Looking for the right meat cuts to make delicious carne asada or una paella con carne?
You may need to know how to speak Spanish with your butcher to get what you need.
Since the essential ingredient in carne asada is carne (meat), and you may want to specify which cuts of meat you need for your dish. Getting information on meat types and cuts in Spanish is key.
That’s what I’ll cover in this guide.
Continue reading for your in-depth guide to meat cuts and speaking to the butcher in Spanish.
Where can you get meat cuts in Spanish-speaking countries? (how to say ‘butcher’ in Spanish)
To start off, where can you get meat cuts in Spanish-speaking countries?
Well, the best place to head to is either the carnicería or pollería.
- A carnicería is a butcher shop or section of the supermarket where you can get various cuts of meat.
- A pollería is a poulterer’s shop.
You may also choose to visit a market, where you can order meat from cheaper carnicerías.
A list of the key meats and meat cuts available from a butcher
From chicken (pollo) to beef (carne de vaca) to pork (cerdo), there are various types of meat and meat cuts to choose from.
Let’s look at the main examples.
Pollo (chicken) is a versatile, protein-rich meat that Spanish people cook in various dishes.
From caldo de pollo to paella, the dishes you can make using pollo are riquisimo (full of flavour!).
Here are the main parts of the chicken you can get from the carnicería or meat market:
- La pierna - the leg
- El muslo - the thigh
- La pechuga - the breast
- Las alas - the wings
You may enjoy the iron-rich chicken offals that are available from some carnicerías.
The offals are known as menudencias, and the main ones to know include:
- Higado - the liver
- Mollejas - the gizzards
- El corazón - the heart
Other key vocabulary related to pollo
If you want to make a more elaborate dish using chicken and need to ask your butcher for more specific chicken parts, check the vocabulary below for extra information.
|El pescuezo / cuello de pollo||Chicken neck|
|La rabadilla||Chicken rump (or tail)|
|Las patas||Chicken feet|
|El pellejo||Chicken skin|
|Quitar el pellejo||Remove the skin|
|Medallones de pollo||Chicken medallions|
|Milanesas||Chicken steaks (breaded)|
Carne de vaca
If you’re ever invited to un churrasco, you will get the chance to sample some sizzling barbequed or grilled meat that usually includes carne de vaca.
Carne de vaca means “beef”.
Plenty of cuts from this meat are listed below.
Let’s take a look.
1. El pescuezo
El pescuezo is the beef neck.
It’s ideal for making caldos, a type of stew, or carne picada, chopped meat.
Solomillo refers to the full tenderloin.
It is a meat cut that doesn’t contain bones and is taken from the lumbar part of the carne de vaca.
Whether you want to make filet mignon, slice it or stuff it, solomillo is a tasty cut of beef.
Some Mexican recipes use the agujas cortas, which come from the beef tenderloin’s lower part - part of the lumbar part of the cow.
You can fry or grill this tasty beef cut, which has a high-fat content.
3. Lomo bajo
Lomo bajo is the sirloin, which butchers take from the top, back part of the cow.
You may make beef hamburgers with it, cook it al horno (in the oven), or use it to make delicious tacos.
El chuletón is the ribeye part of the beef.
You can ask your butcher for el chuletón sin huesos (without bones to make grilled meat) or el chuletón con huesos (with bones to make roast beef).
5. Lomo alto
Lomo alto is the top sirloin; it is a tender beef cut you may ask the butcher to slice finely.
Butchers take the lomo alto from the top, middle part of the cow.
You may use it to make fried sirloin or grill it.
6. Chuleta de lomo bajo con solomillo
The chuleta de lomo bajo con solomillo is a t-bone steak.
This corte de vaca (beef cut) combines or includes both the lomo bajo (sirloin) and the solomillo (tenderloin).
It is a juicy and succulent part of beef.
7. La espaldilla
La espaldilla is the chuck that butchers take from the upper part of the front leg.
You can make beefsteaks from the soft part and grind the hard part to make carne picada (chopped meat).
8. La costilla corta
Costillas cortas are short ribs.
They are perfect for marinating before roasting them in the oven.
9. La falda
La falda is the flank cut of the beef that you may find in salpicón or use in a stew.
Butchers take this cut from the lower, middle part of the cow.
10. El cuete / el redondo
This cut of beef is called the bottom round.
Butchers take it from the pierna (leg) of the cow.
It is ideal for stews, such as the Mexican recipe cuete de res mechado.
Other key vocabulary related to carne de vaca
To create a dish not mentioned in the above lists, you may need to ask your butcher for other beef parts; check the other vocabulary related to beef cuts below to let the butcher know what you want.
|La cola de res||Beef tail|
|La cabeza de res||Beef head|
Carne de cerdo
Carne de cerdo means “pork”.
Just as you need to specify which beef cut you would like when you go to the butcher, you also have to tell the butcher which cut of carne de cerdo you want to make your dish.
Let’s go through some of the main pork cuts now.
1. La pierna
La pierna is the pork leg.
Butchers take this pork cut from the back of the pig, close to the tail.
You may roast this pork cut to make a delicious feast for the whole family.
2. Jamón Serrano
You may enjoy these thin cuts of Iberian ham with crusty bread on special occasions.
It is served cold and contains a lot of salt.
3. Las costillas de cerdo
Las costillas de cerdo are pork ribs.
Sold as racks or individual ribs, costillas de cerdo taste delicious when you barbeque them and add your special salsa (sauce).
This cut of meat comes from the loin or the part between the pig’s back, legs and shoulder.
4. Chuletas de cerdo
Chuletas de cerdo are pork chops.
You can ask your butcher for your preferred kilos or the number of chuletas.
Use kilogramos if you are asking for amounts in kilos or specify the number you want.
5. La espaldilla
This is one of the blanda (soft) pork cuts your butcher will take from the space between the head and the pig’s body.
You can stew these cuts of meat using your marinade or make carne picada in a taco.
6. Lomo de cerdo
When you ask for lomo de cerdo from the butcher, accept their recommendation in terms of the thickness of the slices to get the optimal thickness.
You may roast and eat lomo de cerdo with your salsa.
Other key vocabulary related to carne de cerdo
You may want to ask your butcher for a few other parts of carne de cerdo to create unique dishes.
Check the table below for more information.
|Las patas||Pork feet|
|Los cueritos||Pork fat|
|Cabeza de lomo||Pig head|
|Chicharrón / corteza de cerdo||Pork rinds|
Which adjectives should you use when ordering meat cuts from a butcher?
What if you want to be more specific when ordering meat from the butcher? Which adjectives are important? Consider the five Spanish adjectives listed below:
1. Carne en rodajas / carne rebanda
Rodajas means “slices”, so if you ask for carne en rodajas you can expect to receive sliced meat.
2. Carne molida
Molida means “ground” or “blended”, so if you order carne molida you can expect to receive ground meat.
3. Carne picada
Picada means “diced” or “chopped”, so if you order carne picada, you can expect to receive chopped meat.
4. Rodajas / rebandas gruesas
Grueso or gruesa means “thick”.
If you ask for rodajas gruesas, your butcher will give you thick slices of the meat you specify.
If your butcher starts slicing the meat in thin portions, you can ask for rodajas mas gruesas (thicker slices).
5. Rodajas / rebandas delgadas
Delgado or delgada means “thin”.
If you ask for rodajas delgadas, your butcher will give you thin slices of meat.
If your butcher begins slicing the meat in thick portions, you can ask for rodajas mas delgadas (thinner slices).
Asking your butcher for meat cuts: What to remember
Next time you go to the butcher in Spain or Latin America, you’ll have all the necessary vocabulary to order the right cuts.
Make sure you try to memorise the main types of meat (pollo, carne de vaca and carne de cerdo), and try to keep the key adjectives in mind when asking for meat cuts.
Did we miss any meat cuts that should be listed here?
Share them below.