Sirloin vs. Ribeye: A Delicious Beef Battle Unveiled
May 29, 202310 min read
When it comes to satisfying your cravings with a delightful steak, few options are as alluring as a juicy sirloin or a succulent ribeye. These two beef cuts have established themselves as renowned for their exceptional flavor and tenderness, captivating steak enthusiasts around the world.
But what sets them apart? This is what we are gonna discuss here today. We will compare two of the most popular cut of steak, sirloin vs ribeye, and figure out which one to choose.
What Is A Sirloin Steak?
A sirloin steak comes from the back part of the cow, starts just behind the ribs, and ends just before the rump area. The sirloin is a large piece of steak that gets cut into different types of steak; the top sirloin, the T-bone steak, and the sirloin tip roast. The top sirloin is the most common sirloin steak cut.
Sirloin is mainly composed of the groups of gluteus muscle; gluteus medius, gluteus accessorius, and gluteus profundus. This group of muscles is comparatively much leaner than the ribeye steak and also lacks the fat content and distinctive marbling of the ribeye. And because of their high protein and less fat content, they are not as intense in flavor and they also lack the juiciness of the ribeye.
As for texture and tenderness, although they might be slightly less tender than the ribeye due to less fat and connective tissue, it isn't dry or tough piece of meat. The meat has a rich smell and is adequately tender. It is incredibly packed with a beefy flavor and has a characteristic chewy texture. Because of that, sirloin is one of the most favorite cuts of steak. If you want a rich flavorful steak without excessive fattiness, sirloin is your go-to.
Other Names Of Sirloin Steak
Some of the most commonly advertised names of sirloin steak are New York Strip, Kansas City Strip, Omaha Strip, club steak, etc.
What Is A Ribeye Steak?
You can easily guess the source by the name of this steak. The ribeye is cut from the prime rib area of the cow, from rib 6th to rib 12th to be more accurate. It is one of the most expensive and flavorful steaks out there. However, compared to sirloin, a ribeye is leaner and a more fattier piece of steak.
It is mainly made up of the longissimus dorsi muscle with a characteristic cap of spinal muscle which is separated from the longissimus by a layer of fat. The intramuscular fat creates an incredible marbling which makes the steak rich with flavor and juiciness. Marbling is the thin white line in between the meat made of intramuscular fat. The more the marbling, the richer the taste because cooking helps break down the fat in between muscles and creates the characteristic strong and juicy flavor of the steak.
Another reason for the incredible tenderness of the ribeye is the longissimus dorsi muscle which rarely gets used. This helps maintain the intramuscular fat, and combined with the heavily marbled spinalis muscle, a ribeye steak is a perfect combination of fatty and juicy. Hence it is considered one of the most sought-after cuts of steak.
Why Is It Called Ribeye Steak?
It is assumed that the steak got its name because it is cut from the best portion of the rib, which is the centremost part of the cow, also known as the "eye". Hence the name Ribeye.
Types Of Ribeye Steak
There are two types of ribeye steak available. Boneless and bone-in ribeye. The bone-in ribeye is known as the cowboy steak. When the entire length of the bone is present, it is called a tomahawk steak.
Other Names Of Ribeye Steak
Ribeye steak is also known by several other names. Some of these other advertised names are Spencer Cut, beauty steak, Scotch filet, and Delmonico.
Difference Between Sirloin And Ribeye
Choosing between sirloin and ribeye is a difficult task because they have distinct qualities, making them both great steak choices. However, here are some important factors to compare the two to help you choose.
Fat Content And Marbling
Sirloin has a lot less fat content and marbling compared to ribeye. This is because sirloin comes from the buttock of the cow, which is a much more exercised area than the ribs, where the ribeye steak comes from. Hence the ribeye has much better marbling and fat content than the sirloin.
Sirloin is much leaner than ribeye steak. So if you prefer a less fatty but rich and tender steak, sirloin is the better option.
Ribeye is much more tender than sirloin as the meat comes from the less exercised area of the cow. The meat gets tougher the more it is exercised and the increased connective tissue and decreased fat content gives the meat a strong beefy taste.
Flavor proportionally depends on the fat content and marbling of the meat. The more fat marbling, the more flavorful it is. In that sense, ribeye has a much richer flavor than the sirloin. It's incredible marbling, and the thick fat layer of the spinalis muscle keeps the meat juicy and full of delicious flavor.
However, nowadays, dry aging is a popular process used to increase the meat's flavor and tenderness. So if you want a rich beefy flavor but don't like extra fattiness, you can opt to dry-aged sirloin as it will give you an equally enriched flavor as a ribeye along with its distinct taste.
High-fat content also means additional calories. Sirloin is a lean group of muscles with comparatively less fat than the ribeye. It is a great source of protein. But protein has fewer calories than fat. So if you are worried about your calorie intake, sirloin is your best choice.
Red meat is a very good source of protein and is full of vitamins and minerals. The most commonly found vitamins and minerals in red meat are vitamin B6, vitamin B12, zinc, phosphorus, iron etc. As sirloin is leaner than ribeye, it is also a better source of meat protein and a healthy, nutritious meal.
Prices may vary depending on the breed of animal or size of the meat. However, ribeye is more expensive than sirloin of the same size due to the extra marbling and the tenderness of the steak. Ribeye gives you that melt-in-your-mouth steak experience that makes you willing to spend the extra bucks.
When To Choose Sirloin Steak?
Whether you want to enjoy a simple grilled steak or want to experiment with it a little bit, sirloin is an excellent choice for that. It can be a steak full of flavor and deliciousness if you know how to cook it properly. It is also a highly versatile piece of meat that you can use to cook all different kinds of dishes. It is also a great source of lean protein with high nutritious value. If you are looking for a healthy steak dish and money-saving, this is your best choice.
When To Choose Ribeye Steak?
Choose a ribeye steak if you are looking for a top-notch steak experience that is full of flavor and richness and just as much juicy and tender. The characteristic marbling and fattiness of the ribeye steak is the perfect option for a celebratory meal. If you are not worried about calories and the price, a properly cooked ribeye will give you one of the best steak experiences ever.
How To Cook Sirloin Vs. Ribeye Steak
Before cooking either of them, there are some basics in cooking any steak that you have to remember.
Don't cook a steak immediately after taking it out of the fridge. Wait for it to come to room temperature. If you put it in the pan while it's still cold, it will take longer for the inside to cook and thus, the inside will be raw.
Salting before you cook will cure the surface of your steak and will increase its flavor.
Wipe off excess moisture before you cook the steak.
As for seasoning, you can add pepper before or after cooking the steak. However, adding paper before can have a risk of burning the pepper and creating a bitter taste.
If you are wondering which oil to use for steaks, it is best to use a flavorless oil that has a high smoking point so it wouldn't overcook or burn your steak easily.
Do not add butter before you've seared both sides properly. Then you can add butter, garlic, rosemary or thyme for an extra flavor.
How do you know when your steak is done? Easy, by using the finger test. Place your non-dominant hand palm up. Touch the tip of your thumb and the tip of your index finger together. Now with the other hand's index finger poke the base of the thumb of your non-dominant hand. That's what rare steak feels like. Do the same with the tip of your middle finger, that's medium rare. Same with ring finger, that's medium. Lastly, the same with the pinky finger, and that's well done. Compare that feeling with the steak and cook based on your preference.
While cooking a steak, resting time is very important. A steak needs to rest for several minutes after cooking to reabsorb and redistribute all the flavor evenly.
Now that we know the basics let's get back to cooking a perfect steak. Sirloin is best cooked both on the grill and the pan, while ribeye is best cooked in the pan. The fat content in the ribeye makes it risky for the grill. However, it is an excellent choice for pan searing than the sirloin.
How To Cook Sirloin Steak
Pan Fried Sirloin Steak
2 sirloin steaks, about 2-3 cm thick
Flaky sea salt
2 garlic cloves
Thyme and rosemary
Remove the steak 30 minutes to an hour before cooking for it to get to room temperature. This is to make sure to get a consistent cook both inside and outside.
Dry the excess moisture from the steak, then season generously with flaky salt and pepper.
Take an iron skillet or a heavy-based frying pan and heat oil over high temperatures.
When oil is simmering hot, put the steaks gently on the pan and sear for about 3 minutes until it turns golden.
Turn the steak over. Then add butter, garlic, and fresh thyme with rosemary.
Baste the steak with butter.
Once the other side is cooked for 3 minutes, stop the heat and place the pan in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes.
Take the steak out of the pan and place it on a plate. Let it rest for 5 minutes, and then serve.
Grilled Sirloin Steak
Another way to cook a sirloin steak is by using a grill.
2 sirloin steaks, 2 cm thick
Preheat the grill to medium heat. Brush the grill with olive oil.
Dry and season the steak with salt and pepper.
Place the steak on the grill and sear for 3-4 minutes.
Flip the steak to the other side and sear for another 3-4 minutes.
Then move the steaks to a lower heat area and let them cook for another 5-8 minutes, based on your preference.
Check the internal temperature of the steak with a meat thermometer. Once your desired temperature is reached, take it out and let it rest for another 5-7 minutes.
120-130ºF – Rare
130-135ºF – Medium Rare
135-145ºF – Medium
145-155ºF – Well
155-165ºF – Well Done
Now that we've cooked the sirloin in both ways, grilled sirloin steak provides a better and more flavorful taste than the pan-seared steak.
How To Cook Ribeye Steak
Pan-seared steak is the classical method of cooking ribeye. This way it is easy to control the temperature based on the color and doneness of the steak.
Pan Seared Ribeye
1 ribeye steak
Flaky sea salt
2 cloves of garlic
Remove the steak 30 minutes to an hour before cooking for it to get to room temperature.
Dry the excess moisture from the steak, then season generously with flaky salt and pepper. Make sure to cover the whole steak with salt and pepper.
Take an iron skillet or a heavy-based frying pan and heat oil over high temperatures.
When oil is simmering hot, put the steaks gently on the pan and sear on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until it turns golden. You can sear for a longer or shorter time depending on how well done you like your steak.
When one side is done, turn the steak over to the other side. Then add butter, garlic, and fresh thyme.
Tilt the pan to your side and use a spoon to baste the steak with butter repeatedly for a minute.
Once the other side is cooked for 2-3 minutes, stop the heat. Check the internal temperature to see the doneness. 145°F for medium rare, 160°F for medium and 170°F for well done. Unlike other steaks like filet mignon, ribeye can't be served rare as the fat requires higher temperature to render and cook all the way through.
Take the steak out of the pan and place it on a plate. Let it rest for 5 minutes and then serve.
Which Is Better? Sirloin Or Ribeye
We've discussed all the differences and benefits of both sirloin and ribeye and now for the verdict. There really is no better or worse steak when it comes to these two. If you are looking for a nutritious and beefy-flavored steak, sirloin is your best choice. But if you are going for a juicy and flavourful steak experience, then ribeye is your best bet. At the same time, if you like grilling, sirloin is the go to and ribeye is best pan seared. So at the end of the the day it entirely depends on your personal choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to serve sirloin best?
- As one of the prime cuts of steak, sirloin is best served medium-rare to get the best flavor.
Which sirloin is better?
- Top sirloin is the best of all the sirloin varieties. It is the most tender and most versatile.
What is the best method for ribeye?
- Iron skillet provides the best sear for ribeye.
Does ribeye cook faster than sirloin?
- Yes, ribeye cooks faster than the sirloin on the pan or the grill. That is because of the fat and rich marbling of the ribeye melts faster and makes the steak tender and juicy. While sirloin is a comparatively tough piece of meat with less fat and marbling. This is why to get the best flavor and tenderness, sirloin requires more cooking time.
Should you cook a ribeye fast or slow?
- Ribeye has the best combination of fattiness and tenderness, which makes it ine of the best cut of steak in a cow. And that is why it is also perfect for fast cooking in high temperatures.
Which one is more chewy, sirloin or ribeye?
- Sirloin is a lean group of muscle that is well exercised, which makes it comparatively tougher than the ribeye, which is a tender, well-marbled fatty steak. That is also why the texture of the sirloin can make it a little chewy in comparison to the juicy and buttery taste of the ribeye.