This is the moment you’ve been planning for all year: You’ve buffed the grill, iced down the beer, and stocked up on every imaginable condiment. All that’s left is to select your meat. Choosing the perfect meat for your party from among the many, many cuts at the butcher or supermarket can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to feel like a mystery. We visited the Meat Hook, a staff-favorite butcher shop in Brooklyn, to talk to co-owner Brent Young about some of his favorite cuts to grill for groups of all sizes. From affordable butcher’s cuts to a whole brisket, here are the meats that will leave every guest well-fed and happy, no matter the size of your crowd. Young suggests getting a half-pound of meat per person (though no one will fault you for getting extra). All prices below were provided by the Meat Hook, and are comparable to those of other premium grass-fed beef purveyors.
Budget Meats for Any Size
Easily scaled up and ever-popular, burgers and sausages are your best bet for groups of all sizes.
Find a butcher you trust, order freshly ground meat, and you will never, ever go wrong with a burger. We like ours with 80 percent meat and 20 percent fat, which yields a juicy burger that won’t cause flare-ups on the grill when excess grease hits the coals.
Why It’s Good for Groups of All Sizes: The ultimate crowd-pleaser cooks quickly, doesn’t need to be grilled at different temperatures, and will set you back just a few bucks a person for a hefty half-pound burger. “They’re going to walk away super satisfied,” Young says. “And you don’t need to do anything to it other than salt and pepper it, grill it to medium-rare, put a slice of cheese on it, done.”
What It Costs: $6.99/lb. ($3.50 per person)
How to Cook: Grill burgers over high heat until lightly charred on bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip, top with cheese (we like American), and grill about 4 minutes longer for medium. Let stand for 3 minutes before serving.
Pro Tip: Before you throw your patties on the grill, make a small indentation in the center of each burger with your thumb. This keeps the burger from puffing up as it cooks.
Get the Recipe: The BA Burger Deluxe
From left: The Meat Hook’s sweet Italian, beet, and green chorizo sausages.
Sausages are a specialty at the Meat Hook, where they churn out links in flavors like “Franch Onion” (with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese) and Banh Mi (with pickled carrots, cilantro, and hoisin sauce). Pick up a variety at your butcher or supermarket, grab some buns and toppings, and let people make their own hot dogs.
Why It’s Good for Groups of All Sizes: Young loves to throw sausages on the grill because they’re low-maintenance, easy to share, and a total crowd-pleaser. Plus, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bang for your buck. Have a few going on the grill as the afternoon or evening progresses and everyone will be well-fed and happy.
What It Costs: $13-15/lb. ($3.50 to $5 per person)
Pro Tip: “Always get a few more than you think you need—everyone will eat it,” Young says.
How to Cook: Avoid burst links by grilling sausages over medium-low, indirect heat. Turn occasionally until cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes, then move to the hotter side of the grill to crisp. Let ‘em rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Meats for a Small Group (Under 6 People)
For a small get-together of four guests or fewer, set aside the small fries and bring out a couple of big, impressive cuts of meat to grill and carve tableside to share.
Dry-Aged Rib Eye
If you’re going to pay top dollar to grill steak for a few (very good) friends, you want a couple of dry-aged, bone-in rib eyes. This rich, beefy, and, yes, fatty cut is near-perfect to begin with, but dry-aging rib eyes adds flavor that Young says is “like eating beef mixed with blue cheese and funky mushrooms and truffles.” No need for marinades or rubs here: Salt, pepper, and a hot grill are all you need to coax out everything this glorious cut has to offer.
Why It’s Good for a Small Group: Due to sheer price alone, you’re never going to find dry-aged rib eye on the grill at the neighborhood block party. But for an intimate group of 4 to 6, nothing is more impressive to share as a group.
What It Costs: $21.99/lb. or around $50 per bone-in steak ($25 per person)
How to Cook It: Sear over medium-high, direct heat until charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side for a 2-lb. rib eye. Move to medium-low, indirect heat and continue grilling, flipping once, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Use tongs to lift the steak and sear the edges (the bone side and the fat-cap side) for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Grill until an instant-read thermometer registers 120° for rare (steak will carry over to 125°, or medium-rare, as it rests.) Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Pro Tip: Let your meat come up to room temperature about an hour before grilling. This ensures the meat cooks evenly and helps to avoid that dreaded gray, overcooked layer under the crust of your $50 steak.
Get the Recipe: Salt-and-Pepper Rib Eye
This well-marbled, medium-tender, and beefy-flavored cut comes from the chuck. Young calls this cut a “Tuesday night grilling” steak: unfussy, easy, and affordable. Denver steaks, also known as underblade steaks, are usually around a half-pound each, so figure one per person.
Why It’s Good for a Small Group: Denver steaks are on the smaller side, which means they cook more quickly, so you don’t want to be tending to 10 of them at a time. But they’re also uniformly thick, which means you don’t have to worry about each steak cooking up at different rates.
What It Costs: $15.99/lb. ($8 per person)
How to Cook It: Young suggests grilling over medium, direct heat for 6 to 7 minutes per side.
Pro Tip: Denver steak is a cut that’s relatively new to the market, so if you have trouble finding it, ask your butcher.
A sizable chunk of buttery tenderloin is what sets thick, luscious porterhouses apart from other T-bone steaks. This steakhouse favorite also sports the flavorful NY Strip. A porterhouse typically clocks in at around two to three pounds for a 2–2½” steak.
Why It’s Good for a Small Group: With a smaller group, you have more time and focus to dedicate to more impressive cuts like a porterhouse, Young says. Grill a couple of these to share, and whether your guests prefer the chewier strip or tenderer filet, everyone will find something they love.
What It Costs: $24.99/lb., or about $60 per bone-in steak ($30 per person)
How to Cook It: In a two-zone fire, sear over medium-high, direct heat, turning often, until desired brownness. Move steak to indirect heat, positioning so tenderloin is farthest away from the hot side of the grill, and cook until medium-rare and an instant-read thermometer registers 120°.
Pro Tip: Look for porterhouses that are at least 1½” thick (2″ and above is even better). This ensures you’ll have enough time to develop a nice, crusty exterior without overcooking the smaller tenderloin.
Get the Recipe: Slate-Grilled Porterhouse, Summer Vegetables, and Sourdough Bread
Meats for a Mid-Sized Group (6-10 People)
The strip steak is cut from the short loin of the steer’s back. It’s moderately tender and well-marbled, but has considerably less fat than a rib eye, which makes it easier to cut to share. Strip steaks are also sold as the New York Strip and Kansas City Strip, among other names.
Why It’s Good for a Mid-Sized Group: If you’re looking for a fancier steak that still feels affordable for parties under 10 people, nothing beats a strip. It’s easy to cook and easy to slice and portion for a group, although the cost can start to add up for larger gatherings.
What It Costs: $19.99/lb. ($10 per person)
How to Cook It: Grill steaks over medium-high, direct heat, turning several times until lightly charred and medium-rare and an instant-read thermometer registers 120°. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Pro Tip: Ask your butcher for a bone-in strip steak (also known as a shell steak). Why? Young says: “Grilling with the bone is more fun!”
Get the Recipe: Strip Steak with Japanese Dipping Sauce
This tender, beefy cut comes from the sweet spot where the leg muscles hit the loin. Sirloin steaks essentially come from the same area as the New York Strip, but from an area of the back that’s closer to the hind. These steaks are smaller, around a pound per steak, but easily sliced.
Why It’s Good for a Crowd: Juicy sirloin steaks are easy to cook, easy to share, and an economic but comparable alternative to pricier tender cuts like the tenderloin.
What It Costs: $17.99/lb. ($9 per person)
How to Cook It: In a two-zone fire, sear over medium-high, direct heat until browned, then move to indirect heat and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 120° for rare, or to desired doneness. (The Meat Hook recommends cooking sirloin steaks to rare or medium-rare for maximum tenderness and juiciness.)
Pro Tip: Try to buy steaks that are roughly the same size so they all cook at the same rate.
Beef tenderloin, or filet mignon, is what most people think of when they hear the words “high-end steak.” It’s prized for its buttery texture, though it has a less pronounced “beefy” flavor than cuts like the rib eye or porterhouse.
Why It’s Good for a Mid-Sized Group: A huge, whole tenderloin is a sight to behold on the grill. It’s a little too much meat for smaller groups, but it’s ideal for mid-sized groups. The tenderloin’s log shape makes it a cinch for guests to slice and serve themselves.
What It Costs: $34.99/lb.
How to Cook It: In a two-zone fire, sear all four sides of the tenderloin over medium-high, direct heat, about 2 minutes per side. Move tenderloin to indirect heat, cover grill, and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 125°.
Pro Tip: Tenderloin is going to be one of the most tender options for grilling. If you like your meat to have a little more chew, consider a strip steak.
Meats for a Party (10+ People)
Having a big crowd over for an all-day affair? Keep it easy and affordable and your biggest worry will be where to locate the closest cold beer.
The darling of winter braises also makes a great option for the grill. They’re ultra-fatty, which helps insulate them and prevent overcooking. Grilled short ribs are never going to cook to the fall-apart tenderness of their braised brethren, so you want them cut thin, Young says. Ask your butcher for flanken style ribs, which are cut across the ribs and have several cross-sections of bone in each slice. The ribs pictured above are ¾” thick, but you could go as thin as ¼” thick, like Korean kalbi.
Why It’s Good for a Crowd: Cheap, filling, and quick-cooking, short ribs have it all.
What It Costs: $9.99/lb. ($5 per person)
How to Cook It: Grill over medium-high, direct heat, turning once, until lightly charred and cooked through (about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare ¼”-thick ribs.)
Pro Tip: If you’ve ever had Korean barbecue, you know: Grilled flanken style short ribs are extra-delicious after a quick marinade.
Get the Recipe: Soy and Sesame Short Ribs
Man Steak (Pin-Bone Sirloin)
The Meat Hook calls this succulent honker a “Man Steak,” but you can find it called a pin-bone sirloin elsewhere. It’s got four different cuts of meat (tri-tip, top sirloin, tenderloin, and the tri-tip-like pequeña) in a single steak, which guarantees there’s something for everyone. Plus, it’s massive—there’s no way you won’t have fun grilling this steak.
Why It’s Good for a Crowd: Young says the smallest Man Steak the Meat Hook sells weighs in at around five pounds, which will still feed plenty. The beauty of this cut is all the different parts cook at the same rate. “You can casually drink your beer, staring at a huge piece of meat, with no worry of overcooking,” he says.
Pro Tip: Call your butcher ahead of time for this particular cut. Ask for the steak to be cut at least 2″ thick.
How to Cook It: Season the steak with lots of salt and pepper (you want to be able to see it) and set out at least two hours before grilling. Grill over medium, direct heat, flipping every 2 to 3 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 125° to 135°. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
At the Meat Hook, the tag for the brisket behind the butcher case reads, “The high holy cut for BBQ.” This cut comes from the cow’s breast or lower chest, and includes the hard-working muscles that support a large chunk of the animal’s body weight. It’s packed with lots of connective tissue that tenderizes over a long period of cooking time before reaching that euphoric state of melty, fatty, glorious meat.
Why It’s Good for a Crowd: Sure, smoking a whole, 12-lb. beef brisket is a project. It’ll take you all day, a few extra pieces of special equipment, and a close eye. But it’ll feed an army, and the look on everyone’s faces as you set down that beautifully crusted hunk of meat will make it all worth the effort.
What It Costs: $10.99/lb. ($5.50 per person)
How to Cook: Our guide to making Texas-style smoked brisket has everything you need to know about how to cook this glorious cut in a gas grill, charcoal grill, or smoker.
Pro Tip: Call your butcher ahead of time to place a special order for a whole brisket—it isn’t typically sold whole at the supermarket.
Get the Recipe: Texas-Style Smoked Brisket
Watch our editor Adam Rapoport grill the perfect burger:
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