How Many Porterhouse Steaks Can You Get from a Side of Beef?

For serious steak lovers, owning or splitting a whole side of beef is a dream come true. With a full side of beef, you get access to a variety of premium cuts like ribeyes, T-bones, tenderloins and the king of steaks – the porterhouse. But when you’re staring down a whole half a cow, a common question arises – just how many porterhouse steaks can you harvest from a side of beef?

In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to calculate the porterhouse yield from a side of beef. We’ll look at:

  • What exactly is a porterhouse steak?
  • How is it cut from the cow?
  • Average porterhouse steak size and weight
  • Factors that affect yield per animal
  • Estimating total quantity from a side
  • Butchering and cutting tips
  • How to select, store and cook porterhouses

Let’s dive right in and find out how many delicious porterhouse steaks you can enjoy from a full side of beef.

What Is a Porterhouse Steak?

Before estimating quantity it helps to understand exactly what makes a porterhouse steak. Porterhouse refers to a large, T-shaped bone steak cut from the short loin of the cow. It contains portions of two prized loin cuts – the tenderloin filet on one side of the bone and New York strip steak on the other.

To qualify as a porterhouse, the tenderloin section must be at least 1.25 inches wide from the bone. This large portion of tenderloin is what distinguishes it from a T-bone steak. So essentially, it’s two premium steaks in one – combining the tenderloin’s butter-like texture with the rich flavor of the strip steak.

The porterhouse is one of the most desirable and expensive cuts of beef due to its immense tenderness and mouthwatering taste. It’s definitely a special occasion splurge for any meat enthusiast.

Where Porterhouses Are Cut from the Cow

So where on the animal do these prized porterhouse steaks come from? As mentioned, they are cut from the short loin primal – specifically where the tenderloin and top loin muscles intersect in the rear back of the cow.

Diagram showing porterhouse location in the short loin primal cut

This area only accounts for about 5% of the animal’s total body weight. And only a portion of that yields porterhouses. For this reason, the porterhouse is one of the more rare and precious cuts.

The short loin is removed from the side of beef as one large, whole section before expert butchers carefully carve out the individual porterhouse steaks. The cutting skill and precision of the butcher can greatly affect the yield from an animal.

Typical Size and Weight

Porterhouse steaks are known for their generous size, averaging around 1 to 2 pounds each. However, this can vary based on the specific cow and thickness of the cuts. Here are some general porterhouse steak size benchmarks:

  • Diameter: roughly 1.5 to 2 inches thick
  • Length: around 10 to 14 inches long
  • Weight: approximately 1 to 2.5 pounds per steak

A larger diameter steak may only weigh 1.5 pounds if it’s trimmed and cut relatively thin. Well-marbled, bone-in cuts left fairly thick can push closer to 2.5+ pounds per steak.

When estimating quantity from an entire side of beef, you can use an average 1.5 to 2 pound weight per steak in your calculations. This covers the full range of potential porterhouse sizes you may end up with.

Factors Affecting Quantity from a Cow

Several factors influence the porterhouse yield from an animal. Here are some of the key considerations:

  • Breed and size – Larger breeds like Angus, Hereford or Charolais yield more meat overall. A 1200+ lb steer carcass produces greater quantities than smaller breeds.
  • Age and diet – Younger grass-fed cattle have smaller loins and tenderloins, reducing potential porterhouses. Well-marbled steers around 24-30 months old offer better yield.
  • Butchering – Butcher skill, precision, and waste factor greatly impact useable meat. Experienced butchers maximize yield.
  • Tenderloin size – Thicker tenderloins with the required 1.25 inch width produce more true porterhouses. Thinner tenderloins may get classified as T-bones depending on width.
  • Loin length – Longer loins offer more area for the butcher to carve individual steaks. Shorter loins limit yield.
  • Fat trimming – Heavily trimming fat before or after cutting reduces weight but improves portion cost per steak.

As you can see, getting an accurate porterhouse count requires understanding the cow itself and the butchering process. Next we’ll look at estimating the total yield.

Estimating Porterhouse Yield from a Side of Beef

So how many porterhouses can you expect from a whole side of beef? Here are some general guidelines:

  • Angus steer – The average Angus steer side yields approximately 4 to 7 decent sized porterhouse steaks.
  • Hereford/Charolais steer – Larger breeds can yield 5 to 8 porterhouses per side.
  • Grass-fed or heifer – Smaller, leaner animals may produce just 3 to 5 per side.
  • Butcher skill – Inefficient butchering may reduce yield by 1 or 2 steaks per side. Master butchers maximize useable meat.

Based on these estimates, you can expect approximately 15 to 30 pounds of porterhouse steaks from one side of beef. If you know the precise weight and breed of your cow along with your butcher’s skill level, you can hone in on a more accurate expected yield.

Get a rough idea of quantities, then have your butcher cut accordingly. Once the first steak is cut, you can adjust your order up or down based on actual size and portions available.

Butchering Tips for Maximizing Porterhouses

Butcher expertise and precision have a big impact on porterhouse yield. Here are some tips for maximizing the number of steaks from your side of beef:

  • Work with a master butcher – Their cutting skill makes a big difference in useable meat compared to average butchers.
  • Don’t trim first – Trimming fat before cutting means less weight per steak. Only trim later for appearance.
  • Cut uniform thickness – Cutting some steaks thicker than others reduces the total number of steaks. Cut all approximately 1.5-2 inches for consistency.
  • Maximize loin length – Get as many 10-14 inch steaks as possible from the whole loin before moving to sirloins.
  • Weigh sections – Weighing the tenderloin and NY strip before cutting helps estimate accurate portion sizes.
  • Coordinate tenderloin size – Cut NY strip and tenderloin together to maximize qualifying porterhouse cuts based on tenderloin width.

Purchasing, Storing and Cooking Tips

Once you have a supply of porterhouses, you’ll want to handle them with care for the best eating experience:

  • Purchase graded beef like Prime or Choice to ensure rich marbling and flavor. Lower quality grades can lack fat and tenderness.
  • Store properly – Freeze if holding more than 4-5 days. Otherwise keep refrigerated. Freeze steaks in portions rather than whole to avoid freezing/thawing damage.
  • Portion control – Cut into smaller steak sizes if needed to match your household’s consumption. Avoid freeze/thaw cycles.
  • Cook to doneness – Sear in a pan or grill up to 5 minutes per side. Finish in a 400°F oven until reaching 5°F below target temperature. Let rest 5+ minutes.
  • Cook tenderloin less – Remove the tenderloin side earlier to account for faster cooking time compared to the strip section.

Enjoy Perfectly Butchered Premium Steaks

Porterhouse Steak: Is It Worth The Hype?


How many porterhouse steaks do you get from a cow?

Porterhouse. Similar to the T-Bone but with a larger portion of Tenderloin, making it a substantial and flavorful cut. Porterhouse steaks are often large in size and can weigh up to 3 pounds each. You could expect to get about 4 – 5 porterhouse steaks for an entire average cow.

How many steaks from a side of beef?

The number of steaks that come with a half beef varies based on how the beef is cut. For example, steaks cut into a 1-inch thickness, result in approximately 12-14 sirloin steaks with a side. Steaks cut into 1 ½ -2 inches thick, result in about 6-7 sirloin steaks with a side of beef.

How much porterhouse steak is a portion?

It’s a cut from the rear end of the short loin, where the tenderloin and strip portion are larger, and because of this the Porterhouse includes more tenderloin steak than T-bone, along with a larger New York strip steak. A bone holds the New York and tenderloin cuts together, creating the Porterhouse cut.

How many people does a porterhouse steak serve?

With tender filet mignon on one side and robustly flavored New York strip on the other, this best-of-both-worlds cut is enough meat to feed two to four people, depending on its size. It’s basically a larger version of a T-bone but with a higher proportion of tenderloin.

How is a Porterhouse Steak cooked?

To cook a Porterhouse Steak, first clean it by brushing off old food debris. Then, lubricate it with oil using a folded paper towel. Season with plenty of salt and pepper, which adds flavor and helps ensure a great crust. Place the steak on the grill at the hottest end and sear for approximately 2 ½ minutes.

How many calories are in a Porterhouse steak?

A 3-ounce serving of Porterhouse steak from the filet mignon side contains 185 calories. It has 9 grams of fat, with 4 grams saturated and 4 grams monounsaturated. The nutritional information of a porterhouse steak depends on which part you eat, but the facts overall are quite similar.

How long should you grill a Porterhouse Steak for?

To grill a Porterhouse Steak, preheat the grill to 450°F (230°C). Grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side with the lid closed until your desired doneness. Rotate the steaks 45 degrees halfway through to get crosshatch grill marks. Remove and rest the steaks for 5 minutes before serving.

How do I choose a good Porterhouse steak?

To choose a good Porterhouse steak, ask the butcher for a porterhouse, ensuring it’s not a T-bone steak. A good porterhouse should be deep red and cut at least 1 inch thick, preferably 1 ½ inches, to prevent it from drying out during cooking. The strip side of the steak should have a generous marbling of white, not yellow, fat.

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