Perhaps no other question is asked more often when it comes to choosing your steak dinner: how do I pick between ribeye vs sirloin? The two steaks are very similar so let’s compare and contrast them so that you can make an informed decision based on the facts.
What is Ribeye?
The prime rib is taken from the section of the very center of the prime rib. The ribeye steak is one of the most popular steak cuts and is one of the most expensive. It is perfectly marbled with a higher fat content and the flavor is incredible.
The muscle is also little-used, which means that the texture is buttery and soft. Ribeye is the perfect balance of flavor and tenderness, but it does come at the cost of higher calories, thanks to the higher fat content.
Ribeye may also be called boneless rib steak, rump steak, beauty steak, or Spencer steak.
Sometimes, you can find bone-in ribeyes. For a special treat, ask the butcher to leave the rib extended to create a cowboy ribeye. This may also be labeled as Tomahawks by the butcher.
What is Sirloin?
Cut from the subprimal posterior to the short loin, sirloin is separated into different cuts such as top sirloin steaks, bottom sirloin, and sirloin tip roast. Top sirloin will always be labeled as such because it is the most desired form of this cut. Bottom sirloin is usually just labeled “sirloin steaks.”
You may find these labeled NY Strip, Kansas City Strip, Omaha, Club Steak, or even just plain Strip Steaks.
Sirloin is a well-used muscle and can be a little tough and lean if it isn’t prepared correctly. Because of this, the texture can be a little more chewy than ribeye. Sirloin still has a decent amount of marbling and flavor, and has fewer calories as a result which is why some people say that it is healthier. Consuming less fat may make this a bit healthier choice of the two. The cooking process will make a huge difference!
🥩 Difference Between Sirloin and Ribeye?
|Cost||$15-$30 per pound||$10-17 per pound|
|Texture||Tender and marbled||Marbled but not as tender|
|Fat Content||Higher Fat||Less fat|
|Flavor||Rich and Intense||Medium to High intensity|
|Thickness||½ – 2″ Steaks||½ – 1″ Steaks|
|Best Finish||Medium or Medium Rare||Medium or Medium Rare|
|Cut||Center of Prime Rib.||Subprimal posterior to the short loin|
|Size||One pound packages||One pound packages|
|Cooking Methods||Grill or Pan Sear||Grill or Pan Sear|
|Other Names||Rib Steak, Beauty Steak, Delmonico Steak, Scotch Fillet, or Spencer Steak||Rump steak, cutlet, braise steak, entrecote|
Since ribeye steak is tender and juicy, you’ll notice it has an intermittent web of fats on the surface, referred to as ‘marbling.’
You’ll find that most ribeye steaks are separated into two parts by a strip of fat.
There’s the main section, known as the longissimus dorsi muscle. Interestingly enough, it’s the smaller section, the spinalis muscle, that has more marbled strips of fat.
In contrast, sirloin is a leaner piece of meat with significantly less marbling. This is why some people feel it’s less intense in flavor compared to the ribeye.
Because it has more connective tissues, sirloin steak tends to be less tender than ribeye steak.
The marbling in the ribeye steak gives that rich, deep beefy flavor. It also helps keep the meat moist as it cooks.
Additionally, the spinalis muscle helps retain the juices in the meat, giving it an exceptional taste.
Although it has significantly fewer fats than ribeye, sirloin still has a delightful flavor. When cooked right, there’s a unique taste that only a sirloin can provide.
So, what if you’re aiming for a richer beefy taste without the high-fat content? In that case, you might want to try the dry-aged sirloin.
This is a widely used technique that boosts the flavor and tenderness of the steak, giving you the best of both worlds.
Depending on how you want it, you can get your ribeye steak with or without the bone.
The ribeye cut with the bone attached is commonly called a tomahawk steak or a cowboy cut. Ribeye steak has other names like Spencer, Scotch fillet, market steak, or beauty steak.
Sirloin steak is commonly advertised as Kansas City Strip, New York Strip, club steak, or Omaha Strip.
Red meat is packed with vitamins and minerals necessary for your body to perform its daily functions. A few examples include vitamin B6, Phosphorus, zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.
As for calories, a serving of three ounces of ribeye steak contains about 230 calories. Likewise, there are a little over 200 calories in a piece of sirloin of the same weight.
When it comes to fat intake, it’s no surprise that ribeye has more saturated fats, cholesterol levels, and sodium than sirloin. In fact, ribeyes are considered to be the fattiest of all the steak cuts.
On the other hand, leaner sirloin has more proteins and potassium than ribeye. That makes sirloin the better option when eating a nutritious, low-fat diet.
Overall, ribeye is a bit more expensive than sirloin, thanks to its rich marbling and super tender texture.
However, a few other factors go into determining the cost of the piece of meat, like its thickness, grade, source, availability, and USDA rating.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rating is a quality grading in the beef industry. It’s used to separate the beef into eight categories ranging from the highest, and most expensive, quality to the lowest and cheapest.
It’s worth noting that ribeye steaks are more likely to be graded as prime, which is the top rating. That’s why they’re more expensive.
The USDA rating grades are:
If you’re unsure which cut you should go for, remember that it depends on what you intend to use it for. It’s just a matter of personal preferences.
However, if you’re just looking to save a few bucks, go with the sirloin steak.
Prices aside, how about texture and flavor? They’re two of the most important factors to consider when choosing between ribeye and sirloin.
If you’re looking for a tender, flavorful piece of steak that would cook faster, then ribeye is your best bet.
That said, sirloin doesn’t have the ribeye’s distinctive marbling, which means it’s a bit tougher and chewier.
However, if cooked for a longer time, fibers on the sirloin loosen up, and it can be just as juicy as the ribeye. You just have to be a bit patient with it.
All in all, ribeye steak is perfect as a one-piece steak, while sirloin is best for dishes that require thinly sliced pieces of steak.
That makes sirloin a better option for sandwiches or breakfast dishes. Sirloin is also delicious when added to stews, soups, stir-fries, and tacos.
🍖 How to Choose the Best Cuts of Steak
You might base your choice between ribeye vs sirloin based on cost. Cost will vary by grade (quality) of meat.
A prime piece of sirloin might be more expensive than a select piece of ribeye. All things being equal, sirloin will cost less than ribeye and is still an excellent protein for your meal.
If cost isn’t a major factor for you, make the selection based on taste and tenderness.
Again, some of this depends on the quality of the meat but, in general, ribeye will outperform sirloin when it comes to taste and texture of the meat.
Both are loaded with B2, B6, iron, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals. Nothing beats a properly cooked prime grade ribeye.
Another consideration when choosing between these two meats is availability. Grocery markets can be limited in their selection, so to get the best possible cut of meat you might want to visit your local butcher.
They will guide you in making the right choice for your meal. Always chat with your butcher and ask questions. Get to know them and ask for help and opinion when you have a choice to make.
Pro Tip: Having a good relationship with your butcher is a lot like having a good relationship with your barber. It’s important if you want the best results possible. A good butcher has an incredible wealth of knowledge to share and a keen awareness of the quality meats he has available for purchase.
🍳 How to Cook
Ribeye loves a good sear on high heat. Three to five minutes on each side for a medium rare finish will give it just enough time to get a bit of char. Your goal for medium rare is 130-135ºF. Use an instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature. If you are ever in doubt, use these guidelines from the USDA.
Cook your rib steaks in a hot cast iron skillet like we did for the Seared Ribeye Cap steaks and the tomahawk steaks shown above, or on a hot grill and both methods will give you a perfect finish. When considering ribeye or sirloin, the rib steak is a little easier to cook perfectly without getting chewy.
Try our herb butter grilled rib eye steaks or the Reverse Sear Cowboy Ribeye in your Big Green Egg. You are going to love it.
Since this is such a highly flavored steak, I recommend a simple salt and pepper seasoning.
I often mix in a bit of garlic salt as well. It’s a personal choice, so have fun experimenting.
The cooking method for sirloin is very similar to ribeye. For the sirloin, you want a heated grill at 400ºF.
First, tenderize the meat to break up the membrane. Then sear it for four to five minutes on each side.
Check the temperature and pull it from the grill when it reaches your desired doneness. You’ll want 130-135ºF for medium rare or 135-145ºF for a medium.
Sirloin is a little easier to dry out than ribeye. Keep a close eye on it and do not overcook this cut. It is not a cut of meat you want cooked to well-done.
Because it does not have as much inherent flavor as a ribeye, proper seasoning is essential and a good sauce does wonders too.
Try our Grilled Sirloin with Chimichurri in Lettuce Wraps for a perfectly cooked sirloin your family will love.
🍽️ How To Serve
I’m a huge fan of steak and potatoes, but honestly almost any side pairs well with a good steak — especially ribeye or sirloin.
You can go crazy with elaborate sides or keep it simple with chips and good salsa or bean dip.
A few of our favorite sides include Guinness Brisket Baked Beans, Grilled Baby Potatoes with Garlic, or Grilled Carrots with Balsamic Glaze.
🔪 How to Store Leftovers
The best way to store leftover steak is in the refrigerator in an airtight container. This will keep the meat from spoiling for two or three days.
If you don’t plan to use it within a couple of days, you can choose to freeze it instead. In an airtight container, cooked steak will keep frozen for up to three months.
Depending on how you plan to use the leftovers, you may want to dice up the meat before storing it.
Make sure to let it cool completely and come to room temperature before cutting it. This allows the juices to be sealed inside which will make it more palatable when reheated.
I like to use my leftover steak in quesadillas, tacos, soups, stir fries, or with eggs for a tasty breakfast.
Your steaks should be at room temperature before you begin cooking. Throwing a cold piece of beef on the grill can cause the outside to draw up resulting in tough and chewy steak.
Use an instant read thermometer to cook your steak perfectly every single time.
Make sure you let the steaks rest off the heat while you finish up the other elements of your meal. They need at least five minutes of rest time.
Print out the Grilling Times and Temperature Chart to make sure each steak comes out perfectly! Here is are the temperature guidelines for quick reference.
120-130ºF – Rare
130-135ºF – Medium Rare
135-145ºF – Medium
145-155ºF – Well
155-165ºF – Well Done
While this can certainly be a matter of preference, ribeye stands out as a cut above the rest when it comes to flavor and tenderness.
Cooking methods also make a huge difference in the outcome of a steak dinner so make sure you learn how to competently cook a steak and both cuts of beef will make a delicious dinner.
No. Ribeye comes from the prime rib section and sirloin comes from the sub-primal posterior are of the short loin of the cow.
They are two different cuts of meat with a completely different muscle-to-fat ratio and overall composition.
Sirloin does tend to be cheaper than ribeye when comparing to steaks of the same grade of beef.
Ribeye is usually more tender than sirloin. Cooked with care, sirloin can still be a beautifully tender piece of meat.
The main difference is in the amount of marbling and tenderness, resulting in less flavor for the sirloin.
However, the difference is fairly marginal and both make an excellent meal.
Other Cuts of Steak Comparisons
|Filet vs. Tenderloin||Filet vs. Ribeye|
|NY Strip vs. Ribeye||Baby Back vs. St. Louis Ribs|
|Filet vs. NY Strip Steak||Ribeye vs. Sirloin|
|Porterhouse vs. Ribeye||Ribeye vs. Prime Rib|
|Ground Chuck vs. Ground Beef||Flank vs. Skirt Steaks|