A primal cut or cut of meat is a piece of meat initially separated from the carcass of an animal during butchering. Examples of primals include the beef round, loin, rib, and chuck or the swine ham, loin, Boston butt, and picnic.

Different countries and cultures make these cuts in different ways, and primal cuts also differ between type of carcass. The British, American and French primal cuts all differ in some respects. For example, "rump steak" in British and Commonwealth English is commonly called "sirloin" in American English. On the other hand, British "sirloin" is called "porterhouse" by Americans.[1] Another notable example is fatback, which in Europe is an important primal cut of pork, but in North America is regarded as trimmings to be used in sausage or rendered into lard. The primal cuts may be sold complete or cut further.

The distinct term "prime cut" is sometimes used to describe cuts considered to be of better quality; for example in the US Department of Agriculture meat grading systems, most use "prime" to indicate top quality.

US primal cuts


Beef primal cuts:[2](p33)


  • Round
  • Loin
  • Rib
  • Chuck [3]


  • Plate
  • Brisket
  • Foreshank


Veal primal cuts:[2](p78)

  • Legs
  • Loin
  • Hotel rack
  • Square cut chuck/shoulder


Pork primal cuts:[2](p118)

  • Ham
  • Loin
  • Boston butt
  • Picnic
  • Belly with spare ribs


Lamb primal cuts:[2](p154)

  • Leg
  • Loin
  • Rack
  • Chuck

Regional variations of beef primal cuts

French British American
Beef cuts France.svg British Beef Cuts.svg US Beef cuts.svg

See also


  1. ^ "Food and Cooking in American and British English", by Susan Stempleski, Medical Magazine, Macmillan Dictionaries, February 2004
  2. ^ a b c d Schneller, Thomas (2011). Meat: Identification, Fabrication, Utilization. Clifton Park, New York: Delmar, Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4283-1994-3. 
  3. ^ Also known as: Chingolo (Spanish), Scotch tender, boneless chuck roll, mock tender steak and chuck tender steak - see page 69 of Milsom, Jennie; Laurie, Jane (2010), The connoisseur's guide to meat, New Holland, ISBN 978-1-74257-053-2 

External links

Media related to Meat cuts at Wikimedia Commons