What is Beef Cheek? A Complete Guide to This Tasty Yet Underrated Cut

Beef cheek is an incredibly flavorful, tender and juicy cut of beef that comes from the facial muscles of a cow. Despite its delicious taste and texture when cooked properly, it remains an underutilized and underappreciated cut for many home cooks.

This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about beef cheek, including what it is, where it comes from, how to cook it and some tasty recipe ideas. After reading, you’ll be ready to seek out this diamond in the rough cut and prepare it yourself!

What Exactly is Beef Cheek?

  • Beef cheek is cut from the cheek muscles of a cow’s head.
  • It contains a lot of connective tissue due to the cow constantly using these muscles to chew.
  • When cooked slowly and properly, this connective tissue breaks down into gelatin which makes the meat incredibly tender.
  • It is a flavorful cut that absorbs spices and liquids well during braising.
  • Each cheek weighs approximately 0.35 – 0.4 kg.
  • Considered a secondary cut, it is very affordable at around $15/kg.

Where Does Beef Cheek Come From on the Cow?

  • There are only two beef cheeks per cow, as cattle only have one cheek muscle on each side of their face.
  • The cheek muscles allow the cow to chew constantly throughout the day. This high level of use makes the meat quite tough.
  • Butchers trim off the sinewy exterior before selling beef cheeks.
  • It is not a common supermarket cut and may need to be specially ordered from your butcher.

Why is Beef Cheek a Great Choice?

There are several reasons why beef cheek is worth seeking out:

  • Extremely tender and juicy – When braised slowly, the plentiful connective tissue melts away leaving behind succulent, fall-apart meat.
  • Incredibly flavorful – The meat has a rich beefy flavor and absorbs surrounding flavors easily.
  • Budget friendly – As a secondary cut, beef cheek costs a fraction of popular steak cuts.
  • Versatile – Pairs well with many flavors like red wine, tomatoes, root vegetables.
  • Nutritious – Provides protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins.

How to Cook Tender, Juicy Beef Cheek

Cooking method is key to bringing out the best in beef cheek. The connective tissue requires moist heat and time to break down.

  • Braise – Browning then gently simmering the meat in liquid for 2-4 hours.
  • Slow cook – Low and slow 8+ hours brings perfect fall-apart texture.
  • Stew – Combine with veggies in a flavorful broth.

Tips for braising beef cheek:

  • Brown the meat first for enhanced flavor.
  • Use a combination of broth and red wine for liquid.
  • Add aromatics like garlic, onions, carrots.
  • Check doneness with a fork – meat should shred easily.
  • Finish sauce by reducing liquid.

Flavorful Pairings for Beef Cheek

Beef cheek pairs wonderfully with:

  • Wine – Red wine, port, marsala.
  • Vegetables – Onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms.
  • Herbs & Spices – Rosemary, thyme, garlic, cumin, chili.
  • Acids – Tomato, red wine vinegar, lemon.

Delicious Beef Cheek Recipe Ideas

Here are just a few tasty recipes to showcase beef cheek:

Braised Beef Cheek Bourguignon

  • Beef cheek cubes braised in red wine with bacon lardons, pearl onions and mushrooms.

Beef Cheek & Barley Stew

  • Fall-apart beef cheek and carrots stewed with pearl barley in a rich thyme-infused broth.

Mexican Beef Cheek Tacos

  • Spiced beef cheek braised with chipotle chilies and served in warmed corn tortillas.

Beef Cheek Massaman Curry

  • Thai-inspired curry with melt-in-your-mouth beef cheek and potatoes.

Italian Beef Cheek Ragu

  • Red wine braised beef cheek served over creamy polenta or pasta.

How to Buy Beef Cheeks for Cooking

Follow these tips for buying great beef cheek:

  • Order from your butcher 1-2 days in advance so they can source it.
  • Ask for cheeks to be cleanly trimmed of all sinew.
  • Look for a rich red color without dried or brown spots.
  • Calculate 1 cheek per person, approx. 300g each when trimmed.
  • For stews, choose cubed cheeks. For roasts, opt for whole.

The BEST Beef Cheek Recipe! | Chuds BBQ


Is beef cheek a good cut of meat?

Beef cheeks frequently feature on restaurant menus and are prized for their rich and full flavour and meltingly tender texture but they’re not a cut that home cooks often use. If you would like to add something new to your cooking repertoire then they are definitely worth trying.

What are beef cheeks called in USA?

Also known as barbacoa meat, beef cheek meat is great in tacos, quesadillas, burritos and other delicious dishes. What is beef cheek meat? Beef cheeks come from the face of the cow, next to the jaw muscle. Our cheek meat produces a wonderful, melt-in-your-mouth bite packed with traditional flavor.

How does beef cheek taste?

Beef cheeks have a rich, beefy flavor and—when properly smoked—a tender texture, similar to short rib. Learn how to make flavorful smoked beef cheeks at home.

What is beef cheek meat also known as?

Beef Cheeks are also known as Ox Cheeks. Come from the facial Cheek muscles of cattle. Average Weight is 12 to 14 oz per Cheek. Must be braised / slow cooked for the very best results.

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