What is Top Sirloin Steak (and the Best Way to Cook it)

raw beef top sirloin steak on brown butcher paper

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

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 tips on how to cook it perfectly 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.  

Top sirloin VS sirloin cut

The top sirloin is considered to be a superior cut to the bottom sirloin. It’s cut from a large boneless section of meat found under the tenderloin.

The bottom tenderloin is right under and is a tougher cut without much marbling. It’s often used for ground beef or chunks for stewing.

To confuse things even further, some countries like Australia and New Zealand use sirloin to refer to what is known as the New York Strip in the US.

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 sure it’s from the tender top sirloin butt. Ask the butcher, or at the meat counter if you’re unsure. 

snake river farms top sirloin steak in packaging

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 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. We sourced the steaks for our grilled top sirloin steak recipe from Snake River Farms.

Check out our guide to the nine best places for buying meat online for more options.

Is top sirloin steak healthy?

The sirloin primal gets a lot of exercise throughout 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 rich beefy flavor. It’s an excellent choice for people who want to watch their fat intake while eating adequate protein.

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.

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. 

Perfectly grilled top sirloin steak

searing top sirloin steak over high heat

We have a full recipe for grilled top sirloin steak with more detailed instructions.

For seasoning top sirloin you can’t go wrong with a simple SPG (salt, pepper, garlic) blend, although any good beef or steak seasoning will do.

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.

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.

top sirloin steak cut and served on a plate

Serve warm as a whole, or sliced against the grain.

Tenderizing methods

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


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. 

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 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 Snake River Farms. 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. 

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 best result.

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