Top Sirloin Steak: What it is and How to Cook it

Top sirloin steak with herbs in a bowl

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If you’re looking for a naturally lean steak full of bold, beefy flavor then the top sirloin steak may be ideal for you. 

In this guide, we tell you all you need to know about top sirloin steak, from nutritional information to where to buy it, as well as some cooking tips to ensure a perfectly cooked steak every time. 

What is top sirloin steak

Top sirloin steaks are cut from the sirloin primal which is found at the hindquarter of the cow. 

Cow diagram showing various cuts of beef

The sirloin primal is divided into two distinct subprimals, the top sirloin butt and the bottom sirloin butt, and the top sirloin steak is cut from the more tender top portion of its subprimal.

This steak is a grilling favorite, and since it’s a very lean cut of beef, it does great with marinades and sauces that tenderize the meat.  

Where to buy top sirloin steak

Sirloin steaks are readily available at grocery stores and butchers alike, but make sure you pay attention to the labels

If a steak is being sold as a “sirloin steak,” it doesn’t give you any information about the location or quality of the cut. Only if the steak is labeled as “top sirloin steak” can you be certain that it’s from the tender top sirloin butt. Ask the butcher, or at the meat counter if you’re not sure. 

You may also see labels such as “tip sirloin,” or “top sirloin cap”. This cut is from the densely marbled tip portion of the top sirloin, and can also be called picanha

This specific portion of top sirloin steak combines intense beef flavor and incredible marbling to get the best of both worlds.

You can also source top sirloin online via prevalent meat purveyors. Check out our guide to the nine best places for buying meat online

Is top sirloin steak healthy?

The sirloin primal gets a lot of exercise over the course of a cow’s life. Therefore, the beef derived from this primal has a firmer texture and less marbling than lower utilized muscles such as the tenderloin.

This high-usage keeps top sirloin lean and high in protein while retaining robust flavor. It’s an excellent choice for people who want to watch their fat intake while eating adequate protein. . 

Nutritional profile

Top sirloin steak boasts some impressive figures in its nutritional profile. Classified as “extra lean” by USDA standards, the top sirloin steak has 150 calories, 4.9g total fat and 26g protein in each 3oz serving. 

This high protein content paired with low fat is ideal for feeling satiated for longer while also assisting in muscle growth and protein synthesis within the body. 

Top sirloin is also packed with B-vitamins and other minerals that may help contribute to a healthy immune system.

So, if you are looking for a flavorful steak that you can enjoy as part of a balanced lifestyle, top sirloin is arguably in the top spot. It’s a readily available, lean cut of beef with a bold flavor profile. 

What’s the best way to cook top sirloin?

Since top sirloin steak is extra lean with little intramuscular fat marbling, a fast cooking method with dry heat is best.

This is why we recommend grilling as the best option. You will get a flavorful exterior sear while retaining all the beefy, interior flavor.

Grilling isn’t the be-all-end-all for top sirloin preparation, though. Pan searing and oven broiling also yield fantastic results.

Try combining the two for perfect medium-rare. Just be sure your pan is thick and screaming hot (cast iron works wonderfully here).

Be careful to monitor the internal temperature of top sirloin steak with a meat thermometer as anything over medium (140°F) will cause the meat to dry out quickly. An instant read thermometer like the ThermoWorks ThermoPop will serve you well here. 

Tenderizing methods

Top sirloin is a firm steak, but its tenderness can be maximized by tenderizing methods such as marinating or aging. 

Marinating

Marinades serve two purposes: to tenderize and to enhance flavor.

Marinating top sirloin steak will allow certain acids and enzymes within the marinade to loosen and break down the protein bonds within the meat. This mostly happens to the surface of the meat unless you inject the marinade. 

Certain fruit enzymes are great for breaking down proteins. Kiwis, papayas and Asian pears are some of the most popular marinade ingredients around the world. 

Be careful not to leave top sirloin in a marinade for too long, though, or the meat will start to become mushy. One to three hours should do the trick. 

Aging

Aging is another method that allows the proteins within the meat to break down naturally over time rather than chemically induced.

Both wet and dry aging top sirloin steak will add to its tenderness and concentration of flavor, but it’s not always easy to find aged steaks readily available. 

Ask your butcher if you want to go local, or check online steak sellers like Crowd Cow. Be sure to check their aging process as this can vary from seller to seller. 

If you want to try your hand at aging your steaks at home, there are consumer kits available. 

These vary in price depending on the complexity of the kit, but know that there may be some other equipment involved such as a vacuum sealer. Just read thoroughly to make sure the kit comes with everything you need to dry age your steaks. 

Perfectly grilled top sirloin steak

Though tenderizing methods will enhance tenderness and flavor, it is not a necessity for a great top sirloin steak. If you follow our steps for a perfectly grilled top sirloin steak, you will agree. Refer to our steak doneness guide if you want a different degree of doneness than medium-rare. 

  1. Remove steak from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, usually 40 minutes to an hour.
  2. While the steak is sitting out, start lump charcoal in a chimney starter. Once hot, spread charcoal out into the grill.
  3. Season the steak with kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper.

Note: can use seasoning of your choice, but don’t use so much that it clouds the flavor of the meat. 

  1. Place steaks over the hottest part of the grill and sear for 1-2 minutes a side. 
  2. Move steaks to the medium-hot part of the grill and continue to cook until desired temperature is reached.
  3. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of a steak, but for medium-rare, a one inch steak will cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes per side. A two inch steak will cook 8-9 minutes a side. Internal temperature should read 130°F with a meat thermometer.
  4. Pull steak from the grill and tent with foil. Rest steak for 5-10 minutes before serving to allow juices to redistribute throughout the meat. The meat temperature will continue to rise due to thermal carryover. The final temperature should read 135°F.
  5. Serve warm as a whole, or sliced against the grain.

Perfectly broiled top sirloin steak

If you’re not feeling the grill, or you’d just rather stay indoors, you’re in luck. Broiling top sirloin is also a great method yielding delicious results. 

  1. Remove steak from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, usually 40 minutes to an hour.
  2. While the steak is sitting out, prepare the oven for broiling. Move rack 6 inches from broiler heating element. Preheat oven and cast iron skillet by setting the oven to broil.
  3. Rub steaks with a thin coating of olive oil, kosher salt and coarse ground  black pepper.

Note: can use seasoning of your choice, but don’t use too much that it clouds the flavor of the meat. 

  1. Once the skillet is preheated, pull it out of the oven, and carefully lay steaks on the skillet.

Note: pan will be extremely hot, so the meat will spit and splatter. Be sure to use protective kitchen gear to prevent injury. 

  1. Put the skillet back into the oven and let steaks sear for 3 minutes per side. Turn the steaks with tongs so as not to puncture and release juices.
  2. Once the steak has been seared on both sides, turn oven temperature to 500°F. For a medium-rare 1 inch steak, cook 2-3 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 130°F in the thickest part of the steak.

Note:  for added flavor, you can baste steaks in the skillet at this time with butter and fresh herbs like rosemary.

  1. Pull steak out of the oven and skillet and tent with foil. Rest steak for 5-10 minutes before serving to allow juices to redistribute throughout the meat. The meat temperature will continue to rise and the final temperature should read 135°F.
  2. Serve warm as a whole, or sliced against the grain.

Top it off

Top sirloin is a great cut of meat. It’s extra lean and chock full of vitamins and minerals, so it has a place in most well-balanced diets. It’s also quick to cook and full of meaty flavor, so you don’t have to sacrifice taste for low-fat content.

Anyone can pick up a top sirloin and cook it well, especially if you follow our directions. It’s important to pay attention to temperature and steak doneness to ensure you get the desired result.

If you liked this article, be sure to share with your friends and family! Top sirloin is so accessible, most everyone can benefit from walk-through.

And if you’re cooking a top sirloin steak soon, let us know how it goes in the comments. Feel free to reach out with questions during the process as we’re always happy to lend a hand!

Phen Pavelka

Phen Pavelka

Growing up in a multicultural home allowed me to experience a wide range of cuisines. Smoke and fire tied everything together, and barbecue became the common denominator. Now, I get to experience great food every day writing and experimenting with the varying techniques and cooking styles out there.

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