Beef Top Sirloin at a Glance
Primal: top sirloin is part of the “sirloin” primal cut
Meat Buyer’s Guide variations: 184, 184A, 184B, 184C, 184D, 184E
Weight Ranges: 1 lb -14 up, see the Fresh Beef IMPS page for specifics
Best Cooking Methods: roasting, grilling, broiling
Ryan Adams has done an excellent series on different cuts of beef and has given permission to re-post his content here, with minor modifications for the Professional Chef audience.
Cuts of Beef Series: Top Sirloin
There are two varieties of sirloin steak available, both from the sirloin primal, which is sandwiched between the short loin primal (behind the ribs) and round primal (the rump). Think mid-back area. The steak that Alton gushed over comes from the top sirloin, a section of meat found under the tenderloin. The bottom sirloin is right under the top sirloin and is a much tougher cut of meat with little in the way of fat. Most butchers like to use the bottom sirloin for ground meat or cut it into chunks for stewing or braising.
The bottom sirloin is not a bad piece of meat by anyone’s standards, but you won’t ever find me picking it over the top sirloin. This part of the cow can be quite large, so various kinds of steak can be cut from it. Other labels for top sirloin are top butt steak, center cut sirloin, or hip sirloin steak. The meat itself is intensely flavorful, with a deep beefy taste. The muscle is tender, but not quite as tender as cuts like filet mignon or prime rib. You can cut nice thick steaks out of the top sirloin, or cube it for kabobs. It also lends itself well to soups, sandwiches and some ethnic dishes. Rubs work excellently with sirloin steaks, as do marinades.
Top Sirloin Variations
Top Sirloin is listed in the Meat Buyer’s Guide with the following variations: 184, 184A, 184B, 184C, 184D, and 184E.
Top Sirloin Butt, Boneless NAMP/IMPS 184
This is the whole top sirloin butt, free from bones, cartilage, tenderloin, and the sacrosciatic ligament.
Photograph: NAMP Meat Buyer’s Guide
Top Sirloin Butt Steak, Boneless
These boneless cuts show how steaks can be prepared from any part of the top sirloin. It’s best to cut steaks that are reasonably parallel to the backbone line to accommodate the cutting of specified portion-sized steaks.
Top Sirloin Butt Steak, Center Cut
These steaks are very similar to the ones above but are only cut from the gluteus medius muscle.
What to look for when buying
If you want tender, go with smaller sirloin steaks. The larger ones have been cut closer to the rump, and they can be a good deal tougher. Meat cut closer to other side (the short loin end) will be tastier with better texture. There is a bone between the upper part of the loin and the tail end where lots of tendons connect, so try to skip that first slice between porterhouse and sirloin steaks. Also stay away from cuts labeled, “tri-tip,” “ball-tip,” or “butt,” unless it’s top butt.
The PDF below shows how to break-down a Top Sirloin from NAMP 184. Click on the image to download it.
In this video Donald Russell’s Head Butcher David describes the preparation of the ‘Big Four’ beef steaks – Fillet steak, Sirloin steak, Ribeye steak and Rump steak. In this video the Rump portion contains the Top Sirloin.
Comments from before Site Migration
Kevin – Good point about uses for the Rump Cap. The meat company in the video is located in Scotland, so the names and uses of some of the cuts may be different than in the US. Having said that, they are a well respected UK beef company, and his technique on cutting the Top Sirloin steaks is good.
the video says that the rump cap is for roasting. that’s bizarre. what about the hundreds of millions of people who think of it as the best steak cut on the cow? this is also known as coulotte or pichana. not sure what kind of cows this guy is eating but they are not the ones we have. is he eating milk cows?
A “Baseball Cut” top sirloin steak is the best version of a top sirloin steak and is an excellent “middle of the road” steak, if they cut it with the tendon/sinew taken out. It looks like a filet mignon (though not as tender) and is evenly shaped & textured (unlike many top sirloin steaks) which makes it easy to cook it properly.
Not a cut I use often. I tend to go high-end steak or lowly braises of tougher cuts. I think I need to dig into the mid-range a bit more.
Great series you have here…and this article is no exception.
Related Pages Index
- Meat Buyers Guide PDF
- Bottom Round
- Brisket of Beef
- Chuck Roast
- Chuck Steak Varieties Chart
- Delmonico Steak
- Hanger Steak
- Loin Steaks and Steak Types
- Mock Tender-Petite Fillet
- Prime Rib
- Rib Steak Cuts
- Round Steak Varieties
- Short Loin, T Bone Steak, Porterhouse Steak
- Short Ribs
- T-Bone Steak
- Tenderloin of Beef
- Top Sirloin
- Tri Tip
I hate to school people for comments made nearly 3 years ago, but Brazilian picanha (rump cap) is typically spitted and cooked for at least 2 hours. Slices are carved off and it is re rubbed with salt and re roasted. Or cubed and cooked in skewers. And not cooked as a steak.
So yeah, Kevin, roasted.
Pretty accurate except the cook time. It is an incredibly tender and flavorful cut if prepared correctly. The culotte is cut into three strips, then each strip is folded into a half moon shape with the fat cap on facing out, then skewered. Traditionally seasoned with coarse salt and cooked over open fire. Takes about 8-12 minutes for first slices to be ready, then sprinkled with salt again, then rinse and repeat.