Grill season: cheap cuts of meat for great grilling

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By Kita R

Think you need to spend a lot of money for amazing grilled dinners? Save a few dollars and put these cheap cuts of meat to the test for the best grilling recipes all season long. 

Flank steak on grill.
Grilled flank. Photo credit: Girl Carnivore.

Great grilling doesn’t always mean spending top dollar on prime cuts and butcher-quality steaks. Explore a variety of affordable beef cuts that deliver mouthwatering flavors without breaking the bank. Elevate your grilling game with these common budget-friendly options, perfect for satisfying both your taste buds and wallet. Now, all you’ve got to do is get out your grill and clean it for amazing recipes all season long. 

The best cheap beef cuts for grilling

Choosing budget-friendly beef cuts is essential for enjoying delicious grilled meals without straining your finances. These economical options allow you to experiment with new flavors and recipes while also feeding the whole family. 

Grilled steaks, sliced.
Top sirloin steaks. Photo credit: Girl Carnivore.

Top sirloin 

Top sirloin is a lean and moderately tender cut from the upper rear of the cow. It has a milder beef flavor perfect for robust steak sauces but is still a great choice for grilling hot and fast. Top sirloin steak grills quickly and is perfectly portioned for individual servings with your favorite side dishes.

Chuck steak

This cut comes from the shoulder area and is known for its rich, beefy flavor. It can be a bit tough, but soaking it in a steak marinade and cooking it to medium rare can help tenderize this cheap cut of meat. Chuck steak is perfect for grilling in recipes like that keep it as a steak or diced and skewered for kebabs.

Skirt steak

This long, thin cut comes from the diaphragm area of the cow. It’s prized for its deep flavor and relatively tender texture when cooked properly. Skirt steak is perfect for fajitas, stir fries, or just simply grilling with some salt and pepper. Make sure to slice it against the grain to maximize tenderness.

Steak sliced for serving.
Sliced flank steak. Photo credit: Girl Carnivore.

Flank steak

Flank steak is lean and has a strong beefy flavor. It comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow and is often used in dishes that call for strips of beef. A good flank steak marinade can help to it for a few hours or overnight to help tenderize the meat. Grill it quickly over high heat to avoid overcooking. Slice it thinly against the grain to serve for the best results.

Hanger steak 

Also known as the “butcher’s steak,” hanger steak is a flavorful and relatively tender cut from the cow’s lower belly. It’s best when marinated and cooked over high heat to medium rare. Hanger steak works well in a variety of dishes.

All of these steaks are perfect for grilling on traditional charcoal grills, gas grills, flat top griddles like the Blackstone grill, or even pellet smokers and don’t require a Michelin star for perfect results. Simply set up your grill for 2-zone grilling, making a hot side and a cooler side, so you can control the cook. Do this with charcoal by stacking lit charcoal to one side of the grill or on a gas grill by igniting one burner and leaving the others off or on low. All grills hold heat differently, so take the time to familiarize yourself with your grill before cooking. 

And don’t overlook inexpensive chicken either, like grilled chicken leg quarters.

When grilling, we do always recommend a quality digital meat thermometer so that you can cook your steak to your desired doneness. And for even more added barbecue flavor, consider adding wood chips or chunks right to your charcoal. 

Hand picking up nachos.
Carne Asada Nachos. Photo credit: Girl Carnivore.

Tips for making cheap cuts of meat taste great

  1. Marinate: Use a flavorful marinade with acidic ingredients (such as vinegar or lemon juice) to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. Allow the beef to marinate for at least a few hours, or ideally overnight, for best results. However, avoid marinating too long as the acidity can cause the texture to get mushy. Eight to 12 hours is our max time for marinating beef. 
  2. Season well: Don’t be shy with the seasoning. Use a generous amount of salt and your favorite herbs and spices to enhance the natural flavors of the meat. We love a good dose of GirlCarnivore Ooomami Powder for really bringing out the beefy flavor of steaks. 
  3. Know whether to cook “low and slow” or “hot and fast”: Some cuts benefit from low and slow cooking methods, like smoking, which helps to break down tough fibers and create a tender, juicy end result. Others are served by hot and fast grilling over direct heat. Knowing what your inexpensive cut needs for the best results is the chef’s secret to making the most out of every cut. 
  4. Slice against the grain: Possibly the biggest trick to making sure your meat tastes amazing is in how it’s sliced. When cutting the cooked meat, be sure to slice it against the grain. This shortens the muscle fibers and makes the beef easier to chew, making these cheap cuts of beef top-tier.  
  5. Rest the meat: After grilling, let the meat rest for five] to 10 minutes, allowing the juices to redistribute within the meat before slicing into it. 
  6. Pair with your favorite side dishes: Complement your budget-friendly beef cut with delicious and flavorful side dishes, such as grilled vegetables, fresh salads, or creamy mashed potatoes. And don’t forget to grab wine glasses and the perfect wine pairing. This will help create a well-rounded meal and stretch your dollars even further.
Overhead shot of beautifully grilled flank steak over colourful salad.
Grilled Coffee Crusted Flank Steak Salad. Photo credit: Girl Carnivore.

Now that you’ve got some inspiration, set the table and light the charcoal. Start making the most of these cheap cuts of meat for grilling season. 

Kita Roberts is a meat maven behind the top food blog for meat lovers, GirlCarnivore.com, as well as PasstheSushi.com and RomanticWeekendGetaways.com. 

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