Steak lovers all over the world love to argue in their most bitter debate of ribeye vs. sirloin. The discussion no doubt is as old as the history of steak dining. While one side praises the superior flavor palette of the ribeye, the other hails the tenderness and lean texture of the sirloin.
The debate will linger on forever, so now might be a good time to help you choose whether you are a ribeye or a sirloin lover. Ribeye and sirloin are the two most popular steak cuts in the world and the staple of the menu of most steakhouses.
Both steaks share many similarities – beef steaks, high protein content, and premium quality – but they have a single most important discerning factor, the cut. Each steak is a different cut of beef, meaning that the two cuts come from the different parts of the cow and inherit certain traits connected to those parts.
We have put together a variety of information about each type of steak, including what makes them unique and how that translates into taste. Read on to learn more about these delicious beef cuts.
Contender 1 – The Ribeye Steak
The first contender is the ribeye steak. The name of the steak comes from the part of the cow that the cut is from. In this case, the ribeye steak is cut from the rib section of a cow.
The main characteristic of the ribeye steak is that it has higher fat content than a sirloin steak. The fat comes in the form of marbling of the meat. Marbling occurs as fat intertwines with muscle fibers in the rib area.
Additionally, ribeye steak cuts often have a bone. The combined factor of marbling and bone gives ribeye a special flavor as it cooks. It is rich in taste.
Contender 2 – The Sirloin Steak
The sirloin steak comes from the back of the cow behind the ribs and before the rump.
This cut ensures exceptionally lean and juicy steak. The taste of sirloin steak is not as rich as the taste of ribeye since there is hardly any fat in the cut, but the texture is more consistent and better suited for some dishes and preparation methods.
Sirloin steaks are often lean, boneless cuts that are a favorite of many grillmasters. Skilled butchers will usually remove the tougher muscle from the best sirloin cuts, making the sirloin cut an excellent choice for a tender and juicy meal.
Are Ribeye and Sirloin Steak Healthy?
Red meat is rich in minerals and vitamins that help the human body function properly. Both types of steak are a great source of protein, as well as iron, zinc, and phosphorus.
The breakdown of the nutrients found in both steak types shows that they have a place in a healthy diet.
Where negative nutritional aspects arise in steak consumption is in the portions of steak people eat. Both ribeye and sirloin are calorie-dense foods. Therefore, the recommended serving size is 3 ounces. Very few people follow this limit, and most restaurants and steakhouses start offering steaks anywhere from 6 or 8 ounces to some massive pieces.
Additionally, ribeye steak is full of saturated fats that are not healthy when consumed in large quantities. Sirloin steak is a more lean cut and, in that sense, is the more healthy alternative of the two. Still, we should note that, with portion control, both types of steaks can be a part of a healthy and balanced meal plan.
The cost of each type of steak can vary greatly. Grass-fed organic beef offers the healthiest alternative and the highest quality, although at a premium price. The growing, rearing, and feeding practices all play essential roles in the quality of the meat and therefore affect the price.
If we take into account the average large-beef-producer prices in local grocery stores and butcher shops, both ribeye and sirloin steak are in the affordable range for most people. The more selective the production process is and the higher quality the meat is, the price will increase accordingly.
Ribeye steak is slightly more expensive on average, demanding up to about $26 a pound. Sirloin steaks can cost around $18 a pound. Still, it is possible to get a ribeye steak at the same or even lower price if you decide to take a ribeye steak with a bone.
Discount retailers such as Costco tend to have extremely low prices, and the same holds true when it comes to steaks. Bear in mind that while you might find a ribeye or a sirloin at a phenomenal price at Costco or Walmart, the chances are that the meat will be of much lower quality compared to cuts from your local butcher.
How to Cook
One of the most unpleasant feelings is spending a lot of money on a delicious cut of ribeye or sirloin steak, only to ruin it during preparation or cooking. To avoid this, remember some key factors in the preparation and cooking process.
Depending on the quality of the cut, your ribeye or sirloin steak will, in most cases, be tender and ready for cooking. In some cases, the steak might be a bit tough and need tenderizing before cooking.
The best way to do this is by putting the steaks in a zipper-lock plastic bag with the marinade of your choice and leaving them in your refrigerator overnight. This will help break down the meat and make the steaks tender.
As your cooking time approaches, the most important thing is to remove the steak from the fridge and leave it on a flat surface, still in the marinade bag, to reach room temperature. About half an hour should be enough for the meat to reach room temperature throughout. This ensures that the steak cooks evenly and does not dry out.
Pan vs Grill
While both ribeye and sirloin steaks tolerate pan and grill cooking, it is important to make a distinction. Sirloin steak is a better cut for grilling, due to its lean, low-fat texture. The steak will remain tender and juicy as long as you turn it only once and treat the grill and the steak with olive oil and seasoning.
Ribeye steak is ideal for pan cooking, taking advantage of its marbling and preserving those flavors. Cast iron skillets work best when appropriately heated and oiled.
In both cooking methods, make sure to let the steak rest for at least five minutes before cutting and serving.
Regardless of the side you will choose in the ribeye vs. sirloin debate, the chances are that the two most popular steaks will make their way to your plate in the future. Whether you are a steak enthusiast or a budding cook, we hope that our little guide helped you find the answers to some of your important questions.