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Ranch Steak: Origins, Cooking, Taste and Flavor Profile and More

The ranch steak is little known less often bought, a bit of a newcomer but a cracking cut of meat. You should try it! Find out all bout it in this short but detailed guide.

Emma Braby

Last Updated: May 29, 2020 | 7 min read

Cooked ranch steak, sliced on a chopping board sitting over charcoal

If you like a no-nonsense steak that is all meat and no fat, but you don’t want to pay the premiums attached to the Fillet and the Ribeye, then listen up cowboy!

Most people have never heard of the Ranch steak, but with its rising popularity as part of the value meat movement, it is another excellent tasting steak that won’t break the bank.

This means it’s finding its way into more of our grocery baskets and will soon be one of the worst kept secrets among steak lovers globally.

However, now that you’re here, you are going to be one of the first to know!

In this quick but comprehensive guide, we will talk you through where this cowboy cut comes from on the cow, how this affects its flavor and tenderness, the nutritional value, and how best to cook it, along with a few of our favorite recipes to get you going.

So, cowboys and cowgirls, saddle up, let’s crack the whip and take a Ranch steak ride.

What is Ranch Steak?

Here’s a quick video showing and discussing the Ranch steak in some detail. Check it out before continuing with the article:

The Ranch steak is a real tasty cut of meat. Very underrated, with many butchers and beef buffs claiming it makes a great alternative to the more expensive cuts such as Sirloin Tip or the Flat Iron steak.

It comes from the shoulder area of the cow. Therefore the muscle is worked a little more compared to other primals, leading to it lacking the tenderness of some other cuts.

But what it lacks in ease of eating compared to others, it makes up for in its full beefy flavor.

In order to earn the moniker of ‘Ranch’ steak, it needs to be trimmed of all excess fat, silver skin, and connective tissue so that it’s very lean.

It must also be free of the strip of gristle running through the middle, which we will talk about later on in this guide.

Where Does Ranch Steak Come from on the Cow?

diagram showing the chick primal on the cow
Image courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com

The Ranch steak comes from the Chuck primal, more specifically from the Clod Heart subprimal, and it sits next to the Flat Iron steak.

While the Chuck primal isn’t generally known for its tenderness, it’s really big on beef flavor, which is why so many steak lovers favor the meat from this primal. They deliver that beefy backhand that we love so much!

The Ranch steak sounds like it comes straight out of the cowboy’s survival guide, but you’ll be surprised to know it is a relatively new cut compared to a traditional Ribeye or Sirloin steak.

It has only been discovered in the Chuck primal since the beef industry-funded research into new cuts of beef for those wanting smaller and leaner cuts of beef, that were easy to cook with fewer leftovers.

Other Names for the Ranch Steak

The name is simply a commercialized name for the Boneless Chuck Shoulder Center Cut steak, as it is much easier for the masses to remember.

It also sounds much more appetizing and mouth-wateringly alluring, invoking images of large grass-fed beef cattle wandering the wilderness plains getting fat and juicy ready for us to eat.

There are a few other names that the Ranch steak goes by:

  • Boneless Chuck Shoulder Center Cut steak – this lengthy name is the steak’s technical name, but butchers and supermarkets worked out they could save a lot of money on less ink and smaller labels by calling it the Ranch steak.
  • Arm steak – named as such because it comes from the cow’s ‘arm.’

It’s likely your butcher will know what you mean by the Ranch steak, or the Boneless Chuck Shoulder Center Cut steak, but just in case they aren’t sure, the Industry ID 1114E (IMPS / NAMP) Will ensure that they get the correct cut.

Flavor, Texture, Fat Content and Tenderness

Because it isn’t an easy cook tender steak like a Ribeye or a Sirloin, it shouldn’t be cooked past medium, unless of course you like a chewy steak that gives your jaw a good workout.

Thankfully though, because of its strong beefy flavor, your reward for cooking it right is a meaty steak with a silky texture that is a pleasure to eat!

To qualify for the Ranch steak label, it needs to be trimmed of nearly all of the fat, except for the thinnest of fat cap edges that is almost non-existent.

The Ranch steak does have a very thin line of sinew that runs through the middle of the steak, similar to the Top Blade steak, that can’t be cut out during preparation.

While this puts many off, it is another thing that adds to its lower price, and it only adds to the flavor of the steak and really is no hardship to just eat around.

Typical Uses

The Ranch steak is versatile and can be used as a standalone steak, enjoyed in all its glory with a few simple sides.

It can also be used in stir-fries and Mexican fajita dishes as it’s cheap, and the strong flavor will easily stand up to marinades and heavy sauces.

Ranch Steak Nutrition

NutritionTotal Amount (Based on 3oz Serving)% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
Calories1508%
Saturated Fat2.3g13%
Protein22g44%
Iron2,3mg15%
Zinc6mg40%

Buying Ranch Steak

At present, buying the Ranch steak is no easy feat. Online meat markets that offer the Ranch steak are few and far between.

A quick peruse of the internet shows that the offer of Ranch steaks is not easily found. Most online meat markets will have articles and recipes that speak of the Ranch steak but no offerings within their shop.

There are a few supermarket chains that sell the Ranch steak, but sadly it is not available everywhere, so really, it is dependent upon where you live.

But fear not, many of the newfound value cuts are slowly making their way onto their sites, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for them.

So, the best and easiest way for you to get a hold of this great cut is to ask your butcher to either cut it for you or order it in. It’s times like these where you need a good relationship with your local butcher!

Where to Buy Ranch Steak Online

After a timely and comprehensive search of the web, we found just one outlet that sells the Ranch steak under the name ‘Beef Center Cut Shoulder Roast.’

This makes it sound like a large joint, but take a closer look, and you’ll see that the 3lb weight it speaks of is in fact four individual steaks as per the picture.

And just in case you’re terrible at math, this means an average steak of 7 to 8oz.

Check them out here:

Ranch Steak Price

At the time of writing, the Ranch steak is priced at $9 per lb, according to the one website we located above.

Portion Size: How Much Ranch Steak Per Person?

How much of the Ranch steak you need per person is entirely dependent on how big their appetite is, as well as what serve with it.

Cooking it to accompany a salad? You’ll need a bigger slab per person. Planning to serve it with a hearty potato dish or mac and cheese? Then you’ll need a little less (probably!)

A standard Ranch steak will measure 1 inch in thickness and weigh between 7 and 10oz, so one Ranch steak per person should be just right with a side of your choice.

How to Prepare Ranch Steak for Grilling or Smoking

Ranch steak isolated on white
Image courtesy of beefitswhatsfordinner.com

The Ranch steak, having already been trimmed of all fat and connective tissues, is ready to go.

Having a strong beefy flavor, it does not need any more than a dash of salt. Many like to marinade it to add an extra flavor dimension, and choosing an oil-based marinade will also help to prevent it from drying out.

Because it is lean and light, it can curl on the grill, so scoring it will help to prevent this if you like a presentably flat steak.

How to Cook Ranch Steak on a Grill or Smoker

The Ranch steak needs to be cooked hot and fast, and with its lack of fat cap and marbling, it’s ideally cooked on a searing hot grill to trap the juice within while cooking.

Here’s our guide to the perfect ‘high and dry’ steak:

  1. Pat the steaks dry and bring to room temperature.
  2. Heat your grill to maximum heat anywhere from 450-600f grill dependent.
  3. Season well, score, and place the steaks onto the sizzling grill.
  4. Cook for at least 4-5 minutes each side until close to medium, 135f internal, being careful not to overcook it as it will be dry, flavorless, and unbearably chewy.
  5. Remove from the grill. It will continue to cook for a few minutes after, so add a knob of butter and tent in tin foil to retain heat.
  6. Allow resting for at least 10 minutes, so it relaxes and re-distributes the juices.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Three Best Ranch Steak Recipes from Around the Web

Now you know all about this cowboy cut, here are 3 of our favorite recipes using the richly flavored Ranch steak.

Peppered Ranch Steaks with Caramelized Onions, by Beef It’s What’s for Dinner

Sometimes it’s the simplest of recipes that create the best dishes, and this one certainly is that dish!

Pressing the pepper blend onto the steak to create a punchy yet delicate crust, and served with roasted potatoes, sautéed spinach and caramelized onions, every steak lover will appreciate this recipe.

https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/recipes/recipe/1499/peppered-steaks-with-caramelized-onions

Honey & Sea Salt Ranch Steaks with Roasted Carrots, by Just Cook

The delicate balance of sweet honey and salty seasoning creates a harmonious flavor that will complement the rich and beefy Ranch steaks.

The steak is the star in this recipe, and all it needs to be accompanied by is roasted carrots tickled with thyme.

https://justcook.butcherbox.com/cuts/beef/ranch-steak/

Ranch Steaks with Jalapeno Basil Nut Pesto, by Certified Angus Beef

If you’re seeking a flavorsome punch to the tongue, then look no further than this recipe.

Jalapenos, garlic, and ginger combined with orange, brown sugar, and toasted hazelnuts create another sweet and zingy combo.

Served with a side salad, it’s great for a light summer dinner or hearty potato wedges for something more filling and warming.

https://www.certifiedangusbeef.com/recipes/recipedetail.aspx

Conclusion

The Ranch steak is another versatile and great value cut compared to the other well-known steaks, and it’s for this reason it’s becoming more well known.

When cooked right, it creates a melt-in-your-mouth experience, that is full of big beefy flavor while being easy on the purse strings and effort required.

There is absolutely no excuse not to add this to your BBQ repertoire!

Give this underdog steak a try with one of the recipes above and let us know how you get on in the comments below.

Have you found another online meat market that offers the Ranch? Is it your new favorite steak? Or maybe it didn’t quite hit the spot? Either way, we, and our readers, want to hear from you!

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