Keeping It Kosher: A Guide to Non-Kosher Cuts of Beef

As someone who loves exploring different cuisines, I’ve always been fascinated by kosher dietary laws. The intricacies of what makes food “kosher” or not goes far beyond just avoiding pork and shellfish. For observant Jews, keeping a kosher kitchen requires adhering to strict guidelines about which animals can be eaten and how they must be prepared.

When it comes to beef, what many don’t realize is that certain cuts are off-limits for those who keep kosher. While the front half of a cow is permitted the hindquarters beyond the 13th rib contain meat that is not considered kosher.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into understanding kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) and explore exactly which cuts of beef are prohibited for kosher consumers. Whether you keep kosher or are just curious to learn more, read on to discover the truth about non-kosher beef.

The Kosher Animals: Cows Qualify, Pigs Don’t

According to Jewish law, for a land animal to be kosher it must have split hooves and chew its cud. Cows, sheep, and goats all meet these requirements. Pigs, rabbits, camels, and rodents, however, do not.

Sea creatures must have fins and scales to be kosher. So fish like tuna and salmon are permitted, while shellfish like lobster, shrimp, and oysters are forbidden.

Only birds like chicken, turkey, duck, and goose make the kosher list. Predatory birds such as eagles, hawks, and vultures are prohibited.

Proper Slaughtering Techniques Are Essential

In addition to being the right species, kosher animals must be slaughtered according to Jewish law. This method is known as shechita and involves a razor-sharp knife severing the vital arteries and organs in one swift motion. This causes instant loss of consciousness and minimal pain.

After slaughter, the meat undergoes a soaking and salting process to remove all blood, which is forbidden for consumption. The sciatic nerve running through the hindquarters is also removed at this stage.

Why Are The Hindquarters Not Kosher?

Here’s where things get tricky. Although cows themselves are kosher, the hindquarters beyond the 13th rib contain meat that is not considered kosher due to:

  • Forbidden fats: The hindquarters contain a type of fat called chelev that is prohibited by Jewish law. It is diffused through the muscle tissue making it impossible to remove.

  • Sciatic nerve: This long nerve runs from the spine through the rear legs. Consuming it is strictly forbidden.

Because of these restrictions, kosher beef comes only from the forequarters of the animal. All cuts from the flank and rear end are off-limits.

The Forbidden Cuts: What’s Not Kosher

Specifically, these cuts of beef are prohibited for kosher consumers:

  • Flank steak
  • Sirloin steak
  • T-bone steak
  • Porterhouse steak
  • Tenderloin/Filet mignon
  • Top sirloin
  • Tri-tip
  • Round cuts like eye round, top round, and bottom round
  • Brisket
  • Shank
  • Short plate

Pretty much any steak from the rear or bottom of the cow will not make the kosher cut. Even if these cuts come from the forequarter, the sciatic nerve must be removed by a trained butcher before they are permitted. This is an extremely difficult process not commonly done outside of Israel.

The Kosher Cuts: Sticking to the Forequarters

To be certified kosher, beef typically comes from the front half the of the animal – specifically the chuck, rib, and shank primal cuts. From these areas, kosher consumers can enjoy:

  • Chuck roasts and steaks
  • Rib roasts like standing rib and prime rib
  • Short ribs
  • Skirt and flanken-style short ribs
  • Ground chuck and beef stew meat

While not quite as tender as loin and sirloin, these cuts offer plenty of flavor and versatility. Slow-cooking techniques like braising, stewing, and barbecuing can transform the chewier cuts into tender perfection.

Lesser-Known Kosher Cuts Worth Trying

In addition to the traditional kosher cuts, there are also some underutilized cuts from the forequarter that deserve more love:

  • Hanger steak
  • Flat iron steak
  • Denver steak
  • Mock tender/Teres major steak

Although obscure, these cuts offer great texture and beefy flavor. Their marbling gives them a richness similar to non-kosher cuts from the rear of the animal.

Buying Pre-Cut Kosher Meat

For those who don’t have access to a kosher butcher, there are options for buying pre-cut certified kosher beef online or in stores. Brands like Grow & Behold, KOL Foods, and Meal Mart provide quality kosher meat nationwide.

Be sure to look for the symbol of kosher certification on the packaging, which indicates proper rabbinical supervision. This is the only way to guarantee the meat has been prepared according to Jewish dietary laws.

The Significance of Kosher Laws

More than just a set of rules, keeping kosher is a way for observant Jews to make their relationship with God more holy. By only consuming meat prepared according to His laws, they are sanctifying themselves and their bodies as vessels of the divine.

The kosher dietary restrictions serve as a constant reminder to be conscious of one’s actions. They also promote self-discipline and obedience to God’s commandments.

Going Beyond Avoiding Pork and Shellfish

For those unfamiliar with kashrut, keeping kosher may seem limited to just avoiding pork and seafood. But the reality is it’s a detailed set of laws governing all food consumption.

In addition to permitted animals, kosher guidelines dictate:

  • Separating milk and meat
  • Not mixing dairy and meat dishes
  • Waiting 6 hours between eating meat and dairy
  • Ritual hand washing
  • Proper use of separate dishes, utensils and kitchens

Observant Jews who keep kosher dedicate themselves to adhering strictly to these dietary laws.

Give Kosher Cuts a Try

For those who don’t keep kosher, trying out these lesser-known kosher cuts can add excitement to your cooking. Brisket and short ribs have gone mainstream, but there is a whole world of underappreciated kosher cuts beyond the brisket.

Next time you’re cooking, consider picking up a chuck roast, hanger steak, or flat iron steak. With the right prep, you may find a new favorite!

So now you know which cuts qualify as kosher and why. Ultimately, keeping kosher provides a way for observant Jews to make their eating habits holy. By avoiding non-kosher cuts and meat, they bring sanctity and spiritual significance to every meal.

Kosher Meat: De-Veining, Salting and Soaking


Why is filet mignon not kosher?

Technically, filet mignon is as kosher as any other cut of meat. The problem with filet mignon and other cuts from the rear is that they are located near the sciatic nerve and fatty deposits known in Hebrew as chelev, which are Biblically forbidden.

Why is half the cow not kosher?

The specific parts of the cow that are prohibited are the sciatic nerves and the blood. As the sciatic nerve occurs in the cow’s hind quarters, it’s easier to just sell the whole back end to a non-kosher butcher than to try and remove it.

Is ribeye kosher?

RIB: Ribs are the most tender cut of kosher meat because the muscles in this area are not worked as much. Ribs should always be cooked using a dry heat cooking method. The rib section includes, rib steaks, ribeye steaks, club steaks, delmonico or mock filet mignon (which uses the center EYE of the rib).

Leave a Comment