Where is Beef Tendon Located? A Guide to This Unique Cut of Meat

Beef tendon is not a cut of meat that most home cooks in the West think about often. However, it is a highly valued ingredient in many Asian cuisines. Beef tendon has a unique taste and texture when properly prepared. But what exactly is beef tendon and where does it come from on the cow? This article provides a complete guide to understanding beef tendon including where it is located, how to cook it, and how to incorporate it into delicious recipes.

What is Beef Tendon?

Beef tendon is the thick fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscles to bones in cattle. It acts as the structure that holds muscles and bones together, allowing movement and stability. When removed and prepared as food, beef tendon becomes gelatinous and richly flavored after long cooking times.

Here are some key facts about beef tendon:

  • It is made up of dense collagen fibers, which break down into gelatin when cooked.

  • It needs extended braising or simmering to become tender.

  • It has a mild beef flavor and substantial, chewy texture when cooked properly.

  • It is very inexpensive compared to other cuts of beef.

  • It is low in fat but provides protein.

  • It is often used in Asian soups, stews, and braised dishes.

Where is Beef Tendon Located on the Cow?

Beef tendon runs between the muscles and bones throughout the cow’s body. Some key areas where usable tendon for cooking is located include:

  • Lower legs – The Achilles tendon and other leg tendons are often used. They need extended cooking to become tender.

  • Heel – The major tendons around the heel are another common source of beef tendon for cooking.

  • Shoulder – Tendons connect the chuck muscles to the bones in the shoulder area.

  • Ribs – Intercostal tendons run between the rib bones and are sometimes harvested.

  • Back – Smaller tenderloins along the spine may also be used.

Availability and Buying Beef Tendon

Beef tendon can be difficult to find in traditional Western grocery stores. However, it is widely used in several Asian cuisines. Here are some tips for locating and buying beef tendon:

  • Check Asian food markets for pre-packaged or butcher-cut tendon.

  • Ask your regular butcher if they can source and cut fresh beef tendon for you.

  • Search for local farmers that process whole cows and request tendons.

  • Look for frozen tendon online from specialty meat purveyors.

  • Beef tendon is affordable, often $3-5 per pound.

  • Look for tendons that are cleaned and white in color with no blood spots.

  • Frozen tendon will keep for several months in the freezer.

Preparing and Cooking Beef Tendon

Beef tendon needs special preparation and extended cooking to become tender enough to eat. Here are some tips:

  • Rinse tendon well and remove any blood or debris.

  • Parboil for 2-3 minutes, rinse, and discard water to remove odor.

  • Simmer or braise for at least 3 hours up to 5-6 hours.

  • Add to soups and stews and cook until tender, 1-2 hours.

  • Pressure cook for 45-90 minutes depending on texture desired.

  • Slice or shred once fully cooked and tender.

  • Flavor with spices, herbs, sauces during or after cooking.

Delicious Ways to Use Beef Tendon

Because it becomes meltingly tender when braised, beef tendon is perfect for Asian soups, noodle dishes, and stews. Here are some tasty ways to use it:

  • Pho – Slice cooked tendon and add to Vietnamese beef noodle soup.

  • Bone broth – Simmer raw tendon to make a rich, gelatinous broth.

  • Chinese stew – Braise with aromatics and seasonings for a classic Chinese beef stew.

  • Thai curry – Add slices to make Thai green, red or Massaman curry heartier.

  • Nilaga – Use in the Filipino beef and vegetable stew.

  • Hot pot – Cook slices in a spicy Szechuan or Korean hot pot.

Beef Tendon Recipes to Try

Ready to explore cooking with beef tendon? Here are some great recipes to start with:

  • Beef Tendon Pho – Traditional Vietnamese noodle soup
  • Chinese Beef Noodle Soup with Tendon
  • Korean Spicy Beef and Tendon Stew (Galbijjim)
  • Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan – Braised Pork over Rice with Tendon
  • Nilagang Baka – Filipino Beef Stew with Tendon


While not yet common in Western cooking, beef tendon is a tasty, protein-rich, and budget-friendly cut of meat. With the proper long cooking, it becomes delectably tender and adds great texture and flavor to soups, stews, and braised dishes. From Asian markets to your local butcher, track down some beef tendon and explore all the delicious recipes you can create with this unique ingredient.

All About Beef Tendons – The Natural Dog Company


Which part of the cow is beef tendon?

Beef tendon is a type of connective tissue found in the muscles of cattle. It is a strong and fibrous material that connects muscles to bones, providing support and facilitating movement. Though not typically consumed as a standalone cut of meat, beef tendon is popular in many cuisines, particularly in Asian dishes.

What is beef tendon good for?

Here are some of the key benefits of beef tendon: Rich in Collagen: Beef tendon contains a high amount of collagen, a protein that plays a vital role in supporting skin elasticity, hair strength, nail health, and joint mobility. Consuming beef tendon can contribute to promoting healthy skin, hair, nails, and joints.

How do you remove tendons from beef?

To do so, slide the blade of your semi-flexible knife beneath the thin membranes that cover the steaks. Use a very sharp knife and avoid spoiling the meat as much as you can. You don’t need to be a butcher to remove things like membranes ; a good knife and a bit of patience are all that are required !

What is the difference between a tendon and a ligament in beef?

In a standard cut of meat, the type of connective tissues present will vary depending on various factors. The most common connective tissues are ligaments, tendons, silverskin, and muscle fibers. Ligaments connect the bones together, while tendons connect muscle to the bone.

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