What Is Denver Steak?

Updated: Jun. 20, 2024

Denver steak is a well-marbled steak that's cut from the chuck underblade. It tastes as beefy as a chuck roast, as tender as a filet mignon and as juicy as a ribeye.

I discovered Denver steak by accident. I had never seen or heard of this type of steak, but its gorgeous marbling caught my eye from the butcher counter. It was shaped like a top sirloin but displayed as much intramuscular fat marbling as a New York strip or ribeye steak. When I asked the butcher where the steak was cut from, his response surprised me: It came from the chuck (a notoriously tough section of beef).

He told me it’s a fantastic grilling steak because it’s not as tough as other chuck cuts. Apparently, it’s the fourth most tender steak after tenderloin, flat iron and ribeye cap! I was so intrigued that I bought one without asking any more questions. I had to get this thing home and taste it for myself!

What is a Denver steak?

Raw Denver beef meat Steak. Gray background. Top view. Copy spaceVladimir Mironov/Getty Images

The Denver steak (also called bottom chuck steak or underblade steak) is a well-marbled, tender steak cut from the chuck primal. The well-worked muscles in the cow’s front shoulder usually produce tough cuts that require low-and-slow cooking methods used in most chuck roast recipes. However, Denver steak is naturally tender because it’s cut from the serratus ventralis muscle, which sits underneath the shoulder blade. It’s a bit like finding a diamond in the rough!

This steak isn’t new, but it’s also not well-known. Removing this muscle takes a deft hand and a skilled butcher, so you might encounter a blank stare if you ask for it at a restaurant or grocery store. The best way to find this steak is to brush up on butcher counter tips and visit a local butcher shop.

Denver steak vs. ribeye

Ribeye and Denver steaks are both tender and flavorful steaks well-suited for grilling. Denver steaks tend to be less expensive because they’re cut from the chuck primal, whereas ribeyes are cut from the coveted beef rib primal.

Rib steaks have significantly more fat, including a thick fat cap. Denver steaks contain enough intramuscular fat to keep the meat juicy as it cooks, but they don’t taste quite as rich as ribeyes. However, their beefier flavor makes up for that lack of richness.

Cuts similar to Denver steak

Denver steak is similar to filet mignon (steaks cut from beef tenderloin). Both steaks are naturally tender and contain no fat cap. However, Denver steaks have more marbling than filet mignon, helping them achieve a juicy texture similar to ribeyes or New York strip steaks.

How to Cook Denver Steak

BBQ Grilled denver beef meat steak on a table. Gray background. Top viewVladimir Mironov/Getty Images

We recommend using hot-and-fast cooking techniques, like grilling or pan-searing. This steak doesn’t need to be marinated like skirt steak or flank steak, but it should be salted. Salt draws out moisture and concentrates the steak’s beef-forward flavor. Salt the steak at least 45 minutes before cooking, and let it sit on the counter to come to room temperature. Feel free to add herbs, spices or any other ingredients that take steak from good to great.

If you know how to cook medium-rare steak, you already know how to cook Denver steak. Here are a few of our favorite ways to prepare this tender steak. The suggested timings are for a 1-inch-thick steak, but it’s best to use an instant-read meat thermometer to know when the steak is finished cooking. For medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°F; for medium, 140°; for medium-well, 145°.

  • Pan-seared Denver steak: To make cast-iron steak, preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Pat the steak dry with paper towels, and place it in the skillet. Cook for one to two minutes or until it turns easily. Flip the steak, and continue cooking and flipping every one to two minutes until it reaches the desired degree of doneness.
  • Grilled Denver steak: For grilled steak, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Add the steak directly to the grill grate. Cook, covered, for four to five minutes per side or until meat reaches the desired doneness.
  • Air-fried Denver steak: If you have an air fryer, feel free to use it to make air-fryer steak. Preheat the air fryer to 400°. Lightly spritz each side of the steak with cooking spray, and place it in the basket. Cook for four to five minutes per side or until the meat reaches the desired doneness.

How to Cut Denver Steak

Once cooked, let the steak rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Resting allows the muscle fibers to relax and the juices to redistribute within the meat. To cut steak the right way, slice it against the grain by identifying the muscle fibers that run parallel to each other. Position your knife perpendicular to the fibers, and cut the meat into thin slices.

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