Uncovering the Mystery Meat: What Cut Makes the Best Beef Tips

As a meat-loving home cook, I’m always looking for new and tasty ways to prepare beef. Beef tips have long been a go-to choice when I want a quick, protein-packed meal. These small, tender pieces of meat are great in stews, kebabs, stir fries, and more. But I’ve always wondered – what cut of beef actually makes the best beef tips? Is it a specific part of the cow? Or do butchers just hack up random scraps into tiny pieces and call it beef tips? Time for this carnivore to get to the bottom of the mystery!

Defining “Beef Tips”

First, let’s start with a clear definition of what beef tips actually are Beef tips refer to small, bite-sized pieces of beef, usually around 1-2 inches cubed. They are designed to cook quickly while still retaining moisture and tenderness.

Beef tips are known for being very versatile – they can braise in stews, skewer in kebabs, or stir fry as the protein base for a meal. Their small size gives them a higher surface area so they absorb flavors and marinades easily. You’ll often see them sold pre-cut and packaged as “stew meat” for convenient use in recipes.

Potential Source Cuts for Beef Tips

After doing some research, I learned that beef tips don’t come from any single primal or subprimal cut. They are essentially small pieces that are trimmed from larger cuts of beef during butchering. Here are some of the common source cuts:

  • Chuck – The heavily exercised chuck area contains connective tissue that must be broken down through moist cooking methods. Cubed for stew meat or tips.

  • Bottom Round – Lean and moderately tough round cuts are usually sliced thin for dishes like stir fries. The trimmings make good beef tips.

  • Flank – This flat cut is scored and cubed up for tips after the long flank steak is removed.

  • Plate – Short ribs and skirt steak are cut away from the plate primal, leaving behind meat suitable for tips.

  • Brisket – The fatty point half of the brisket is sometimes cubed for tips after the flat half is removed.

  • Sirloin – Rowdy, active muscles mean sirloin trimmings work well for kebabs or tips needing marination.

What Makes the Best Beef for Tips?

After learning about the source cuts, I realized the ideal beef for tips should have these characteristics:

  • Flavor – Cut from areas like chuck, brisket, and plate to get flavor from fat marbling.

  • Tenderness – Either tender already or able to become tender when braised in liquid. Should never be tough.

  • Moistness – Cut from juicier parts of the animal. Should not be overly lean.

  • Affordability – As a budget-friendly cuts, tips utilize trimmings that would otherwise be discarded or ground.

Considering these criteria, in my opinion the best cuts for beef tips are:

  • Chuck – My top choice. Has the ideal marbling and connective tissue for moist, tender beef tips.

  • Brisket Point – Excellent flavor and becomes fall-apart tender when braised slowly in liquid.

  • Plate – Well-marbled and tasty. Short plate ribs make fabulous boneless tips.

Not All Beef Tips Are Created Equal

The specific cut used can make a big difference in the end result of your beef tips. Here are some things I learned about the various options:

  • Chuck tips – Best all-around choice. Retains moisture and becomes tender after long braising.

  • Sirloin tips – Leaner and needs more marination. Best for dishes with lots of sauce or liquid.

  • Round tips – Can turn out dry if overcooked. Best for quick, high-heat methods like stir fries.

  • Brisket tips – Require slow cooking but reward you with ultra-tender, flavorful beef.

  • Flank tips – A budget option but can be fibrous. Works in highly seasoned dishes.

No matter what the source cut, always make sure your beef tips are trimmed of excess fat and sinew. Uniform 1-2 inch cubes will cook most evenly.

Best Cooking Methods for Beef Tips

Beef tips are so versatile they can be cooked many ways, but moist-heat methods are best to break down connective tissue:

  • Braising – Low and slow braised beef tips become fall-apart tender. Use in stews, pot roasts, etc.

  • Simmering – Gently simmered in sauce or gravy, tips stay moist while cooking through.

  • Steaming – Steaming helps retain moisture, especially for leaner sirloin or round tips.

  • Stir frying – Quick stir frying keeps fast-cooking round or flank tips from drying out.

  • Grilling – Marinate first, then grill over high heat just until medium rare to prevent toughness.

My Favorite Ways to Use Beef Tips

Now that I know how to choose and cook beef tips properly, here are some of my favorite ways to use them:

  • Beef stew – Low and slow braise chuck tips in red wine or broth.

  • Beef stroganoff – Simmer sirloin tips in a creamy mushroom sauce.

  • Mongolian beef – Quick-cook stir fried flank tips in a Chinese brown sauce.

  • Beef kebabs – Alternate marinated sirloin tips with veggies on skewers.

  • Homemade Hamburger Helper – Chuck tips in cheesy pasta or rice casseroles.

  • Beef dip sandwiches – Shred braised chuck tips and pile on rolls with au jus.

With the right cut and cooking method, beef tips can be turned into so many easy, flavor-packed meals. Now that I know what really makes great beef tips, I can skip the mystery meat and go for the most delicious option every time!

Beef Tips and Rice | Delicious Beef Tips & Gravy


What cut of beef is best for beef tips?

Sirloin or Tenderloin cuts are best for making beef tips on the stove top as they don’t require as much low and slow cooking to render down and tenderize. Tender Cuts of Meat: Sirloin, Flank, Ribeye, Tenderloin. Tougher Cuts of Meat: Chuck Roast, Rump Roast, Brisket.

What are beef tips called at the grocery store?

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.

Are stew beef and beef tips the same thing?

They come from two distinct areas! Stew Meat often originates from the end cuts of the animal, more suited for braising and longer cooking times, while steak tips come from the middle meats, making them the perfect grilling option!

Are beef tips just steak?

While part of the sirloin tip is often used, steak tips can also come from flap meat, flank steak, as well as tenderloin tip and parts of the round. Just don’t use a T-bone or filet mignon to make tips, those should cook up unbothered to a nice medium-rare.

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