There are two distinct groups of people. Those who know their cuts of steak and shop with confidence, and everyone else.
Let’s cut through some of the confusion and explore the two most commonly known cuts of beef; rib eye and sirloin.
The secret is in arming yourself with a little bit of knowledge and understanding of each cut.
A good piece of steak can create a restaurant-quality meal with very little effort.
So let’s get up to speed, so you can walk into your butchers with confidence.
What is a Rib-eye Steak?
Rib-eye is a cut from the ribs, from between ribs 6 and 12.
Due to the lack of physical exertion in this area of the cow, the meat tends to remain tender yet have a lot of marbling.
The marbling helps keep the meat moist during the cooking period as well as gives more flavor (because we all know fat= flavor).
This tenderness combined with the size of the cut ensures its place at the top of the meat ladder.
Ribeye steak can be sold with or without the bone. If sold bone-in, it’s known as a tomahawk steak.
This is a popular choice in restaurants due to the deep rich flavor and as well as looking impressive.
What is a Sirloin Steak?
A sirloin steak is another subprimal cut. It comes from between the ribs and the rump, near the hip of the cow.
It is broken down into many smaller cuts. Such as t-bones, roasts, and sirloins.
This area gets more exercise and therefore is leaner (meaning less marbling) However it is anything but dry and well renowned amongst steak aficionados!
As cuts of meat go, the sirloin is not a second-class selection.
When cooked correctly a sirloin can hold its own, cooking quickly and easily while maintaining a depth of flavor. Sirloin is a good, healthy alternative for everyday meals.
Which is Better – Ribeye or Sirloin?
While they are both great steak, we have compared them in a few different categories, price, flavor, and health benefits.
On average, ribeye is commonly the slightly more expensive and desirable cut of meat, due to the marbling.
This will of course vary depending on the type of each cut and the butcher.
However, a sirloin can represent a more versatile and cost-effective cut and is especially great for those that may be daunted by the preparation of a rib-eye.
Sirloin can also be purchased as a larger piece and cut into smaller individual steaks.
Flavor and Appearance
The appearance of these two cuts can be distinguished by the level of fat marbling throughout the meat.
Both have a lovely dark red color however, rib-eye has a distinctive white fat marble effect running through it compared to the sirloin, producing a lovely tender steak.
This also has an impact on the flavor profile – the more fat throughout the cut, the juicier and more full-bodied natural flavors of the meat.
Does One Have Better Health Benefits?
As it has less marbling, the sirloin has a lower fat content compared to a rib-eye steak.
A 3.5-ounce piece of sirloin equates to around 2.2 grams of saturated fats, compared to 5.7 grams of saturated fats in the same sized cut of rib eye.
Both are plentiful in protein and high in zinc, iron, selenium and phosphorus, and numerous vitamins and minerals.
However, if cholesterol was a consideration, sirloin would be the better choice.
Our Favorite Cooking Methods
Preparation is key to maintaining the integrity of the cut and getting the best from your piece of meat.
Both cuts should be brought to room temperature about thirty minutes before the intended cooking time to ensure an even cook.
Meat that is cooler in the center will cook unevenly, regardless of the cooking method. Pat dry and add any required seasoning before placing on heat.
Smoking A Sirloin
Smoking steak is one of the best ways to cook it!
It add a delicious flavor and also gives the connective tissue and collagen time to break down.
That means you get a super juicy steak!
Here is the recipe for smoked sirloin. Your steak will come out succulent and smokey with this method.
Our Fav Way to Grill Sirloin Steak
What the sirloin lacks in rich beefy flavor it makes up for in versatility.
It can be grilled straight on the barbeque, covered in a rub of salt, herbs, or garlic (or all together – the sky is the limit!).
Or soak it ina marinade for an hour or two to tenderize and produce flavorful steaks.
Sirloin is also a great everyday meal base and can be grilled, stewed, diced, or sliced into stir fry and salads or used in meal prepping lunch or dinners.
The versatility and leanness of sirloin make it the perfect go-to protein.
Our Fav Way to Grill Ribeye Steak
While many may think of throwing a rib-eye on a barbeque grill, it’s not the most effective way to cook it.
The marbling can also work against it on the flame – the fat tends to splatter and flare, risking uneven burns to the meat. If you want to tenderize the ribeye make sure you do it at least an hour before cooking it.
Cooking it in a hot cast-iron skillet is the best way to cook, sear, and seal in the juices of a ribeye, or you can try the sous vide ribeye recipe. Both ensure your steak is super juicy and tender.
As a rough guide (and time will vary depending on the thickness of your steak) rare should cook for four minutes, five to six for a medium, and eight to ten minutes for well done.
A marinade is not necessary with rib-eye as the fats produce the same effect without altering the flavor.
Can You Smoke Ribeye?
You can also smoke ribeye steak! We also like to sear it after the smoking process.
See the recipe for smoked ribeye here.
When it comes to deciding which types of steak are better, it’s quite an individual choice.
If what you’re after is a big juicy piece of steak, then rib-eye is your cut.
If you are more concerned with the health benefits while still lusting after a steak then a sirloin would be a good option. Which do you prefer?
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
Hungry For More?