15 Clever Ways To Use Steak Scraps And Trimmings

Steak scraps and trimmings come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, making figuring out what to do with them challenging — more specifically, what to cook with them. Some pieces of leftover beef are long, some short, some skinny, some thick, and they can fall anywhere on the scale in terms of quality, cow, and cut ... but the thing all these beef bits have in common? Well, they're all still steak, and steak in any shape and size is great.

The next time you're trimming the fat and errant pieces of meat from a raw steak, be sure to set everything aside for storage. After all, waste not, want not. The added benefit of reducing food waste certainly doesn't hurt. And neither does knowing how many delicious recipes are just a few leftover steak scraps away from reality. To utilize steak trimmings, save any and all extra scraps you can when preparing raw beef. This includes fat and meat. Then place everything into freezer bags, and don't forget to label those bags with details such as the date, the cut of beef, and the size of the scraps. It is also a good idea to separate fat from meat before freezing.

So, If you're done with throwing away those small pieces of beef you've trimmed but don't know what to do with, check out these clever ways to use steak scraps and trimmings.

Beef and barley soup

There's nothing quite like a big bowl of beef and barley soup to warm the soul and make you feel right at home. And the only way to improve this classic recipe of winter veggies, barley, and beef all simmered together in a savory broth is if you make it entirely from bits of beef that otherwise would have been thrown away (which, if you think about it, doesn't that technically make it free beef?).

So, the next time you're gearing up to make a slow-cooked beef dish, such as a pot roast or a boeuf bourguignon, be sure to save all those steak scraps for the freezer. Then, whenever the desire for beef and barley soup strikes, simply defrost and use as desired. If you've managed to set aside more than a small handful of steak scraps, there should certainly be enough to add bites of beef throughout the soup.

Steak omelet

Steak and eggs is already a staple breakfast dish in the United States, and for good reason. The flavor combination is fantastic, plus leftover steak for breakfast would fill anyone up for most of the morning (at least). But if someone were to break a few eggs to make this classic dish into an omelet ... well, that would take everything to the next level. 

Just imagine — small bits of steak mingling with cheese, soft, fluffy egg, and butter? That's just about Shangri La for any breakfast lover, or breakfast for dinner lover, for that matter. You can even amp it up with hot sauce, barbecue sauce, pesto, chimichurri, and more. It's one of the best ways to eat leftover steak for breakfast too. So, if you've saved up some steak scraps and are looking for an easy recipe, look no further than the humble but delicious steak omelet.

Crispy garnish for steak salad

The thing about trimmings is that they're usually comprised of a bit of fat, a bit of beef, and a lot of questions about using both those elements to the best of their individual and combined qualities. And a great way to do that is to season them up, fry them crispy, and put all those steak scraps and trimmings on top of a tasty salad.

There are a ton of salads that go well with a bit of beef as a garnish, and some (such as this shepherd salad recipe) are incredibly creative. If you're struggling to decide what kind of salad to make to bet accompany your scraps of steak, consider instead what kind of salad you would serve with a full steak. Some classics, for example, are a Ceasar salad, a wedge salad, and a simple garden salad — and since these salads all go well as a side to a full steak, you know they'll be delicious under a steak garnish as well.

Steak scrap fried rice

Fried rice is all about the jewels of meat and veggies hidden in between grains of perfectly toasty pieces of rice. You've got those fluffy eggs, sweet peas, aromatic ginger, and garlic — and, for those out there who are smart enough to save their steak scraps, you have beef too. And beef fried rice is a delicious and savory take on an otherwise meatless easy fried rice recipe.

The best way to utilize leftover steak scraps in fried rice is simple. First, save whatever trimmings of beef you can. Second, render down some beef fat in your wok to make tallow, an essential and underrated ingredient that can (and should) be used as the oil in which you fry your rice. Lastly, cook until browned and crispy the meatier scraps of leftover steak in its own hot fat, then set the beef aside and add it back to the rice as either a garnish or mixed throughout.

Beef tacos for one

Now, it's unlikely that you can save enough steak in the trimming process to feed a family of five ... especially on beef taco night. After all, most people eat significantly more than just one beef taco at a time. But depending on how much meat you like to put in your tacos, you could easily make a meal for one with whatever leftover steak scraps you have on hand. And if you have enough beef, all you have to do for a mouthwatering Mexican meal for one is simply follow a tasty street taco recipe

After that, it's as easy as crisping up those leftover steak scraps with your favorite taco seasonings and enjoying a savory experience for one, all wrapped up in a warm tortilla (with hot sauce, hopefully). And don't forget that there are a ton of great ways to make your taco meat go farther, such as sauteeing it with onions and peppers.

Add leftover steak bits to chili

Chili is just one of those dishes that most people love to eat, and for good reason: it's warm and filling, hearty and a little spicy, great for eating by the spoonful or scooped up on a slice of bread, and is as open to interpretation as your imagination and your wallet permit. All that to say, chili is a great dish to have on rotation in any kitchen.

Plus, nothing calls for leftover bits of beef quite like chili. After all, this dish is the definition of "everything but the kitchen sink" ... and that includes all those steak scraps you usually throw away. And the great thing about chili is that there are a ton of amazing chili recipes to try, at least one of which is bound to tickle your fancy. So, don't throw away your beef bits and bobs when you could use them in a big ol' pot of chili instead.

Air fryer popcorn beef

From salmon to pickles, twinkies to tater tots, and even ice cream, fried foods are amazingly delicious — and your leftover steak scraps and trimmings are no exception. Air-fried popcorn beef is the perfect recipe for those smaller, squatter steak scraps you don't know what to do with (especially since they're irregular in size and overall unwieldy to work with). With a little imagination, a batter, and an air fryer, those unused scraps can go from trash to absolute treasure.

Just about everyone knows and loves air-fried popcorn chicken, but what about popcorn beef? It makes sense, especially when you remember that country-fried steak and chicken-fried steak are incredibly popular and delicious dishes. With that sort of knowledge at our very fingertips, it makes little to no sense why so few have figured out the hack of frying beef in every way that one air-fries chicken.

Broccoli and beef stir fry

Takeout-style broccoli and beef stir fry is a classic and simple dish people can make as a part of their regular rotation of weekly or monthly recipes. And it is also a perfect meal for using up all those weirdly shaped and sized pieces of steak scraps you have stored in your freezer. Just defrost that beef, pop it in a tasty marinade, fry it all up with some broccoli, and serve piping hot over rice. Et voila — a flavorful and cost-effective steak scrap broccoli stir fry for dinner. 

Add a little bit of oyster sauce, some sesame oil, and sesame seeds on top to garnish, and diced up chili for color and you can't miss. However you finish off a broccoli and beef stir fry is up to you, but know that starting the process with steak scraps and trimmings you've saved is a great place to begin.

Beef and mushroom stroganoff

There's nothing quite like beef stroganoff pasta — except, of course, making that same beef stroganoff pasta knowing that all the beef in it would have been tossed out otherwise. Steak scraps may not be the star of the dish, but mushrooms and beef are a match made in heaven. And with enough mushrooms, you can definitely get away with bits of beef here and there to complement and carry the flavors of the dish.

With a good beef stroganoff recipe, you can absolutely cut back on the amount of beef for similar results. The only difference will be in the actual amount of beef you eat, but not in the overall flavor of the beef stroganoff. You can still expect bite after bite of rich, creamy, savory pasta, accompanied by tantalizing tastes of beef and mushroom. Overall, it's an umami explosion of a dish, whether you use a whole steak or just the leftover trimmings.

Savory beef hand pie

Beef hand pies are a classic staple across a fair number of countries, and there's a good reason for that. A little bit of beef goes a very long way when it's accompanied by gravy and veggies and wrapped in a buttery, flaky crust. This makes hand pies not only delicious and easy to transport but also an incredibly cost-effective way to make a little bit of beef last for days.

The best pie fillings are made with whatever you have on hand, which has led to a wide variety of beef pies variations across cultures in the culinary sphere. Cornish pasties, Australian beef pies, steak and stout pies, and Michigan pasties are among the most famous savory meat pies, though the list of pie possibilities is practically neverending. So, study up some pies and save those steak scraps, because beef pie may just be the best way to make the most of your leftover beef bits.

Leftover steak shakshuka

Shakshuka is a popular egg and tomato dish that packs an unbelievable punch of heat and flavor into a seemingly simple recipe. By adding leftover steak to your shakshuka, you can amp up an already amazing dish and bring a whole new umami element to an otherwise meatless dish. A good fire-roasted shakshuka recipe will typically call for a base of sauteed onions and bell peppers which are then cooked down with fire-roasted tomatoes and garlic. Spices include sumac, coriander, cinnamon, paprika, and, of course, cumin. After that's all cooked down, you just add an egg to poach on top, and just like that it's ready to eat.

To implement your saved-up steak scraps, simply brown the beef before the onions and peppers and utilize the Maillard reaction (i.e. the tasty brown bits of steak left behind at the bottom of the pan) to flavor the whole pot.

Instant ramen add-in

Instant ramen is perhaps an acquired taste — maybe you ate it as a kid, or it reminds you of a dish from back home, or maybe it's just that this quick meal fix has an inexpensive price tag that got you through leaner weeks in and after college. Whatever reason you enjoy eating instant ramen, it's good to know that leftover steak scraps can immediately improve any instant ramen recipe and take it from decent to delicious.

When making spruced-up ramen, simply take your bits of leftover beef and fry them off in the bottom of your pan. Once the steak is nice and browned, remove it from the pan and set it to the side. Then add your (pre-measured) water to the same pan, get it boiling, and make your ramen as usual. The additional beef fond at the bottom of the pan will add excellent flavor to the final dish, and ramen is always better with a little steak on top. And, if you're feeling fancy, you can always add an egg as well!

Loaded leftover steak baked potato

Everyone knows steak and potatoes are a classic combo, which is why it is an entirely natural progression to make a loaded leftover steak baked potato when all you have is scraps of leftover beef (rather than a whole steak). Honestly, beefy baked potatoes are not only a great way to save on spending, but they also save you some knife work and are a fantastic way to use up those leftover trimmings. Just sear up the steak scraps and toss them in or on top of your spud and suddenly you have steak and potatoes, albeit a slightly different version than most diners would imagine.

Whether you prefer a super slow-cooked loaded baked potato or are more of a plain baked with butter, sour cream, and scallions on top sort of person, this is a great dish to have in your weekly rotation if steak scraps are a common kitchen commodity.

Save and render the fat

If there is one creative way to use steak scraps and trimmings that are worth the hassle of saving every single time, it's the simple trick of rendering the steak fat for its tallow. This is especially true for a few reasons, the primary among them being that steak fat is the most commonly trimmed portion of a steak. And, in this, it is the most commonly thrown-away part of the beef (besides the bones, perhaps, but that's a bone we'll have to pick later).

Steak fat gets a bad rap, as does most oil made from anything other than seeds and nuts. But the fact of the matter is that steak fat is naturally occurring, easy to access, and highly wasted in terms of kitchen scraps. Such waste is absurd, especially since just a little bit of tallow goes a long way in terms of flavor. The best uses for beef tallow are endless. Frying an egg? Use beef fat. Searing off some spam? Do it in beef fat. The possibilities are infinite, and delectable.

Add umami to essentially any dish

Beef is and always will be an umami bomb of an ingredient, and it can go a long way in amping up any sort of savory meal you have heading your way in the recipe repertoire. Looking to make some savory oats in the morning? Add some leftover steak trimmings. Fancying a fancy bowl of congee? Crisp up the beef and put it on top. Or perhaps you want an easy one-pan dinner of random veggies and meat for a lazy day where cooking doesn't sound all that appealing? Well, good thing you saved those steak scraps for a rainy day, 'cause now you can add them to that too.

Umami is a relatively new concept with origins in Japan. The word umami means, in most cases, a food that is deliciously and deeply savory. Umami is a relatively new flavor in terms of the common kitchen lexicon. But its benefits go as far back as the first seared steak, preserved anchovy, or smoked tuna flake.