How to Cut Beef Bones at Home Like a Butcher

Listen up, home cooks! If you want to unlock more flavor and value from the beef you buy, learning how to cut beef bones yourself is a must-have skill As a long-time food nerd, I’ve gotten pretty handy with breaking down whole beef cuts right in my own kitchen

In this handy guide, I’ll share my tips for safely and easily cutting beef bones at home so you can enjoy bone-in dishes, make your own bone broth, and get more mileage from the beef you buy. Let’s dive in!

Why Cut Your Own Beef Bones?

Before we get to the how-to, here’s a quick rundown of why I think all home cooks should get comfortable with cutting beef bones themselves

  • Save money – Bone-in cuts are way cheaper per pound than buying pre-cut bone-in steaks and roasts at the store.

  • Better flavor – Cooking bone-in gives you more concentrated, beefy flavor. Plus, bones can be re-used for stocks.

  • Use the whole animal – Cutting your own bones helps reduce waste and uses more of the cow.

  • Customize cuts – Trim and portion bones to the exact size you need.

  • Control freshness – Pick the best quality bones and use immediately.

For these reasons, I make an effort to buy grass-fed whole beef subprimals like short ribs, chuck roll, and oxtail and butcher them myself into steaks, roasts, and bones for broth.

Once you get the hang of it, cutting bones is pretty simple. Next I’ll go over what tools you need to get started.

Equipment for Cutting Beef Bones at Home

You may not need to go full-on professional butcher shop, but having the right tools makes cutting beef bones much easier:

  • Sturdy cutting board – Get a large board that can secure bones while cutting. Wood or thick plastic works.

  • Sharp knife – A good 8-10 inch chef’s knife does the trick. I also use a 6 inch boning knife sometimes.

  • Butcher saw or cleaver (optional) – For thick marrow bones, a hand saw makes cleaner cuts.

  • Meat mallet – Helpful for cracking bones if needed.

  • Hand protection – Cutting gloves or finger guards to avoid accidents!

  • Apron – Keep your clothes from getting messy.

  • Containers -Have some ziplock bags, airtight containers, and foil on hand to store the bones.

Now that you’ve got your butcher gear, it’s time to get cutting!

How to Cut Beef Bones Step-By-Step

Follow these steps for safely and efficiently prepping beef bones at home:

1. Select Your Beef Bones

  • Choose bones suitable for your intended use. Marrow, knuckle, and neck bones work for broths. Short ribs, T-bone, and oxtail for bone-in cuts.

  • Get grass-fed/organic bones from a local butcher or specialty market if possible. The higher quality the better!

2. Prep Your Workspace

  • Clear a large cutting board or prep a stable countertop area. Protect surrounding surfaces with towels.

  • Have your knife, saw, and gloves within easy reach. Place a garbage bag nearby for bone scraps.

  • Give bones a rinse if needed and pat dry. Chilling bones briefly firms them up for easier cutting.

3. Secure the Bone

  • Place bone firmly on cutting board. Hold bone steady with your free hand placed safely away from cutting path.

  • For marrow bones, use a mallet to gently crack bone lengthwise. This gives the knife a groove to get started.

4. Start Cutting

  • With a chef’s knife, make angled cuts against the bone. Use a gentler back-and-forth sawing motion.

  • Apply steady pressure but don’t force the blade. Let the knife do the work.

  • Rotate bone as needed to cut from different angles.

  • For thicker bones like knuckle bones, use a meat cleaver or hand saw for cleaner cuts.

5. Clean Up and Store

  • Rinse cut bones under cold water to remove any bone dust or fragments. Pat dry.

  • Portion bones as needed, cutting into smaller pieces with your knife or kitchen shears.

  • Wrap tightly in foil and refrigerate for same-day use, or transfer to freezer bags and freeze.

And that’s it – with practice you’ll be breaking down all kinds of beef bones for soups, stews, and more with confidence!

Helpful Tips for Cutting Beef Bones

Here are some additional pointers to make cutting beef bones even easier:

  • Chill bones for 30 mins before cutting to firm them up. Easier to saw through when bones aren’t wobbly.

  • Keep a spray bottle of vinegar water handy to help sanitize bones, tools, and surfaces as you work.

  • Use a paper towel to improve your grip and hold bones steady.

  • For tricky marrow bones, try using a marrow spoon to scoop out marrow first. Then cut.

  • Work over a rimmed baking sheet to contain any drips or bone shards.

  • Go slowly, keeping the bone still with one hand while cutting with the other. Don’t rush it!

  • Cuts may look ragged at first – they don’t have to be perfect to get the flavor benefits.

Getting Creative with Your Home-Cut Beef Bones

The possibilities are endless once you start cutting your own bones! Here are some of my favorite ways to use them:

  • Roast marrow bones slathered in herbs – scoop out the marrow to enjoy as a decadent spread!

  • Braise and shred oxtails or short ribs for the most tender, fall-off-the-bone beef ever.

  • Simmer bones into a rich, gelatinous homemade beef bone broth.

  • Bread and fry cutlets of meat trimmed from around bones for crunchy appetizers.

  • Grill T-bones, porterhouses, and ribs to perfection from bones you cut yourself.

  • Bake cross-cut marrow bones into beefy crackers or crunchy toppings for salads and vegetables.

  • Extract bone marrow and whip it into compound butters for an extra dose of beefy richness.

However you put your home-cut beef bones to use, the added flavor and value can’t be beat. Once you get comfortable with the basic cutting skills, there’s no limit to what you can create!

Common Questions about Cutting Beef Bones

If you’re new to cutting beef bones at home, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What’s the easiest beef bone to cut at home?

For beginners, I recommend starting with softer bones like short ribs and oxtail. They don’t require as much force to cut through.

Can I use a regular kitchen knife to cut beef bones?

It’s possible, but a sturdy chef’s knife or boning knife works much better. The thicker blade stands up better to the force needed to saw through bones.

Do I need a meat cleaver for cutting beef bones?

A cleaver makes quick work of thicker marrow bones, but for most bones a chef’s knife will do the job with some patience.

How can I tell if a beef bone has gone bad?

Fresh bones should have a mild beefy smell. Rancid, sour, or ammonia odors mean the bone has spoiled and should be discarded.

What should I do if my knife gets stuck in a beef bone?

First, don’t panic or forcefully jerk the knife. Instead, gently wiggle the blade out at the same angle it went in. If needed, use a mallet to carefully tap the knife loose.

Can I freeze the beef bones after cutting them?

Absolutely! Wrapped well in foil or freezer bags, home-cut beef bones can be frozen for 6-9 months until you’re ready to use them.

Time to Get Cutting!

Now you’ve got all the know-how to start cutting beef bones like a boss. Remember to stay safe, work slowly, and have fun channeling your inner butcher. The added flavor and cost savings will make you wonder why you didn’t start cutting bones at home sooner!

Cutting through bone in meat with sawzall


What kind of knife to cut through bones?

Cleaver: to cut through bones and tendons Because of the thick blade the edge won’t be damaged. The amount of weight helps when cutting through the bones. In addition to meat this cleaver can also easily cut through hard vegetables.

What can I use to cut through bone?

There are a few knives that can cut through bone. Other than the cleaver, the most common knife used for cutting through bone is the standard butcher knife. In fact, the terms “butcher knife” and “cleaver” are often interchanged by casual users.

How to cut beef bones at home?

Before you embark on cutting beef bones at home, make sure you have the following tools on hand: Sharp butcher’s knife: A sharp knife is essential for clean and precise cuts. Cutting board: Choose a sturdy cutting board that can withstand the force of cutting through bones.

What type of meat is good for bones?

However, the type of meat that is best for the bones depends on the cooking method and cut of the meat. Lean meats such as chicken and fish are good options for bone health. Additionally, lean red meats such as beef and pork can also be beneficial for bones if cooked using healthy methods such as grilling or roasting.

How do you make the most out of beef bones?

Now that you’ve successfully cut your beef bones, let’s talk about how you can make the most out of them: Bone Broth: Transfer the cut bones to a large pot, cover them with water, and simmer for several hours to create an incredibly flavorful and nutritious bone broth. Use it as a base for soups, stews, or as a standalone comforting drink.

How do you cut a bone in a steak?

Make a clean cut: Using a sharp butcher’s knife or a meat cleaver (if needed), make a clean cut through the bone, applying steady pressure and utilizing a sawing motion. Be cautious when cutting through thicker bones, as they may require more force.

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