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Are All Steaks Chewy? [Complete Temp And Cooking Guide]

No one likes to eat a tough and chewy steak. If you have ever ordered one that is tougher than a two-dollar steak, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Most people just raise the white flag and surrender to the meat. This begs them to ask the age-old question, are all steaks chewy?

Not all steaks are chewy. Many cuts are delicious and tender. Steaks that are tough to eat often come from parts of the cow that does all of the heavy lifting, such as leaner muscles. Body parts such as the loin are a prime choice. If prepared and cooked properly, they will be the most tender meat you ever eat.

So, is there more you should know about steaks? Indeed, there is! There are a number of things that go into cooking delicious steaks. From how you should cook it so that it is not chewy to what kind of cuts are not chewy, in this guide, I will explore this topic in detail and get behind this issue.

What Should You Do With Chewy Cuts Of Steak?

If you want to cook a steak that is not chewy, apply salt to it right before cooking. When you finish cooking, slice it against the grain after 5 minutes right from when you take it off the heat.

However, for tough cuts, try cooking it low and slow. Marinade it for some time and pound it with a mallet before cooking. You can also braise the meat.

Still too confusing? Worry not! Because I have made a guide for you on how to execute the methods in the proper way.

Cooking It Low And Slow

You may have heard on the grapevine that the most effective tenderizer is a long heat. If you did, then you have heard it right!

Many budget cuts, such as a chuck roast or a pork shoulder, require low-and-slow cooking techniques. When you cook the steak long enough, it breaks the collagen down into gelatin, which is soft and jiggly. Collagen is a part of the connective tissue that makes beef tough to chew.

This only happens when the internal heat reaches between 160 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It would take a long time to complete this process. So, you must hold your horses for the best result.

The thought of delicious, juicy meat might help you be more patient. "Better late than never," right? Besides, once the aroma starts to fill the entire kitchen, you will soon forget about the long hours.

Physically Pound The Meat

Meat is mainly made up of tough muscle fibers that have hardened through use over the years. Pounding with a meat mallet is kind of an effective method to make your beef softer. Simply beating the flesh into submission before cooking is one of the most effective ways to get a juicy, tender, non-chewy steak.

Now, you do not have to pound it to the point that the flesh turns into a mush. But, a gentle hammering with the rough edge of the mallet will do the job.

If you do not have one of these, that’s fine too! What you can do instead is take your knife and make cuts on the surface. Make some crosshatch patterns on the surface before seasoning. Or another thing you can do is poke tiny holes into the meat using a fork or toothpick.

Using A Marinade

Cuts like skirt steak or flank make great steaks, except they can be tough as nails to eat without a proper marinade. So, before you grill it, use acidic ingredients.

You could throw in some vinegar, lemon juice, or buttermilk. Not only will these break down the stubborn proteins, but they will also add more flavor to it!

Make sure not to let the meat sit in the marinade for a long time. A general rule of thumb would be thirty minutes to two hours in the marinade. In this related article, you will find some of the best marinade recipes for your meat.

Boiling Or Braising The Meat

When you boil tough cuts, such as round or chuck, they get more tender and easier to chew. This is due to the exposure of the beef to heat and moisture. Naturally, the collagen is broken down, which will result in a juicy, tenderized steak.

While boiling makes it easier to make a steak tender, it has to be executed the proper way. Braising is a moist-heat cooking method. This is where you make sure the meat is neck-deep in liquid.

Basically, you will be leaving it at a gentle simmer. That way, you can wait while the collagen is broken down.

A steady and gentle simmer is the way to go rather than full-on boiling. Keep in mind that you do not want the heat to go too high, or else you will have to dine on a tasteless beef cut. If the heat were too intense, you would get the opposite of what you wanted.

Here are the tough cuts that need to be braised or boiled:

  • London Broil
  • Chuck
  • Brisket
  • Flank

Reach The Right Internal Temperature

Hitting the right temperature can make all the difference! To give you an idea, naturally tough cuts, such as briskets, should be cooked to at least or around 195° F. And tender ones like a beef tenderloin need to be at least 125° F to get that rare doneness.

Low and slow cooking on a grill or pan can be a little complicated in terms of temperature. You can cook for hours once you maintain the desired temperature. Depending on the temperature of the grill and the size of the brisket, it needs at least anywhere from 8 hours to 14 hours.

If you are not sure of what the perfect temperature is you need for the desired doneness, here’s a guide:

DonenessPerfect Internal TemperatureColor Of The Meat Inside
Rare       125° F or 52° CThe Center of the meat is cool and red
Medium-Rare135° F or 57° CThe Center is still red but warmer
Medium145° F or 63° C The Center is pink and warm
Medium-Well150° F or 66° CThe Center is now only slightly pink
Well Done160° F or 71° C Almost no pink
Brisket203° F or 95° CPerfect

To find out which one of these temperatures you want to reach, you would require a meat thermometer in the kitchen. Here’s a list of the best meat thermometers you can buy.

To find out which one of these temperatures you want to reach, you would require a meat thermometer in the kitchen. Here’s a list of the best meat thermometers you can buy.

Which Cuts Of Steak Are Tender?

Although not all cuts are tender by nature, some can be made more tender by cooking them slowly for a longer period of time. Here are some of the steak cuts that you can easily make tender!

Top sirloin: Top sirloins are the most popular cuts of beef among sirloin steaks. Not only have they lived up to their name by being flexible, but also for their cheap prices. And some delicious New York Strips come from the short loin area.

Tenderloin: This is where the filet mignon comes from. It is one of the least chewy and most tender steaks.

These come from the cuts of muscles near the end of a cow’s kidney, meaning these come from rarely used muscles.

Skirt: This might come as a surprise, as skirt steaks are known for their toughness. But, once you get the tough covered membrane and do it some justice with the marinating, it will be one of the juiciest cuts you will ever have.

Ribeye Cap: It is likely you have never heard about one of these. You must try it once to get those mouth-watering prime ribs and ribeye from the rib area of the cow.

What is common in all of these cuts is that they come from the cow’s least used muscles. Notice that none of these are close to the back or the front of the legs.

So, when cows roam endlessly across the field they are raised in, these are not the muscles that get used the most. As a result, steaks from those parts of the cow are inherently the most tender.

Cooking a steak for a long time does not always result in a more tender steak. If you overcook a ribeye, tenderloin, or New York strip, they will all become tough and dry.

Which Cuts Of Steaks Are Chewy?

Parts of the cow that do most of the heavy lifting, such as its legs, are more likely to be tough. You will not have a good time trying to feast on those.

Among the chewiest cuts are:

  • Flank
  • Chuck
  • Round
  • Shank
  • London Broil

It’s safe to say that whatever cuts you choose to grill, it will depend on how well you cook them. For instance, an undercooked steak will more likely be a bit tough to eat.  This is because the fats did not get enough time to turn into the flavor. In addition, the undercooked ones will lack juiciness because they barely reach the internal temperature to start the juices flowing.

As a result, the steak will put up a tough fight with a chewy texture. This does not mean that overcooked ones might be easier to eat. Overcooked steaks, on the other hand, will be chewier and tougher since the long heat drains all the juices and fats. The more overcooked it is, the harder it will be.

With so many cuts available in the market, there is an even wider range of steaks to pick from. All the different ways of cooking and grilling each cut make for a unique culinary experience! So, it will be long before you start getting bored with some tender, finger-licking steak.

If you were among the many wondering are all steaks chewy, I hope this article has been enough to gather everything you need to know. As always, thanks for reading, and happy grilling!

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Author Ferdi
Written by Ferdi Vol
Ferdi Vol has been working for a grocery store for the last few years and he knows all the ins and outs of running a grocery store. He's also got great tips about what you need to know as a customer, from getting the most out of your money to knowing where everything is in the store! Ferdi loves sharing his passion with others via his blog on how to have an awesome shopping experience at your local grocery store.
About Ferdi Vol
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