What Cut of Beef is Steak Tips? A Guide to This Versatile Yet Mysterious Meat

Steak tips are a delicious and affordable cut of beef, but their vagueness has left many home cooks wondering – what cut of beef actually are steak tips? Unlike more recognizable steaks like ribeye or sirloin, the term “steak tips” doesn’t refer to any specific part of the cow. However, there are some common traits to look for to understand the true nature of this protein.

In this article we’ll break down exactly what makes steak tips unique where they come from on the cow, how to cook them, and some recipe ideas to make the most of this budget-friendly meat. Let’s solve the mystery of steak tips once and for all!

What Are Steak Tips?

Steak tips are usually sold in uniform, bite-sized cubes or rectangular strips around 1-2 inches in size They are lean with little marbling, but have a good beefy flavor.

The key attributes of steak tips are:

  • Cut into small, uniform pieces
  • Very lean with little fat marbling
  • Affordable compared to premium steaks
  • Packed with beefy flavor
  • Can be tough if overcooked
  • Versatile for many cooking methods

Unlike a steak with a defined muscle like ribeye or sirloin, steak tips are less identifiable. They tend to be made up of smaller cuts of meat trimmed from different parts of the cow. This scrap meat is then portioned into cubes to produce the product we know as steak tips.

Some other names used for steak tips include cube steak tips, beef tips, sirloin tips, or flap meat tips. The inconsistent naming adds to the confusion over what cut this mystery meat comes from!

Where Do Steak Tips Come From on a Cow?

While steak tips can come from a few different muscles, they most commonly come from the sirloin. The sirloin is located in the hip region of the cow, behind the short loin where more expensive cuts like tenderloin are sourced.

According to The Spruce Eats, sirloin is one of the most popular steaks due to its good flavor and reasonable price point. It’s not as tender as pricier steaks, but makes up for it with its hearty beefiness. The sirloin contains several different muscles, like the top sirloin, bottom sirloin, and sirloin flap.

Trimmings from the sirloin muscles are ideal for making steak tips. The meat is usually very lean, with not much marbling. Fatty marbling adds tenderness and moisture, so steak tips can become tough and dry out easily during cooking. Their leanness makes steak tips a little harder to work with, but we’ll cover more cooking tips shortly.

According to Cook’s Illustrated, your best bet is to look for steak tips specifically labeled as “sirloin tips.” These come from the bottom sirloin, which Cook’s Illustrated says has the most intense beefy flavor compared to other sirloin cuts.

How to Cook Steak Tips

Steak tips offer great versatility – you can grill, pan-sear, braise, or slow cook them. Here are some tips for cooking steak tips to tender, juicy perfection:

  • Marinate first – The leanness of steak tips means they can get dry and chewy when cooked. Marinating for a few hours helps tenderize and adds moisture.

  • Don’t overcook – Cook quickly over high heat or low and slow, but don’t overcook. Steak tips can go from juicy to leathery in a matter of minutes.

  • Add fat – Basting with butter or oil while cooking adds back some much-needed moisture and fat.

  • Slow cook or braise – For super tender and flavorful steak tips, turn to wet cooking methods like braising or slow cooking in sauce or gravy.

  • Slice against the grain – This helps mitigate the meat’s natural toughness for a more tender bite.

With the right technique, steak tips can turn out incredibly flavorful, budget-friendly family meals. Here are some tasty recipe ideas:

  • Grilled Steak Tips – Quick marinade then grill for delicious kabobs, tacos, salads, and more.

  • Steak Tip Stir Fry – Tenderize in an Asian marinade then stir fry with veggies.

  • Steak Tip Stew – Simmer slowly in stew or gravy for ultra comforting, hearty meals.

  • Steak Tip Sandwiches – Pile tender braised steak tips onto crusty bread for delicious French dip sandwiches.

Get Creative with Steak Tips

Hopefully this guide has helped unravel the mystery of exactly what cut steak tips come from. While they can have vague origins and present some cooking challenges, steak tips offer an affordable, lean, and flavorful alternative to premium steaks.

A quick marinade and careful cooking helps mitigate their toughness. Then get creative, using steak tips in tacos, sandwiches, skewers, stir fries, and more family-friendly meals. With the right handling, steak tips can be transformed into a delicious and economical staple of your dinner routine.

How to Break Down a Beef Sirloin


What cut of steak is best for steak tips?

Steak tips are most often cut from the sirloin, but they can be cut from any part of the cow. These premium steak tips are robust and meaty thanks to the varied tender steaks they’re cut from, like tri-tip, flank steak, coulotte, and, of course, sirloin.

What is another name for steak 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 New England steak tips?

Steak tips are typically made from bavette steak (or flap steak).

What kind of meat is beef tips?

What Are Beef Tips? Technically, beef tips come from the tip cut of the tenderloin. However, many people use “beef tips” to refer to a dish that consists of cubed meat simmered slowly in a savory gravy until it’s tender. Cubed stew meat is used in this recipe.

What kind of steak do you use for steak tips?

The best cut of meat to use for steak tips is sirloin steak. But you can use practically any tender cut of beef you want, like stew meat, beef tenderloin, strip steak, round steak, and even flank steak. What is the best way to cook steak tips? The best way to cook steak tips is in a cast iron pan on the stovetop.

Are steak tips a good cut?

These tips are a superior cut but not what we consider to be a true steak tip, which should be a more pedestrian cut that is magically transformed into a desirable dish through marinating and cooking. If the steak tips at your market cost $8 to $10 per pound, the meat likely comes from the tenderloin.

What is the difference between beef tips and beef strips?

Many people get confused with beef tips and beef strips. But these two cuts are completely different. Beef strips are cut from fillet steak and the entire steak is used to make the strips. On the other hand, beef tips are cut from the edges of certain types of meat not the entire piece. The shape of these cuts are also different.

What are beef tips?

So, beef tips are the outcome of the cuttings of tenderloin. Initially, the pieces of tenderloin that were too small to be used in steaks were used as beef steaks. But the increase in the number of recipes resulted in people using different beef cuts to make “real” beef tips rather than using the leftovers of the tenderloin.

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