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What is a Ranch Steak?

By J. Beam
Updated May 16, 2024
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Ranch steak is the name given to the center cut steak from a boneless chuck shoulder, which is typically cut between 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) to 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, weighing 10 ounces (283.5 grams) or less, with the excess fat trimmed away. This cut of meat may also be called a boneless chuck shoulder steak, a shoulder petite, or a shoulder center steak, though the name "ranch steak" is commonly applied at butcher shops and grocery stores.

It is a flavorful cut of meat, and although it tends to be tough, it can be prepared to a nice tenderness. The steak comes from the cut of meat at the shoulders, above the brisket and just in front of the rib. In some instances, such as when buying flash frozen steaks from mail order or fundraising suppliers, other cuts of beef may be inappropriately dubbed a ranch steak, but supermarkets typically sell the genuine cut.

As with other cuts of meat, dry cooking a ranch steak can result in dryness and toughness. It is best prepared braised or grilled, but can also be broiled. Overcooking should be avoided, as it will only accentuate the meat’s toughness. The steak should be marinated prior to cooking for best results and cooked to medium, or 140° to 150°F (60° to 65°C).

Ranch steak that is cut thin can also be prepared fried, as a country fried steak or with eggs. Recipes for thicker cuts often call for preparation in a slow cooker, and this yields a result similar to a shoulder cut roast.

Although not as common as other cuts of steak, such as the sirloin, T-bone, and fillet, there are restaurants that serve the ranch steak. It is a decent choice for those who like the flavor of steak, but do not like to eat the fat trim. For preparation at home, cooks should simply ask a butcher or supermarket meat counter for this specific cut of the desired thickness. Shoppers should try to get cuts that are between 0.5 and 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) thick for easier cooking.

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Discussion Comments

By anon992546 — On Sep 15, 2015

This is a very beefy cut that comes from the shoulder. Ranch steaks are typically between 7 and 10 ounces and may be cut thin or thick.

The thin cuts work well seared and served with eggs or on bread. The thicker cuts should be pan seared in a screaming hot skillet or grilled to no more than medium. You may also try the thicker cuts braised or in your crock pot as part of a stew.

Ranch steaks have become my go-to steak at home, but some may find the depth of the beefy flavor too much for them.

By anon257767 — On Mar 28, 2012

Does anyone know about how much protein is in a ranch steak by chance?

By pleats — On Sep 20, 2010

I've found that ranch steak is a good one for a steak and seafood dish. The slightly tougher cut of steak contrasts well with the usually softer seafood. Besides, ranch steaks usually have a lot of flavor, which is good when you're making it in conjunction with shellfish or lobster.

By TunaLine — On Sep 20, 2010

I have also found that grilling a ranch steak is the best thing you can do with it.

However, if you don't have a grill, then you can also try cooking it in a skillet. The skillet has to be really, really hot before you even put it on there though, so let you pan get hot enough to liquefy butter as soon as you drop it in the pan.

What I do if I'm stuck without a grill is to heat up a cast-iron skillet, drop in a knob of butter after it gets hot, then put the steak on. You do have to turn it about once every thirty seconds to a minute, and keep turning until it's to your taste.

A good benchmark is about 5 minutes, which will make it about halfway done, or "medium".

Again though, that charcoal smell that you get off the grill is much, much better for ranch steaks.

By galen84basc — On Sep 20, 2010

Is a ranch house steak the same as a porterhouse steak or a cowboy cut? They all seem vaguely cowboy-related to me, and I wasn't sure what exactly the difference was. Can anybody clue me in?

By anon27387 — On Feb 27, 2009

Ranch steaks are best cooked on the outdoor grill, either charcoal or gas. I have had great success without marinating. The secret is high heat... get your grill up as hot as possible and flip the steak a lot. Put the steaks on the grill for about two minutes then flip over and leave for another 2 minutes. Repeat this process for 8-10 minutes, for medium rare to medium. Don't go much past medium rare though because the steaks really start to dry out at medium. Also make sure to leave the excess fat on the outside of the steak - this helps keep the steak from drying out. You can always trim the fat off after you cook it and before you eat it. Use salt, pepper, onion powder (not onion salt) and garlic powder (not garlic salt).

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