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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: July 23, 2020 | 7 min read

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

What is a ranch steak? We’re glad you asked!

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.

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 cut steak, but with its rising popularity as part of the value meat movement, it is another excellent tasting cut 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!

What is a Ranch Steak?

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

The ranchers 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 chuck primal on a cow

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

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!

It 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.

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.

If interested, we have a very detailed and comprehensive beef cuts diagram and chart. Check it out!

Other Names for the Ranch Steak

Two ranch steaks on butcher paper with a peppery seasoning

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 it goes by:

  • Boneless Chuck Shoulder Center Cut steak – this lengthy name is the 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 cut, 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 cut 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.

It does have a very thin line of sinew that runs through the middle of the meat, 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, it only adds to the flavor 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.

Nutritional Info

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 it are few and far between.

A quick peruse of the internet shows it’s 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 tit, 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

Two well seasoned ranch steaks on a dark surface

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 cut of 7 to 8oz.

Check them out here:

Average Price

At the time of writing, it’s priced at $9 per lb, according to the one website we located above.

Portion Size: How Much Ranch Steak Per Person?

How much 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 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

Having already been trimmed of all fat and connective tissues by most butchers, it’s usually 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

It 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 this richly flavored cut.

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 meat 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 beefiness.

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 other well-known cuts, and it’s for this reason it’s becoming more popular.

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 cut? Or maybe it didn’t quite hit the spot? Either way, we, and our readers, want to hear from you!

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