What is Beef Knuckle? A Guide to This Affordable and Versatile Cut

The beef knuckle is an underappreciated and economical cut that offers great flavor and versatility. But what exactly is beef knuckle? Where does it come from on the cow? And how is it best cooked? This guide will cover everything you need to know about the beef knuckle, from its various names and muscles to cooking tips and preparation methods.

What is Beef Knuckle?

The beef knuckle, also referred to as the sirloin tip, thick flank, ball tip, or ball of the round, is a subprimal cut from the round or rear leg of the cow.

Specifically, the knuckle is located just above the knee in the hind leg. It sits between the top round and bottom round muscle groups. The knuckle tends to be very lean and well-exercised, which means it can be quite tough. However, when handled properly, it can be tender and flavorful.

On average, the whole intact beef knuckle weighs 9-15 pounds. It contains several different muscles that can be fabricated into various cuts.

Muscles and Subcuts of the Beef Knuckle

The main muscles that make up the knuckle are:

  • Knuckle heart (a.k.a. bullet): A cone-shaped muscle on the outside of the knuckle. Can be cut into steaks or cubes.

  • Femur muscle: A long, thick muscle that follows along the femur bone. Best for braising dishes.

  • Wedge muscle: A thin wedge-shaped muscle. Good for minute steaks, stir fries or milanesa.

When cutting these muscles, it’s important to trim away any silver skin, connective tissue or gristle. The trimmings can be used for ground beef, stock or broth.

The subcuts you’ll commonly see in stores include:

  • Tip center steak: From the knuckle heart. Good for grilling.

  • Tip side steak: Also from the knuckle heart. More tender than tip center.

  • Tip cube meat: Cubes from the femur muscle, good for braises and stews.

  • Tip minute steaks: Thin slices from the wedge muscle to cook quickly.

Other Names for Beef Knuckle

Due to its many muscles and fabricating options, the beef knuckle goes by numerous names including:

  • Sirloin tip
  • Thick flank
  • Ball tip
  • Ball of the round
  • Triangle
  • Third cut
  • Knuckle round
  • Top sirloin butt

So if you see any of those names, rest assured it’s referring to the beef knuckle!

How to Cook Beef Knuckle

When cooking the beef knuckle, there are some methods that work better than others. Here are tips for ensuring tender, flavorful results:

  • Braise – Long, slow braising helps break down connective tissue. Ideal for tip cube meat.

  • Marinate – A marinade with acid tenderizes and adds flavor. Good for tip steaks.

  • Slice thinly – When cutting steaks from the knuckle heart, slice no more than 1⁄4 inch thick.

  • Cook quickly – If pan-frying steaks, cook over high heat just 1-2 minutes per side.

  • Cut across the grain – This shortens muscle fibers for tenderness.

  • Use a meat mallet – Gently pounding helps tenderize steaks.

  • Moisten heat – Slow cooker, dutch oven and instant pot are great tools.

With the proper techniques, the beef knuckle can become meltingly tender and full of flavor. Taking the time to break down its connective tissue is rewarded with succulent, affordable cuts ideal for a variety of dishes.

Best Cooking Methods for Beef Knuckle

Here are some top cooking methods recommended for the beef knuckle:

  • Slow cooker or pressure cooker: Great for cooking tip cubes into fall-apart tender stews, curries, chili, etc.

  • Braising: Tip cubes shine in dishes like beef bourguignon, beef stroganoff or Sunday gravy.

  • Grilling: Quickly grill thin tip steaks over high heat for fajitas or stir fries.

  • Pan searing: Cook minute steaks no more than 1-2 minutes per side in a hot skillet.

  • Marinating: Soak tip steaks in an acidic marinade before grilling or pan searing.

  • Breading/pounding: Pound tip steaks thin, bread and pan fry for milanesa.

Sample Beef Knuckle Recipes

To highlight the beef knuckle’s versatility, here are some recipe ideas:

  • Braised beef short ribs
  • Slow cooker beef stroganoff
  • Grilled fajitas with chimichurri
  • Asian beef and broccoli stir fry
  • Shepherd’s pie with ground beef
  • Beef empanadas
  • Oven-braised brisket
  • Philly cheesesteak sandwiches
  • Beef ragù pasta sauce
  • Red wine-braised pot roast

With proper preparation, the thrifty beef knuckle can elevate everyday meals. It just requires a bit more love to unlock its full potential.

Is Beef Knuckle a Good Cut?

Yes, the beef knuckle is an excellent cut for cooks on a budget. At around $3-6 per pound, it’s very affordable yet offers great flavor when cooked properly. With a bit more time and technique, the knuckle can become fork-tender and adapt well to a variety of cooking methods. Any toughness issues can be easily mitigated.

Where is Beef Knuckle Located?

The beef knuckle is located on the cow’s hind leg, just above the knee/stifle joint. It sits between the top round and bottom round primal cuts, in an area that gets a lot of exercise. This gives it a leaner, slightly tougher character until tenderized.

Is Beef Knuckle Tender?

On its own, beef knuckle is generally not very tender due to its leanness and heavily exercised location. However, it can be transformed into a tender cut through proper cooking techniques like braising, stewing, marinating, mechanical tenderizing, or cutting across the grain. When prepared well, it does become wonderfully tender.

What is Beef Knuckle Called in the UK?

In the United Kingdom, the beef knuckle may go by a few different names:

  • Topside steak
  • Thick flank
  • Top rump

So if you’re looking for beef knuckle in the UK, keep an eye out for those names at your local butcher.


The beef knuckle is an underrated, budget-friendly cut that rewards patience with amazing flavor and tenderness. Now that you know how to identify it and properly cook it, the beef knuckle can be an amazing addition to your kitchen repertoire. With a few simple tricks, you can transform this inexpensive cut into all sorts of mouthwatering dishes.

Beef Knuckle | How to cut and trim ☺︎


What is another name for beef knuckle?

The knuckle goes by many names: The ball of the round, sirloin tip, round tip, tip center (centre in UK and Ireland) and sometimes thick flank, beef ball tip roast, sirloin tip roast and French roll roast (there are different names around the world).

Is beef knuckle good meat?

Known for its leanness, beef knuckle strikes a balance between tenderness and affordability. Its lower fat content makes it a go-to choice for slow-cooking methods, allowing you to lock in moisture and flavor.

What part of a cow is the beef knuckle?

The knuckle sits above the knee joint at the front of the hind leg. Made up of three muscles, it’s prepared from the thick flank by removing the cap muscle and associated fat. Eye of knuckle is the lean, centre weight-bearing muscle with little connective tissue.

How tender is beef knuckle?

08.08. 2023• Beef Its a very tender, tasty, and versatile cut and we’re gonna show you what you can make with it!

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