are beef tips and stew meat the same

Are Beef Tips and Stew Meat the Same Thing?

Beef tips and stew meat – two popular cuts of beef that seem very similar. But are they actually the same thing? Or is there a difference home cooks should know about? In this article we’ll compare beef tips vs stew meat to determine when you can use them interchangeably and when it’s better to opt for one over the other.

What are Beef Tips?

First, let’s cover what exactly beef tips are:

  • Small, diced cubes of beef, usually 1-2 inches in size.

  • Made by cutting tender cuts of beef into bite-size pieces.

  • Common cuts used are sirloin, tenderloin, or flank steak.

  • Referenced as “tips” because they come from the tapered ends of larger cuts.

  • Leaner than stew meat with less marbling and connective tissue.

  • Cooks quickly, ideal for grilling, skewers, or pan-frying.

  • More expensive than stew meat since from premium cuts.

What is Stew Meat?

And here’s an overview of stew meat:

  • Cubed pieces of beef, generally 1-2 inches like beef tips.

  • Made by cutting less tender cuts into small chunks.

  • Common cuts are chuck, round, brisket, shank.

  • Contains more connective tissue from well-worked areas.

  • Meat has more marbling and fat content.

  • Benefits from moist cooking methods like braising.

  • Takes longer to become tender due to toughness.

  • More affordable since from less premium cuts.

Key Differences Between Beef Tips and Stew Meat

There are a few key differences between beef tips and stew meat:

Tenderness – Beef tips come from tender cuts so they are naturally more tender. Stew meat comes from tougher cuts with more connective tissue.

Cook time – Beef tips cook quickly, just until browned or cooked through. Stew meat requires long, slow moist cooking to break down connective tissues.

Fat content – Beef tips are leaner with less marbling. Stew meat has more internal fat and connective tissue.

Flavor – Beef tips have a milder beef flavor. Stew meat is more intensely beefy and rich.

Cost – Beef tips cost more per pound since they come from premium cuts. Stew meat costs less as it uses scrap cuts.

When Are They Interchangeable?

The good news is beef tips and stew meat can often be used interchangeably in recipes, with a few caveats:

  • In the slow cooker – Both will become tender and work for stews, chilis, pot roasts.

  • When diced small – Uniform 1-inch cubes result in similar texture.

  • When cooking method matches cut – Braise stew meat, quick-cook tips.

  • For seasoned dishes – Spices and sauces mask differences in flavor.

  • When cost is main concern – Either can provide beef flavor on a budget.

Examples of Interchangeable Uses:

  • Beef stew – Use either, cook low and slow.

  • Beef stroganoff – Cook stew meat longer before adding sauce.

  • Shredded beef tacos – Braise stew meat or cook tips just until done.

  • Beef kabobs – Cook quickly over high heat.

  • Beef chili – Use traditional stew meat or quick-cooking tips.

When Should You Avoid Swapping?

There are certain situations where beef tips and stew meat should not be used interchangeably:

  • Pan-frying or grilling – Tips will cook properly, stew meat won’t.

  • Short cooking time – Stew meat won’t have time to become tender.

  • Serving cubes whole – Texture difference will be pronounced.

  • Minimal seasoning – Stew meat’s bold flavor will stand out.

  • When tenderness is key – Stew meat loses, tips win.

  • Appearance matters – Stew meat has more visible fat.

Examples to Avoid Substituting:

  • Steak fajitas – Need quick-cooking tender cubes.

  • Skewered beef app – Tips will cook better over high heat.

  • Sloppy Joes – Stew meat may remain chewy.

  • Simple beef and broccoli stir fry – Tips are a better match.

  • Beef carpaccio – Require the tenderness of tips.

The Takeaway

While beef tips and stew meat share some similarities, there are situations where one works better than the other. For braises, stews, and chili where cook time is flexible, they can be used interchangeably. But for quick cooking or when tenderness is important, stick with beef tips. Consider cost and preparation method when deciding between beef tips vs stew meat for your recipe. With the right cut and the right cooking technique, both can result in flavorful beef dishes.

Beef Tips Recipe – How to Make Beef Tips and Gravy


Are beef tips the same as stew beef?

Stew meat usually contains a tougher cut of meat (such as a chuck or rump roast) which is best suited for making Slow Cooker Beef Stew. Beef Tips should be prepared with a more tender cut of meat such as sirloin or tenderloin, unless they’re being prepared in the Slow Cooker.

What is another name for beef tips?

Although its name suggests otherwise, this cut comes from the Round primal, and is found on the front end of the rear leg. Often fabricated into roasts, which are great when braised, but can also be cut into steaks or used for Ground Beef. Also known as Knuckle and formerly known as Round Tip.

What cut of meat is beef tips?

That being said, we should mention that while a steak tip is typically cut from sirloin, it may also be cut from flank steak, tenderloin tips, and parts of the round. The type of cut may also depend on which region of the country you’re visiting.

What meat is the same as stew meat?

What Cut of Beef Is Stew Meat? Stew meat is made from cuts of beef with lots of tough connective tissue, namely chuck and/or round. When you simmer it in a liquid, the connective tissue breaks down and becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender. That’s why it’s traditionally braised in stock and turned into beef stew.

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