Beef Cheeks are highly regarded by chefs in top class restaurants for their robust flavor and unique texture.
This unique cut is truly divine and gives an incredible eating experience but like most lesser-known cuts, it is hard to find in mainstream stores and butchers therefore little is known about this true gem.
In our humble opinion, Beef Cheeks are the king of the alternative cuts and in fact one of our very favorite cuts of Beef period!
It is no surprise to us to see Beef Cheeks featured on cooking shows like Master Chef or being served in Michelin Star Restaurants ~ this is a wonderful cut of beef that deserves the spotlight.
In this guide, we take a deeper dive into Beef Cheeks which will hopefully encourage you to try these super tasty morsels.
Contents of Beef Cheeks Guide
- What are Beef Cheeks?
- Where and How to buy Beef Cheeks?
- What do Beef Cheeks look like?
- Flavor and Texture of Beef Cheeks
- Substitutes for Beef Cheeks
- How to cook Beef Cheeks?
- Top 5 Beef Cheek Recipe Ideas
- Beef Cheeks Nutrition
WHAT ARE BEEF CHEEKS?
With Beef Cheeks, also called Ox Cheeks, the two most common question we get asked are: "What are beef cheeks?" and "What part of the cow is beef cheeks?".
- Just as the name suggests, it is a small pocket of facial muscle meat taken from the cheek of the animal.
- There are two cheeks per animal, one each side and each Beef Cheek weighs on average 12 oz to 14 oz (340 g to 400 g) each.
- This muscle cut is hard working and in the case of Beef Cattle that is at least 6 to 8 hours a day chewing grass.
- All this movement of the Cheek muscles means a lot of connective tissue which, on one hand requires slow gentle cooking but on the other hand rewards us with a cut of beef riddled with strands of tasty, healthy collagen, gelatin and rich savory beef.
WHAT DO BEEF CHEEKS LOOK LIKE?
Grass-fed and Grass-finished Beef Cheeks such as our own at TruBeef, will be a vibrant Ruby Red color. Grain-fed Beef Cheeks will have a more pinkish hue. A typical trimmed beef cheek will have a slightly triangular to oval shape almost like a small Brisket but that is where the similarity to Brisket ends.
The surface texture of Beef Cheeks will strike you as being very different from all other beef cuts and is pock marked with tiny connective tissues throughout. All this connective tissue and sinew translates into a uniquely soft mouthfeel once braised in the slow cooker / pressure cooker.
WHERE AND HOW TO BUY BEEF CHEEKS?
This is probably the biggest challenge with Beef Cheeks i.e., finding somewhere that has Beef Cheeks for sale in the first place.
Beef Cheeks are hard to find for two reasons:
- Supply. There are only two Beef Cheeks per cow, so supply is always limited.
- Demand. Foodies and Chefs have started to experiment and value this cut a lot more in recent years.
When looking to buy Beef Cheeks, you probably won’t even see them on display in any butcher shops, grocery stores or even online meat purveyors. Your best chance to buy beef cheeks is to pre- order to ensure your butcher or online meat purveyor can reserve some for you.
If you do happen to come across beef cheeks for sale and on display ~ jump on them, you will not regret it!
Beef Cheeks are sold by the pound (lb.) or per piece. Each Beef Cheek averages 12 to 14 oz. As Beef Cheeks are so decadent and rich, we recommend one beef cheek per person at most.
"Beef Cheeks, just give them a little bit of love and they come out like a dream every time"
ARE BEEF CHEEKS EXPENSIVE TO BUY?
In terms of price and expense, in comparison to popular steak cuts like Filet Mignon or Porterhouse, no, Beef Cheeks are not as expensive although the price of Beef Cheeks has increased in the past 3 to 4 years due to renewed demand. Expect to pay approximately $14 per lb. for Beef Cheeks in most outlets (if you can find them).
If, on the other hand, you happen upon a nice French or Italian Bistro, Beef Cheeks will most likely be on the menu where you can expect to pay approximately $40 plus for a braised Beef Cheek dish with polenta or mashed potatoes.
TRIMMING BEEF CHEEKS: Important
When you do pre order of buy Beef cheeks, be sure your Butcher will do all the trimming of the Beef Cheeks for you. When harvested, Beef cheeks are surrounded by a lot of tough sinew and fat.
A helpful and skilled butcher will be happy to trim all this off for you as even the longest slow cooking can’t break this hard sinew down. Just be sure to buy trimmed Beef Cheeks and you are good to go.
Buying Beef Cheeks is a great way to support traditional nose to tail butchers that are committed to utilizing and highlighting all parts of the animal to their customers.
“We believe Beef Cheeks are the undisputed King of all slow cooking beef cuts.
WHAT DO BEEF CHEEKS TASTE LIKE? A Flavor and Texture Guide.
So what do Beef Cheeks taste like? Especially from naturally raised Grass-fed and Grass-finished cattle, Beef Cheeks, once slow cooked are packed with very rich savory beef flavor notes with a unique super soft mouthfeel that cannot be replicated by any other cut of beef or any other meat for that matter. Truly unique.
Think of slow cooked Beef Cheeks like super soft, fatty stringy pulled pork or extra soft oxtail meat. In fact, Beef Cheeks come out of the slow cooker so soft and tender you can scoop the meat fibers up with a spoon ~ No knife needed.
Because Beef Cheeks are riddled with connective tissues and therefore loaded with healthy Collagen and Gelatin, which acts like a sponge. Once cooked, the Beef cheeks absorb the braising liquid and its flavor notes to become extremely moist and gelatinous.
Our favorite way to cook Beef Cheeks is braised / slow cooked in Red Wine. A wonderful, sumptuous taste and unforgettable texture.
SUBSTITUTES FOR BEEF CHEEKS
We believe Beef Cheeks are the undisputed King of all slow cooking / braised beef cuts. That being said, the closest substitutes for Beef Cheeks would be either braised Beef Short Ribs (cooked for an extra-long time) or Beef Oxtail. Both are soft, fatty and fall off the bone delicious once slow cooked however Beef Cheeks will be cheaper (and a lot richer) if you can find somewhere with Beef Cheeks for sale.
“Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks are so soft; you can eat them with a spoon”
HOW TO COOK BEEF CHEEKS AND FOR HOW LONG?
Beef Cheeks are very easy to prepare but must be slow cooked to reap the rewards of this delightful cut of beef. Cooking Beef Cheeks is a simple 2 step process:
Step 1: Always brown and sear the Beef Cheeks in a pan or pot to seal the cut and enhance the flavor later.
Step 2: Braising Beef Cheeks (Slow Cooked) in Oven, Stovetop, Instant pot or Crock Pot
You just need time and patience by using your slow cooker or instant pot pressure cooker to break down the connective tissue and release all that melt in the mouth goodness. Trust us , your patience will be rewarded.
- 1 hour and 10 minutes on the Stew Setting of a pressure cooker Instant pot will give you melt in the mouth results.
- A regular crock pot will need 6 to 8 hours slow n’ low cook time.
No Pressure Cooker or Crock Pot? ~ No problem! Need to know how to cook Beef Cheeks in the oven? Easy... just place the seared Beef Cheek meat, braising liquid and ingredients of choice into a casserole dish and into the oven at 320 °F / 160 °C for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Same cook time and temperature applies to cooking on the stovetop also.
POPULAR BEEF CHEEK BRAISING LIQUIDS
- Bone Broth (Beef or Chicken broth)
- Red Wine
- Vegetable Stock
If you are on a strict diet protocol such as AIP, Carnivore, Lion or Paleo diet, you can slow cook Beef Cheeks on their own in water and the cheek flavors and dark juices will transfer into a nice broth.
You can pop Beef Cheeks into the pressure cooker with some veggies, bay leaves, peppercorns, bone broth and kosher salt at the same time for a simple yet incredible stew.
If you are looking to make traditional Barbacoa Beef Tacos ~ Beef Cheeks is what you are looking for.
TOP 5 BEEF CHEEK RECIPES
- Beef Cheeks Barbacoa Tacos
- Beef Cheeks in Red Wine Sauce
- Beef Cheeks Ragu
- Beef Cheek Sliders
- Beef Cheeks with Beer with Mashed Potatoes
BEEF CHEEKS AND BROTH ~ THE 2 FOR 1 BONUS!
As this cut must be prepared in the slow cooker or pressure cooker just like slow cooked Oxtail, you will also get the bonus of some delicious, nutrient-dense gelatinous broth leftover in the cooking process to enjoy. Just store the leftover braising liquid/broth in the refrigerator and heat up a cup before bedtime. Simply Delicious!
BEEF CHEEKS NUTRITION
- Great source of Protein and Collagen
- Good source of Zinc, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B3
- Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Iron
Beef Cheeks Macros per 100g Serving.
- Calories: 145
- Fat: 4 g
- Protein: 25 g
- Zero Carbs
SUMMARY OF BEEF CHEEKS: A COMPLETE GUIDE
- Beef Cheeks are a budget cut that can deliver a fine dining experience.
- Beef Cheeks are also known as Ox Cheeks.
- Come from the facial Cheek muscles of cattle.
- Average Weight is 12 to 14 oz per Cheek.
- Must be braised / slow cooked for the very best results.
- One cheek per serving / per person as a rough guide.
- Beef Cheeks are extremely rich to eat and very soft once slow cooked.
- Popular Beef Cheek Recipes include Barbacoa Tacos and Beef Cheeks in Red Wine Sauce.