Cuts By Colour - Canadian Beef | Canada Beef

Cuts by Colour

Follow our colour-coding to learn more about where the main beef cuts are located and their descriptions.

Canadian Beef Grading Basics

Any cut of beef can be The Best Cut – it is most important to choose the right cut for the cooking method that you want to use.

For example, grilled on the barbecue as a kabob, Stewing Beef cubes may not be very tender . . . but slowly simmered in a savoury blend of broth and red wine and Stewing Beef can become one of the most tender, flavourful beef cuts.


Canada has a comprehensive Meat Inspection System in place to help ensure Canadians have access to a safe, wholesome food supply. Inspection is not related to eating quality or Grading.

Inspection can take place at the federal, provincial and municipal government levels


Beef Grading can indicate the amount of marbling in the meat. Grading is a voluntary process for Canadian beef, but Inspection for safety is mandatory.

Canada’s Top Grades, ranging from most to least marbling are: Canada Prime (available mainly in restaurants), Canada AAA, Canada AA or Canada A.

Beef can be sold ungraded, but eating quality can vary. Grading has nothing to do with Inspection.


Marbling can enhance the juiciness and flavour of beef. It refers to the amount of fine white flecks of fat that you see running through the lean meat.

Beef Grading can indicate the amount of marbling in the meat.


Aging can dramatically improve beef tenderness and flavour. In the aging process, beef is held at controlled temperatures and humidity for a period of time. During this time, enzymes naturally occurring in the meat break down some of the connective tissue that contributes to toughness.

For enhanced eating quality, look for beef that is aged at least 10 to 14 days. Check with your meat counter representative for details about the aging policy of the beef they sell.

Beef CANNOT be safely aged in a home refrigerator.

Buying Guide

There is a lot to choose from when buying Canadian beef, with cuts that slow-simmer or others that are ready in minutes.

Whatever your schedule, beef’s got a cut to fit!

Buying simplified: Ideally, each cut is organized by cooking method and has the Method as its middle name. For example, a Sirloin Tip Marinating Steak, should be marinated. This makes it easy to know how to cook and also how to swap one cut for another: Can’t find a Strip Loin Grilling Steak – then buy a Rib Eye Grilling Steak instead.

Tenderness Rule Of Thumb

The farther a cut is from hoof, horn and hip the more tender the meat. BUT less tender cuts often have more flavour!

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