Sirloin vs Ribeye For Grilling: Which Is Best?
December 10, 2020 / Comments
Half the fun of grilling is choosing what food to throw on the grill. Meat, veggies, starches; the possibilities are endless.
But those who love to grill know the real showdown is between sirloin and ribeye steak.
Both types of steak offer mouth-watering flavor and can be used in a variety of recipes. However, the real question is: when comparing sirloin vs ribeye steak, which is better for grilling?
While you can put any type of meat on the grill and burn it, that’s not the goal of BBQ. When grilling, we want to pull those juicy, rich flavors out of the meat through the perfect blend of smoke, heat, and time. And, your choice of meat plays a vital role in that process!
To help you choose between sirloin and ribeye steak, we’ll show you:
- The difference between sirloin vs ribeye steak (+how to select a good cut of each)
- Which type of steak is best for grilling at home
- The best ways to prepare each type of steak on and off the grill
By the end, you’ll be rushing to the grocery store to pick out your prime steak selection!
Sirloin vs Ribeye Steaks: What’s the Difference?
There are so many types of steak to choose from. From filet mignon to a London broil, each type of steak boasts specific tasty features and uses.
However, when it comes to grilling, most people choose between a sirloin or a ribeye steak based on their personal preferences.
It’s important to remember that these two cuts of steaks are completely different and elicit unique flavors, textures, and physical properties.
When comparing the two, it helps to think about:
- How much fat content does the steak contain? – The amount of fat inside a cut of meat contributes to the tenderness and flavors when cooking.
- How much does the steak cost? – The price of steak is based on several factors, many of which are vital for a tasty meal.
- What recipe you intend to grill – Are you preparing steak as a stand-alone meal or will it be used as part of a larger recipe?
Ribeye steaks are known for their marbled appearance and rich, flavorful taste.
The appearance and flavor of ribeye steak are derived from its high-fat content. When cooking, the fat melts away and contributes to the luscious, juicy flavor and almost buttery texture the ribeye is known for.
As the name suggests, this cut of meat comes from the rib cage. It is technically referred to as the Spinalis Dorsi cut.
However, of the two options, ribeye steaks are the most expensive, especially if deemed a USDA prime cut.
How to Choose a Ribeye Steak:
Choose a ribeye steak with a good amount of thin lines of fat, known as marbling, to elicit the deep rich flavors when cooking. But, be mindful of fat clumps! Opt for a ribeye with a smaller lump of fat and more marbling.
On the other hand, sirloin steak is cut from the portion of the cow just below the rib cage but above the rear. This large section of meat is then cut into smaller, individual sirloin steaks.
As a result, sirloin steaks are far leaner and have a higher protein count than a ribeye steak.
With a lower fat and overall calorie, sirloin steaks are also a top choice among health-conscious grilling enthusiasts.
Sirloin steaks can be far tougher to chew—especially if overcooked! This is why butchers and BBQ pros suggest slicing sirloin thinly to make up for the lack of tenderness in the meat. These steaks are also often soaked in a marinade prior to grilling or cooking to add a bit of juicy tenderness to the meat.
How to Select a Sirloin Steak:
When buying a sirloin steak at the store, make sure your cut is bright red with little to no visible evidence of fat marbling.
The Grilling Champion: Sirloin Steak
When looking for a steak to grill, opt for sirloin steak.
Wait a second…
Doesn’t ribeye have the delicious, tender, and rich flavors we want from a steak because of the fat content? Wouldn’t that be awesome on the grill?
Yes, it does and yes it would!
However, that high-fat content can cause all sorts of problems on the grill, particularly for those who aren’t seasoned BBQ pros.
Even on low heat, that fat content melts and can cause flare-ups on the grill, quickly burning your meat and ruining the entire meal.
This is why sirloin is the top choice among grilling fanatics.
Sirloin’s versatility makes it an excellent option for the grill, with or without marinade.
Of course, we’re not going to stop you from grilling a delicious ribeye on the grill. We’ll never say no to grilling! Just be cautious to watch your heat, flame, and time to avoid burning and toughening up the meat.
5 Quick Tips for Grilling the Perfect Sirloin Steak
After you’ve selected your perfect piece of sirloin steak, it’s time to get grilling!
Remember, low and slow is the name of the game in BBQ, but these five tips will come in handy when grilling sirloin steak.
1. Preparation is Key
You can’t grab the steak from the refrigerator, plop it on the grill, and hope for the best. If you do, you’ll be sorely disappointed with the chewy, tasteless results.
Instead, take the sirloin steak and place it in a plastic Ziploc bag, lying flat on a cutting board for 30 minutes. This process brings the steak to room temperature and prepares it for the incoming heat from the grill.
After thirty minutes of thawing, add your seasonings such as salt, pepper, and garlic, and get ready for the fun part: grilling!
2. Marinade is Your Friend
Remember, sirloin is lean and tough.
If you want your steak to be bursting at the seams with flavor (hint: you do) soak your steak in a marinade before grilling.
Marinades add an extra layer of sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors that pair perfectly with whatever recipes you plan to pair with your steak.
And, we happen to know of a darn good BBQ sauce that doubles as an excellent steak marinade!
3. Always Opt for Rare
Since sirloin is a tougher steak than ribeye, it’s critical to monitor the doneness when grilling.
This type of steak tastes best when grilled to a rare level of doneness. This means there is a significant pink portion in the middle. To accomplish this, grill the sirloin for roughly 4-5 minutes on each side before removing it.
If using the age-old finger test to measure doneness, rare equates to placing your thumb and pointer finger together.
When using a meat thermometer—which is highly recommended for cooking and grilling all types of meat—remove the sirloin from the grill once the meat reaches 120-125℉.
4. Never, Ever Cook Sirloin Past Medium
This tip is simple:
Never, ever grill sirloin steak beyond medium.
Otherwise, you end up with a super tough steak that is difficult to chew. And, while we know humans have been devouring meat for years, no one wants to spend the majority of their meal gnawing through a tough steak.
If it’s too cold to grill outside, sirloin steak can also be prepared by pan-searing or in a crockpot—but the same principles apply. Never cook sirloin steak past medium!
5. Sirloin Steak Can Be Grilled for All Types of Recipes
Thanks to sirloin’s versatility it can be grilled for a multitude of recipes.
Slather it in marinade and seasoning to enjoy on its own or consider grilling sirloin steak for use in:
- Kabob recipes
- Quesadillas, burritos, and fajitas
- Steak stir fry
- BBQ sirloin mac n’ cheese (yes, please.)
Get creative and find ways to add smoky grilled sirloin steak to your favorite recipes!
The Best Way to Cook a Ribeye Steak: 3 Tips You Need to Know
When cooking a ribeye steak, pan-searing is the way to go. Using this method, the steak cooks in its own melted fat and develops that mouth-watering, buttery flavor, and texture we love so much.
The result is a stand-out steak that serves as the centerpiece of any meal.
Similar to grilling a sirloin steak, there are a few tips that’ll transform your ribeye from mediocre to award-winning.
1. Again, Preparation is Key!
Just like a sirloin steak, you need to let your ribeye come to room temperature before pan-searing.
You’ll also want to prepare the skillet by adding a little bit of olive oil or butter and pre-heating it at the hottest temperature.
Pro Tip: Use a cast iron skillet to retain heat and coax out all of the ribeye’s delicious natural flavors.
Remember to add all of your seasonings before placing the ribeye in the pan, too.
When you’re ready, pop the steak into the skillet and sear each side for 4-5 minutes.
2. Opt for Rare or Medium-Rare Doneness
If you cook a ribeye steak at medium doneness or more, you can kiss those sweet tantalizing flavors goodbye. Instead, they’ll be replaced with a bitter, burnt taste from the excess heat.
Ribeye steaks are best cooked at medium-rare, but are delicious at a rare level, too.
3. Grill With Caution
If you’re a seasoned grilling pro and want to try your hand at grilling ribeye steak, go for it! Remember to be mindful of your heat and time to avoid burning the meat or starting a grill fire from the melted fats.
However, if you’re just starting your grilling journey, we recommend starting with a sirloin.
No Matter Which Steak You Choose, Don’t Forget the BBQ Sauce
In the never-ending battle between sirloin and ribeye steak, there’s one clear winner:
Regardless if you choose to grill a perfect sirloin steak or pan-sear a juicy ribeye, adding the tangy, sweet taste of Redneck Lipstick BBQ sauce as a marinade or dipping sauce will transform your steak from “okay” to “Can I have another?”