Are you interested in purchasing some steaks, but you aren’t sure what the difference is between a sirloin vs. a filet? You came to the right place!
In this TheGrillingDad.com article, we’ll cover:
- The difference between a sirloin and filet
- Which steak is healthier
- And much more!
Choosing between a sirloin and a filet can be a difficult decision. After all, on the store shelf, these cuts look very similar. In fact, you may lean towards a sirloin over a filet simply because of the size of the cut of meat. But this isn’t how you should judge these two cuts of steak.
Depending on your personal preferences and what you plan to cook, the answer to whether you should buy a sirloin or a filet will differ. We are going to cover all the differences between the two steaks in this article.
Read on to learn all the facts about sirloin and filets so that you can make an informed buying decision next time you head to the store to buy steaks!
Jump to Section
Sirloin vs. Filet: The Differences
The main difference between a sirloin and a filet is that a filet comes from a part of the cow that is more tender than the sirloin. Not to mention that filet is a very specific cut of meat, while sirloin is more of an umbrella term used for several different cuts of meat that come from the rump area in a cow.
While filet is hands down more tender, many people complain that filets just don’t taste as beefy as other cuts of steak. Plus, they are frequently expensive, making many people hesitant to experiment with them in a fun marinade.
In terms of looks, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a sirloin and a filet because these cuts of meat both tend to be leaner and have less visible fat running through them. Generally, a filet will be smaller and more round than a sirloin cut, but this isn’t always the case, so we don’t recommend basing your decision between these two steaks on looks alone.
The biggest difference you will notice as you shop for these two steaks is the price. While top sirloin is one of the cheapest steak cuts, the filet is on the opposite end of the spectrum and is one of the most expensive. It is rare to see filet anything but in steak form, although you can purchase a large portion of filet to make a Beef Wellington.
While there is a noticeable difference in tenderness between these two steaks, know that if you cook a sirloin right, it, too, can be tender. In fact, there are many recipes we recommend using sirloin over filet mignon because the flavor is stronger(Beef stew, for example). So don’t knock sirloin off your list just yet!
The reason these steaks are so different is because they are from different parts of the cow. The sirloin is cut from what is known as the round or sirloin subprimal, while the filet is cut from the tenderloin located just beneath the spine of the cow.
Related >> Sirloin vs Ribeye
What Is a Sirloin?
The sirloin is cut from the top of a cow’s back towards the animal’s rump. This is known as the sirloin subprimal. This area has two sections, the top sirloin butt, and the bottom sirloin butt, which results in a couple of different types of sirloin steak.
Other Names for a Sirloin:
- Top sirloin (when cut from the top sirloin butt)
- Sirloin steak (cuts from the bottom sirloin butt)
- Rump steak
Characteristics of a Sirloin
Sirloin is characterized by its low amount of fat, and typically any excess fat around the edges is cut from the steak during butchering. While you might see some fat in your sirloin, it is likely to vary from cow to cow, and you shouldn’t base your decision between these two cuts of meat on the fat content of either type.
Unlike the filet, the sirloin is usually cut at a thickness of about an inch. While you may occasionally see smaller filets that look about the same thickness as a sirloin, this is rare. Sometimes the bottom rump sirloin is chopped up and sold as stew meat since this meat is a bit tough for grilling.
Where Can You Buy Sirloin Steaks?
Generally, if you are looking to purchase a sirloin steak, we recommend choosing a top sirloin. Top sirloin is known to be a bit more tender and flavorful than just sirloin, which may come from either part of the sirloin portion of the cow.
Because sirloin is so much cheaper than filet, we understand your choice between these two steaks may be based on price. Additionally, if you are a beginner when it comes to grilling steaks, the sirloin can be a great place to start (and not a disaster to mess up) we just recommend buying your sirloin in advance so you can soak it in a tasty marinade overnight.
Cooking Methods for Sirloin
1. Sous Vide
You may have heard that there is no way to make a tender and juicy sirloin. This isn’t the case. If you use the sous vide method of cooking, you can get an amazing medium-rare sirloin that is still juicy. That being said, this method does take time and possibly a sous vide setup.
2. On the Grill
You can throw your sirloin on the grill, but you’ll need to sear it at high heat first, then allow it to grill for a few minutes at medium heat to get it to temperature. This can be a bit tricky, which is why we recommend sous vide for those who truly want a medium rare sirloin.
3. In a Cast Iron Pan
If you are a beginner steak cooker, then grab your cast iron pan and use it to sear your top sirloin. This is the easiest cooking method to control, and it can help you master cooking a top sirloin. Once you’ve figured out the cast iron, consider making your next top sirloin on the grill!
Related >> Sirloin vs New York Strip
What Is a Filet?
Here is an overview of filet, including names you may have heard, characteristics, and where you can buy it.
The filet is a cut from the tenderloin of the cow beneath the spine. This loin is broken up into several regions, with the filet coming from the smaller part of the tenderloin region. This is why filets are typically thicker because you cannot adjust the diameter during carving. Therefore, to get a filet that weighs a certain amount of ounces, you butcher will cut the steak thicker.
Other Names for Filet
There are several names for the filet, and we’ve listed them all below:
- Tenderloin filet
- Filet mignon
- Tenderloin steak (be cautious in other countries, this can refer to any steak from the tenderloin region and not just the filet)
- Tenderloin tip
Characteristics of a Filet
A filet is characterized by its tenderness and lighter meat flavor. It is also typically a thicker cut and very easy to cook to medium or medium rare.
While you can order a filet well done, many restaurants will butterfly cut this steak in order to get it there without charring the outside. If you want to cook a welldone filet, we recommend you choose another steak as the filet loses much of it’s draw when cooked well done.
Do note that you will only want to season filet with salt and pepper and nothing else. If you want to marinate a steak, buy a sirloin or a different cut entirely.
Buying Info for a Filet
Filet is already a premium cut of meat. This means, that even if you buy a cheaper filet, you will likely still be getting a quality cut. We recommend heading to your butcher for filets however, as they will be able to cut them to your specifications. While you might be tempted to get a large filet, remember that a larger filet just means thicker and not a wider steak.
If you want to order your steaks online, Snake River Farms is a quality butcher known especially for their filets.
Cooking Methods for Filet:
Our favorite way to cook a filet is by searing it on the grill. Because of how thick this steak is, it’s easy to get a nice crisp outside while still having a soft and rare
2. Pan Sear
If you don’t yet have a grill, a hot pan can work the same and yield similar results. We recommend heating the pan on high with a small amount of olive oil. Toss your filet for a couple of minutes on each side, removing slightly early and allowing your steak to come to temperature as it rests. Do note that we recommend cooking your filet only to medium rare using this method.
Which Steak is Healthier?
Honestly, it’s hard to say which is healthier between a filet and a sirloin. Both cuts have very little fat, containing about 8 grams of overall fat depending on your cut. Therefore we recommend choosing between these two based on how you want to cook the steak.
If you want something seared with just salt and pepper, the filet is the way to go. If you want to sous vide or cook a steak more done, then we recommend grabbing a couple of sirloins instead.
Want More Steak Info?
We’ve done a lot of homework and shared our opinions in these posts about steak: