Sirloin vs. Ribeye: A Butcher Explains the Difference

What's the best cut, and is it worth paying for it? Here's what an expert says.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

I’m often overwhelmed when trying to choose from all the options in the grocery store meat case. I never know if a higher price is always an indicator of the best steak, particularly when it comes to sirloin versus ribeye.

Sean Flynn is a long-time former butcher who is now director of sales at Niman Ranch, a network of more than 600 family farms and ranchers raising beef, pork, and lamb. He says there’s no wrong choice, and they each have their perks.

“For the home cook, the difference is that the ribeye is a higher price point and tends to have a bit more fat, which translates to flavor,” Flynn says. “The top sirloin would be a leaner cut, and you’ll be able to find it at better value… Both are fantastic.”

The Difference Between Sirloin and Ribeye

“A ribeye is going to provide more of a rich flavor because of all the fat. It’s going to have a very velvety mouthfeel and there will be pieces and part of the ribeye that will have exceptional flavor,” Flynn says.

Some ribeye steaks will have a crescent moon-shaped piece on top. This is called the spinalis or ribeye cap and is exceptionally flavorful. “I think it’s one of the best bites of beef anybody can get,” Flynn says. “I try to find the steaks with the largest spinalis muscle because I know it will be good.”

Flynn is also a big fan of the sirloin, which he says is versatile and tasty. He believes it’s an underappreciated cut and a great value, especially if you’re looking to feed a bunch of people.

“If you cook top sirloin to medium-rare, it’s beautiful. You can slice it thin, use it for stir fries, pretty much anything,” he says. “It’s a really wonderful lean steak for people who are a little more health conscious or don’t like the fattiness of a ribeye.”

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p> Seared steak basted with butter and tossed with herbs makes for a simply delicious date night meal, any night of the week.

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

Seared steak basted with butter and tossed with herbs makes for a simply delicious date night meal, any night of the week.

The Best Way To Cook Ribeye vs. Sirloin

The best way to cook each cut depends on how thick it is and your preferred degree of doneness. Both cuts are absolutely great on the grill, says Flynn, and how long you cook them depends on how thick they are and how done you like your meat.

Flynn loves a really thick top sirloin steak. “I'll cook it on high heat on both sides and then stand it up on the thick side and kind of roll it around on the grill,” he says. He starts it off on high heat and then finishes it at a lower temperature.

Sirloins are leaner and can dry out more quickly if you overcook them, so the key is to watch how long they are on the grill. “Whereas the ribeye can [stay on the grill for longer] because it has a little bit more fat, it gives you a bit of an insurance policy instead of overcooking it.”

Read More: Ina Garten Just Revealed Her Tricks for Perfectly Grilled Steaks

Butcher's Tips for Cooking Steak

Flynn says what you do before and after you cook steak is also very important. He suggests starting with a room-temperature steak so it cooks more evenly. Then, be sure to begin with a hot grill and move the meat to a cooler spot as needed as it starts to cook.

Once you pull it off the grill, don’t let hungry guests dig in immediately. A steak will keep cooking by up to 5°F after it is removed from the heat source. Flynn recommends letting it rest for twice as long as you cooked it. So, if it spent 10 minutes on the grill, let it rest for about 20 minutes before serving it. That gives the juices time to distribute throughout the meat.

The Takeaway

Both ribeyes and sirloins have a lot going for them. It just depends on your personal preferences.

“A ribeye, to me, is a great splurge, a wonderful, rich steak I tend to cook when I’m sharing with friends or family. It’s a kind of celebratory steak,” Flynn says. “It definitely carries a higher price for a reason. It’s a wonderful cut.”

This doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice. Especially when grocery bills are skyrocketing, the sirloin can be a tasty, more affordable option. “For your dollar, sirloin goes a heck of a long way. It’s super versatile and tender,” he says. “If you love rich, fatty flavor, you’ll get it from the ribeye. If you like leaner cuts but still want something tender that can be quite juicy at a better cost, sirloin is awesome.”

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.