Ribeye Vs. Sirloin: What's the Difference?

Written in 2022
by Adam

    The Ribeye and Sirloin steak are some of the most popular steaks around. Both cuts are classified as "boneless," but that is where their similarities end. They are often pitted against each other, with constant debate on which one is better. This makes it confusing to inexperienced buyers, whose purchasing decisions are dependent on a game of hit or miss. Not only that, the price comparison might not make sense to most if one is not aware of the differences and why one cut is higher priced than the other. Let's find out what defines each of the cuts and what are the major differences in terms of price, size, flavour, and ideal cooking styles.

    What is a Ribeye Steak?

    Scientifically, this cut is called the Spinalis Dorsi. It derives its name from where it’s cut and like other steaks it has several aliases such as Delmonico, Market steak, Spencer steak, Beauty steak. Fancy places might serve it as Entrecôte or a Scotch fillet.

    The Ribeye has an eye of well-marbled fat, which makes it very tender and full of flavour. This muscle does not do much work, so they are tender compared to other pieces in the cow. The marbling refers to specks and streaks of white fat within dark red lean tissues present throughout certain cuts of meat that improve the taste by adding moisture, flavour and smoothness to cooked meats.

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    The high-fat content, compared to other steaks, should not deter you from buying it because the fat also provides an insane amount of flavour and helps in tenderizing the meat during the cooking process.

    A good ribeye is at least 1.5 inches thick, looks like a wonky oval.

    Ribeyes can be bought with or without the bone. The bone-in rib eye is commonly referred to as a cowboy steak, prime rib, rib steak or tomahawk steak when the full length of the rib bone is attached.

    What is a Sirloin Steak?

    There is a funny myth about the origin of the name, that is, King James 1 ate a steak in Scotland so delicious and tender that he knighted it and from then on it became known as “Sir Loin”. However, the name comes from the Old French word 'surloigne', meaning “above the loin.” and this was way before King James time.

    Sirloin comes from the back of a beef animal, behind its ribs but ahead of the rump area. “Sirloin” refers to a large cut of steak that gets cut into several other types of steak, including roasts, the T-bone steak, and the top sirloin, which is the most common sirloin steak cut.

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    Compared to other types of steaks like ribeye or tenderloin, it contains less fat but all the same, delivers tremendous flavour.  

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    Mostly it has a long oval shape, but sometimes it can appear as a rounded rectangle. The sirloin steak is approximately 1-1.5 inches thick.

    So what is the Difference between a Ribeye Steak and Sirloin Steak?

    1. Flavour

    Ribeye is a highly popular cut among steak lovers. It contains a moderate amount of fat and has medium to low levels of collagen. This makes it juicy, tender and very flavourful. Ribeye can be cooked using a wide range of techniques from grilling, pan-frying or even slow cooking.

    Sirloin steak is also high in protein content but with a lower fat level compared to ribeye steaks, which makes them leaner and slightly less tasty. The beef taste and tenderness can be enhanced by marinades, dry ageing for at least 21 days or by sprinkling spices during the grilling process. Sirloin steaks are often grilled or pan-fried, as they don't have enough fat to cook well over higher temperatures like other types of steaks such as ribeye.

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    Both of them are very tasty if done right by checking how done they are during the cooking process, so you have an idea whether they need more/less time on the grill etc. The best way to know when your meat is ready is by measuring its internal temperature at the thickest point after the resting period (which allows juices inside beef slices to redistribute evenly) touching the bone with the tip of instant

    Finally, note that both these cuts have amazing flavours! It’s just that different people prefer different things, so you can try out all types before deciding on your favourite one!

    2. Size and Shape

    The Ribeye is larger than the Sirloin. And usually, a cut weighs about 0.75 pounds or even more, while sirloin steak weighs between 0.22 -0 .44 lb (225-450 g). This difference makes rib eye steaks slightly pricier than sirloins, but both are great tasting cuts of meat!

    A sirloin stick has a thickness of about one to two inches, while a ribeye is about three-quarters of an inch thick. However, the thickness depends on how much fat was trimmed off before being cut into steaks

    They have different shapes - the sirloin has an oblong shape while the rib eye steak's appearance resembles a T-bone, with a larger "eye" in the middle surrounded by tenderloin meat when cut into cross-sections. Both are delicious cuts but if you want your meat cooked at higher temperatures

    3. Price

    In most cases, there is a big difference in price. The more tender ribeye is highly-priced and considered a luxe option. Sirloin steaks are more affordable and easily accessible. However, some bone-in ribeyes cuts popularly known as prime rib may be a little less expensive than boneless sirloin cuts.

    In the UK the price of a pound of Ribeye Steak is about £13 - £25 ( about $20-$40), whereas a sirloin steak will cost below £10 (about $15) which makes it slightly cheaper.

    Some other factors that may influence the price are:

    • Where you are buying the cuts from.
    • Quality of meat
    • How available the cuts are in your area
    • How many inches thick they are cut
    • Is the demand high or low in your area?

    And if you are big on savings, a full sirloin steak will save you a bit of money compared to a ribeye with the only downside being you will have to cut the steak up to different cuts on your own.

    4. Nutritional Value

    Both steaks are high in protein, fat, and many vitamins and minerals.

    In terms of fat content, this is where sirloin steak triumphs over ribeye. Sirloin has less fat around it, about 1 gram of fat per serving, which makes it a healthier option than the high-fat rib eye steak which has more than double the amount of fat at about 0.55 grams per serving.

    Both these types are highly nutritious with high-protein content, which helps repair muscles after working them during exercise sessions. A serving of either rib eye or sirloin can provide greater than 50 per cent of an adult's daily protein needs. Adults typically need a minimum of 50 grams of protein each day.

    Calories are essential as an energy giving source. An adult requires around 2000 calories a day. The calorie level in rib-eye steak is much higher than that of a sirloin steak. With an intake of 100g of ribeye you get 249 calories while in sirloin you will get 183 calories.

    Ribeye SteakSirloin Steak
    Fat Content 15 grams6 grams
    Calories240 kcal185 kcal
    Proteins27grams31grams
    Minerals (percentage of daily intake                                                
    Phosphorous 
    Zinc
    Iron
    Selenium
    30%35%
    50%57%
    22%20%
    54%65%
    Vitamins(percentage of daily intake)Niacin
    Vitamin B-6
    Vitamin B-12
    50%58%
    44%51%
    67%71%

     *Per 100g(3.5274oz)

    Both rib eye and sirloin steaks contain 10 minerals and are particularly high in phosphorus, zinc, iron and selenium.

    The base decision on which is more has a more nutritional value depends on what you are looking to add to your diet.

    Preparation For Cooking

    Ribeye Steak

    To get the crusty, crispy exterior that makes ribeye steak so special, it is recommended to dry the steaks with paper towels and then season them with salt and pepper just before cooking.

    Ideally, salting the steak in advance and leaving it uncovered in the refrigerator for about 24 hours, helps to dry the meat and get a better sear.

    Sirloin Steak

    If you are more accustomed to cooking sirloin steak, there is no crusty exterior because it is not tender enough. Sirloin steaks are usually cooked at lower temperatures, so they come out very moist.

    There are several ways of preparing a sirloin steak, depending on your preference. You can marinate the meat before cooking to add flavour, or simply season it with salt and pepper just before cooking.

    When to use each cut while cooking?

    One important thing you will notice about these two types of beef cuts is how they behave differently when exposed to direct heat like grilling, roasting etc versus indirect heat like sautéing or steaming. The ribeye steak has enough internal fat content to be protected from overcooking while developing a rich, savoury crust, whereas the leaner sirloin does not have that luxury and will burn on the outside before cooking through if exposed to heat for too long.

    For presentation purposes, ribeye steaks tend to look more attractive than sirloins, again because they have a marbled texture and more fat surrounding the meat.

    Grilling

    Ribeye is ideal for grilling since it cooks well with high heat. The tenderloin in the cut makes it easy to be protected from over-cooking while developing a rich, savoury crust

    Sirloin is less forgiving than ribeye when exposed to direct heat like grilling for too long. It does not develop the nice browned surface characteristic of grilled meats and may need longer cooking times, which can make it tougher if overcooked.

    Steamed/Boiled

    Ribeye steaks are great choices for this method since they have enough fat throughout them that will help keep them moist during the boiling or steaming process. Sirloins are leaner cuts so you will want to ensure you serve them within minutes after taking off the stovetop source - livestrong.com

    Sautéing

    Both cuts can be sautéed, but this cooking method is not as suitable for the lean sirloin cut of steak as it is for ribeye steaks. You would need to use some form of liquid such as oil or butter and keep turning the meat over during the cooking process so that both sides are cooked evenly and thoroughly on all sides, which makes them easier to cook through without burning one side while leaving another uncooked due to uneven heat distribution in a pan.   

    Summing-Up

    As you can see, there are a few things to consider when determining which cut of steak is best for your needs. The ribeye or sirloin? Okay so do you want something that's more expensive and flavourful but not the most tender meat, or do you want something cheaper with less flavour, but it will be easier to chew through? If budget isn't an issue, then go ahead and get yourself some ribeyes! But if money matters (and who doesn't these days?) then maybe try out one of those sirloins instead. You could also use this information as fodder for your next dinner party - what better way to impress guests than by showing them how much they don't know about steaks?!

    Article Written by Adam

    Adam is the creator of the SmokeGuys website, running it since 2016. Hater of coriander, lover of all things meat... Adam currently works in marketing with a dream of being able to make food his full-time 'job' in the longer term.

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