Christmas is a great time of year to prepare a roast for the family dinner. However, knowing what cut to pick out of the 20+ you see in the grocery store can be a struggle. So, what are the best cuts of beef roast? You want a tender cut of beef — or at least one that will become tender during the cooking process. Of course, you can cook in a slow cooker, or oven, but how about smoking it on the grill? This guide from our friends at Chicago Steak will let you in on some secrets to find the best, most tender beef cut options.
The Chateaubriand beef tenderloin roast is considered to be the most tender cut of beef for a roast. This cut of beef comes from the loin area of the cow, which is right below the backbone, behind the rib section and in front of the sirloin section. Because it’s not an overworked area of the muscle, the loin area is extremely tender. The Chateaubriand cut is the epitome of the loin with its delicate texture.
Other Options for Roast Beef or Pot Roast
The Chateaubriand tenderloin roast might be heralded as one of the best meat choices for a beef roast, but it’s certainly not the only one you can use. Some people prefer other cuts that have more flavor and can still come out just as tender, depending on how you cook them. Below are several other options you have for roast beef.
A rib roast is also known as a standing rib roast or a heart of rib roast. Regardless of the name, this roast is one of the most popular ones to cook in the Crock Pot or roast in the oven. This cut comes from the rib section of the cow, the same area you’d find a delicious ribeye steak. You can expect the rib roast to be just as marbled and flavorful as ribeye.
The tri-tip roast comes from the sirloin primal area of the cow, which is right behind the loin. The sirloin is usually divided into the top sirloin and the bottom sirloin sections, and the latter is where you’ll get a tri-tip roast from. It’s an exercised area, but not overly exercised, so it has an excellent amount of marbling that breaks down and tenderizes the meat when cooking.
Sirloin Roast Tip
The sirloin tip roast is one that you’ll need to take more care of when cooking than some other naturally tender cuts, like tenderloin roast and ribeye roast. This cut comes from the rump, which is a very exercised area. Therefore, it’s lean without the marbling you’d get from rib steak or tri-tip. But, with some marinade and slow cooking, it remains juicy and flavorful.
Strip Loin Roast
The strip loin can be either bone-in or boneless, and either one works well for a roast. It comes from the loin primal area, same as the Chateaubriand tenderloin cut. It’s the same cut butchers would slice into strip steak sections. It’s well marbled, so it stays tender and flavorful as the fat breaks down during roasting.
Top Round Roast
This lean cut comes from the rump area, which you can imagine is quite exercised. Because it doesn’t have the fat content that other roasts do, it comes out its best when it’s cooked for hours in the slow cooker to tenderize it. It’s less expensive than other beef roasts, which is why it might be a better option for some cooks.
Shoulder Petite Tender
The shoulder petite tender comes from the chuck section, which is the part of the animal that contains the shoulder. This area does get a lot of exercise, resulting in an overall leaner cut than prime rib and tenderloin roasts. However, it’s known for being full of flavor, and it can also be a cheaper option than the pricier ones on this list. For the best results, put it in the slow cooker for several hours.
If you’re looking to create a pot roast recipe, try a chuck roast. They’re one of the more affordable types of beef roasts. Since a chuck roast comes from the exercised shoulder area, it can be a bit tougher than other cuts, which is why it’s perfect for a pot roast in the slow cooker that gives it plenty of time to cook and tenderize.
Rump Roast or Eye of Round Roast
An eye of round roast is a type of rump roast, and many rump roast options create excellent roast beef. These cuts have a very beefy flavor, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular. For the best outcome, slow cooking or slow roasting is best to help the meat break down and become tender.
What to Look for in a Roast
We’ve told you all about the options to get the most tender cut of beef roast, including round roast, tenderloin roast, and a tri tip roast. But we also want to help you pick out the very best roast of your choice when you’re shopping for it at the supermarket or butcher shop.
First, we want to emphasize that expensive doesn’t always equal better. Sure, you’ll pay more per pound for a rib roast than you would a chuck roast. But it’s the quality that counts. And that quality comes from the source of the meat and the butcher’s attention to detail.
It’s more important to consider the quality than the price. Fresh, high-quality beef will have a nice, bright pinkish-red hue. If you poke it gently, the meat should bounce back at you.
More importantly, look for meat that hasn’t been raised with additives, like growth hormones and antibiotics. The packaging should say whether this is the case. And, if it’s within your budget, opt for USDA Prime meat, which includes the top tier of beef in the U.S.
If you need to stick with a roast that’s more affordable, try looking for slow cooker recipes. Tougher cuts can still have an excellent outcome in the slow cooker when they’re given plenty of time to tenderize.