Is Bone-In Steak Really More Flavorful Than Boneless?

Beef is the third most eaten type of meat throughout the world, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The most popular is pork, with poultry coming in second and sheep and goats in fourth. Beef is very versatile, and there are a lot of different cuts that are great for various dishes. Roasts, ribs, and brisket are meant to be braised, while sirloins and steaks are typically best grilled or pan fried, per Certified Angus Beef. Many cuts can be purchased with bones left in or bones removed, depending on preference.

Everyone has their thoughts on what makes the perfect steak. You have the people who like their steak as rare as it can be and the ones that want their steak cooked extremely well done. Interestingly, more people prefer their steak well done than medium rare, according to a survey from YouGovAmerica. Then, you have the ones that swear by bone-in steak and the people who prefer boneless steak. But does leaving the bone in your steak really add more flavor compared to a steak that has had the bone removed? You may be surprised by the answer.

Bones don't add flavor to meat but they do help keep it tender

The case for bone-in steak lies within the bone itself in the form of bone marrow, per Steak School. Marrow is a type of soft tissue that tastes "rich, creamy, and buttery." Bones themselves obviously don't have flavor, but the marrow inside and the fat that surrounds the bone are treasure troves of umami flavor. The only thing the bones themselves do is insulate the steak, according to Chicago Steak Company. Bones take longer to heat up, so the meat that's right next to the bone will be cooler by about 5 to 10 degrees compared to meat that isn't next to the bone. Because of this, the meat next to the bone will be a little more tender and juicy than the meat further from the bone.

So, yes, bones do contain flavorful bone marrow; however, bones can't be melted or dissolved during their short time on a grill, and bone marrow isn't able to penetrate through bones into the meat (via Steak School). Therefore, bones don't add any additional flavor to steaks when they're grilled. If you need steak for a broth, stock, stew, or any other application where the meat will be simmered for hours, then bone-in steak cuts are perfect because the marrow will have enough time to liquify and seep out, adding flavor to whatever is being cooked.