How to Slice Beef Against the Grain for Tender, Juicy Results

Slicing beef against the grain is a simple trick that makes a big difference in tenderness. Cutting meat properly showcases your cooking skills and makes the eating experience downright enjoyable.

Follow these tips to learn what cutting against the grain means, why it matters, and how to slice any cut of beef perfectly every time. You’ll get the most out of your steaks, roasts and stew meat with this technique.

What Does Cutting Meat Against the Grain Mean?

Cutting “against the grain” refers to slicing perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers in the meat. These long, thin fibers are commonly referred to as “the grain.”

You can see the grain in beef by the thin striations running through the meat. In tougher cuts like flank, skirt, or hanger steak, the grain is very visible. In tenderloins and ribeyes, it may be faint but is still present.

Why Cut Against the Grain?

Slicing against the grain shortens those long muscle fibers. This makes the meat far easier to chew and perceive as tender.

Cutting parallel to the grain, also called cutting “with the grain,” leaves these fibers intact. The meat will be chewy and stringy instead of tender.

Key Benefits of Slicing Against the Grain:

  • Shortens muscle fibers so meat is tender
  • Requires less chewing to break down fibers
  • Prevents stringy, chewy texture
  • Allows flavors to shine through

How to Find the Grain in Different Cuts of Beef

The grain is easiest to identify in cuts like flank, skirt and hanger steak. Look closely at the meat and you’ll see fine lines running in one direction.

In tenderloin, ribeye or strip steaks, the marbling obscures the grain more. You may need to slice a small piece to determine the direction of the fibers.

If you accidentally cut with instead of against the grain, reposition the steak perpendicular and slice across the fibers.

Tips for Cutting Beef Against the Grain

Follow these simple steps for perfect results:

  1. Identify the grain – Look for fine lines running through the raw or cooked meat. These indicate the direction of the muscle fibers.

  2. Position the meat – Place the beef on a cutting board with the grain lines parallel to the long side of the board.

  3. Slice across the grain – With a sharp knife, cut crosswise across the grain, perpendicular to the muscle fiber direction.

  4. Cut before or after cooking – You can slice against the grain before or after cooking the beef. Just be sure those slices go crosswise against the grain.

How Thin Should I Slice Beef?

Aim for thin, even slices no more than 1/4 inch thick. Very thin slices maximize tenderness.

Some cuts like skirt and flank steak benefit from cutting extra thin, even 1/8 inch slices. Slice tenderloin and ribeye a little thicker, around 1/4 inch.

What If I Slice the Wrong Way?

If you realize too late that you sliced with instead of against the grain, try the following fixes:

  • For stew meat or tips, return to the pan or slow cooker to braise until tender
  • For steaks or roasts, cut the slices into smaller pieces
  • Pound flat steaks gently between parchment or plastic wrap
  • Shred or chop meat for tacos, chili, etc. where texture matters less

With very thin slices, cutting against the grain makes less difference. Enjoy your meat as is!

How to Slice Different Cuts of Beef Against the Grain

The principles stay the same, but approach each cut slightly differently:


The fine grain runs lengthwise. Cut roasted whole tenderloin into medallions by slicing crosswise.


Grain runs across the steak. Slice ribeye crosswise into strips for maximum tenderness.

Flank Steak

Obvious vertical grain. Slice thin strips across the flank for fajitas or stir fry.

Skirt Steak

Prominent grain runs perpendicular to its long edge. Cut across the short width of the steak.

Chuck Roast

Irregular grain patterns. Once cooked, carve thin slices at a diagonal to the grain.


Grain moves in various directions. Carve very thin slices across the flats and points.

Stew Meat

No visible grain since it’s cubed. Will become tender during long cooking time.

Common Questions

Does cutting against the grain work for other meats?

Yes! Slice pork, lamb and chicken against the grain too. The same principles apply.

Is it necessary for ground beef?

No need. Ground meat has no grain since it is chopped into tiny pieces.

What about marinated or braised beef?

Always slice against the grain, before or after marinating. Acids tenderize but don’t negate the grain.

Should I cut beef before or after cooking?

Either works! Raw meat shows the grain more clearly. Cooked meat can be easier to slice thinly.

What knife is best?

A sharp, thin-bladed knife like a carving knife cuts through meat cleanly. A dull blade will tear instead of slicing.

Get Perfectly Tender Results

Armed with these simple tips, you can highlight your cooking skills by slicing beef properly against the grain. Put this trick to work for incredibly tender, juicy results with any cut of beef. Your tastebuds will thank you!

Are you cutting it right? How to cut meat against the grain


How do you know which way the grain runs in meat?

There is no difference in the direction of the grain across various cuts of meat. To find the grain on any piece of meat, look for somewhat uniform, long muscle fibers running down and through an entire piece of meat. The muscle fibers run parallel to one another.

What does it mean to slice beef across the grain?

The grain of the steak is referring to the direction the muscle fibers run within the piece of meat. Cutting against the grain means to cut through the fibers and make them shorter. This makes the meat more tender and easier to chew.

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