New York Strip vs Sirloin: Can You Tell the Difference?

You’re standing at the butcher case, trying to decide between the luscious cuts of red meat available. Your gaze keeps shifting between two similar-looking steaks. One is labeled “New York strip,” while the other sign reads “Sirloin.” What’s the difference between the two, and how should you decide?

New York Strip vs Sirloin

New York strip is another term for strip loin steak, which comes from the top portion of the sirloin. Sirloin is a broader term that refers to any steak cut from the sirloin section. As a rule, top sirloin is leaner and more versatile than New York strip, but the latter is superior in terms of flavor.

New York Strip: The Basics

The steak known as the New York strip is taken from the upper sirloin section, located behind the ribs of the steer. If you think that makes it sound like a sirloin itself, you’re correct. In fact, all New York strips are sirloin, but not all sirloin steaks fall under the New York strip category, as we’ll explore in the sections below.

The meat is cut from the front portion of the sirloin, also known as the short loin. This makes for an especially tender and tasty steak.

Steaks cut from the short loin section are sometimes referred to as shell steaks. A New York strip might also be labeled as a “strip loin,” a “strip steak,” or a “club steak.”

This steak is usually sold boneless, but it’s possible to find bone-in cuts. While the meat is flavorful enough on its own, the bone lends it an extra dose of meat flavor that carnivores are sure to appreciate. When the strip steak is sold bone-in, it may be called a “Kansas City steak.”

Sirloin: The Basics

On a steer, the sirloin area is located toward the rear of the animal, between the hips and the last rib bone. It’s divided into two segments: top and bottom. Top sirloin tends to be pricier, owing to its tender texture. Bottom sirloin, on the other hand, is much larger, and the cuts taken from this section are often more affordable than top sirloin.

The sirloin is a large cut that contains many different types of steak. New York strip is only one example. In other words, sirloin is a general term, while New York strip refers to a specific steak.

The T-Bone and Porterhouse Distinction

If you’re familiar with the New York strip, you’ve probably heard of T-bone and porterhouse steaks as well. Here’s the difference between the three cuts.

The New York strip is just a portion of the strip loin, albeit a tasty one. If it’s sold with the bone in and a piece of tenderloin attached, it falls under the T-bone category. When the portion of tenderloin is particularly large, the steak is labeled as a porterhouse.

A Word About Ribeye

As long as we’re exploring the various popular cuts of steak, let’s take a moment to talk about ribeye. Unlike sirloin, this cut doesn’t come from the loin, but rather from the rib area.

Ribeye is a rich and flavorful cut that’s fantastic on the grill. As a rule, American butchers tend to remove the bones, but it’s not uncommon to find bone-in ribeye in other parts of the world.

A quality ribeye steak should contain plenty of marbling. Since the rib section of the steer is so large, it’s easy for butchers to package a leaner portion and still label it as ribeye. Make sure you take a good look at the cut before you buy it. This is good advice no matter which cut of meat you’ve selected.

New York Strip vs Sirloin: Breaking It Down

Which steak comes out on top in terms of cost, flavor, and versatility? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of New York strip and top sirloin.

Affordability

If cost is a primary factor in your buying decision, look for top sirloin. The average per-pound price of this cut runs below $10, while a New York strip might cost around $15 per pound.

Texture

The New York strip comes from a portion of the sirloin that doesn’t get a lot of exercise. This gives it a tender texture that top sirloin can’t match, although the latter is a lean cut that benefits from quick cooking.

New York strip is distinguished by a visible fat cap and a decent amount of marbling, both of which contribute to its juicy texture. Sirloin is leaner throughout, meaning it can be tough and dry if it’s cooked past medium.

Flavor

The marbling gives the New York strip steak the edge here. It has a pronounced beef flavor that makes it a great steak for grilling.

You can grill top sirloin as well, but it’s a good idea to marinate it first. Because the meat is so lean, it doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own. That said, it’s a nice option for health-conscious diners.

Versatility

New York strip is delicious on its own, so we would recommend making it the star of the show. It makes an excellent brunch dish when served alongside fried or scrambled eggs, and you can use it in rolled meat dishes like beef braciole. Beyond that, it’s best enjoyed on its own, perhaps alongside a baked potato and grilled asparagus.

Top sirloin, on the other hand, can be used in everything from appetizers to tacos to stir-fries. It can be a salad topping or a sandwich filling, or placed on skewers alongside cubed onions and peppers to make festive shish kabobs. You can even grind it and use it to make hamburgers, although the meat will be leaner than regular ground beef.

Final Thoughts

New York strip is a form of sirloin, but it’s not the only one.  Sirloin is chewier and more flavorful than tenderloin, but tender enough to benefit from high-heat cooking methods like grilling. The distinguishing characteristic is the fact that New York strip steak contains more marbling, and tends to be pricier as a result.

Happy grilling!

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