Which is Better: Front or Hind Quarter of Beef?

When it comes to buying beef, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to get the front or hind quarter. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it really comes down to your budget and cooking needs. This guide will explain the key differences between the front and hind quarters to help you decide which is the better option for you.

Overview of Beef Quarters

Before diving into the specifics, it helps to understand where these sections come from on the cow. The front quarter comes from the front half of the animal, while the hind quarter comes from the back half. Here is a quick rundown:

  • Front Quarter: Includes chuck, rib, brisket, and plate primal cuts. This is the forefront of the cow from the neck through the belly.

  • Hind Quarter: Includes loin, round, and flank primal cuts. This is the back-end of the cow including the hips and legs.

The quarters are separated between the 12th and 13th ribs. Many butchers will offer you the choice to buy a half or quarter cow. Instead of individual cuts, you get bulk meat sectioned into primal and subprimal pieces.

Front Quarter Cuts

Here is a closer look at the primal cuts that make up the front quarter:

  • Chuck: The chuck comes from the shoulder area and includes parts of the neck. It contains a lot of connective tissue so chuck cuts like roast and stew meat require slow, moist cooking methods.

  • Rib: The rib primal is taken from the upper chest between the 6th and 12th ribs. It contains the ribeye, a tender and well-marbled steak.

  • Brisket: This comes from the lower chest below the chuck. It needs to be cooked slowly to break down its tough connective tissues.

  • Plate: The plate primal is from the belly. It contains short ribs which need moist cooking to get tender.

Overall, expect more connective tissue and sinew throughout the front quarter. The meat tends to be tougher and needs slow cooking with moist heat in order to break down. Of course there are exceptions, like the tender ribeye steak.

Hind Quarter Cuts

Here are the primal cuts from the hind quarter:

  • Loin: This area runs along the spine and contains very tender, desirable steaks like filet mignon.

  • Round: The round primal is from the back legs. It contains lean, tough cuts like round roast.

  • Flank: The flank comes from the belly area behind the plate. Flank steak is lean and needs marinating.

Overall, the hind quarter contains more sought-after steaks and roasts. Since these parts of the cow get less exercise, the meat tends to be more tender and well-marbled with fat. Cuts from the loin and sirloin especially excel at grilling or other fast, dry heat cooking.

Comparing Beef Front and Hind Quarters

Now that you know what cuts come from each section, let’s compare their key differences:


  • Front quarter meat is generally tougher with more connective tissues. Exceptions are the ribeye steak and brisket when prepared properly.

  • Hind quarter produces the most tender steaks including filet mignon and T-bone. It overall contains less sinew.

Fat Content

  • Front quarter is leaner with less fat marbling throughout.

  • Hind quarter has more fat marbling, especially in the well-marbled loin section.

Muscle Content

  • Front quarter contains more muscles, bones, and cartilage since this is the active moving part of the cow.

  • Hind quarter is less muscular with more fat since these parts have less movement.


  • Front quarter costs less per pound, typically $6-$8 per pound.

  • Hind quarter costs more per pound due to the premium steak cuts, around $8-$12 per pound depending on the butcher.

Cooking Methods

  • Front quarter does best with slow braising, stewing, roasting, and grilling carefully not to overcook.

  • Hind quarter excels at dry heat cooking like grilling, broiling, pan frying, and roasting.

How to Choose Between Front and Hind Quarter

Now for the big decision – which beef quarter is right for you? Here are some factors to help choose:

Your Budget

The front quarter saves you more money upfront. If you want high quality beef but need to stick to a budget, the front quarter gives you more meat for less cost per pound. Go hind quarter if you don’t mind splurging for premium steaks and roasts.

Your Cooking Style

Do you love grilling steaks, pan frying cutlets, and roasting tender roasts? Then spring for the hind quarter. If you braise, stew, or roast tough cuts slowly, get the front quarter. Or get a half cow for the best of both worlds.

Your Beef Preferences

Are steak cuts your absolute favorite? Maybe you only want ground chuck for burgers? Consider which specific cuts and muscles you’ll realistically use most. Get those parts of the cow.

Your Meal Plans

Plan your beef meals out for a month. Will you be cooking quick weeknight meals, grilling on weekends, meal prepping hearty stews? Match the quarter to your meal plan.

Amount of Freezer Space

Hind quarter packs in more meat per pound but takes up less freezer space. Front quarter costs less per pound but fills more freezer. Make sure you have room!

Tips for Cooking Front vs Hind Quarter

Here are some tips to make the most of the front and hind beef quarters:

Cook Tough Cuts Slowly

Cuts like chuck roast, brisket, and short ribs need long, slow cooking, ideally in moist heat like braising or stewing. Cook low and slow at 250-325 F.

Watch Lean Cuts Closely

Round roasts and flank steak from the hind quarter get dry and tough quickly. Don’t cook past medium and slice against the grain.

Pick Right Cooking Methods

Moist heat is best for most front quarter cuts while dry heat suits hind quarter cuts. Marinate flank and round first.

Get Proper Marbling

Look for adequate fat marbling, especially with front quarter cuts. The fat keeps them moist and adds flavor.

Enhance Flavor

Boost flavor with marinades, rubs, and seasoning on leaner front quarter cuts. Brine meats like brisket or chuck roast first.

Portion and Freeze

Cut roasts into portions and steaks into meal sizes for quicker defrosting. Wrap tightly before freezing.

Sample Front Quarter Recipes

Here are some recipe ideas that are well-suited for front quarter cuts:

  • Braised brisket with onions
  • Chuck roast tacos
  • Pulled beef sandwiches with chuck roast
  • Beef short rib ragu
  • Classic pot roast with carrots and potatoes
  • Beef stew with chuck cubes
  • Grilled ribeye steaks with herb butter
  • Beef shank osso buco

Sample Hind Quarter Recipes

These recipes highlight hind quarter cuts:

  • Grilled filet mignon with red wine sauce
  • Seared flank steak salad
  • T-bone steaks with roasted potatoes
  • Strip steaks with chimichurri
  • Broiled top sirloin with chimichurri
  • Pan fried cubed steak with gravy
  • Roasted whole tenderloin
  • Ground sirloin burgers

Get the Best of Both Worlds

While the hind quarter is pricier, it gives you those coveted premium steaks. The front quarter costs less per pound and provides plenty of meat for stews, braising, and grilling. Get the best of both by buying a split half cow. Or choose the quarter that best fits your budget, cooking style, and preferences. Either way, you’ll get high quality beef to enjoy cooking and serving to your family or guests.

Cow Front Quarter VS Hind Quarter! (Custom Cut Style) | The Bearded Butchers

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