How To Select The Best Cut Of Beef For Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is a beloved dish for good reason. Its creamy, rich sauce combined with tender strips of beef creates a comforting and satisfying meal. Part of its appeal is how quickly it comes together, as the meat is typically stir-fried and then briefly simmered in the creamy sauce. One of the tips for mastering this classic beef stroganoff is to start with the right cut of meat.

When selecting your beef, there are a few key factors to consider. At the top of the list is tenderness. The most tender cut of beef is essential because stroganoff doesn't require long cooking times to break down tough fibers. The meat is usually sautéed quickly, so tougher cuts like brisket or chuck might not yield the best results. Instead, the absolute best cuts of steak for tender beef stroganoff are sirloin, ribeye, or beef tenderloin. These are some of the most expensive steaks you'll find at the grocers but they're well worth the extra cost.

Marbling is the next factor to consider. This refers to the small streaks of fat within the meat, which add flavor and help keep the beef moist as it cooks. Cuts like ribeye are known for their marbling, which makes them juicy and flavorful. Sirloin and tenderloin have less marbling but are still tender enough for stroganoff. 

Lastly, go for flavor. Ribeye offers a robust beefy flavor due to its marbling, while sirloin and tenderloin are milder, letting the creamy sauce and other ingredients shine.

Make tough cuts work for stroganoff

If you have a cut of beef that's tougher or if you're on a budget, don't worry — you can still make delicious stroganoff. The secret is to tenderize the meat before cooking. A simple and effective method is to use baking soda, a technique borrowed from Chinese restaurants that keeps their beef stir fries tender and succulent.

To tenderize your tough beef with baking soda, start by slicing it into strips for stroganoff. Then, sprinkle 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda per pound of meat and mix it well to ensure even coating. Let the meat sit for about 30 minutes. After the tenderizing process, rinse the meat thoroughly to remove any excess baking soda. Pat the strips dry with paper towels to prevent splattering when they hit the hot pan.

Now your meat is ready for stir-frying. Just cook it as you would for stroganoff, and you'll get a dish that's both delicious and easy to chew, even with tougher cuts of meat like chuck. This technique is a game-changer for making the most meaty, creamy, almost fancy beef stroganoff when you're working with less-than-ideal cuts of beef.