How to Grill: The Best Meat Cuts

Before you get grilling, choose the best meat cuts and chicken parts for budget-friendly, healthy or party recipes.
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Cheat Sheet:

If you're on a tight budget, try: chicken legs, flank steak, ground beef or pork chops

If you're watching your weight, try: chicken breasts, flank steak or ground beef

If you're feeding a crowd, try: baby back ribs, chicken breasts, chicken legs or pork chops

If you're looking to impress, try: baby back ribs, chicken legs or t-bone steak

The Meats:
Baby-Back-Ribs

BABY BACK RIBS

If you're feeding a crowd: Rib sales spike more than 50 percent during grilling season. They can be made up to one day ahead, making them perfect for entertaining. Just reheat them on the grill before serving.

If you're looking to impress: Indulgent when it comes to price (it?s the most tender cut on a hog) and time: "They're a big time commitment, but you get a huge payoff in terms of texture and flavor," says Tamara Reynolds, co-author of Forking Fantastic.

 
grilled chicken

CHICKEN BREASTS

If you're watching your weight: One of the lowest-fat sources of animal protein available. "Pound them into paillards to fill up the plate with less meat and calories," says Reynolds.

If you're feeding a crowd: The top seller in the meat department, making it a safe bet when entertaining a large group. "Buy boneless, which tends to cook more evenly," says Reynolds.

 
grilled meat

CHICKEN LEGS

If you're feeding a crowd: So naturally juicy, they're "tough to screw up," says Reynolds.

If you're on a tight budget: Half the price of chicken breasts due to lower demand. They're fattier than breast meat, but poultry fat is largely monounsaturated (read: healthy).

If you're looking to impress: Dark, fatty meat on the bone renders juicy, tasty results. "As our culture has become more food-oriented and relaxed about fat, these have developed a cult following among cooks in the know," says Reynolds.

 
stuffed portabellas

FLANK STEAK

If you're on a tight budget: Get "more flavor for your buck compared to other steaks,"says Dave Zino of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

If you're watching your weight: With 30 percent fewer calories and 60 percent less total fat than the popular New York strip, this is a great choice if you?re craving a steak.

 
big burger

GROUND BEEF

If you're on a tight budget: This is the cheapest -- and most versatile -- meat option out there (sometimes even less than $1 per pound!).

If you're watching your weight: "Stick with 92 or 95 percent lean -- especially boldly flavored sirloin -- to strike a balance between low fat and great, meaty flavor," says Zino.

 
pork chop

PORK CHOPS

If you're on a tight budget: "Heartier than chicken, but one-third of the price of a decent steak," says Reynolds.

If you're feeding a crowd: This cut simplifies things for the host: "Unlike steaks, almost everyone likes them grilled to the same doneness," says Reyonlds, who suggests buying them on the bone for more flavor.

 
t-bones

T-BONE STEAK

If you're looking to impress: This is the ultimate beef sampler -- it includes filet mignon and New York strip in one.

 
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