What Makes Chuck Steak An All-Star Cut For Grilling

The world of steak-grilling is intimidating to say the least. There are forums, webpages, and books dedicated to the craft of creating the perfect cut of steak. Each aficionado approaches the grill with their own preferences in steak cut and cooking technique, which is all well and good. But there are some standard steak cuts that you won't want to overlook in your grilling adventures. After all, the old standbys are standbys for a reason: they produce consistently delicious results, and are widely available to purchase. One of these grilling standards is the chuck steak — and it's easy to see why. The chuck steak is a standard cut for grilling, easily producing juicy and tasty results.


The chuck steak comes from the upper shoulder of the cow known as the chuck. This portion of the cow often features a lot of connective tissue and the meat can sometimes be tough due to the fact that the shoulder is often worked out by the cow. Other cuts from this portion include the chuck pot roast and under blade pot roast, which are best when cooked in roasts, over a long period and at a lower temperature. However, This does not mean that all cuts of chuck should be relegated to your crock pot or Dutch oven. And the chuck steak is one such example. The cut is easy to grill up, has a fantastic, beefy flavor, and a low price tag. That makes it an absolute star of the grill. 

Why you shouldn't shuck chuck

Now, here's where there might be some confusion. Chuck steak can be an ambiguous term for many, including the seasoned bovine enthusiast. This is because chuck steak can refer both to the entire chuck portion of the cow, and a specific, smaller cut within the region. What you want for grilling is the smaller cut, sometimes called a center cut steak chuck. This cut comes from the very middle of the chuck roll, which is located at the upper back, sitting between the ribcage and spine. The chuck roll itself is often broken down into smaller cuts, some of which are tougher, and best for slow cooking, while other cuts are more tender and grill ready. The chuck steak, or center chuck steak, is more apt for grilling, and has a beefy taste that might just rival the much more expensive ribeye cut.


However, you cannot cook a chuck steak as you would a ribeye and expect the same results. The chuck steak simply has more connective tissue than the ribeye, and is therefore less naturally tender, so you will want to cook your cut with care. To break down some of the cut's connective tissue, for example, you can marinate your steak in vinegar and various seasonings overnight in order to both infuse flavor and soften up the steak's tough texture.

Grilling it like a pro

Of course, there are other ways to optimize your chuck steak besides just marinating. And you can't cover up a bad grill technique even with the tastiest marinade. So how should you grill up your chuck steak for the tastiest and tenderest result? You should first start by searing your steak for a few minutes on both sides, making sure that a Maillard reaction has occurred. The Maillard reaction is an essential part of cooking any steak; it's a chemical process that gives your steak its gorgeous brown crust and distinct flavor. After your steak is browned on either side, move it away from the flame so that it's cooking through indirect heat. From there, you can cook your steak to your liking. The exact time will depend on your preferred doneness.


Once you remove your steak from the grill, do not cut into it. Let the steak rest for a few minutes first. And if you want an extra punch of flavor, you can add butter (or compound butter) to the top and let it melt over your freshly cooked steak. This will give your steak a new level of richness that might seem only possible from the more premium cuts of steak — only, because it's an affordable steak cut, you won't have to worry about your wallet when you choose the chuck.