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Do Bone-In Steaks Have Better Flavor?

When it comes to steak, everybody has their own likes and dislikes. That’s why, when you go to your local steakhouse with a big group of people, everyone has to go down the line and tell the waiter how they’d like their steak cooked, and what kind of steak, they want, and what sides they’d like to go with it. If you talk to people who consider themselves “steak aficionados,” you’ll realize that some folks take these distinctions very seriously. Everyone knows, for example, that a lot of steak lovers and steak chefs consider “well done” to be a waste of good beef.

Here’s another question that generates a lot of different opinions: Do bone-in steaks have better flavor? A lot of people will instantly say yes, for the same reason that bones are used in stew to give it extra flavor. The juices locked inside the bones, they say, are released into the stew to provide that extra punch.

Is this true? Yes — when you’re talking about stews and soups, where the bones are cooking and stewing for long periods of time in a vat of broth, bones do enhance the flavor and nutritional value of the final product. But what about steak? Can it reasonably be said that the flavor of a T-bone will be superior to that of a filet mignon, on account of the juices locked inside the bone?

There’s an increasing consensus that the answer is actually no.

Although bones do contain a substance called yellow marrow, which definitely does add a buttery and delicious dimension to the flavor profile of steak, this marrow is more or less locked inside the bone, and does not seem to transfer into the meat. Stews and soups are different matter, since bones are steeped and stewed for a long time, and actually begin to fall apart, releasing the marrow. But when steaks are professionally broiled or grilled, there’s little evidence to show that this process actually takes place. That doesn’t mean a T-bone or rib eye can’t be especially good, especially when it comes from a really reputable source, and is prepared by a skilled chef. But the flavor will not necessarily be influence by the presence of the bone.

Steak chefs should know their stuff

The best way to answer these types of questions is, of course, to know from first-hand experience. There are plenty of steak lovers out there who prefer a T-bone because they believe it gives better flavor. Others swear that boneless steaks are much more flavorful. You might be able to offer a scientific argument one way or the other, but the fact is, flavor is subjective and all comes down to personal taste!

One thing’s for sure, though: If you’re at a reputable and experienced steakhouse, the steak should be expertly prepared and awesomely delicious, no matter what cut of beef you order. With steak, as with many other things, it can be difficult to make distinctions when you’re working with high quality meats and experts chefs. At that point, you’ll probably want to try everything and decide for yourself what the best steak on the menu is!

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