The battle between these two steak heavyweights is complicated. There are great things about both of these steaks and which one is right for you depends upon what kind of mood you are in and how much you want to spend.
Let’s take a look at these two steaks and find which one suits your needs.
|Healthy||Higher Fat||Higher Protein|
Ease of Cooking
Sirloin is Healthier
You can easily tell from the picture above that ribeye steak has much more fat than a sirloin. Below is the nutritional content for a 3 oz serving of each steak that has been trimmed of excess fat.
Ribeye Nutritional Value
- 190 calories
- 4g saturated fat
- 23g protein
Sirloin Nutritional Value
- 150 calories
- 1.9g saturated fat
- 26g protein
You can see that sirloin has fewer calories and saturated fat while delivering more protein than ribeye. If you are looking for lean protein then the sirloin is the better steak.
Ribeye is More Tender
Once you see the location of these steaks on a steer then the differences between them are readily understandable.
The ribeye comes from the middle rib section of a steer. The ribs don’t do much work when a steer is walking around so they tend to be tender and fatty.
The sirloin comes from a section of the steer much closer to the legs. Since these muscles perform more work they are leaner and tougher.
Although sirloin is tougher than ribeye you can counter this by thinly slicing a cooked sirloin on a bias to shorten the meat fibers.
Which Steak Tastes Better?
People debate over which of these steaks has a better flavor profile and my stance is that they are both delicious. Here are the arguments as to why one tastes better than the other.
Why Ribeye Tastes Better: A common phrase is “fat is flavor” and, since the ribeye has more internal fat marbling than a sirloin, the ribeye is the more flavorful steak.
The example that proves the point is the Steak Cookoff Association (SCA). The SCA organizes steak cooking competitions with regional events leading up to a world championship. The SCA wants chefs to create the best steak in the world to earn the top prize of $10,000. In the effort to create the best steak in the world, all SCA events utilize ribeye steaks.
Why Sirloin Tastes Better: The fact that sirloin is a tougher steak means that the muscle did more work and as a result has a stronger, beefier flavor profile.
The extreme example that proves the point is the tenderloin steak. The tenderloin is the least used muscle in the cow and the tenderloin steak is the most tender steak available. Despite being incredibly tender it has almost no flavor. This is why many restaurants serve tenderloin steaks wrapped in bacon or smothered in blue cheese sauces.
Ribeye is More Expensive
The tenderness and marbling on a ribeye lends itself to being marketed as a premium steak. As such, ribeye steaks almost always cost more than a sirloin.
At my grocery stores the choice grade Angus steaks a ribeye is $10 per pound compared to $6 per pound for the sirloin.
Here are two ways to save money on these steaks:
Money Trick Number 1: Most beef sold in the US has a USDA grade that reflects the internal marbling in the meat. The lowest grade, and least expensive, is Select, followed by Choice and topping out at the most expensive, Prime.
You can visibly see the difference between a Select and Prime ribeye steak since this steak is where marbling is prominent. Whether or not you want to pay a premium for Choice or Prime over Select will be up to your budget.
Sirloin is always going to be lean. This means that there is almost no difference between Select, Choice and Prime grade sirloins. If you want to really save some money go ahead and buy Select sirloins. There is no reason to ever pay a premium for Choice or Prime for these steaks.
Money Trick Number 2: There is a steak that is extremely popular on Social Media that is also quite expensive, the Tomahawk.
While a Tomahawk steak is visually stunning it is simply a thick cut ribeye steak that is still on a massive rib bone. While it might be tempting to splurge and buy a Tomahawk you should know that you are going to be paying about $20 per pound and a lot of the weight is in a rib bone that you are not going to eat.
Do your wallet a favor and skip the Tomahawks. Buy regular ribeyes and you will get a lot more meat for your money.
Both of these steaks are perfect for grilling. When you grill these steaks side by side you will notice some differences.
The higher fat content on the ribeye makes it a little more challenging to grill. As the fat on a ribeye melts and drips toward the fire it can easily create flare-ups and burn the meat.
Even though some of the fat from the ribeye melts you will still have plenty of fat left in the finished steak. You can see that many of the slices will have a fat section on the tips and that there is still a large fat pocket in the center of the steak.
By comparison, the sliced sirloin is much leaner but still incredibly juicy.
Some folks love the extra fat on a ribeye while some folks refuse to eat it.
And hey…I grill these just because I love to grill. These steaks are equally fantastic pan seared, cooked under a broiler or even sous vide.
Sirloin is More Versatile
The ribeye is constructed of two muscles, typically called the ribeye “heart” and the spinalis, separated by a large fat deposit. Given the odd shape and premium price of a ribeye it really should be cooked as a steak and featured as the primary star of the show. The major exception to the rule is the use of ribeyes as the traditional meat in Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.
The sirloin is a much more uniform cut of beef and, given its attractive price, can also be used for more creative applications.
- Sirloin is perfect for cutting into cubes, marinating and grilling on skewers as kabobs.
- Want to do a Beef and Broccoli stir fry? Go with sirloin.
- Want to make some fajitas but can’t find a skirt steak? Sirloin is an excellent substitute.
Which Steak is Right for You
There really isn’t a clear cut better steak between these two choices.
- The ribeye is more tender, expensive and has a rich, fatty flavor profile created by intense internal marbling..
- The sirloin is healthier, more versatile, affordable and has a deep, beefier flavor profile that comes with being a working muscle..
Both steaks are freaking delicious so don’t stress over the choice too much!