Cheap cuts: How to buy beef

  • By Natalie Hardwick - Senior writer -

You might think the butcher's shop is pricey, but you'll find a great variety of inexpensive cuts plus lots of advice.

Map of beef cuts

With names like flank, chuck and blade, the cheapest cuts of meat can sound severe and a little intimidating. However, butchers and professional chefs know the worth of these less popular cuts - they often have far more flavour than their expensive counterparts.

However, they do generally require longer cooking. The muscles that an animal uses most often - such as the shin or shoulder - are the toughest, but also the cheapest and most tasty. Most butchers buy animals whole too, so these parts should be readily available. Plus, you won't have to settle for pre-packaged portions and can buy exactly the amount you need. 

Our advice: Get to know your butcher and get your head around some of our favourite cheap cuts.


Award-winning West Yorkshire butcher Brindon Addy says brisket is one of his favourite cuts of beef. "I'd choose this over topside any day. A 700g joint will feed four people well and cost around £5.50."

Try it in…
Pot-roasted brisket in beer with parsnips & mushrooms
Texas barbecue brisket


Taken from the underbelly of the cow, skirt steak is very cheap to buy but should not be cooked further than medium otherwise it becomes very tough. It's traditionally used in Cornish pasties, so have a go at making your own. 

Try it in…
Seared beef with orange & chilli
Braised beef with anchovy toasts
Cornish pasties

Chinese braised beef with gingerShin

As this cut is taken from the leg, it usually comes with a bone intact. Stew in slices or use as a replacement for traditional veal shin in osso bucco. 

Try it in…
Chinese braised beef with ginger


Minced beef WellingtonFlank

A steak cut that's from the abdominal muscles of the cow, flank comes in thick, hindquarter and forequarter varieties. It works well minced.

Try it in…
Barbecued fajita steak
Minced beef Wellington


Salt beef with beetroot & horseradishSilverside

Silverside is very lean, but good for corned beef or salt beef.

Try it in…
Red flannel hash
Salt beef with beetroot & horseradish


Crispy-topped Cumberland pieChuck and blade

Dice and braise these cuts that come from the top of the animal, just past the neck.

Try it in…
Crispy-topped Cumberland pie


Beef bourguignonLeg

The leg is similar to shin, so cook it slowly in plenty of liquid.

Try it in…
Beef bourguignon


Roast beefTop rump

This is also known as thick flank- thinly slice it for a cheap steak or roast whole for an extremely economical Sunday lunch. If you serve it pink it will keep it tender.

Try it in…
Roast beef & carrots with easy gravy


Do you like to use cheap cuts? How do you like to serve them? Share your suggestions with us below

Comments, questions and tips

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rich1e's picture

I use skirt steak in the chunky chilli, also on this website. Given long slow cooking, it is really tender and flavoursome. Highly recommend it!

joey1994's picture

I buy my meat from Tom Hixson & Co, it comes straight from Smithfield market. Always great quality and great service and they can deliver

foxilein's picture

I love cooking with ox cheek. I braise it using my pressure cooker for only about half an hour - the meat melts in the mouth!

hoxhaj1's picture

Oxtail is also one of the best cuts of meat from beef. Its our family favourite even my 2 year old loves it. Just sear it, then put it in a slow cooker with 2 stock cubes and just cover with water. I cook for 4/5 hours. I do it in a morning and forget about it all day, so I'm not sure on exact cooking time. I then just cook pasta in the stock and serve. The stock is so rich its unbelievable with so little ingredients. You know its cooked when the meat literally falls off the bone. When I cook it the bones come out of the pot completely clean! I bought 2lbs for £5.60 from Morrison's last week. Did 2 meals for a family of 4!