What is steak tartare: Raw Facts about Your Burning Questions

Love it or hate it, steak tartare, aka beef tartare is an iconic dish in French cuisine. But what is steak tartare? Discover everything you need to know in this comprehensive mini guide.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
beef steak tartare closeup with condiments and raw egg
beef steak tartare closeup with condiments and raw egg

Whether you love steak tartare, someone who cringes at the thought of raw meat, or you’re just curious, you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. 

Let’s dig into the raw, juicy details, starting with a basic definition of what is steak tartare!

A Mini Guide + Fascinating Steak tartare facts

beef steak tartare closeup top view: what is steak tartare facts

**I used various resources to research this article including old cookbooks from famous French chefs. I also combed through the archives of Gallica.bnf.fr, a digital library operated by the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF). 

What is steak tartare?

tartare de boeuf in pot

Steak tartare, or beef tartare, is an iconic French dish eaten raw. It’s made from coarsely chopped or finely minced beef mixed with various seasonings and ingredients such as chopped onions, capers, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and sometimes Tobasco and herbs.

The uncooked meat mixture is then formed into a mound or a thick patty and typically served with a raw egg yolk and commonly accompanied with a salad, bread or french fries.

Depending on the restaurant and context, it can be served as an appetizer or a main course.

Why do people eat raw meat or rare meat?

Even if you’re not a fan of raw fish dishes such as sushi, sashimi, ceviche, or salmon tartare, most people don’t take issue with others who do eat raw fish dishes. 

However, when it comes to eating steak tartare, the thought of eating raw red meat topped with a raw egg is still unfamiliar territory for some and unappealing to others. 

Some people simply like the taste and softer texture of raw meat or blood-rare meat because all the natural flavours of the meat shine through.

 For example, in France, it’s common to order a steak or hamburger cooked rare or even extra rare, known as “bleu” in French, which is basically meat that’s been quickly seared on the outside and raw in the middle. 

Related: Ordering Steak in France: Extra rare, rare, medium, medium rare, and well done in French!

What does beef tartare taste like?

woman happily eating steak tartare in a restaurant, sipping on a glass of red wine

The taste of beef tartare varies by recipe, type of meat, and amount of ingredients used, but generally speaking, some people describe its taste as rich, tender, and beefy. Kind of like eating a high-quality steak but with a more intense and beefy flavour.

The combination of seasonings added to the dish adds depth and complexity to the overall taste, while the raw egg yolk on top adds a creamy and slightly savoury element.

Depending on the cut of the meat and the method used to cut the meat, the texture can be soft, tender, smooth, or slightly chewy, to a silky texture that melts in your mouth. 

What is steak tartare called in French?

In English, beef tartare and steak tartare are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the same dish.

In French, there are also many terms for a raw beef tartare dish.  Here are a few ways you’ll find people refer to this dish in French restaurants and recipes you can find online. 

  1. Tartare de boeuf (tartare of beef): This is the most common French term for beef tartare.
  2. Boeuf tartare (Boeuf tartare) is another common way to refer to beef tartare, simply reversing the order of the words.
  3. Boeuf de tartare (Beef of tartare): 
  4. Steak tartare: This is the same as the English term and is also commonly used in French.
  5. Tarare de steak: (Tartare of steak): 
  6. Tartare de filet de boeuf: This translates to “beef tenderloin tartare” and refers to a specific type of steak made with beef tenderloin.
  7. Tartare: While this term can refer to any type of tartare dish (such as salmon or tuna tartare), it’s also used as a shorthand for steak tartare in French.

In France, Steak tartare was best known as “American steak” for many years:

The cookbook book that put steak tartare on the map and popularized it in France and now the world was “Le Guide Culinaire,” published in 1903 by August Escoffier, which is still considered a culinary bible in French cuisine. 

Auguste Escoffier created his recipes beginning in the 1880s when he worked at the Savoy, Ritz and Carlton hotels. The fact that he included this recipe in his cookbook means that it was already a well-established dish in France prior to publishing his cookbook in 1903. 

Not many people realize, but Escoffier didn’t call it steak tartare. He actually had two versions of this dish with two different names. 

  • “Bifteck à l’américaine. (American beef steak or American style beef steak) – Topped with a raw egg yolk. Capers, onions, and chopped parsley were served on the side.
  • “Bifteck à la Tartare” (Beefsteak with tartare sauce) – Same as the above version but served with a side of tartar sauce and NO raw egg. 

It’s ironic that steak tartare, a dish that most of the world associates with France, used to be commonly known as an American beef steak. 

Here is the evolution of the name of this dish based on written records from very old but famous French cookbooks and French dictionaries. 

Why was steak tartare originally called “à l’américaine” in France?

Bifteck à l’américaine american style beef steak 1903 recipe: Early version of steak tartare

Escoffier may have called his dish “bifteck à l’américaine” because French chefs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries initially used the term “à l’américaine” to describe a variety of dishes that were thought to be typical of American cuisine or that used ingredients thought to be popular in America, but it didn’t necessarily mean that the dishes had any actual connection to a traditional American dish.

For example, some of the characteristics of the “à l’américaine” style included using tomatoes, spicy flavours, and brandy, which are all used in the famous French lobster sauce called “Sauce à l’américaine” (American sauce), which was not created in the United States. Tomatoes, brandy, and fish stock made from lobsters were all associated with American cuisine at the time. 

Saying something was “à l’américaine” also made dishes sound more exotic and exciting to diners.

Bifteck à la Tartare (steak with tartare sauce)

bifteck a la tartare by august escoffier 1903 cookbook "Guide Culinaire" was served with a side of tartar sauce and no raw egg

“bifteck à la tartare” (steak with tartare sauce) was another version of “Bifteck à l’americain.” In French, “à la tartare” just means is served with tartare sauce. 

This version was just like his “bifsteck à l’americaine” recipe, except it was NOT served with a raw yolk, and it came with a side of tartar sauce. At the time, early French cookbooks used the term “à la tartare” mainly as a side for fish dishes. 

Escoffier’s version of tartar sauce served with his “Bifteck à la Tartare” was made with mayonnaise whipped from hard-boiled eggs, mixed with chopped green onions or chives.But other renowned chefs of the time such, as Joseph Favre included a pinch of pepper like espelette, chives, parsley, chervil, tarragon, capers and pickles, all finely chopped and mixed with mayonnaise.

1930s: The dish becomes Steak tartare:

Bifteck à la Tartare was later shortened to “bifteck tartare.

Flash forward about 35 years.

One of the first known written records of this dish being called “steak tartare” and not “bifsteck a l’américaine” or “bifteck tartare” was in the 1938 edition of Larousse Gastronomique, an encyclopedia of gastronomy by French writer and editor Prosper Montagné. This book was and still is considered by many to be the authoritative French cookbook that includes ingredients, culinary history, detailed techniques, and recipes.

In the 1938 edition of Larousse Gastronomique, an encyclopedia of gastronomy by French writer and editor Prosper Montagné, there is no mention of a side of tartar sauce anymore, and the distinction between “steak à l’américain” and “steak à la tartare” was lost. 

Larousse Gastronomique was and still is considered by many to be the authoritative French cookbook that includes ingredients, culinary history, detailed techniques, and recipes.

It was as if the raw beef version with a raw egg and the version with a side of tartar sauce merged because now, instead of serving a side of tartar sauce, the ingredients typically found in tartar sauce were mixed right into the dish or served on the side, like a deconstructed tartar sauce. 

Ever since, this raw beef dish served with raw egg yolk has been known mainly as steak tartare or beef tartare throughout the world, in each country’s respective language.

Why is it called steak tartare and what does “tartare” mean?

There is a lot of lore and mystery surrounding the name “Tartare,” which is a French word that has evolved and changed its meaning over time.

There are several theories about how steak tartare got its name. 

“Tartare” is A French word for the Tartar / Tatar people:

Tartar warriors on horseback

“Tartare” is not only a word used for the dish known as steak tartare, but it’s also the French name for the nomadic Tartare people, also known as Tatars. The Tatars 

The Tatare people also known as the Tatars, were from the Eurasian Steppe region in central Asia, which included parts of modern-day Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Turkestan, and China. They were composed of a diverse group of tribes and ethnicities, including the Mongols, Turkics, and other Central Asian ethnic groups. One of the most famous tartar’s you may know was Genghis Khan, a Mongolian born in 1162 and died in 1227. 

Why is it called “Tartare?”

No one knows for sure why the French term for the tartare people is also used to describe certain raw meat and fish dishes, such as steak and salmon tartare, but there are a few theories.

Theory 1: Steak tartare was named the tartare people:

One theory is that both the sauce and the raw tartare dishes were named after the tartar people, who ate raw meat, possibly due to their nomadic lifestyle

Theory 2: Steak tartare was named after tartaric acid:

Another theory is that “tartare” is from the French word “tartre,” tartaric acid in English, which has a sour taste. When purified, this substance becomes cream of tartar used for baking and cooking. Since beef tartare can include capers, lemon juice, and mustard, this dish may have been named tartare to refer to those tangy and tart ingredients. 

However, these are just theories.

Who invented beef tartare? Origins and history.

There’s no denying that steak tartare is linked to France and is considered a classic dish in French cuisine.

However, it’s also loved in many other countries, such as Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Some countries serve it the traditional French way, while others put their own spin on it. (See section for variations of this dish.)

Is steak tartare French?

No one knows for sure the exact origins of steak tartare the dish, but there is a lot of debate about its history, which has been somewhat lost over time because the early days of the steak tartare were not well-documented. Culinary terms and their meanings have also evolved and changed over time.

What we do know is that this dish has likely been consumed in various forms for centuries before it was formally documented. 

Let’s explore a few of the better-known theories and a few lesser-known ones about the origins of beef tartare.

THEORY: Modern Steak tartare was invented in France but inspired by the Tartar people

Although eating raw meat dishes has been a tradition in many cultures for a long time, steak tartare as we know it today is actually a relatively modern dish that didn’t appear in France until around the late 1800s. It, or earlier versions of it, may have existed longer, but there are no French texts that refer to a raw beef dish earlier than this in France.

One of the most popular theories out there is that French steak tartare was based on a raw meat dish eaten by the tartars. This dish might have been brought to Europe, where people modified it and made it into the dish we now call steak tartare.

However, we’re not completely sure if the Tatars really inspired the dish or not. Some historians and linguists think there is not enough proof to say so for sure. 

Turkic style beef steak: 1889: First raw minced beef recipe with a raw egg:

Joseph Favre called steak tartare "bifteck à la turque" (Turk style steak) in his 1889 cookbook. Some Turks, especially those living in Russian Turkestan at the time were considered tartars

The earliest known written record of a raw beef dish topped with a raw egg yolk was published in a health food cookbook in 1889 by a famous Swiss chef named Joseph Favre, who worked in Switzerland, Germany, and France. It was called “Bifteck à la Turque”  (Steak in the style of the Turkics or Turkic steak.)

Favre’s Turkic steak recipe of raw minced beef was seasoned with salt, pepper, and shallots and garnished with capers, stuffed olives, chopped onions, scallions, mixed pickles, and anchovy fillets, toped with a raw egg. 

Joseph Favre clearly believed that his raw beef dish had Tartar origins, not only because of its name but also because of the accompanying notation “(Cuiss. Russ) alongside the “Biftek à la Turque” recipe. This notation signified the dish had Russian origin. During that era, Turkestan was a part of the Russian Empire, and all Turkics living in Russian Turkestan were commonly referred to as  Tatars (known as “Tartares” in French). Consequently, the name “Beef Tartare” emerged.

However, on page 1847 of his cookbook, he states that although he once believed this tartar dish and sauce was from Russian Turkestan tartars, he now believes it comes from the barbarians Crimean tartars who settled in current-day Poland around the middle ages. 

Joseph Favres cookbook was titled “Dictionnaire universel de cuisine et d’hygiène alimentaire : modification de l’homme par l’alimentation”
(Universal dictionary of cuisine and food hygiene: Modification of man through nutrition.)
Although his cookbook primarily focused on French cuisine, it also included recipes from other cultures, such as Russian, Polish, Italian, and Spanish.

Favre died in 1903 in Boulogne-sur-Seine, France, and the name “Bifteck à la Turque” never really caught, but the dish did catch on after 1903, thanks to Auguste Escoffier. 

Auguste Escoffier is often credited for popularizing steak tartare in France, but he didn’t invent it.

In 1903, A famous French chef named Auguste Escoffier, who admired and knew Joseph Favre, published a cookbook, “Le Guide Culinaire,” which is still used today. Think of it as the French equivalent of “Joy of Cooking.” Both cookbooks have been influential and made a significant impact on culinary traditions in their respective countries. Escoffier’s cookbook contained two recipes for a raw beef dish, which helped popularize this dish. This is one of the reasons why he is often credited for inventing steak tartare. 

THEORY: Steak tartare is based on the raw Hamburg Steak

Hamburg steak: raw version eaten with raw egg yolk from the US predates French steak tartare

In the mid-19th century, German immigrants who moved to the United States introduced a meat patty dish from Hamburg called “Bulette” (meatball) or “Frikadelle” (minced meat cutlet).

Although there were many variations of the recipe for this German dish, it was typically made by mixing minced beef or pork with onion, garlic, spices, and sometimes breadcrumbs and eggs. The patties were then cooked in butter and served with a rich brown sauce, potatoes, or bread.

It was a very popular dish in the late 1800s, which later became known as “Hamburg-style minced beef” or “Minced Hamburg steak,” which was eventually shortened to “Hamburg steak.” 

Raw Hamburg steak:

There were many mentions of a raw Hamburg steak that was seasoned with onions, spices and a raw egg which some people believe eventually evolved into what we now know as steak tartare.

For instance, in the  “Abbeville Press & Banner, a South Carolina newspaper dated December 30th, 1885, a “raw hamburg steak” is mentioned in detail. 

“Some like it raw, highly seasoned with finely-chopped raw onion and parsley, cayenne, salt, and the yolk of a raw egg. Others eat it very rare, and some insist on cooking it almost as dry as chips. In our opinion it is best cooked about ‘ medium,” and a poached egg placed on top of it is quite acceptable. 

This newspaper clipping predates Escoffier’s 1903 raw beef recipe for “bifteck à l’américaine” by nearly 20 years, so it’s possible that the raw Hamburg steak influenced Auguste Escoffier’s recipe. Or it could be a coincidence. 

THEORY: Steak tartare is based on an Italian recipe from 1560

One of the oldest recorded recipes containing the word tartare from an a 1650 Italian recipe called tartare di carne 1650 Italy

An alternative and less commonly known theory on the origins of steak tartare is that it’s based on an Italian raw beef antipasti dish dating back to the 1560s called Tartare di carne” (Beef Tartare).

This raw minced beef dish was basically seasoned with salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice, with the option to add capers, onions, and parsley as well.

Some say that this Italian tartare dish may have been an early precursor to steak tartare and could have influenced its development in France. However, it’s not certain whether the two dishes developed independently or if there was a direct influence.

Here is a rough translation of the recipe for the antipasti dish “tartare di carne” from the 1560 cookbook “La Singolare Dottrina” (The Singular Doctrine) by Italian chef Domenico Romoli.

“Take some good beef, and mince it with a sharp knife. Season it with salt and pepper, and dress it with oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Mix everything well and put it on a plate. You can also add capers, onions, and parsley to the dish. Serve it as an antipasto before the other courses.”

Interestingly, there are two other recipes in the book that mention the term “tartare” that have nothing to do with meat; they are “Tartare di mangiar bianco” and “tartare di latte.”

  • “Mangiar bianco” was a type of food common in Renaissance Italy, made by grinding almonds or other nuts with water and sugar to create a smooth paste.
  • “Tartare de latte” is believed to have been a dessert made from milk and sugar and possibly flavoured with spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.

There are several ways the term tartare can be translated based on the context of these three recipes.

  1. As a method of preparation based on the tartar people rather than the ingredients. 
  2. As a term to refer to the tangy flavour of dishes: “Tartare” was a term also used in Renaissance Italy to describe various dishes that were seasoned with tart, acidic ingredients such as vinegar or lemon juice. 
  3. As a way to describe foreign dishes that were unusual or exotic at the time: 

Let’s move on to how steak tartare is typically prepared. 

How is Steak Tartare Prepared, and with what ingredients?

how to make beef or steak tartare: basic ingredients

In this section, we’ll go over three things:

  1. The steak tartare ingredients and seasonings found in various recipes
  2. The best type of beef to use for the best steak tartare.
  3. The different methods to cut and chop the meat for this dish, for example, finely or coarsely.

Steak tartare ingredients:

Infographic showing basic ingredients for making steak tartare recipe

Beef tartare is a classic French dish, and like most recipes, there are hundreds of variations and twists, but at its most basic, a traditional French steak tartare usually starts with the same base ingredients, then other things can be added or omitted depending on the chef or personal taste. 

The most common French steak tartare ingredients for a classic recipe

  1. Chopped capers: These tiny, pickled buds add a briny, salty, and slightly sour taste to steak tartare. They also provide a nice textural contrast to the beef.
  2. Raw chopped onions or chopped shallots: Onions add a spicy, slightly sweet flavour to steak tartare, while shallots have a sharp, pungent flavour that can add a tangy note. Raw onions and shallots help balance out the richness of the beef while giving it a crunchy texture. 
  3. Worcestershire sauce: Made with anchovies, vinegar, and a variety of spices. Adds a savoury, umami flavour. 
  4. Dijon Mustard: Adds a spicy, tangy flavour to steak tartare and helps to emulsify all the ingredients of the tartare mixture together. 
  5. Raw egg yolk: Adds a savoury, slightly nutty flavour and a rich, creamy texture that helps bind everything together into a smooth and cohesive mixture. 
  6. Salt and pepper to taste: Enhances the natural flavours of the beef and other ingredients
  7. Cornichons or Dilled Gherkins chopped: The tartness of these tiny pickled cucumbers adds a slightly sour, tangy flavour to the dish that helps balance out the richness of the raw beef. The crunchy texture adds a nice contrast to the meat and adds a refreshing element.

What is the difference between cornichon and gherkin?

Cornichon and gherkins are two terms that are often used interchangeably. 

-A gherkin
is a type of small prickly cucumber that measures around 2 to 5 cm (1 to 2 in). It’s typically pickled in vinegar or salty brine with dill. The term “gherkin,” is believed to be from an old Dutch word “gurkje,” which means small cucumber. Eventually gherkins became associated with this type of pickled cucumber.

-Cornichon is a French word that means little horns, and it’s what you call all pickles in France. In terms of beef tartare, crunchy pickled baby chornichons are usually used as opposed to large ones which are sometimes referred to as Sweet and sour cornichons (cornichons aigre-doux,) or Russian-style cornichons (cornichons russes) in France. Tiny cornichons look very similar to a gherkin and are often pickled with pearl onions in vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard seeds. Cornichons are a common ingredient in French cuisine such as charcuterie platters, cheese Raclette, for an apéro, either whole or as part of an hors d’oeuvre, and of course in steak tartare. 

Bottle of Gherkins and Cornichons for steak tartare

Other optional ingredients depending on the desired taste and texture :

  1. Anchovies: Adds a bit of umami flavour similar to Worcestershire sauce. 
  2. Chopped Parsley: Adds a fresh, slightly peppery and slightly bitter flavour that can add a bright, herbaceous note.
  3. Chive: Adds a mild onion-like flavour and a fresh, herbal note.
  4. Ketchup: It has a sweet and tangy flavour with a hint of vinegar, which can add a subtle sweetness and tanginess to the overall flavour. 
  5. Mayonnaise adds a rich, slightly tangy, creamy flavour. 
  6. Tabasco sauce: A few drops of Tabasco sauce can add a spicy vinegary kick. 
  7. Cayenne powder: a pinch of cayenne adds a spicy, subtle sweetness and slight smokiness, which can help to enhance the natural flavour of the beef without overpowering it.
  8. Lemon juice or lemon zest: Adds a bright, tangy flavour to the dish. The acids can help to tenderize the raw beef, making it easier to chew.
  9. Olive oil: Some modern variations of the dish may include a small amount of olive oil as a flavour enhancer or as a way to help bind the ingredients together

Recipe for beef tartare:

How to make steak tartare

For steak tartare, you need to choose a high quality meat.

Begin by selecting high-quality beef that has been freshly ground or finely chopped and kept chilled. Choose tender cuts of beef, such as sirloin or tenderloin, for the best texture and flavour. (see next section for best beef cuts.)

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the finely chopped beef with your desired ingredients, such as chopped or diced onion, capers, cornichons, parsley, and Worcestershire.
  2. Alternatively, you can season the beef with salt and pepper, serve the chopped ingredients to the side and let the diner add the ingredients they want tableside. 
  3. Mix all the ingredients well to ensure that everything is evenly distributed, especially the egg yolk, which will act as a binder.
  4. Season the mixture with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper or other preferred spices.
  5. Shape the mixture into a round patty or mound. You can use a round mould or shape it by hand.
  6. Create a small indentation in the center of the patty and place a fresh egg yolk on top.
  7. Serve the steak tartare with a side such as toasted bread, french fries, or crackers, and allow your guests to add any additional ingredients they desire tableside, like Tobasco, salt and pepper. 

Which cuts of beef to choose for steak tartare at home?

cuts of beef for steak beef tartare

Chefs may not always agree on which meat cut is best for making steak tartare, but they all agree on the importance of using fresh, high-quality, and tender meat with a good ratio of fat to meat from a trusted source similar to what you would find served in a steak house or French bistros, cafés and brasseries. 

What is steak tartare without the right cut of meat?

Choosing your meat from a local butcher ensures that you’re getting the freshest and safest product possible. Unlike meat found at grocery stores, which may have been sitting around for a while, meat from a local butcher is often freshly cut and stored in optimal conditions. This ensures that you can enjoy your beef tartare without worrying about foodborne illnesses in raw meat that have been contaminated. 

Here’s a list of beef cuts for steak tartare in order of their quality and tenderness from highest to lowest:


You want your cut of meat to be the most tender and flavorful and without a lot of connective tissue and sinews. These can make your beef tartare chewy, which is why many chefs recommend using cuts from the tenderloin, filet mignon, ribeye, strip steak, or sirloin. These cuts are naturally tender and have a mild flavour that’s not overpowering.

Below, I’ve listed some cuts of meat for steak tartare, what part of the cow the beef cut is from and some preferred methods for preparing the meat.  The tougher the meat, the more finely it should be cut. For instance, tenderloin, which is very tender, doesn’t have to be cut too fine unless you prefer it that way because it’s already really tender.

1) Filet Mignon: This is a very tender and lean steak that has a mild flavour, but it can be expensive. 

Beef tenderloin and filet mignon are actually the same cut of beef. Filet mignon is a round steak cut from the narrow end of the tenderloin. 

-Often finely diced or minced by hand

2) Beef tenderloin: This is one of the most popular steaks for beef tartare and is more affordable than filet mignon. 

Beef tenderloin is a long, cylindrical muscle that runs along the spine and is known for being one of the most tender and flavorful cuts of beef, with a low level of fat and marbling. The tenderloin muscle is not heavily used by the cow, which contributes to its tenderness. 

-Often finely diced or minced by hand

3) Ribeye steak: Known for its rich, beefy flavour and marbling, which gives it a tender and juicy texture.

Ribeye comes from the cow’s rib section between the chuck (shoulder) and the short loin (back) of the cow.

-Can be diced, minced, or sliced thinly against the grain.

4) Strip loin steak: Also known as top loin, it’s a lean and tender cut with a moderate amount of marbling.

Strip loin steak comes from the short loin section of the cow, located above the sirloin, behind the rib, which is not heavily worked, resulting in a more tender cut of meat.

-Can be diced, minced, or sliced thinly against the grain to ensure maximum tenderness.

5) Strip steak: Also known as the New York strip or Kansas City strip, known for having a thick cap of fat that runs down one side and a good amount of fat marbling throughout. It’s one of the most common types of steak you can find in a supermarket. It’s not as tender as the other steaks near the top of this list, but it is more affordable. The difference in tenderness between strip sirloin and filet mignon could be comparing a soft, fluffy pillow (filet mignon) to a supportive mattress (strip sirloin). 

This cut of beef comes from the short loin next to the tenderloin. It’s a leaner cut of meat with a good amount of marbling and a firm texture

-Can be diced, minced, or sliced thinly against the grain.

6) Top Sirloin steak: Another popular choice for beef tartare is Sirloin steak, which has a slightly stronger flavour than tenderloin but is more affordable. It also has less fat than other cuts of steak. In terms of tenderness, if filet mignon were a soft, fluffy sponge cake, top sirloin would be a slightly chewier pound cake. 

The sirloin cut of beef comes from the rear portion of the cow, just above the tenderloin and below the round, usually divided into two main sections: the top sirloin and the bottom sirloin. The top sirloin is the most tender and desirable section, while the bottom sirloin is a bit tougher and often used for roasts, ground beef, and grilling or pan-searing.

-can be diced, minced, or sliced thinly against the grain.

7) Rump Steak: A lean steak that’s known for its robust and beefy flavour. It has a firm, almost chewy texture that can be tough if not prepared properly. The difference in tenderness between rump steak and filet mignon can be compared to the difference between a rubber band and a piece of soft butter.

Cut from the hindquarter of the cow from the top sirloin area.

-can be diced or minced: some chefs may prefer to remove any tough connective tissue before cutting.

8) Top round: Not a steak cut, but it’s a good choice for anyone who prefers a leaner tartare, but it’s not the most tender piece of meat. 

The top round is a large cut of beef from the cow’s rear leg. It’s used in things like roasts, steaks, and ground beef. 

-Often sliced thinly against the grain and then diced or minced to break down the fibres and make it tender enough for steak tartare.

Can I make tartare with high-quality ground steak instead of chopped or diced?

Yes, you can use ground steak or ground beef if you use high-quality, fresh meat that’s been properly handled and stored.

Some restaurant chefs use high-quality ground steak as a shortcut or for consistency in texture, but it’s the least common way chefs prepare this dish because ground beef tends to lose its distinct texture and become too homogenous, resulting in a texture that’s described as soft and pasty.

 Instead, chefs usually use finely chopped raw steak or hand-minced meat to maintain the texture and quality of the meat, which is what gives the dish its distinct mouthfeel – the physical sensations you get in your mouth as you chew and swallow the food.

Having said that, if you prefer the delicate mouthfeel of ground beef, just make sure to choose good quality ground beef from a reputable source and handle it carefully to minimize the risk of contamination.

Can I make tartare with raw hamburger meat from the grocery store? 

why you should not use raw ground beef packaged from supermarket

If you’re considering using pre-packaged raw hamburger meat from the grocery store to make steak tartare, the short answer is don’t do it!

This type of meat is ground with a meat grinder or food processor, resulting in a fine and uniform texture that may contain additives or preservatives that make it not suitable for tartare.

Because grocery store hamburger meat hasn’t gone through the same preparation and handling process as beef that’s specifically intended for raw dishes, you’re putting yourself and the people you’re cooking for at risk of getting sick from harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. You also have no idea how long the meat has been sitting there and have no idea of knowing how fresh it is.

So please skip that pre-packaged ground beef and consider purchasing high-quality beef which you can grind at home using a food processor or meat grinder to ensure the freshest possible meat. Better yet, mince it by hand or ask your local butcher to grind, dice, or chop the meat for you.

Different ways to cut the beef for steak tartare: 

Different methods of cutting meat for steak tartare

There are various methods for cutting the meat for steak tartare; each can have a slightly different texture. 

Here are some common ones:

  • Minced: The most common way to prepare meat for steak tartare: The meat is chopped into very small, uniform pieces by hand using a knife, meat grinder, or food processor to create a coarser texture. 
  • Diced: Diced steak tartare is cut into small, uniform cubes using a knife that creates a slightly chunky and irregular texture.
  • Chopped: This method involves roughly chopping the beef into irregular pieces with a knife, resulting in a more rustic texture with some variation in size and shape.
  • Thinly sliced strips: Some chefs like to cut the meat into thin, uniform slices using a sharp knife against the grain, which makes the beef more tender.                    

What to serve with steak tartare?

Beef tartare served with a side of toasted bread and cheese

Depending on the region, restaurants, and individual preferences, steak tartare can be served with various accompaniments.

Here are some things that are often served with beef steak tartare in France:

  • Pommes frites (french fries)
  • Roasted or boiled potatoes
  • Baguette slices
  • Toasted bread
  • Mixed greens or a simple salad with vinaigrette dressing
  • Grilled or roasted vegetables. Typical sides served with a classic steak tartare will vary. 
  • Pickles or cornichons
  • Mustard or aioli sauce
  • Grilled or roasted vegetables such as asparagus or mushrooms

Tartare Variations

While most people think of steak tartare as being French and made with beef, there are actually a ton of variations. 

Tartare is not just made with beef.

there are many types of tartare including veal, venison and even fish tartare such as salmon tartare

It’s a well-known fact that Beef can be used to make tartare recipes; however, the word tartar is now used to describe many raw dishes, including: 

  • Bison tartare
  • Horse meat tartare
  • Elk tartare
  • Venison tartare
  • Veal tartare
  • Lamb tartare
  • Eel tartare
  • salmon tartare*
  • tuna tartare
  • Oyster tartare

Even vegetable dishes are sometimes called tartare, such as:

  • Beet tartare
  •  Zucchini aka courgette tartare

Variations: Tartare is sometimes eaten differently in other countries

Steak Tartare is often associated with French cuisine; however, like many regional dishes, it’s been incorporated into the cuisine of other countries, resulting in hundreds of different variations and recipes. 

Korean/Japanese steak tartare:

Yukhoe: Korean steak tartare

When I lived in Japan, a friend of mine took me to her favourite Korean restaurant and ordered me a Korean dish called  “yukhoe” or “yukke,” which means “raw meat.”

Like French steak tartare, “yukhoe” is usually served with a raw egg yolk. However, the spices and ingredients used to season this dish were very different. 

Rather than gherkin pickles, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, Korean steak tartare is usually marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt, black pepper, and other ingredients not found in a classic French tartare, such as gochujang, a Korean chilli paste, and pears to help tenderize the meat.

Instead of french fries or bread, Korean steak tartare is served with rice or lettuce leaves. 

Dutch & Belgian steak tartare:

Filet Américain préparé: Belgium and Dutch raw beef spread

(American Filet) is a well-known dish in both Belgium and Holland, where it’s known as “Filet Américain” in Belgium and “Amerikaans filet” in Holland.

This dish was introduced in Belgium and Holland around the 1920s and was probably inspired by the French tartare dish, which was called “Steak à l’américaine” in France at the time. 

Although the two are very similar, there are some big differences, too.

For instance, instead of the beef being chopped, diced or sliced like a classic French steak tartare, this Dutch and Belgium dish uses very finely ground beef mixed together with spices and other ingredients into a thick, smooth and creamy paste similar in texture to a creamy pâté

Recipes vary, but “filet Américain” almost always includes mayonnaise and paprika. The red Paprika is what gives filet américain its rich red colour. Other possible ingredients can include mustard, Worcestershire, raw egg yolks, onions, pickles, parsley or something spicy like tobacco sauce. 

There are actually a lot of raw beef dishes from around the world. If you want to learn what they are, you should read 29 bloody good raw beef dishes from around the world.

Health facts about steak and beef tartare

Eating raw meat was once considered a health food

Eating raw beef used to be considered health food and a cure for anemia recommended by doctors

In the early part of the 20th century, raw meat was once considered a health food that was more nutritious and easier to digest than cooked meat.

Some doctors and health experts even recommended raw meat to cure certain ailments such as anemia. The idea was that the iron in raw meat could help boost red blood cell production and improve overall health. Raw meat has also been recommended to treat arthritis, colitis, and other inflammatory diseases. 

Although many of these health claims have been debunked or have no proven scientific evidence, there’s no denying that uncooked beef does contain high levels of Vitamin B, but so does cooked beef. 

And some people claim that eating raw meat benefits hormonal and reproductive health, including increased energy and sex drive. But again, this isn’t proven.

Is steak tartare safe to eat? And how do people not get sick from eating raw meat?

chef cutting salmon sushi

It’s natural to have concerns about eating raw meat. 

Beef tartare has some of the same stigmas that Japanese sushi used to have.

When sushi first became popular in Western cultures, many people unfamiliar with the concept of eating raw fish were concerned about the potential health risks and food poisoning associated with consuming uncooked seafood. 

As sushi became more widely available and popular, these concerns declined. Also, sushi restaurants were required to adhere to strict food safety regulations.

 However, that’s not to say that eating uncooked meat doesn’t have certain risks. 

To avoid harmful bacteria that can lead to illnesses, it’s crucial to use fresh, high-quality meat and proper food safety practices. 

Let’s go over some of the foodborne illnesses you have to worry about if you consume contaminated meat.

Common Types of Foodborne Illnesses and Their Symptoms

In 1993, a California-based meat processing plant supplied contaminated beef patties to the American fast-food restaurant chain Jack In the Box. The plant had neglected to conduct adequate testing on its meat for E. coli and had inadequate safety measures in place to prevent contamination.

Jack in the Box restaurant chains then used the contaminated meat to make hamburgers, which poisoned 700 people who all fell sick with a harmful type of E. coli bacteria known as STEC. This strain can be extremely dangerous for young children and older adults. Tragically, four children lost their lives due to the outbreak, while 178 others suffered serious illnesses, some of whom suffered permanent kidney and brain damage.

Although there was nothing those people could have done to avoid getting sick, the lesson here is to use high-quality meat that’s fresh, properly handled and stored. 

Here are some of the foodborne illnesses you can get by consuming raw or undercooked beef that’s been contaminated. 

  1. Salmonella: a type of bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps
  2. E coli: a type of bacteria that can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting
  3. Listeriosis: an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria, which can cause fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms
  4. Norovirus: a highly contagious virus that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps
  5. Campylobacter: a type of bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain
  6. Hepatitis A: a viral infection that can cause fever, nausea, and jaundice
  7. Botulism: a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can cause paralysis and respiratory failure. 

How do you make beef tartare safe?

how to make tartare safe to eat

Like sushi, eating steak tartare is not recommended unless you’re confident that it’s high-quality, fresh meat that’s been properly handled and stored.

Reputable chefs and restaurants that prepare and serve this traditional French dish take great care to source high-quality, fresh steak and follow strict food safety guidelines to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

If you’re planning on preparing steak tartare at home, it’s recommended to chill and freeze your steaks until the meat is firm but not frozen. This not only helps kill harmful bacteria that may be present, but it also makes chopping the beef by hand much easier. And always purchase your meat from a reputable source that you trust. 

How long can I keep tartare in the refrigerator?

If the beef has been stored correctly in the refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C), it can last up to 2-3 days before it’s no longer safe to eat raw. Improperly stored beef may contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. 

What about leftover steak tartare?

At room temperature, raw meat quickly develops bacteria. So if there are leftovers, put everything in the fridge in an airtight container.

When it’s time to eat the leftover tartare, for safety reasons, it’s recommended to cook the leftovers to avoid any risk of bacteria. 

Is steak tartare safe to eat while pregnant?

Pregnant woman eating a healthy salad while sitting cross legged on the floor

Eating raw meat and fish while pregnant is a bit of a hot topic, but in general, pregnant women should not eat raw meat or raw fish. A woman’s immune system changes during pregnancy, which can make her more susceptible to certain types of infections and illnesses caused by harmful bacteria or parasites that may be present in raw or undercooked food, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, which can cause serious illness or even miscarriage in pregnant women.

Parasites such as tapeworms can harm both the mother and the developing fetus. These parasites can cause health problems such as anemia and malnutrition and, in rare cases, can affect the nervous system.

In Japan, where sushi is a popular and traditional food, many pregnant women do continue to eat sushi in moderation during pregnancy.

How to eat steak Tartare: 

How to eat French beef tartare

Recipes can vary depending on the restaurant, but steak tartare usually consists of a raw egg yolk, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and additional ingredients such as capers, cornichons, parsley, onion, and shallots.

Steak tartare can be served in several different ways in a restaurant. A waiter may come to your table and mix everything tableside for you. Or the chef can prepare the dish in the kitchen.

If prepared in the kitchen, the dish can come in one of two ways: with the ingredients already premixed or with the ingredients served on the side. 

If the ingredients are already mixed, the server will bring you the prepared dish. Sometimes, the egg is not premixed, and sometimes it is— It depends on the restaurant.

French steak tartare pre mixed except for the raw egg yolk

If the ingredients are not pre-mixed, the server will usually bring you a plate with the raw beef, topped with egg yolk, and the other ingredients such as mustard, capers, onions, and other seasonings on the side. 

The benefit of not having everything premixed is adding as much or as few of the ingredients as you want. If you love mustard, you can put in a lot. If you hate capers, you don’t have to put them in.

Use a fork or spoon to mix the ingredients, ensuring that the egg yolk and seasoning are evenly distributed throughout the meat.

French steak tartare not mixed

If bread is served with your dish, take a bit of the meat mixture, spread it on the bread and take a bite. If french fries are served, cut the fry with a fork and knife and use it to scoop up a bit of the tartare mixture. 

Alternatively, you can eat it straight, like a steak. 

Can I order beef tartare cooked at a restaurant to a specific temperature?

seared steak tartare "aller retour" at Murillo Restaurant in Paris at 59-61 Rue de Courcelles
Seared steak tartare “aller-retour” at Murillo Restaurant in Paris at 59-61 Rue de Courcelles.

The beef in steak tartare is traditionally served raw; however, there is a less common version of seared steak tartare called “tartare aller-retour” ( tartare back and forth.) Some French people think eating tartare this way is a no-no, while others enjoy it this way. 

“Aller-retour” is a French cooking term commonly used in restaurants and recipes that involves briefly searing the outside of meat or fish for a few seconds, like seared ahi tuna. The goal is to keep the interior of the beef tartar raw. Otherwise, you’re just eating a cooked hamburger that’s extra rare.

In France, it’s actually quite common to order your hamburger rare or even blue rare, which, like aller-retour, involves searing the outside quickly but essentially leaving the interior rare. cooked steak tartare is called tartare aller-retour, which is basically seared steak tartare, or an extra rare hamburger patty

 Here is a recipe for “tartare aller-retour from the French Marie Claire magazine

What’s the difference: Carpaccio, steak, beef, and Wagyu beef tartare?

beef tenderloin for steak tartare

Steak tartare vs Beef tartare

Beef tartare and steak tartare are two terms that are often used interchangeably in English to refer to the same dish.

Beef tartare is a generic term, so technically, all tartare dishes made with beef, regardless of the cut, are considered beef tartare, but not all beef tartare is considered steak tartare.

“Steak tartare” implies that the dish is made from a high-quality cut of meat typically used for steaks, such as filet mignon or sirloin steak. But steak tartare can also be made horse meat steak too.

A tartare dish made with top-round would not be considered steak tartare because top-round is not considered steak meat. 

But again, many people don’t differentiate between the two terms and use them interchangeably. 

Steak and beef tartare vs Wagyu beef tartare 

Wagyu beef tartare is a variation of a raw steak tartare made with premium Wagyu beef, known for its tenderness and marbling.

The most well-known Wagyu beef comes from Japan and is often used for high-end steaks like Kobe beef. However, not all cuts of Wagyu beef are used for steaks, and the term “Wagyu” actually refers to the breed of cattle rather than a specific cut of meat. 

So wagyu beef tartare implies it’s made from this highly sought-after beef, regardless of whether the cut is a steak. 

What’s the difference between carpaccio and beef tartare?

beef carpaccio vs beef tartare: What's the difference between beef tartare and beef carpaccio?

French Beef Tartare and Italian Beef Carpaccio are dishes made with raw beef, but the two have some key differences.

One of the biggest differences is carpaccio is made from almost paper-thin slices of beef, while beef tartare is made from finely minced or chopped beef.

Beef Tartare is considered a rustic dish with a stronger flavour due to the hearty ingredients such as cornichons, mustard, capers, and Worcestershire sauce, topped with a raw egg yolk.

Beef Carpaccio is a more delicate dish with a milder flavour, containing a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, some parmesan shavings and maybe capers and onions.

Here’s a chart with some of the differences. 

  Carpaccio Beef Tartare
Meat cut Thinly sliced raw beef Finely or coarsely chopped or minced raw beef
Preparation Served raw and cold Served raw and at room temperature
Visual  Usually served layered flat on a dish with arugula. Usually shaped into a thick mound or patty shape.
Seasonings Typically olive oil and lemon juice, with additional toppings such as capers and Parmesan cheese Typically mixed with various seasonings such as onions, capers, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce
Texture Tender and melt-in-your-mouth, with a slightly chewy texture Soft and tender, with a silky texture
Serving Style Typically served as a starter or appetizer Can be served as a main course or appetizer
Origin  Italy disputed but usually linked to France
Flavour Milder, lighter, and more delicate flavour. Rustic, stronger flavour and hearty meal


I think that about covers the topic of what is steak tartare, from it’s origins, etymology, history and how to make it. 

I hope you enjoyed this little mini guide about steak tartare.
 Bon appétit!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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