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Sirloin vs Ribeye: How to Shop for Steak Like a Pro

Spoon University logo Spoon University 6/18/2018 Abbie Hui

Nothing beats getting dressed up to go to a swanky steak restaurant for your birthday or an equally special occasion. You get to enjoy a good meal with family or friends in a nice outfit and you maybe have a few cocktails. But while those few bites of tender steak are one of the best things you've eaten all year, there's a reason we don't dine at upscale steak places every week—namely, it's crazy expensive. $40+ on one cut of meat? No, thanks.

Instead of dropping that much money on one meal, save some cash and learn how to cook different cuts of steak at home. Two of the most popular types of steak are ribeye and sirloin, but there a few key differences to keep in mind when choosing which to cook at home. So before your next visit to the butcher counter, read up on the differences between sirloin vs ribeye so you know which cut to purchase.

Related video: How To Cook a 40oz Double Cut Ribeye Steak (provided by Esquire)

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Appearance & Flavor of Sirloin vs Ribeye

a plate of food on a table: Loh Yong Jian on Instagram: “New concept at the revamped Century Square! Opened by Benny Se Teo, who is behind the Eighteen Chefs chain of restaurants, The Meathouse -…” © scribblyloh on Instagram Loh Yong Jian on Instagram: “New concept at the revamped Century Square! Opened by Benny Se Teo, who is behind the Eighteen Chefs chain of restaurants, The Meathouse -…”

A sirloin steak is taken from the rear back section of a cow between the short loin and tougher round. However, 'sirloin' actually refers to a larger cut of meat that's then cut into smaller types of steak (kind of confusing, I know). Sirloin steaks are fairly tender no matter which cut you buy, so it's okay to buy whichever cut of sirloin is on sale. With a bit of connective tissue and not much fat, sirloin is a lean and firm cut, which makes it a little less flavorful than a ribeye steak. When buying sirloin at the store, choose a steak that's uniformly red in color and has very little fat on it (the fat in sirloin can be gristly, or tough). 

#SpoonTip: Top sirloin is one of the most popular sirloin cuts.

On the other hand, a ribeye is taken from the rib section (hence RIBeye) between the short loin and chuck and can be bone-in or boneless. Ribeye steaks are fattier than sirloin, making them juicier and richer in flavor. When choosing between cuts of steak at the store, go for a ribeye steak with lots of marbling (aka a good amount of fat showing throughout). 

Which Steak Is Healthier? 

a person holding a plate of food: Steak Dinner photo by Eduardo Roda Lopes (@eduroda) on Unsplash © Unsplash on unsplash Steak Dinner photo by Eduardo Roda Lopes (@eduroda) on Unsplash

Both steaks are high in protein, fat, and several vitamins (especially vitamin B12 and B6) and minerals, such as phosphorus, zinc, iron, and selenium. However, sirloin cuts are often leaner, meaning they have less fat and therefore contain less cholesterol. According to SFGate, a 3-ounce sirloin steak has 8 grams of fat and 180 calories, and Men's Health reports that a 3-ounce ribeye has 12 grams of fat and 207 calories. So if you're trying to decide between sirloin vs ribeye steaks based on their nutritional values alone, the sirloin is a healthier choice.

How to Cook Sirloin vs Ribeye

a close up of food on a table: Meat skewers on a tray photo by pan xiaozhen (@zhenhappy) on Unsplash © Unsplash on unsplash Meat skewers on a tray photo by pan xiaozhen (@zhenhappy) on Unsplash

Sirloin is often used for grilling, but usually requires a marinade to tenderize the meat. If grilling an entire steak makes you nervous, cut the sirloin into chunks and skewer them with vegetables to make some bomb kabobs

Ribeye isn't as good for grilling, because the fat in the steak can cause flare-ups on your grill (think: high flames and possibly burnt meat). Instead, cook ribeye steaks quickly by pan-searing them in a cast iron skillet. However, if you really want to grill a ribeye, have a pan lid handy to cover the flames. 

Which Should You Buy?

a bunch of different types of food on a table: HelloFresh US on Instagram: “Researchers found that you enjoy more the food you've prepared yourself. Enjoy this Sliced Steak Tagliata tonight 😎 #HelloFreshPics…” © hellofresh on Instagram HelloFresh US on Instagram: “Researchers found that you enjoy more the food you've prepared yourself. Enjoy this Sliced Steak Tagliata tonight 😎 #HelloFreshPics…”

The choice isn’t so cut and dried. Some people prefer the leaner top sirloin, whereas the luscious marbling in a ribeye draws in others. Both cuts are definitely cheaper than going to your favorite steak place (although ribeyes are generally more expensive than sirloins). Which cut is better ultimately depends on personal preference: how much you want to spend and how the meat will be prepared. 

Related gallery: Here's over a month's worth of grilled steak recipes (provided by Epicurious)

3-Ingredient Grilled Steak, Pineapple, and Avocado Salad: A fresh, bright pineapple dressing ties together this irresistible platter of grilled pineapple rings, strip steak, and fresh avocado. See recipe. Our 35 Best Grilled Steak Recipes
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