Argentina is a mecca for meat-lovers, with many claiming the country has the very best steak in the world. But what makes it so good? From the grass-fed Pampas cows to the unique beef cuts and special Asado cooking techniques, Argentinian steak is a work of art from start to finish. Read on to discover everything you need to know about the juicy, tender, flavourful masterpiece that is Argentinian beef.
Grass-fed cows in Las Pampas
You can’t talk about Argentinian steak without talking about their cows. There are many different breeds of cattle, but the ones that produce the best beef are those that graze on the amazing grass of Las Pampas.
But what is Las Pampas? It’s 750,000 square kilometres of mostly flat grassland in Argentina, famed for its temperate climate that’s perfect for growing nutritious grass. The cows here spend their lives happily grazing in the sun, resulting in leaner, more flavourful, healthier Argentinian beef.
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No antibiotics or hormones
Because they are free to roam and graze on the nourishing grass, Argentinian cows are less likely to get or spread disease. This means that farmers or gauchos (Argentine cowboys) don’t need to pump the cows full of antibiotics to ward off infections.
They also aren’t fed growth hormones. Pampas-raised cattle aren’t unnaturally rushed to fatten up as quickly as possible, which can weaken a cows’ immunity. As a result, Argentinian beef makes for some of the best steaks in the world.
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Unique beef cuts
While Argentinian beef is certainly raised right, it’s also cared for after the butchering process. Argentinian steaks are cut differently, which all leads to a better flavour.
The cuts are based on the texture of different parts of the cow. Rather than having a steak with more than one texture, such as an American T-bone, your Argentinian steak has one consistent texture all the way through. This means it will cook evenly and leave you with melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
Here are some of the most popular and unique beef cuts you have to try in Argentina:
Bife de Lomo (Tenderloin Steak)
If you like your steak with minimal fat, this is the cut for you. It’s one of the most superior and expensive cuts of meat, with lean, tender and juicy flavours.
Bife de Chorizo (Sirloin Steak)
This is a fatty, thick beef cut that’s literally dripping with flavour. It’s big and juicy, with some tasty fat, and while it’s not as tender as Bife de Lomo, it’s got more marbling which gives it an amazingly rich taste.
Entraña (Skirt Steak)
The Entraña cut is one of the most popular among locals. It’s cut very thinly, and while not as tender as the other cuts it’s packed with flavour. It’s also one of the least expensive cuts, so a good choice for those who plan to eat Argentinian steak every day on their trip.
Vacío (Flank steak)
This unique cut has a thin layer of fat that makes it tender on the inside, but extra crispy and delicious on the outside. It’s a little chewy, but also delicious.
Other popular cuts include Ojo de Bife (rib-eye), Asado de Tira (ribs), Bife de Costilla (T-bone), and Cuadril (rump steak). If you’re dining with friends, you might like to order the Bife Angosto, a tasty cut of rich fatty meat served in a large portion to share.
Special cooking methods
So you’ve got your grass-fed cows and unique beef cuts, but now you’ve got to cook it well. Luckily for us, the Argentinians have got their meat cooking methods down to a fine art.
The most common technique is Asado, which is similar – but different! – to barbecuing. It’s slower and focuses on slightly smoking the beef, rather than sealing it. But it’s not just about the meat.
The locals also carefully choose the grill, wood and heat source too. They use authentic parrillas (open-fire grill), made with volcanic stones or ceramic bricks that can resist scorching temperatures for hours on end.
They also only fuel the fire with wood or charcoal briquettes – never propane or gas. This way, the meat cooks slowly and lovingly and makes it so tender you can practically cut it with a spoon. It also gives it a wonderfully crispy edge and smoky flavour. One bite and you’ll agree this really is the best steak in the world!
But what about the seasonings? This meat is so delicious and flavourful, it only needs to be seasoned with salt. However, we say do as the locals do and add a little tang to your steak with the beloved chimichurri sauce. Your meal will also likely come served with fries and salsa criolla. Perfect!
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Where to eat Argentinian steak
Ready to try Argentinian style steak? Since the average Argentine eats around 54kg of beef per year, it’s not exactly hard to find! Here are the top two places to get it:
This is the best place to find an authentic Argentine barbecue. You’ll get a real taste of local life as you enjoy your steak, and you can even watch your steak being grilled over the hot flames right in front of you. Asados also often cook many different parts of the cow, so you might get to try something new.
If you’re looking for a fancier dining experience in Argentina, we suggest asking your Trafalgar Travel Director or Local Specialist for their recommendations. They’ll be able to point you in the direction of the best parrillas (steakhouse restaurants) where you can indulge in a top quality Argentinian steak.
Quick guide to Argentinian steak terms
Learn some of these handy phrases and get your steak the way you like:
Very rare (blue or bloody) – vuelta y vuelta or poco cocido
Medium rare – jugoso
Medium with a little pink – a punto
Medium well – pasado a punto
Well done – cocido
Very well done: bien cocido
Have you ever tried Argentinian steak? Let us know in the comments below!