If we had it our way, we’d be eating porterhouse and ribeye for dinner every night of the week. Then again, if we had it our way, pay day would be every day and bourbon—all of the bourbon everywhere—would be free. Unfortunately, we hardly ever get to have it our way. We pay for our bourbon, we wait patiently for Friday, and when our wallets wince at ribeye, we settle for some of the “lesser” cuts of beef: Flank, brisket, London broil, hanger, chuck eye, etc. But there’s always a way to eat it without breaking your bank or some teeth in the process.
London Broil (Top Round) with Herb Butter
Top round, also popularly called London Broil, is one of the cheapest cuts of steak money can buy, but it’s one of our favorites because of its availability and because it’s so damn easy to prepare if you know what you’re doing. This recipe calls for a skillet, but would do just fine on a conventional grill, too. The steak gets a simple marinade of soy sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, olive oil, beef bouillon, salt, and pepper, and the herb butter really sets it off with chives, parsley, tarragon, and lemon juice (we like to throw in some fresh garlic, too).
When it comes to cheaper cuts, preparation and marinating is important as cooking. Do not forget to add the lemon juice and soy sauce to the marinade, make sure you’re marinating it for long as possible (up to one day), and make sure you’re cutting against the grain so it stays tender. Recipe
Slow Cooked Wine Braised Beef Brisket
Another extraordinarily inexpensive cut, brisket is cut from the breast and lower chest of the cow. Because it is such a dense muscle that works hard, it is chock full of connective tissue and must be cooked perfectly for it to be worthwhile. That’s exactly why the low-and-slow technique of a slow cooker suits it so well.
This particular recipe calls for tomato paste, onions, carrots, Worcestershire, garlic, and a little liquid smoke and chili powder to keep things flavorful. But most importantly, it calls for red wine. The alcohol in the red wine helps soften all that connective tissue, and the slow cooking process over the span of 10-12 hours leaves this dish incredibly tender and juicy, as well as exceptionally flavorful. Recipe
Texas-Style Smoked Brisket
We’re giving brisket two spots on the list not because it’s a great of a cut, but because we’d be remiss not to include a smoked brisket recipe here. Another low and slow process of cooking—but one that yields an entirely different kind of meal—this Texas-style barbecue recipe is superb. It’ll take you a little longer to set up, and you may need to get creative if you don’t have a dedicated smoker, but in the end, it’s totally worth it. The best part is prepping the meat takes almost nothing, save for a little salt and pepper. Why? Because like most smoked barbecue, your brisket will pick up the majority of its flavor from the hickory/oak/apple wood chunks you’ll be using. Trust us when we tell you that if done properly, this is probably some of the best meat you’ll ever have in your life, let alone best brisket. Recipe
No-Nonsense Chuck Eye Steak
Chuck steak covers a lot of area on a cow, and you’ll find everything from shoulder meat right on through to the ribs. The “chuck eye” cut isn’t a very common cut, but when you can find it, it’s an incredible piece of meat that comes at a low cost. While ribeye is cut from ribs 6-12 on a cow, the chuck eye steak is cut from the fifth. It’s a little smaller and admittedly not as tender or flavorful as the rib eye, but it’s called “The Poor Man’s Rib Eye” for a reason. For a fraction of what you’d get a normal rib eye, you can have a wonderfully tender everyday steak to rival it.
Like other steaks, we prefer this in red-hot cast-iron skillet, liberally seasoned with kosher salt, black pepper, and rubbed down with olive oil. We also advocate some healthy butter basting, with some thyme, rosemary, and a clove or two of garlic for good measure. Recipe
Pan Seared Flat Iron (Top Blade) Steak With Peppercorns and Blue Cheese Butter
Of all the steaks on this list, the flat iron probably has the most interesting story. It was developed by a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska and University of Florida who were tasked with figuring out what to do with an otherwise unusable cut of beef from the cow shoulder. The cut showed good marbling and proved tender, but was marred by a massive piece of tough connective tissue that ran directly through the middle of the cut. The research team found a way to cut the tissue out, and so was born the Flat Iron (also known as the Top Blade).
It looks a lot like top round and can be prepared and cooked as such, but this recipe for peppercorn-crusted flat iron steak slathered in blue cheese butter is absolutely delicious. This cut of steak is incredibly tender, and cooked medium rare, delivers some of the most enjoyable steak experiences you’ll ever have—on a budget or not. Recipe
Classic Braised Beef Short Rib
Beef short rib can come in a couple different cuts; smaller cubes, longer strips, bone-in, and boneless. What we love most about this inexpensive cut is that for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t matter how you buy it because no matter what you do with it, it’s sure to be delicious. While you can definitely season and grill beef short ribs like any other cut of beef, we’re big fans of braised short rib because it’s easy to do and yields melt-in-your-mouth tender steak.
If you’re looking for a more no-fuss recipe, there are plenty of slow cooker braised short rib recipes out there, but we love this recipe because try as we might, we can’t find a single thing wrong with it. Your base is a mix of onion, garlic, beef broth and a little Worcestershire sauce, and even though it takes about 3 hours to cook, it’ll quickly make its way to the top of your favorite steak dishes list. Recipe
Grilled Mojo-Marinated Skirt Steak
Another very cheap cut of steak, most people complain that skirt steak is just too tough for anything other than use in a fajita or some kind of steak taco. And hey, we love steak tacos as much as the next hombres, but this is still incorrect. When it comes to skirt steak, it’s really all about how you marinade the cut, how you cook the cut, and how you slice the cut.
This recipe calls for a mix of homemade mojo with olive oil, minced garlic, ground cumin, salt, chopped cilantro, and a mix of both lime and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Keep in mind that citrus is super important, because it’ll soften up all that rough connective tissue. Let it marinate overnight, and grill it accordingly—high heat, flipping occasionally. The recipe also involves creating a pan sauce with the leftover marinade, which we aren’t opposed to. Recipe
Tri-tip is another particularly low cost cut of beef that we pick up any time we see it. The only issue is that it may be incredibly difficult to find for you non-West Coasters out there. But, if you can find it, this will quickly become your favorite cut because it’s very thick, very well-marbled, and offers up exactly the kind of flavor you think of when you dream about a fresh grilled steak. It’s cut from the bottom sirloin part of the cow, and is famous for being incredibly versatile and tender. In the Santa Maria valley of Southern California where this steak became famous, it is usually smoked with red oak, but this classic rub of salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and a hint of coriander would also do well on the grill. All you need to do is liberally rub the seasoning over the steak, and cook it your preferred way. Recipe