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5 Affordable Cuts of Steak to Feed a Crowd, According to Chefs

Stretch your dinner spread by shopping smart and following these expert tips.
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You've been planning on having family and friends over, and it's time to think about a menu. Obviously, every host wants to impress, but without breaking the bank. The great news is, you can have a steak dinner for a group, with just a few tips and tricks.

Choosing the right cut at the supermarket or from a butcher can feel intimidating, but rest assured, it's not. We spoke with chefs Shawn Matijevich of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and Ashley Lonsdale of ButcherBox about their favorite cuts for big groups. Both have an extensive culinary background, with Matijevich working at David Burke's BLT Steak for many years before moving into an education role, and Lonsdale working as a private chef and recipe developer before joining the sustainable meat subscription service.

They shared their favorite cuts to feed a crowd for less, along with some shopping and cooking suggestions about when to buy, and how to stretch your steak to feed more people.

When You Shop Matters

This may be out of your control, but Matijevich says when you shop makes a difference in prices. "My suggestion would be to buy your steak right after a major holiday," says the lead chef of online culinary arts and food operations at ICE. "Literally I will not buy the steak on Memorial Day, I'll go in the next day and it will be half the price or less or way less."

Don't Be Afraid of a Sale

Keep an eye out for the butcher's specials at your supermarket, Matijevich says: "Beef, because of that saturated fat, it just lasts for a really long time. So, they just have excess, they thought they were going to sell a lot and they didn't, so that's why they're putting it on special, they just want to get rid of it." He adds, "I would recommend looking for those specials in the store because oftentimes you can get ribeyes for cheaper than some of the cheaper cuts I've mentioned."

Add Rich Vegetables

One of the oldest tricks to stretching steak still garners great results, says Lonsdale. "It's really nice to have meatier vegetables in there to break things up. So, you can find some great mushrooms, grill or sear those as well along with the meat, and you're still getting this really wonderful, satisfying, chewy experience and texture but along with the meat flavor," she explained. "So, then you can have your flank steak go from feeding six people to potentially eight or nine people if you're packing in vegetables in between."

Make Handhelds

You don't have to have a formal steak dinner to impress a crowd, and Matijevich says many people prefer a handheld with lots of flavor, like tacos or wraps. "Tacos are really great. Everybody's into tacos now," he says. "And throwing everything into a pita or something like that along with any kind of toppings that you could put in there, I think people really enjoy that. Some of my most favorite barbecues have not been just plain steak, but they've been, if you can stretch it out by turning it into something else, it really helps out a lot."

Here are five expert picks for beefy steaks that can feed a crowd:


flap steak

Also known as flap steak, this steak is cut from the "flap" of the bottom sirloin. This cut may be labeled as flap steak or bavette, depending on your market. The texture and flavor are very similar to skirt steak.

"This is actually a really good steak," explains Matijevich. "And it's actually pretty cheap. So, it's kind of like where flank and skirt come from, but it's really juicy, it's really flavorful, and as long as you keep it medium to medium rare, it's really very tender. It's just something that you typically would slice up, which is great for a crowd."

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Chuck Eye

Chuck Eye Steak

This might be an unfamiliar cut for you, but if you ask your butcher, they'll tell you it's close to a ribeye in flavor because it includes a few inches of the tender longissimus dorsi muscle, the main component of a ribeye.

"One of the cuts of steak that's actually really good for feeding a lot of people and very similar to a ribeye is the chuck eye," Matijevich explains. "As you go down towards the chuck end of the rib, it starts to change shape and then it becomes the chuck, and it's actually just as tender as your ribeye. It's got a little bit of a sort of piece of, I guess you would call it sinew, that goes kind of through the middle of it. But it's a large format, so if you can cook a really big one and when you slice it up, I mean, it's just beautiful."

Flank Steak

flank steak

This cut has become increasingly popular over the past few years. Flank is a cut taken from the underbelly, or the flank, of the cow.

Lonsdale says, "For traditional grilling and searing, I love a flank steak, and I like that it generally comes at an even thickness, which is great for anyone, even beginners. I love a flank for a more budget-friendly cut, but also serving a crowd."

Your mileage may vary on this one, however, as the cut has become more popular, cautions Matijevich. "Unfortunately, when we tell people about these, then they go out and buy them and then everybody wants them and then they go up in price."

Short Ribs

short ribs with mashed potatoes
Half Baked Harvest

These flavor-packed ribs are cut from what's called the rib primal, and are connected to the ribeye steak bones. If a butcher doesn't cut the long ribs into tomahawk steaks, the ends of the bones are cut off and turned into short ribs. These are inexpensive and easy for a group to manage. (Just have lots of napkins!) Lonsdale says, "If you want to braise something instead of grill or sear, I would recommend a short rib or even a nice cut of brisket that you could braise over the day and then have folks over in the evening."


tri tip

Tri-tip, also known as a California cut, is part of the tri-tip roast, which is from the bottom sirloin subprimal cut. It's an economical piece of meat that is full of flavor and beautiful marbling. It's built for grilling or making a roast. The meat is lean, so you'll either want to cook it just to medium, or give it a nice marinade for at least a couple of hours before cooking. Lonsdale says, "Tri-tip I would also recommend, if you're going a little more special occasion."

Tanya Edwards
Tanya Edwards is a seasoned food and health journalist, who has held roles at Yahoo Health as Managing Editor and at Food Network as Programming Director. Read more about Tanya