Cuts of Meat: Beef, Pork and Lamb

Beef, Pork and Lamb Primal Cuts

Curious about the different primal cuts of beef, pork or lamb? These diagrams show the basic cuts of meat, as well as recipes and cooking methods for each one.
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    Beef Primal Cuts
    Image source: Wikimedia Commons

    Beef is divided into large sections called primal cuts. These primals are then broken down further (or fabricated) into individual steaks and other retail cuts. The most tender cuts of beef, like the rib and tenderloin, are the ones furthest from the horn and the hoof. By contrast, the neck and leg muscles are worked the most, which makes them tougher. Here's an overview of the basic beef primal cuts.

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    Pork Primal Cuts
    Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    If anything, pork is even more bewildering than beef. Pork primal cuts have all kinds of peculiar names, like the Boston butt, which is nowhere near the butt, and the picnic shoulder, which you would never bring to a picnic. Read more about the pork primal cuts.

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    Lamb Primal Cuts
    Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Unlike beef, which is divided into sides before being broken down into its basic primal cuts, and pork, which is butchered into its primal cuts straightaway, lamb is first divided into front and rear sections called the foresaddle and hindsaddle. From there it is then fabricated into the basic lamb primal cuts.