Cheap cuts: How to buy beef

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

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.


Brisket on white plate
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


Seared beef with orange & chilli
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 ginger
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


Barbecued fajita steak
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 & horseradish relish
Silverside is very lean, but good for corned beef or salt beef.

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

Chuck and blade

Crispy topped Cumberland pie
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 bourguignon
The leg is similar to shin, so cook it slowly in plenty of liquid.

Try it in…
Beef bourguignon

Top rump

Roast beef & carrots with easy gravy
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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29th Jul, 2015
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!
8th Dec, 2014
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
31st Aug, 2014
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!
27th Apr, 2014
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!
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Doreen's daughter
29th Nov, 2013
Now that fuel is so expensive, I've returned to the 'haybox' method much used in the war. My modern version uses an old, non-feather double duvet which I've cut into three pieces so I can wash it. This works for any long-cook recipe other than those for whole joints, as it's not possible to get the initial heat on big pieces of meat. Take a plastic storage chest, or some other large box, and line it with the duvet - there should be at least two or three thicknesses all round the casserole dish. Follow the recipe as though you were going to cook in the oven: cook down the onions, brown the meat (flour first if you want to) and put into a casserole or large saucepan with the stock vegetables and any other flavourings. Add just enough liquid (water, wine, beer) to cover the ingredients - not too much - and bring to the boil. As quickly as possible, cover with clingfilm and/or a tight-fitting lid. Use greaseproof paper to sit on top of the food if it isn't almost to the top of the container - you don't want it to lose moisture. Now snuggle down into the duvet-lined box, packing the padding into the corners and finishing with a good thick layer on top of the dish. Leave for at least 12 hours When you lift off the layers of duvet, you'll find that the food is cooked through, and still hot. You should also have some rather good gravy.