What Is Chuck Roast?
The chuck portion of a cow is in the shoulder area, right above the brisket and in front of the rib. This area is heavily exercised because it contains the muscles for the front legs. Therefore, you’ll find that chuck meat doesn’t have the marbling (fat) you’d get if you ordered rib meat from the butcher. Instead, it’s leaner, which makes it a bit tougher than other cuts.
That’s the main reason why a chuck roast is more affordable, on average, than other meat cuts for a pot roast or an oven roast, like a beef tenderloin or a prime rib roast. However, chuck roast is still a deliciously flavorful piece of meat, which is why many still love it. It’s got that full-of-beef flavor that you expect from a savory steak or roast beef.
A chuck roast is a larger piece of meat than you’d get if you ordered a chuck steak. You can buy it in boneless or bone-in varieties, with boneless usually being a bit more expensive per pound than bone-in.
There are also different roasts and steak cuts that you can get from a chuck roast, like a blade pot roast, beef chuck eye roast, and a petite tender roast. Flat iron steak — one that’s popular for slicing thinly to top salads or stir-fry or use on sandwiches — also comes from the chuck area. And, of course, the chuck steak is also sliced from the beef chuck roast.
What Is Chuck Steak?
While the chuck roast is a larger cut of chuck meat that you can use for pot roast, beef stew meat, or a simple roast beef, the chuck steak is a smaller portion of that cut. It’s carved right from the roast and can include the rib bone or be carved around it to create a boneless steak.
Chuck steaks come from the ribs that sit in front of where a butcher would carve ribeye steaks. As with the chuck roast, the more exercised area leads to a leaner cut of steak than the rib eye and other cuts. That just means that you’ll need to be a little more careful with how you cook it to make sure it doesn’t get chewy.
The plus side is that these steaks can be much lower in cost than sirloin, ribeye, and other popular cuts. So if you know how to cook a steak and you love big, beefy flavors, the chuck steak could be right for you.
Chuck Roast vs Chuck Steak: 4 Important Differences
To sum up the information above: the chuck roast is a larger cut from the chuck (shoulder) area of the cow, while the chuck steak is a portion cut from the chuck roast. Now, we’ll go into more detail about some of the things that set these two beef cut options apart.
Because the chuck roast is a roast, it usually gets used more like a roast. You might hear it referred to as a shoulder roast, too, since it comes from the shoulder area. This beef cut is one of the most popular options for pot roast, which often gets cooked in the slow cooker for hours. With a slow cook, the beef becomes very tender while holding in its flavor. It’s also an excellent option for roasting or slow cooking and cutting into stew meat.
Chuck steak, on the other hand, more often gets used for individual steaks, although some people pick up a chuck roast and slice it into steaks themselves. But, if you’re not comfortable doing that, picking up already-cut chuck steaks at the supermarket can save you some time and headache.
The texture of both cuts is the same before you cook them because they’re the same type of meat. They’re a little tougher than a beef rib roast or round roast, and nowhere near as delicate as filet mignon because they come from a very different part of the animal. You can compare it more to the texture of the rump roast.
Where the differences in texture come into play is after you cook a chuck roast or chuck steak. Chuck roast is typically cooked over a long period on low heat, resulting in a tender roast when finished. Chuck steak usually doesn’t get the same treatment. It’s often pan-seared and finished off for just a couple of minutes in the oven.
The key to keeping chuck steak tender is by marinating it for several hours before cooking, or by basting it while it cooks to lock in juices. Some people also tenderize the meat with a meat tenderizer before cooking it.
Again, the flavor differences between these two cuts come from the cooking methods you use for them. In general, chuck meat is very full-flavored and beefy — one of the reasons some people prefer it over others. The intense flavor remains no matter how you cook it.
But if you’re going to pan-sear chuck steak and slow cook a chuck roast, the flavor is going to turn out different. With marinades and basting in use on a chuck steak and gravy or broth used on a roast, the end result will also vary. No matter what, expect deliciousness on your plate.
The prices of meat fluctuate a lot, so it’s almost impossible to pinpoint the price of each. Where you live and seasons can both affect the final price you’ll pay. But generally, you can expect chuck steak and chuck roast to be relatively similar in price and more affordable than ribeyes.
However, chuck steaks might be slightly higher per pound, simply because they take more time for the butcher to cut from a roast. While some stores may keep them the same price per pound, others might mark steaks up by $0.50 to $1 per pound.
Should I Buy a Chuck Roast or Chuck Steak?
Ultimately, the choice is yours! If you want single steaks that you can marinate and pan sear, then chuck steaks are the way to go. But if you’re looking forward to cooking a pot roast in the Crock Pot or in the oven in a roasting pan with some potatoes and veggies, the chuck roast is the best option. You might also save a bit of money buying a chuck roast and cutting it into steaks yourself if you feel confident in doing so.
For more steak buying tips and helpful information, head to Steak University.