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Cheap and Lean: Eye of Round

Cheap and Lean: Eye of Round

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We‘ve had a lot of discussion lately both on this Web siteand in-house about cheap cuts of beef. Here’s another that meetsboth criteria: Eye of round.

You may have run into some bone-dry eye of round in yourday. Meat so tough it bites back. I know I have. But it can actually be quite tender and tasty if youunderstand the cut and use a suitable cooking method.

Eye of round comes from the steer’s hind quarter (fellowfood geeks will be able to amuse themselves for days on this site).It’s considered the most tender portion of the round, but tender is a veryrelative term here. (Think of how, say, aluminum is tender compared tostainless steel.) Because it’s so lean, eye of round is an inherently toughcut. And it doesn’t boast lots of connective tissues that make some other toughcuts great candidates for braising. High-heat roasting can dry it out andtoughen it further.

Perhaps the best way to approach eye of round islow-temperature roasting. Season the meat well to start—as a lean cut, it needsa little help in the flavor department. After searing on all sides to brown theexterior, put the roast in a 200-225° oven (ideally using a probe thermometerto monitor progress) until it hits 130° or whatever your preference is. Restfor 15-20 minutes and slice thinly.

The end result: A tender, juicy roast that’ll feed yourfamily without breaking the bank (it’s as cheap as $3.49 a pound at some of mylocal markets). And the leftovers make for delicious roast beefsandwiches.

Photo courtesy of Ned Raggett on Flickr.

The 5 Best High-Protein Cuts Of Steak

Even though they're all from the same animal, not all steaks are cut from the same cloth. Here are the best high-protein cuts of beef that won't butcher your fitness goals!

Chicken and fish are bodybuilding staples, but once in a while you want to let loose your inner T-rex and dig into a thick piece of steak. After all, beef is high in protein and other nutrients that are undeniably vital to an active body. But depending on the cut you choose, steak can quickly go from a top-notch bodybuilding food to one that's going to sink your clean diet. And it's all because of the calories from saturated fat.

How bad can the wrong choice be? Consider that a 12-ounce serving of rib-eye trimmed of all visible fat still has 480 calories from fat alone. Can your diet absorb that kind of punch?

Whether you're eating out at a steakhouse or choosing a cut from your butcher, it pays to know your cuts of beef, especially if you're watching your calorie intake to get lean. In fact, don't make the mistake of asking your waiter for the most flavorful cut, which is most likely going to steer you in the wrong direction because of greater amounts of fat. Fat, in fact, enhances flavor.

That doesn't mean you have to be stuck with a dry piece of beef, of course. Preparation methods and spices can make or break any cut of steak. But let's start by putting together a list of steaks that show your muscles and midriff some serious love by delivering a better protein-to-fat ratio than their counterparts.

In other words, we have no beef with these lean, mean superstar steaks that are a cut above the rest! Bonus: Most of them will also keep your costs down at the grocery store. Yes, fattier steaks oftentimes cost more!

1. Eye Of Round (Protein-To-Fat Ratio: 7:1)

Not only is the often overlooked eye of round one of the leanest cuts at the butcher, it can also be one of the most economical. It's taken from near the rear legs, or the "round" part of the beast. Beyond it's a payload of muscle-sculpting protein, this steak also delivers healthy amounts of highly absorbable iron to help give your workouts a boost of energy.

Prep Tip: Eye of round can be slightly tough and dry. To help tenderize the meat and add moisture, try marinating it for an hour or more in a mixture of oil, soy sauce, and salt.

2. Sirloin-Tip Side Steak (Protein-To-Fat Ratio: 7:1)

Also called "knuckle steak," this is a very lean cut taken from the top of the round or hip of the animal. It's not to be confused with top sirloin. On top of protein, you can count on this steak for a source of niacin, a B vitamin necessary to convert the food you nosh on into the energy you use in the squat rack.

Prep Tip: You can make a lean cut of steak such as this one even leaner by trimming off the visible fat before cooking. However, leaving on some of the white stuff can infuse great flavor. So consider shedding the fat post-grilling.

3. Top Sirloin (Protein-To-Fat Ratio: 5:1)

Gleaned from the loin section of the beast, this cut of steak offers up good flavor and moderately tender meat at a budget-friendly price. So you get the best of both worlds—great taste without the onslaught of fatty calories. As with other red meats, top sirloin is a natural source of creatine, the ultrapopular compound shown to bolster feats of strength on the gym floor.

Prep Tip: Lean meats like sirloin can quickly become tougher than shoe leather when overcooked. Your best defense against eating a hockey puck is to cook the steak over high heat not past medium-rare, about 3 minutes per side.

4. Bottom Round (Protein-To-Fat Ratio: 4:1)

Similar to top round, this steak is taken from the rump region of the animal. Each 3-ounce serving ponies up nearly 20 grams of top-notch protein that your transforming muscles crave, along with healthy amounts of selenium, a potent antioxidant that may aid in exercise recovery.

Prep Tip: Since this cut is not praised for being overly tender, it's a great candidate for braising or slow cooking in some liquid over a longer period of time to help tenderize the meat.

5. Skirt Steak (Protein-To-Fat Ratio: 2.5:1)

If you're looking for a steak with rich, beefy flavor that won't break the fat bank, look no further than skirt steak. This long cut of steak is sourced from the diaphragm muscles of the beast.

Prep Tip: Skirt steak is best pan-seared or grilled over high heat and makes an outstanding fajita, sandwich, or stir-fry meat. Cooked skirt steak should be sliced across the grain to help break up the tough fibers.

Cuts To Avoid

You don't have to completely cut these steaks out of your training diet, but their lofty fat numbers should make them more of a splurge than a regular gastronomic occurrence.

  • Rib-eye steak: Protein-to-fat ratio: 1:1
  • T-bone steak: Protein-to-fat ratio: 1.2:1
  • Porterhouse steak: Protein-to-fat ratio: 1.5:1

About the Author

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MSc., is a registered dietitian based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He works full-time as a freelance nutrition writer.

4 Steaks You Can Actually Afford

We don’t eat rib eyes every night. Partially because our blood pressure would go through the roof, but mostly because we can’t afford it. The most tender, well-marbled cuts of steak are expensive, but there are plenty of delicious cuts of steak out there that won't break the bank. (Read: more steak, more often.)

The best cheap cuts of steak are always changing. Like the cut of your pants, steaks go through trends. We used to love hanger or skirt steak as a cheap cut, but since they’ve gained popularity and risen in price, we’ve started looking elsewhere. These are four of our most trusty budget steaks, which you can totally find at any Whole Foods or old-school butcher, for weeknight indulgence, Rent Week dinner parties, or just about anything else.

Checkout this Video Recipe

Most of the time when you think of brining or curing beef we are discussing brisket to make corned beef or pastrami.

Eye Round can benefit from some of these processes as well. I like to give the eye round an overnight brine using Real Salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, onion and garlic.

The beef will turn a pale color but don’t worry, it won’t affect the final product other than making it more tender and juicy. For a easy cheat recipe for pastrami check out this recipe.

Five Affordable Beef Steaks and Roasts for Cheap Meals

Are you looking for great-tasting beef steaks and roasts that are economical? These overlooked budget-friendly beef cuts are sure to delight your table and help provide a healthy and balanced meal. You can make any beef cut tender and taste great when using the right cooking method. A good general rule of thumb, less tender and less expensive cuts of beef, such as the chuck and the round, need a moist heat method, like braising, stewing, or slow cooking. Sometimes you just need a really good, budget-friendly meal that tastes better than something that comes from a box. The following five beef cuts are sure to do the trick:

Top Round Steak: Try this Beef and Pasta with Asian Peanut Sauce recipe that uses thin strips of Top Round Steak that are quickly cooked in teriyaki sauce before joining thin spaghetti noodles and cucumbers with a flavorful peanut butter sauce. Don't have pasta on hand? Use ramen or rice instead and your choice of veggies.

Sirloin Tip Roast: This boneless, lean cut is a superstar in the world of low-cost cooking. The Sirloin Tip Roast makes great stir-fry strips, kabobs, stew meat, or Cubed Steak. It is the perfect cut for this quick and Easy Beef Stroganoff recipe. This classic has been tested and perfected just for you. Don't have mushrooms and gravy? Use any can of creamed soup instead.

Arm Chuck Roast: An economical and flavorful cut that is best when slow-cooked will leave you craving a dish with shredded beef. Try one of these Four-Way Slow Cooker Shredded Beef recipes that are sure to please everyone at the dinner table.

Eye of Round Steak: This tremendous value cut is lean and boneless. The Eye of Round Steak is ideal for marinating, then grilling or skillet cooking. This Kung Pao Beef recipe is quick, easy, and uses prepared sauces and frozen veggies for a delicious, fork-tender meal. Use any pre-prepared Asian sauce and veggies on hand.

Bottom Round Steak: A good, everyday cut that is boneless and lean. Enjoy your favorite BBQ flavors with this BBQ Beef Skillet with Cornbred recipe.

Visit Beef. It's What's For Dinner. for more affordable beef cuts and recipes.

8 Cheap Beef Cuts So Good You'll Swear Off Ribeye

If you experience a little sticker shock each time you pick up a package of beef at the supermarket, you’re not alone. Beef prices have been inching higher. (Meanwhile, pork prices have been falling.)

American consumers, perhaps driven by the popularity of some diets like keto and paleo, are eating slightly more beef than in recent years. Plus, demand for American beef in export markets has been growing, and drought cut into some beef supplies in 2018. All in all, that means there’s a lot of demand on our beef𠅊nd that means you’re likely paying more each time you buy.

These eight beef cuts are incredibly flavorful, but they’re unique and less likely to be spotted in your regular supermarket meats section. You may need to ask the butcher if they carry the cut or seek out a specialty butcher shop where your neighbor Joe (they’re always named Joe, yes?) can become your new BBF (best beef friend).

Watch: How to Make Pan Seared Chuck Eye Steaks

Chuck Steak

This cut of beef is known as the 7-bone steak because, well, it has a lot of bones. It comes from the shoulder (the chuck), right beside the ribeye. That means it has all the beautiful flavor of a ribeye, but it has a much lower price tag.

Cook chuck steaks the same way you would a ribeye: quick sear on a grill or cast-iron skillet. Thick-cut chuck steaks can be great in a slow-cooker recipe. It has a little more chew than tender ribeye, and of course those bones, but if you’re not afraid of a little work, you’ll be mightily rewarded with a beautiful beef experience.

Flat Iron

Also in the shoulder, you’ll find a fine steak that sits on the cow’s shoulder bladers. It may be sold as top blade or flat iron steak. The steak is actually two different muscles connected by a thick line of gristle. The gristle is often cut away to produce two cuts.

Flat iron steaks are very flavorful and buttery thanks to some good marbling. They behave and taste a lot like the more expensive flank steak. Because they’re so tender, you don’t need to do much more than grill a flat iron steak and season it with salt and pepper, or use a quick spice rub for tacos. This cut of steak would be great as a salad topper, too, or served with a creamy cauliflower mash and pan sauce.

Chuck-Eye Steak

The name may be similar to the first one on the list, but this is indeed a different cut. (To be honest, beef cuts share a lot of the same names, and it can be quite confusing.) This steak is basically a ribeye. In fact, it’s often called the “poor man’s ribeye.” It comes from the same part of the cow as the prize ribeye, but it’s cut thinner so butchers can get an extra piece to sell.

Cook chuck-eye steaks just like you would a real ribeye. Give it a little salt and pepper, and sear it on a cast-iron skillet or grill. Don’t overload this cut with a marinade or souped up steak sauce. It’s mild and buttery, so just let the flavor shine on its own.

Petite Tender

You may see this cut listed as teres major or petite tender at the butcher, but no matter the name, think these three words: cheap hanger steak. Once upon a time, hanger steak made these lists of cheap beef cuts because no one knew what that incredibly tender cut of beef was. Today, however, the secret is out. So the cheaper solution to the once-cheap hanger steak is petite tender or teres major.

This cut of beef acts like a filet mignon: lean, tender, and spongy when cooked right. Cut it into medallions and sear like filet mignon steaks, or sear the outside in a high-heat skillet and roast until medium-rare. If you’re lucky, your dinner guests won’t know the difference between this budget-friendly beef cut and the real McCoy mignon.

Tri-Tip Sirloin Steak

The good news of this cut may be out already, but if you haven’t heard the gospel of the tri-tip steak, let us preach: This steak comes from a triangle-shaped muscle at the bottom of the sirloin. It’s often overlooked because it’s not particularly pretty (it doesn’t make consistently-sized steaks), but for the person who has no problem finding the beauty in some ugly ducklings, this is the steak for you.

The tri-tip sirloin steak takes well to a marinade and grilling. Cook it to medium to help break down some of the connective tissue that runs through it, or slice against the grain (at least as best you can) to make it more tender.

Beef Shank

Short ribs have grown too big for their britches, if we do say so. The prices for those braising beef favorites have taken on a life of their own. So if you love the flavor of beef short ribs and want them for your meals, but loathe the price tag, pick up a pack of beef shank (or beef chins) instead.

These cuts have an incredibly beefy flavor that performs best in a long braise. Bonus: look at that marrow-packed bone in each cut. That’s a well of rich flavor waiting for your stew or roast.

Denver Steaks

I tried to discover why this cut is called a Denver steak, and I came up empty-handed. Still, Denver, you should be proud to share the name.

This cut of beef, which comes from the chuck primal cut, is also known as the boneless chuck short rib. However, don’t be confused—they are not deboned short ribs, and they don’t have to be braised. This cut is sometimes tricky for a butcher to get, so you may have a hard time finding it. However, let your BBF know you’re looking for it, and I bet you’ll have a cut waiting for you at your next visit.

These steaks are tender and flavorful, great for grilling or slicing for a quick sauté. Slice against the grain to cut through some of the marbling and connective tissue. Don’t overcook these steaks either. They’ll turn tough in the blink of an eye.


The merlot cut comes from the side of the cow’s heel. While these hind leg cuts are often very lean (aka tough) because of their heavy use, this one manages to be quite tender. Because of its stronger flavor but tender texture, this cut is great in everything from stir-fries to sheet-pan dinners.

The merlot cut gets it name from its ruby red color. That’s the blood in the cut. Indeed, if you’re blood-averse, avoid this cut. Also, don’t overcook the merlot cut. It will very quickly produce an irony flavor.

Tender Eye of the Round Roast (Sous Vide)

  • 3 pounds-ish eye of the round roast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt (I use this brand for seasoning meats like this)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons butter (for searing flavor and color after cooking sous vide)

Stir the salt and pepper together in a bowl. Generously sprinkle the mixture all over the meat.

Organic Grass Fed Eye of the Round Roast with salt and pepper

Next, place the grass fed eye of the round roast in a vacuum seal bag and add the olive oil.

Seal the bag with your Food Saver , Chamber Vacuum Sealer , or whichever vacuum seal system you own.

Place in the Sous Vide (I set my temperature at 136 degrees F) and allow it to cook for 26-30 hours.

Eye of the Round Roast just put in the Sous Vide Supreme

After cooking, take the eye of the round roast out of the bag, and dry it with a paper towel.

Using a hot skillet, add the butter and wait a moment.

Then, sear all sides of the eye of the round roast while basting it with the butter. I sear about 1 minute on each side.

Eye of the Round Roast with a beautiful seared crust.

The best cuts of meat come from the same area

As for the best cuts of meat that you'll find on the menu of your local fancy steakhouse, well, those are going to be things like T-bones, porterhouses, rib eyes, and filet mignon. All of these cuts come from the cow's middle section and unlike the hindquarters, which are full of working muscle, these cuts of beef are a lot more tender.

Something like a T-bone, which can be divided up as both tenderloin and strip, is going to have that ample marbling that when cooked will render down into the meat and result in a tender and tasty bite (via My Chicago Steak). Expect to pay more if it's a thicker cut too. Something like pork is going to be a little different, but a pricier cut like pork loin or chops are still going to come from the center of the pig, whereas cheaper cuts like ham come from the back (via Modern Farmer).

None of this is to say that you can't make a cheap cut of meat taste expensive and really good — it just takes a different approach.

9 Healthy Steak Recipes That Pack in the Protein

1. Crock Pot Pepper Steak

If you’ve got a packed day ahead, allow your slow cooker to do the meal prep for you. Simply combine scallions, ginger, garlic, bouillon, soy sauce, vinegar and black pepper for a flavorful marinade. Add the steak strips and bell peppers to the bottom of your slow cooker, and then pour the marinade over it. Let the steak cook on low for six to eight hours. The result: A super tender beef dish that melts in your mouth. Enjoy it over a bed of brown rice for more fiber. Photo and recipe: Mike / The Iron You

2. Steak Burrito Bowls

Swap your beef tacos for this steak burrito bowl at your next Taco Tuesday feast. Lean flank steak gets a zesty kick with the homemade chimichurri sauce, while quinoa lends a hearty, grainy texture to the dish. Top each bowl with sautéed red, yellow and green bell peppers, half an avocado and some corn for a well-balanced dinner. Each bowl packs a filling 40 grams of protein, for those of you counting macros. Photo and recipe: Krista / Joyful Healthy Eats

3. Gluten-Free Beef Lo-Mein

In the mood for noodles? Before you fire up your Seamless app, this Asian-inspired recipe satisfies your cravings and packs a ton of veggies. The flank steak and rice noodles give this comfort food heartiness. But the real secret is all in the sauce — which includes soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Upgrade this dish to even healthier levels by swapping in whole-wheat spaghetti for rice noodles and maple syrup or honey for brown sugar. Photo and recipe: Keil / Munchkin Time

4. Grilled Steak Kabobs

Everything tastes better and feels more satisfying when it’s eaten on a stick, and these steak kabobs don’t disappoint. We love the simplicity of this dish (and the quick clean-up!). This recipe uses sirloin steak, which soaks up the flavorful soy sauce marinade. Mix up your kabobs with a variety of veggies. We love zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes — and even fruit, like pineapples. Photo and recipe: Abeer / Cake Whiz

5. Pepper Steak Breakfast Burritos

This creative recipe is a healthier twist to the typical steak-and-eggs dish. Made with eggs, thinly sliced sirloin steak and fiber-rich veggies, there’s no better way to start your morning or enjoy breakfast for dinner. Wrap ‘em up and enjoy with a side of salsa and fresh avocado. Instead of regular tortillas, go for the whole-grain variety to get more nutrients out of your burrito. Photo and recipe: Amee / Amee’s Savory Dish

6. Steak and Tomato Salad

When you want to be bad but have to be good, this salad makes the perfect filling lunch. Juicy tomatoes bring out the mouthwatering flavor of the A1 steak sauce vinaigrette, while red onions, fresh basil and thyme leaves embolden the dish with a refreshing zest. Photo and recipe: Susan Lightfoot Moran / The View From Great Island

7. Steak and Cauliflower Potatoes with Sauteed Spinach

If you’re a meat and potatoes kind of guy (or girl), this dish is for you! Mashed cauliflower has a similar texture to mashed potatoes, and when you add the same seasonings, you can hardly taste the difference. Parmesan cheese and garlic infuse the mashed cauliflower with savory goodness that melts in your mouth. And to add some greens to this dish, saute some spinach. Photo and recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by Daily Burn

8. Sheet Pan Flank Steak with Roasted Vegetables

When you need something fast and easy, sheet pan recipes are the perfect weeknight meal. This recipe is just as simple as it sounds. Cut the flank steak into strips for even cooking and then toss the potatoes, broccoli and peppers in garlic, olive oil, cumin and oregano. Spread the potato and veggie mix and flank steak strips on a large baking sheet, and pop it in the oven to broil for five to seven minutes. Dinner, served! Photo and recipe: Charbel / My Latina Table

9. Steak and Quinoa Salad

After a tough workout, this steak and quinoa salad is a great way to replenish your nutrients and help your muscles recover. Leafy spinach, bell peppers and squash add another layer of fiber and antioxidants in this hearty plate. Photo and recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by Daily Burn

Prune, Peppercorn and Fresh Herb-Rubbed Roast Beef | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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