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What Is Top Sirloin?

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What is top sirloin? If you’re a meat enthusiast or someone who appreciates a good steak, then you’ve probably heard of this mouthwatering cut of beef. Top sirloin is a prime selection that captures the essence of flavor and tenderness, making it a popular choice among steak lovers around the world. Derived from the sirloin primal cut, which is located towards the rear of the animal, the top sirloin offers a perfect balance of marbling and leanness, resulting in a delectable dining experience. 

From its rich taste to its versatility in various cooking methods, top sirloin holds a special place in the hearts and palates of meat connoisseurs. Join us on a culinary journey as we explore the exquisite world of top sirloin and delve into its origins, characteristics, and the best ways to savor this delectable cut of beef.

What Is Top Sirloin

Top sirloin is a highly sought-after cut of beef that comes from the sirloin primal, which is located towards the rear of the animal. This particular cut is known for its combination of tenderness, flavor, and leanness, making it a popular choice among steak enthusiasts.

The top sirloin is derived from the larger sirloin primal cut, which extends from the 13th rib to the hip bone. It is situated just above the tenderloin and below the ribs. This area of the animal doesn’t bear as much weight or do as much work as other cuts, resulting in a more tender and flavorful meat.

One distinguishing feature of top sirloin is its fine marbling. Marbling refers to the intramuscular fat that runs through the meat, and it greatly contributes to the tenderness and juiciness of the steak. While top sirloin is not as heavily marbled as cuts like ribeye or porterhouse, it still possesses enough marbling to enhance the flavor and texture.

In terms of appearance, top sirloin typically has a thick cap of fat on one side, which can be trimmed according to personal preference. The meat itself is lean and firm, with a rich reddish color. When properly cooked, top sirloin offers a robust beefy flavor that is both savory and satisfying.

Cooking top sirloin is versatile, as it can be prepared using various methods such as grilling, broiling, pan-searing, or even sous vide. The recommended cooking temperature for top sirloin is medium-rare to medium, allowing the meat to retain its juiciness and tenderness while developing a flavorful crust on the outside.

Due to its balanced combination of tenderness and flavor, top sirloin is often considered a great choice for those who prefer a leaner cut of beef without compromising on taste. It can be served as a standalone steak or used in other dishes like stir-fries, kabobs, or even thinly sliced for sandwiches.

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Where does the top sirloin come from?

Top sirloin is sourced from the sirloin primal cut of beef, which is located towards the rear of the animal. The sirloin primal is a large section that extends from the 13th rib to the hip bone and is divided into several sub-primal cuts, one of which is the top sirloin.

The top sirloin specifically comes from the upper portion of the sirloin primal, hence its name. It is situated just above the tenderloin and below the ribs. This area of the animal is less worked and bears less weight compared to other cuts, resulting in a more tender and desirable meat.

The top sirloin is further divided into different cuts, including bone-in top sirloin, boneless top sirloin, and top sirloin cap or culotte. Each cut offers its own unique characteristics and can be prepared in various ways to suit different cooking preferences.

The bone-in top sirloin, as the name suggests, includes a section of the sirloin with the bone still attached. This bone adds flavor and helps retain moisture during cooking. Bone-in top sirloin steaks are often thick and are commonly grilled or roasted.

On the other hand, boneless top sirloin is the same cut but with the bone removed. It is often preferred for its ease of preparation and uniformity in cooking. Boneless top sirloin can be found in different forms, such as whole roasts or individual steaks, making it a versatile option for various recipes.

Another cut that is often associated with top sirloin is the top sirloin cap, also known as culotte or picanha. This is a triangular-shaped muscle located on top of the sirloin and is separated from the rest of the top sirloin by a natural seam of connective tissue. Top sirloin cap is highly regarded for its tenderness and rich flavor, and it is often prepared as a whole roast or sliced into steaks.

It’s worth noting that the specific names and cuts may vary slightly depending on the country or region. Different culinary traditions and preferences can influence the labeling and preparation methods of top sirloin.

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What to look for when choosing a top sirloin

When choosing a top sirloin, there are several factors to consider to ensure you select a high-quality cut of beef. Here are some key aspects to look for:

Appearance: Start by examining the appearance of the top sirloin. Look for meat that has a vibrant red color. It should be firm and well-textured, indicating freshness. Avoid cuts with a dull or discolored appearance.

Marbling: Check the marbling, which refers to the small streaks of fat within the meat. While top sirloin is generally leaner compared to other cuts, it should still have some visible marbling. Marbling contributes to the tenderness and juiciness of the steak and enhances its flavor.

Fat cap: Consider the fat cap on the top sirloin. It is a layer of fat that covers one side of the meat. A thin, even layer of fat can add flavor and moisture during cooking. However, excessive fat can result in a greasy steak. Choose a top sirloin with a moderate fat cap that can be trimmed to your preference.

Thickness: The thickness of the top sirloin is an important aspect to consider, especially if you have specific cooking preferences. Thicker cuts allow for more flexibility in cooking methods and help retain juiciness. Look for steaks that are at least 1 inch thick or thicker, depending on your desired level of doneness.

Grade: Consider the beef grade when selecting top sirloin. In the United States, the grading system includes Prime, Choice, Select, and lower grades. Prime grade offers the highest level of marbling and tenderness, while Choice is also a good option with slightly less marbling. Select grade is leaner but may be less tender. Choose a grade that aligns with your preferences and budget.

Source: If possible, consider the source of the top sirloin. Look for meat that comes from reputable suppliers or producers known for their quality standards. Locally sourced or organic options may also be available, offering assurance of sustainable and ethically raised beef.

Butcher’s recommendation: If you have access to a knowledgeable butcher, don’t hesitate to seek their advice. They can guide you on selecting the best top sirloin based on your preferences, cooking method, and desired outcome.

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Best way to prepare a top sirloin

Preparing a top sirloin can be done in various ways depending on your taste preferences and desired level of doneness. Here are a few popular methods to consider:

Cooking prep

When it comes to preparing top sirloin for cooking, there are a few important steps to follow to ensure the best results:

Thawing: If your top sirloin is frozen, it’s essential to thaw it properly before cooking. The safest method is to transfer the steak from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw slowly overnight. This gradual thawing helps preserve the meat’s texture and flavor.

Seasoning: Before cooking, season the top sirloin generously with salt and pepper. You can also add other seasonings such as garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, or your preferred herbs and spices to enhance the flavor. Make sure to season both sides of the steak, gently pressing the seasoning into the meat for better adhesion.

Resting: After seasoning, let the top sirloin rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This resting period allows the seasoning to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful steak.

Trimming: If desired, you can trim the excess fat or silverskin from the top sirloin. This step is optional, as some prefer to leave a thin layer of fat for added flavor during cooking. Use a sharp knife to trim any excessive fat or connective tissue, ensuring the steak is evenly shaped.

Preheating: Depending on the cooking method you choose, preheat the grill, skillet, oven, or sous vide water bath to the appropriate temperature. Properly preheating ensures even cooking and helps achieve the desired doneness.

Oil and pan preparation: For pan-searing or certain cooking methods, add a small amount of oil to the cooking surface. Heat the oil until it shimmers or spreads easily. If using a grill, make sure the grates are clean and lightly oiled to prevent sticking.

Cooking: Cook the top sirloin according to your preferred method, such as grilling, pan-searing, broiling, or sous vide, as explained in the previous response. Follow the recommended cooking times and temperatures for your desired level of doneness.

Resting: Once the top sirloin is cooked to your desired doneness, remove it from the heat source and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and juicy steak when sliced.

Slicing: After the resting period, slice the top sirloin against the grain for optimal tenderness. The grain refers to the direction in which the muscle fibers run. Slicing against the grain helps shorten the fibers, resulting in a more tender bite.

Serving: Plate the sliced top sirloin and serve it immediately. Consider pairing it with your favorite sauces, gravies, or accompanying sides to complete the meal.

Cooking methods

There are several cooking methods you can use to prepare top sirloin, each offering a unique flavor and texture profile. Here are some popular cooking methods:

Grilling: Grilling is a favorite method for cooking top sirloin, especially during outdoor gatherings or barbecues. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and place the seasoned top sirloin directly on the grates. Cook for about 4-6 minutes per side for medium-rare, or adjust the time based on your preferred level of doneness. Remember to let the steak rest before slicing.

Pan-Searing: Pan-searing is a versatile method that allows you to achieve a flavorful crust on the top sirloin while cooking it on the stovetop. Heat a skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Once the pan is hot, place the seasoned top sirloin in the pan and sear it for about 3-4 minutes per side. You can also finish cooking the steak in the oven if desired.

Broiling: Broiling is a convenient method when you want to quickly cook top sirloin under high heat. Preheat the broiler and place the seasoned top sirloin on a broiler pan or a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Position the steak about 4-6 inches away from the broiler element and cook for about 4-6 minutes per side, adjusting the time based on your preferred level of doneness.

Sous Vide: Sous vide is a precise and controlled water bath cooking method that results in consistently tender and evenly cooked top sirloin. Season the steak and place it in a vacuum-sealed bag or a zip-top bag, removing as much air as possible. Cook the top sirloin in a water bath set to your desired temperature (e.g., 130°F/54°C for medium-rare) for a few hours. Afterward, sear the steak on a hot grill or in a hot skillet to develop a crust.

Roasting: Roasting is a popular method for cooking larger cuts of top sirloin, such as whole roasts. Preheat the oven to the desired temperature and place the seasoned top sirloin in a roasting pan or on a wire rack set in a baking dish. Cook the roast in the oven, allowing approximately 15-20 minutes per pound for medium-rare. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature and remove the roast from the oven when it reaches your desired doneness.

Remember to adjust cooking times based on the thickness and size of the top sirloin, as well as your preferred level of doneness. Additionally, let the cooked steak rest for a few minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute for optimal tenderness.

Cooking times and temps

The cooking time and temperature for top sirloin can vary depending on the desired level of doneness and the cooking method you choose. Here are some general guidelines to help you get started:

Grilling:

Medium-rare: Grill the top sirloin at medium-high heat for approximately 4-6 minutes per side. The internal temperature should reach around 135°F (57°C).

Medium: Grill for around 6-8 minutes per side, resulting in an internal temperature of about 145°F (63°C).

Medium-well: Grill for about 8-10 minutes per side, aiming for an internal temperature of 150°F (66°C) or slightly higher.

Pan-Searing:

Medium-rare: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and sear the top sirloin for about 3-4 minutes per side. Aim for an internal temperature of 135°F (57°C).

Medium: Sear for approximately 4-5 minutes per side, resulting in an internal temperature of around 145°F (63°C).

Medium-well: Sear for about 5-6 minutes per side, targeting an internal temperature of 150°F (66°C) or slightly higher.

Broiling:

Medium-rare: Set the broiler to high heat and cook the top sirloin for approximately 4-6 minutes per side. The internal temperature should be around 135°F (57°C).

Medium: Broil for around 6-8 minutes per side, resulting in an internal temperature of about 145°F (63°C).

Medium-well: Broil for about 8-10 minutes per side, aiming for an internal temperature of 150°F (66°C) or slightly higher.

Sous Vide:

Sous vide cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the top sirloin and the desired level of doneness. Here are some general temperature ranges for different levels of doneness:

Medium-rare: Cook the top sirloin at 130°F (54°C) for 1-2 hours.

Medium: Cook at 140°F (60°C) for 1-2 hours.

Medium-well: Cook at 150°F (66°C) for 1-2 hours.

Roasting:

Medium-rare: Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C) and cook the top sirloin roast for approximately 15-20 minutes per pound. Aim for an internal temperature of 135°F (57°C).

Medium: Roast for about 20-25 minutes per pound, resulting in an internal temperature of around 145°F (63°C).

Medium-well: Roast for approximately 25-30 minutes per pound, targeting an internal temperature of 150°F (66°C) or slightly higher.

These are general guidelines, and it’s essential to use a meat thermometer to ensure your top sirloin reaches your preferred level of doneness. Remember to let the cooked top sirloin rest for a few minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute and for optimal tenderness.

Resting and serving

Resting the cooked top sirloin is a crucial step that should not be overlooked. Resting allows the juices within the meat to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak. Here’s what you should do when it comes to resting and serving:

Resting: Once the top sirloin is cooked to your desired level of doneness, remove it from the heat source and transfer it to a cutting board or a warm plate. Tent the steak loosely with aluminum foil to retain some heat.

Resting Time: Let the top sirloin rest for about 5-10 minutes. Resting time will depend on the size of the steak; larger cuts may require a longer resting period. This resting period allows the muscle fibers to relax and reabsorb the juices, ensuring a juicier and more tender steak.

Slicing: After the resting period, it’s time to slice the top sirloin. Slice the steak against the grain, which means cutting perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers. Slicing against the grain helps break up the muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender bite.

Serving: Arrange the sliced top sirloin on a serving platter or individual plates. You can serve it as it is, or pair it with your favorite sauces, such as a mushroom sauce, peppercorn sauce, or chimichurri sauce, depending on your preferences. Consider garnishing with fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon for an extra touch of flavor.

Side Dishes: Accompany the top sirloin with complementary side dishes. Classic choices include roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, steamed broccoli, or a fresh salad. Choose sides that balance the richness of the steak and enhance the overall meal experience.

Enjoying the Meal: Finally, sit down and savor your deliciously cooked top sirloin steak. Take your time to enjoy the flavors, textures, and aromas. Pair it with your favorite beverages, such as red wine, a cold beer, or a refreshing mocktail, to complete the dining experience.

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Website: https://scillsgrill.com/

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About author
As the founder and chief editor of Scills Grill, I'm a self-proclaimed BBQ nut. I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I use various grills, smokers, and wood-fired ovens to produce epic food. Peter Cobbetts is the president and founder of Scills Grill, with over 15 years' experience in barbecue. He's an exceptional pitmaster and grill expert who specializes in smoking briskets, pork shoulders - using charcoal, wood or propane grills/smokers - as well as reviewing kitchen appliances such as grills, smokers etc., having tried out almost every model available on the market.
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