Skip to Content

How many ribeye steaks in a cow? A guide to choosing cuts of steak

Sharing is caring!

Have you ever wondered how many ribeye steaks in a cow? Choosing the right cut of beef for your desires can get confusing. This is a simple guide to all of the popular cuts of beef.

How many pounds of beef are in a cow?

First, I wanted to talk about the whole cow and how it is divided up into the different cuts of meat. The four main standard cut beef; called the primal cuts are the chuck, rib, loin, and round cuts.

How to choose the best cut of steak with a whole cow graphic

The average live animal weight of a cow was 1,379 pounds in October 2020 according to the USDA, and the final average cow after processing will yield approximately 200 pounds of meat, depending on the size of the cow's live weight which is the final weight before processing.

Grass-fed beef cows typically weigh less than grain fed cows. Once the cow has been processed any trimmings will be added together to make ground beef.

Depending on the area you live, it's possible to buy directly from the farmer. This can be economical, especially if you split the meat with multiple people. You can usually buy a quarter cow, half cow or a whole cow and get it processed.

Of course, a large freezer is necessary to store that much beef. Another benefit is that you will get a sample of almost every part of the cow that has the most popular retail cuts.

What are the different United States department of Agriculture (USDA) designations for steak?

When shopping for steak cuts at grocery stores, all individual cuts are labeled as Choice, Prime, or Select. The USDA has a simple labeling system that can be used to determine which type of steak to buy. The three ratings are Prime, Choice and select with Prime being the best quality and most expensive and the Select label being the less quality and least expensive steak.

At the grocery stores they will have mostly pre-wrapped Choice cuts of steak. At the butcher counter is where you will find the Prime and Select cuts.

What are the most popular cuts of beef?

The chuck section of the cow is best known for these cuts of beef; Chuck Roast and short ribs. The chuck section of the whole beef is from the shoulder and chest area and these cuts are best for stews or slow cooked or braised.

Chuck Roast on a cutting board raw

Think low heat and slow cooked for a long time in this section. The chuck section is known for a hearty beef flavor and when cooked well can lead to unbelievably tender meat.

The Rib section celebrates with the Ribeye steak, Back Ribs and the Prime Rib Roasts. The rib section is a crowd favorite because of the marbling of the fat in the steaks.

USDA Prime Ribeye steak on butcher paper

Located in the center, back position it is more fatty in every rib steak. These are great cooked at high heat on the grill or in the broiler.

The loin section has some of the most coveted cuts of steak; Filet Mignon, NY strip, T-Bone steak; which is a combination of a New York strip steak and a filet mignon!!!

Porterhouse steak on butcher paper raw

Porterhouse steak; which is also a combination of the filet mignon and NY strip but from the rear end of the short loin, think a T-Bone on steroids because the tenderloin steak (filet mignon) and the top loin (NY strip) are larger portions. These cuts are super tender but leaner than the rib section.

The round section has a Top round cut or round steak. These are located in the rear section of the cow and are some of the tougher cuts but also the least expensive. For best results, cooking these cuts in the oven at low temperatures for longer time in liquid. It is an ideal stew meat.

Round steaks raw on cutting board

Here is a list of some of the most popular types of steak:

  1. Filet Mignon
  2. Ribeye
  3. NY Strip
  4. Chuck Roast
  5. Sirloin Steaks
  6. Prime Rib Roast

What section of the cow does the ribeye come from?

The ribeye steak comes from the Rib section of the cow. The cuts of steak are some of the least used muscles of the cow and result in a lot of marbling fat and tenderness.

Wagyu beef is an example of a popularized ribeye steak. The Japanese style beef is some of the best ribeye steaks because of how much concentrated marbling the rib section gets. These cuts come as a bone-in ribeye and boneless cuts.

Wagyu ribeye steak raw

How many ribeye steaks in a cow?

If you are interested in buying beef in bulk directly from a farmer you can expect to get about 12 ribeye steaks on average in a whole cow depending on the weight of the beef carcass and how large the cuts are.

How many ribeye steaks in a cow

How many ribeye steaks in half a cow?

As expected, there are on average 6 ribeye steaks in a half cow.

What are some different ways to cook?

Slow Cooking/braising; short ribs, chuck roast, round roasts

Grilling; Rib-eye steak, Porterhouse steak, flank steak, NY strip

Baking; Prime Rib Roasts, Round steak

Smoker; Back ribs, brisket

Ribeye steak searing on cast iron

Tips for enjoying rib eye steaks

  • Invest in a standard meat thermometer - this is the best way to ensure that your steak is cooked to the desired temperature. Digital ones can be pretty nice for a grill, smoker, or oven.
  • Cast Iron skillet is great to be sear the sides of a steak before baking - a great way to cook a steak if you do not have a grill or outside area.
  • Check to make sure you are using the correct cooking method for the cut of steak.
USDA Prime Ribeye steak cooked medium rare

I hope this simple guide answered your question on how many ribeye steaks in a cow and provided some additional information on beef in general.