Sirloin and tenderloin are two of the most famous cuts of beef in the world
It’s no surprise that people have pitted these two irresistibly delicious types of meat against one another.
So, let’s explore this debate in depth by examining what each cut of beef is.
- Quick Comparison of Sirloin vs. Tenderloin
- Nutritional Comparison of Sirloin vs. Tenderloin
- What Is Sirloin?
- What Is Beef Tenderloin?
- Is Tenderloin More Expensive Than Sirloin?
- Sirloin vs. Tenderloin
- How To Cook Tenderloin
- How To Cook Sirloin
- Can You Use Sirloin Instead of Tenderloin?
- Can You Use Tenderloin Instead of Sirloin?
- What Is Sirloin Best Used For?
- What Is Tenderloin Best Used For?
- Final Thoughts
Quick Comparison of Sirloin vs. Tenderloin
|From the rear of the cow, just in front of the hip
|Along the spine, from the short loin to the sirloin
|Strong, beefy flavor
|Mild, buttery flavor
|Good for grilling and pan-searing
|Best for grilling, broiling, or roasting
|8-12 minutes per side on a hot grill or pan-sear to medium-rare or medium
|10-12 minutes in a 425°F oven for medium-rare or 12-15 minutes for medium
Nutritional Comparison of Sirloin vs. Tenderloin
|Sirloin (4 oz, cooked)
|Tenderloin (4 oz, cooked)
Keep in mind that these nutritional values may vary depending on the specific cut and how its cooked.
What Is Sirloin?
This popular cut hails from the back of the cow, sitting pretty between the rib and rump. In steak-terms, it’s like the best friend everyone loves – reliable, satisfying, and always a hit at parties.
High in protein, low in fat, and sporting that perfect balance of tenderness and taste, it’s a griller’s dream. It also contains less fat compared to other cuts and is popular with more health-conscious consumers.
You may be surprised to learn that not all sirloins are created equal. There are 3 types you’ll often hear about:
- Top Sirloin
- Bottom Sirloin
- Sirloin Tip
The Top Sirloin, the crown jewel, boasts the perfect blend of lean protein and just enough marbling for a rich flavor. Lower on the ladder, we find the Bottom Sirloin – larger and less tender but a champion when it comes to stews and roasts.
And then we have the Sirloin Tip, a leaner, tougher guy, perfect for marinating and slow-cooking.
While it’s called a “Sirloin Tip,” it’s not technically part of the sirloin. It comes from the area of the cow that is right next to the sirloin, but a little further back toward the animal’s rear. This cut is lean and somewhat tough because it comes from a muscle that the cow uses quite a bit.
What Is Beef Tenderloin?
Beef tenderloin, also known as the psoas major, is an elliptic muscle that runs around the back region of the spine.
It is behind the kidney and stretches from the hip bone all the way to the 13th rib.
The tenderloin is probably one of the least used muscles on the animal, which is why it is exceptionally tender.
The tenderloin is enclosed in a thick coat of brittle fat that is called kidney fat or suet. Kidney fat can be used in the same way as wagyu beef tallow or lard.
The tenderloin also contains a smaller, petite muscle known as the psoas minor or the chain.
The chain is usually removed, but it is left on untrimmed tenderloin. It runs along the tenderloin.
There is also another muscle called the iliacus or wing muscle that is located at the other end of the tenderloin.
Is Tenderloin More Expensive Than Sirloin?
The tenderloin is definitely more expensive than the sirloin.
Although it is not as flavorful As a Tomahawk or porterhouse steak, it is the most tender muscle on the animal. Therefore, it is also the most expensive cut of steak.
Sirloin vs. Tenderloin
Yes, sirloin and tenderloin are both cuts of beef. They are also relatively lean.
However, just like every cut of steak is unique, both the sirloin and tenderloin are unique and different.
These differences lie in the meat’s location, fat profile, tenderness, flavor, and cooking times.
So, let’s compare these two cuts of beef so you can decide which type of beef best suits your needs.
Tenderloin or deep hash meat is carved from the center of the steer. The top and bottom sirloin surround the tenderloin.
This is why sirloin is referred to as outer meat.
The sirloin starts at the end of the ribs and stretches all the way to the outer area of the ribs.
Even though both cuts are lean, they have differing degrees of fat. Unlike the tenderloin, the sirloin is used very often to move the animal around.
Even though the muscles of the sirloin are encased in fat, the meat is still lower in fat; in particular, the top of the sirloin is low in fat.
100 grams of sirloin contains 8 grams of fat, while 100 grams of bottom sirloin has 10 grams of fat.
In contrast, the tenderloin contains more fat than sirloin. 100 grams of tenderloin has about 18 grams of fat.
Tenderloin is more delicate and tender than sirloin.
The tenderness is directly attributed to the fact that the muscle is barely used to move the animal around.
The prefix sir is delivered from the English word sir, as in tough man.
Sirloin is made up of muscles that are used to move the animal around. Therefore, the sirloin is much tougher than the tenderloin.
Since the tenderloin is surrounded by fat, the fat gives it a juicy, savory flavor when it’s cooked.
However, the sirloin still wins in the flavor category even though it contains less fat.
Believe it or not, tenderloin is not famous because of its flavor. Tenderloin is popular because of its tenderness.
This is why you will see tenderloin steaks like filet mignon combined with other more robust flavors to enhance the already existing flavor.
Tenderloin wins in the cooking time category. Since it is more delicate and tender than sirloin, it will take less time to cook.
Even though tenderloin can be roasted, do not cook it for too long, or you will end up with a dry steak.
On the other hand, sirloin has a longer cooking time. Therefore, sirloin is normally steamed or grilled until it is tender.
How To Cook Tenderloin
Cooking tenderloin is very easy. If you are cooking an untrimmed brisket, you will need to remove the silver skin from the tenderloin as well as the excess fat.
Next, fold the tail of the tenderloin under and tie the roast using kitchen twine to make sure the tail stays tucked under.
Tie the entire tenderloin making sure there are 2-inches of space between each piece of twine.
The kitchen twine will help the tenderloin keep its shape while it’s cooking.
Next, you need to season the tenderloin. It’s best to combine olive oil with salt and pepper.
You can also add herbs like thyme, oregano, or rosemary to the seasoning mixture.
Rub the seasoning mixture all over the tenderloin, making sure to get it in every crack and crevice, and allow the tenderloin to sit while your offset grill heats up.
Next, place your coals into a charcoal chimney starter and light them.
Once the charcoal has ashed over, dump it into the bottom of your kamado grill and arrange it on one side of the grill’s base.
If you are using a natural gas grill, heat it to high heat for 10 minutes, then lightly grease the grill’s cooking grates with oil.
Add the tenderloin to the grill, then close the dome. Grill the tenderloin for 5 minutes, then flip it over and cook it for another 5 minutes.
Place the tenderloin onto the cooler side of the grill.
If you are using a natural gas grill, switch the burn directly beneath the tenderloin off, then turn the remaining burners to medium.
Cook the tenderloin until it has a temperature of 130°F.
The tenderloin should take about 45-60 minutes, depending on the type of grill you use to grill the tenderloin and its size.
Let the cooked tenderloin sit for 15 minutes before you carve it into beautiful medallions.
How To Cook Sirloin
For the purposes of this beef comparison guide, I will show you how to grill sirloin steaks.
The setup for the grill is the same whether you are using a natural gas grill or a kamado grill.
First, remove your steak from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before you intend to grill it.
Let your grill preheat while the sirloin steaks are sitting at room temperature.
Season your steaks with salt and pepper or your favorite steak seasoning.
Place the grills onto the hot side of the grill and sear them for 1-2 minutes per side.
Move the sirloin steaks and cook them for 6-8 minutes until they have a temperature of 130°F. It’s best to use an infrared thermometer to monitor the sirloin temperature’s internal temperature.
Loosely tent the sirloin steak with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes.
The sirloin’s temperature will continue to rise 5°F as it rests, resulting in a final temperature of 135°F.
Can You Use Sirloin Instead of Tenderloin?
Although you can use sirloin in place of tenderloin, I would not advise it.
There are too many noticeable differences between sirloin and tenderloin.
I recommend going with cuts of beef like sirloin butt roast, top blade roast, strip loin roast, rib roast, pork tenderloin, and ribeye roast.
These cuts of beef are much more affordable and flavorful.
Can You Use Tenderloin Instead of Sirloin?
Again, tenderloin and sirloin are not the same things.
Ribeye steak or New York strip steak is the closest to sirloin since it has the same robust beefy flavor as sirloin.
However, these steaks are more expensive than sirloin because they contain healthy amounts of intramuscular fat.
If you are looking for inexpensive sirloin steak substitutes such as flank steak and round steak.
What Is Sirloin Best Used For?
Sirloin is best if you are feeding a crowd of people.
Not only is sirloin budget-friendly, but it still packs a solid beefy flavor and ample marbling.
Sirloin also has a solid texture which is perfect for those who prefer their steaks with a slight chew.
What Is Tenderloin Best Used For?
Tenderloin is best if you desire a super tender steak.
Since tenderloin costs a pretty penny, you may need to reserve it for special occasions such as graduations or weddings instead of a weeknight dinner.
Well, that’s it. The showdown between tenderloin and sirloin is finally over.
Although there is no clear winner, you can choose your own winner by firing up your charcoal grill and cooking up tenderloin and sirloin!
You might also be interested in the following comparisons:
- Porterhouse Vs. Ribeye
- Sirloin Vs. Ribeye
- Tomahawk Steak Vs. Ribeye
- Porterhouse Vs. T Bone
- Filet Mignon Vs. Ribeye
- Prime Rib Vs. Ribeye
- Tenderloin Vs Filet Mignon
- Filet Mignon Vs. Sirloin
- New York Strip Vs. Ribeye
- T-Bone Vs. Ribeye Steak
- New York Strip Vs. Sirloin
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.