Sirloin vs Ribeye: What’s the Difference?

Sirloin and ribeye steaks are two of the most popular cuts sold in stores and restaurants. These steak cuts are cut from different parts of the cow: the ribeye is cut from the ribs of the cow, while the sirloin is cut from the cow’s lower back. But these differences don’t stop there! The ribeye and sirloin cuts also share differences in appearance, taste, and price.

As an experienced chef, I’ve prepared both ribeye and sirloin cuts for over a decade, and I’ll discuss the differences I’ve discovered over the years. Follow me as I break down Sirloin vs Ribeye.

Differences Between Sirloin and Ribeye

It goes without saying that deciding which steak cut is better is subjective. However, there are a few features you can compare that will help you pick the right steak for you.

Sirloin and Ribeye Steaks with Herbs

Location

The ribeye steak comes from the rib section of the cow. The ribeye spans from the sixth to the twelfth rib. On the other hand, the sirloin steak is cut from the rear region of the animal.

Appearance

The ribeye steak is well-marbled and has a healthy hue of red. Most ribeye steaks have a strip of fat dividing them into two sections; the larger section, known as the longissimus dorsi muscle, and the smaller section, called the spinalis muscle.

Sirloin steak, on the other hand, is a leaner cut of meat with far less marbling. This explains why some people think the flavor isn’t as rich as the ribeye. Moreover, the top sirloin steak tends to be less tender than ribeye because it has more connective fibers.

Flavor

The ribeye’s ample marbling is what gives it its juicy, robust beef flavor. Additionally, the fat keeps the meat moist while it cooks. The meat’s spinalis muscle helps keep the meat’s juices inside the meat, giving the steak a very juicy mouthfeel.

On the other hand, top sirloin also has a delicious flavor, even though it has much less fat than ribeye. So, what if you want meat that is chewier with less fat? The sirloin might be the best choice.

Price

A rib eye is more expensive than a sirloin steak. Generally, ribeye costs a few dollars more per pound than top sirloin.  However, certain bone-in ribeye could cost a little less than boneless sirloin cuts.

Bear in mind that the price of both cuts always depends on several factors, including the availability of the cuts in your area, how thick they are sliced, the grade of beef, and the age of the meat.

Nutritional Value

Meat is a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B6, vitamin B12, zinc, phosphorus, and iron. These vitamins and minerals help the body properly function.

Ribeye steaks are generally regarded as the fattest steaks. So, it should come as no surprise that ribeye has higher amounts of saturated fat than sirloin steak. The ribeye steak also contains more sodium than the sirloin cut. On the other hand, the leaner sirloin steak offers more potassium and protein than ribeye. As a result, sirloin is a preferable choice for a low-fat diet.

Cooking Method

I love searing my ribeye cut on high heat. This steak cooks in its own fat, yielding a juicy, tender, and tasty steak. For the best sear, use a cast-iron skillet. The skillet should be lightly oiled and preheated to the highest temperature. Next, spread your preferred seasonings over the ribeye. Once the skillet gets hot, place the ribeye in it and sear one side for four to five minutes. Turn the steak over and add oil or small chunks of butter to the skillet.

Cook the other side for an additional four to five minutes, or till it is a bit charred and the food reaches the desired temperature. You should aim for 130–135°F for medium rare. Remember to use a No products found. to precisely determine the meat’s temperature. For the most delicious steak, let the steak rest for about five minutes before serving.

You can always finish off the tender steak in the oven for a few minutes at 350 if you prefer it slightly more done than medium rare. You can also cook your ribeye on a grill. The smoky flavor it produces is simply divine.

From experience, the ribeye steak is a bit easier to cook than the sirloin without becoming chewy. Remember, ribeye steaks are packed with lots of rich flavors, so don’t go crazy with the spices. A few teaspoons of salt and pepper will do.

Beef Steak Cooking Over Flame

I prefer cooking the sirloin on a grill because I find it tastes better when grilled than seared. Start by tenderizing the meat. When cooking sirloin on the grill, make sure the grill is properly heated before adding the steak. This way, you’ll get the most tender results, and the meat will cook more evenly, preventing it from drying out.

Apply your chosen seasonings and olive oil to your steak. As an alternative, you can also use barbecue sauce to brush the meat. You should cook sirloin for four to five minutes on each side. Only turn the steak to the other side when you start to notice the juices beading around the top.

Remove your sirloin from the grill when it reaches the right temperature, and let it sit for five minutes before cutting. Don’t forget to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. If you want a medium-rare steak, aim for a 130–135°F temperature range.

Compared to ribeye, sirloin is slightly easier to dry out. So, don’t overcook this cut, and keep a tight eye on it. I wouldn’t advise cooking this meat to well-doneness because it will taste too chewy and stringy. Since it doesn’t naturally have as much flavor as a ribeye, you’ll need to properly season this cut and use the delicious sauce for more flavor.

What is a Sirloin Steak?

The tender sirloin steaks come from the lower back of the cow and are a leaner cut. Even though bone-in sirloin steaks are also offered, they are commonly sold boneless. Generally, sirloin is affordable while still providing excellent flavor and softness.

The lack of ample marbling in sirloin steaks is one of its noticeable qualities. Although the meat contains some fat, it is a lean cut. For individuals who prefer a thinner cut of meat, sirloin is still a very tasty cut of meat and is a fantastic choice.

Additionally, dry-heat cooking techniques like grilling or pan-searing work best for preparing bottom sirloin steaks. However, since the sirloin is lean, the meat tends to dry out more easily if you overcook it. In my experience, sirloin should only be cooked to a rare or medium-rare temperature because cooking it any further will make the meat dry and tough.

What is a Ribeye Steak?

The ribeye steak also called the beauty steak, is taken from the cow’s rib section and is renowned for its rich beefy flavor and marbling. Boneless ribeye steaks are more commonly sold, but you can also find bone-in ribeye at most stores. Due to its tenderness and flavor, the ribeye steak is one of the most popular and priciest steak cuts available.

The marbling of a ribeye steak is one of its distinguishing features. The term “marbling” describes the white streaks of intramuscular fat found on the meat. This fat melts while cooking and bastes the meat from the inside, giving the ribeye its rich flavor and suppleness. So, the amount of marbling on the cut impacts how moist and delicious it tastes.

The best way to cook ribeyes is over a dry heat source, like a grill or a skillet. This juicy steak can tolerate high heat since it is thick and padded with specks of fat. To truly enjoy the juiciness a perfect ribeye steak delivers, it should be grilled to medium-rare or rare temperatures.  

Ribeye Steak with Rosemary and Pepper

How to Store Leftovers?

You can store your delicious ribeye and sirloin leftovers in the fridge and freezer. To store your leftovers in the fridge, place them in an airtight container, label the container, and put it in the fridge. The meat should last for three to four days.

You can opt to freeze it instead if you don’t plan to use it within four days. The cooked steak will stay frozen for up to three months in an airtight container. Make sure you let the meat cool, then wrap the leftovers in cling film before storing them in an airtight container. Don’t forget to label the container so you remember to reheat the leftovers.

Final Thoughts

We’ve come to the end of the ribeye vs sirloin showdown! If you’re not sure about which cut to choose, keep in mind that it depends on your preference. Nevertheless, choose the sirloin steak if you’re only trying to save a little money. When it comes to flavor and texture, the ribeye is your best option if you’re searching for a tasty, delicate cut of steak that cooks quickly. Sirloin, on the other hand, lacks the unique marbling of ribeye, making it a little bit harder to chew.

Overall, sirloin works best for dishes that call for finely cut steak, whereas ribeye steak is perfect when eaten as a whole steak. Therefore, sirloin is a superior choice for sandwiches, soups, stews, stir-fries, and tacos.