Butchers Reveal 12 Prime Money-Saving Cuts

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These days, when you walk into a butcher shop it's easy to spend an arm and a leg on some wings and a shank. But once the most popular cuts are claimed, there's a wealth of great meat left on the block. That's why we asked master butchers Ben Runkle of Austin's Salt & Time and Kate Kavanaugh of Denver's Western Daughters which overlooked cuts offer up prime flavor without grilling a hole in your budget.

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"The serratus ventralis; this steak extends from the short rib plate, has great marbling, and is decently tender. It’s one of our go-to recommendations -- and not just because we are based in Denver." - Kate Kavanaugh


"The oyster steak is not often found in shops. Also called a spider steak, this thin muscle from the hip has beautiful fat content and flavor. Quick sear and slice thin." - Kate Kavanaugh

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“This is the French name for the sirloin flap. It's not the cheapest, but for the quality it's the best. It's comparable to skirt or flank, but you don't have to tenderize it. Just add salt and pepper and throw it on the grill. It's like the sleeper skirt; it's a favorite of chefs and now it's catching on.” - Ben Runkle

Santa Fe

"The gracilis is the cap of the top round and has a long grain similar to skirt and flank steak, which has become much more expensive in recent years. Find this steak at a much more affordable price point." - Kate Kavanaugh

Lamb shank

"Lamb shank is one of the cheapest cuts of lamb, but it's really getting a following. They need to be slow-cooked, but can be really delicious. Lots of restaurants are putting them on menus." - Ben Runkle

chuck eye steak
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Chuck eye

"The first-cut chuck eyes are separated with a knife from what makes a ribeye. There's not that much difference, it's just based on the process of breaking down the cow. It's basically indistinguishable from ribeyes and half the price. It's not a normal grocery-store cut, but it's a great deal." - Ben Runkle

Pork sirloin

"This pork steak is dreamy with intra- and inter-muscular fat; rich, dark meat; and incredible flavor. Ditch your pork chop and try out this great steak." - Kate Kavanaugh

Chicken thighs

"Chicken wings used to be a throw-away cut, but now they're the biggest driver of the commodity market. Chicken thigh is way cheaper for how good it is and it has a much better meat-to-bone ratio." - Ben Runkle

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“These are from the back end of the animal. Once you get towards the equivalent of the elbows or knees, you're getting cuts that need to be cooked longer, but cuts like this are tender and very grillable. They're also well-suited for cooking over charcoal or smoking over a hotter fire.” - Ben Runkle

Pork shoulder

“This is a classic meat for smoking, but you can still get a whole pork shoulder pretty cheap. And it's absolutely delicious if you're making pulled pork.” - Ben Runkle

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"This is a muscle that sits on top of the shoulder blade. It makes a great steak for the grill, but it's super versatile. You can pot roast it and it's absolutely delicious too. A lot of time they'll be marketed as boneless short ribs, because they're really well-marbled. You're probably paying more for it if you're buying it as boneless short ribs." - Ben Runkle

Teres major

"The darling of the chuck, this little steak is tender and delicious. Ask for the shoulder tender or the petite tender and see if you can find this gem at your local butcher." - Kate Kavanaugh

Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's national food and drink team. His favorite budget butcher cut is beans and rice. Follow him to that's-not-really-meat-but-whatever at @Dannosphere.