The Difference Between Sirloin vs Ribeye

Learn about the differences and similarities between sirloin and ribeye steaks.

The height of summer grilling season is almost here, and that has many backyard grillmasters making seasonal culinary plans.

New York Strip Top Loin Steak Medium Rare

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. 

What is a Sirloin Steak?

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.

What is Ribeye Steak?

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. 

How are Sirloins and Ribeyes Different?

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about these popular cuts of steak.

Which is more expensive, sirloin or ribeye?

Beef prices are determined by a few factors, such as the weight and breed of the animal and market demand.

The beef industry in the United States is still recovering from Covid 19, which saw many ranchers forced to cull their herds due to decreased demand during the height of the pandemic.

Due to the increased likelihood of receiving a prime rating from the USDA, ribeye costs more per pound than sirloin.

The ribeye cap steak, the part removed from the ribeye roast before the butcher cuts the individual steaks, is the most expensive steak cut.

Your steakhouse of choice will also affect the price.

Which is more tender, ribeye or sirloin?

There is no contest between these two in this area; the ribeye is the clear winner.

The ribeye is cut from the cow’s fatty part, resulting in amazingly tender meat.

Being sourced from the rear back of the cow, the sirloin is from a muscle that is much leaner and receives more exercise, causing it to become tougher. 

When should I use a sirloin vs. a ribeye?

While costs and personal preferences should not be disregarded, there are occasions when each cut of steak shines, allowing it to showcase in the best possible way.

Sirloin is a lean steak without much fat for tenderizing; cooking it at lower temperatures for a longer time gives the meat fibers time to relax and loosen.

In contrast, with its incredible marbling, the ribeye doesn’t need any extended cooking time and cooks up beautifully on the grill or in a preheated skillet on the stove. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing between these tasty steaks can be challenging as they bring different tastes, textures, and flavor profiles.

Sirloin is the more accessible option for most Americans and makes a delicious protein and vitamin-packed weeknight meal. Ribeye is a special treat reserved for exceptional occasions with its heftier price tag. 

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.