the chuck.

But it doesn’t stop there. Asian cuisine uses meat from the chuck for short ribs. The ground meat from the chuck remains the most popular beef in traditional tacos. Chuck also provides the meat for other Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, such as tamales and enchiladas.

Most pot roasts – cooked over low heat with vegetables – get their tenderness and flavor from the fact that it’s chuck beef in the pot. The best stew recipes often feature chuck beef. Seasoned ground chuck goes well in spaghetti sauce. Like beef stroganoff? That’s chuck meat, too.

The chuck is the versatile, tasty cut of beef that is what you want if you’re not sure what you plan to cook but want a flavorful cut of beef. Whatever dish you finally decide to make, you can count on beef from the chuck to work well for you.

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