The height of summer grilling season is almost here, and that has many backyard grillmasters making seasonal culinary plans. While ribs and chicken usually have a place of honor on the grill or the plate, the top spot for delicious protein belongs to steak for many Americans. Sirloin and ribeye are two popular choices, and each brings something different to the table. Due to their popularity, these steaks are often confused with one another.
Though sirloin and ribeye are often used interchangeably and mistaken for one another, the two cuts source from different places and have different textures and fat content. The two cuts also require contrasting cooking techniques and times for the best presentation. So just what sets these two cuts apart, and in which ways are they similar? Let’s look at each steak to see which one comes out on top.
Sirloin is sourced from the top of the cow’s back toward the rear legs. The sirloin region runs from the 13th rib to the end of the hip bone. Since this area gets more exercise than places toward the front, the meat cut from this region can be hardy due to a lack of fat and has incredible flavor. Butchers can make two modifications from this cut, the top sirloin, served boneless with the tough connective tissue removed, and the bottom sirloin, commonly prepared as a slow-cooked roast or tri-tip steak. The famous New York strip and Kansas City steak are made from select sirloin cuts.
Ribeye steak is boneless and comes from the cow’s rib portion; the bone-in variety is often called rib steak. Distinctive marbling sets the ribeye apart from other cuts of beef. This marbling, which breaks down during the cooking process to tenderize the meat, is also responsible for the steaks’ characteristic tenderness and flavor. The ribeye’s buttery, rich flavor comes from the cuts’ higher than average fat content. Still, among steak lovers, the ribeye usually ranks in the top three favorite cuts for flavor and incredibly tender texture.
Sirloin and ribeyes are both delicious cuts of steak, but there is no further similarity between them. The back of the cow is the source of sirloin steak, and this region does not contain much fat, resulting in a lean steak with a tender, fleshy taste. Sirloin also has fewer calories and less saturated fat than ribeye. A 3.5-ounce portion of sirloin contains 183 calories and 2.2 grams of saturated fat, and 31 grams of protein. On the other hand, the ribeye has 249 calories, 5.7 grams of saturated fat, and 27 grams of protein for a similarly sized serving. Both cuts are excellent sources of vitamins B12, B3, and B6, with each providing nearly 50% of the recommended daily allowance of each nutrient.