6 Things You Should Never Do at a Butcher Shop

Avoid these meat-counter no-no's, and you'll walk away with a cut that's perfect for your recipe.

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High angle view of male butcher showing meat to female customer at butchery
Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

We’re all about getting chatting up the butcher. They’re basically meat experts who can help you find the best (and most affordable) cut of meat for your recipe. To make sure you have the best butcher shop experience, avoid these no-no’s the next time you approach the counter.

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Young woman in butchers shop
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Haggling on the Price

This isn’t a Mexico City flea market or a used car lot. The price of good quality, sustainable, responsibly raised meat is higher than the conventional stuff for a reason. Your butcher isn’t jacking up the price just to make a buck, so don’t disrespect the profession by trying to negotiate for a better the price.

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Display Of Fresh Meat In Butcher's Store
Shutterstock / SpeedKingz

Asking “What’s the Best Cut You’ve Got?”

This is like asking a bartender for the best drink on the menu or requesting the best piece of produce from the farmers market stall. A good butcher knows the “best cut” really depends on what you’re doing with it. So tell the butcher what you’re planning to cook and what type of meat you’d prefer before asking for her advice on the “best” cut.

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female butchers in a supermarket at work
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Rushing the Process

A good butcher knows there’s only one way to cut meat: Do it right the first time. That means they’ll take their time cutting your steaks, trimming up silverskin, or de-boning and butterflying a roast. They take pride in their work, so try not to rush them!

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saleswoman offering fresh meat at display in supermarket
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Ignoring Their Advice

Your local butcher won’t always have the specific cut you need in stock, so they might suggest an alternative cut. It’s OK to stray from the details of your recipe: If you explain what you want to make, your butcher can probably help you make that recipe even better!

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Pork Belly butcher person curring bacon porchetta
Shutterstock / casanisa

Making Assumptions

If you need 20 pounds of short ribs for a dinner party, don’t just assume your butcher will have them! It’s always best to special-order large cuts of meat or big quantities of any specific product. Your butcher will be more than happy to accommodate your special order…with advance notice.

Speaking of short ribs, you’ve gotta try them braised.

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Closeup of butcher's hands holding meat piece in shop
Shutterstock / stockfour

Not Really Knowing What You Want

Each cut of meat can have multiple names, so it can be frustrating if someone asks for a generic item, like “pork roast.” That roast could come from the loin or the shoulder, or it could even be a cured ham depending on the recipe. If you don’t know what you need, ask for help—don’t just insist that you need the roast.

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.