The Absolute Best Cut Of Steak If You Prefer Leaner Meat

Nothing beats a nice, thick steak for dinner. Especially when it's cooked at a perfect temperature and served with the perfect glass of wine. While some swear that a filet mignon or ribeye are the best cuts of steak due to their tenderness and rich flavor, they also typically have a lot more fat marbling throughout the muscle. Not all lovers of steak enjoy those ribbons running through; many prefer leaner cuts of meat. Although "lean" often leads people to think "overcooked," not all hope is lost. Jered Standing from Standing's Butchery in Los Angeles says there is a lean and mean cut out there that he "absolutely loves." The cut in question? Top sirloin. 

One of the easier steaks to find, top sirloin is a popular choice at steakhouses and home kitchens alike because so much can be done with it. And because it is so lean, you don't need to worry about ruining your diet. Fortunately, as Standing guaranteed in a conversation with Tasting Table, lean doesn't mean flavorless. This steak still delivers a force of flavor to satisfy even the most intense beef cravings.

Top sirloin is made up of several different muscles

Not to be confused with tenderloin, sirloin, or bottom sirloin, top sirloin is its own unique cut. It comes from the part of the cow known as the sirloin primal, which is made up of the cow's butt and ribs. This area is also where many of these aforementioned cuts come from as well. Since a couple of different muscles make up the meat, Jered Standing says this cut "provides several different unique textures and flavors."  This is due in large part to where it's located. 

As Standing told Tasting Table, "Being on the top of the animal, near the rump, and in line with the New York steaks and ribeyes, it has all that full 'steak' flavor you want, but without nearly as much fat." In the grocery, a serving of USDA-labeled "Lean" top sirloin will have 10 grams of fat or less per serving, while to qualify as "Extra-Lean" a cut must be less than five grams.

The real benefit of this steak, though, is all the different ways it can be cut down. You've probably heard of the baseball cut or strip steak, but these aren't your only options for top sirloin. This is a cut of beef that can jockey for position with cowboy ribeyes as a serving option for larger groups just as well as it can make for a smaller dinner. According to Standing, "it can be cut pretty large (over a pound) and shared among several people." For personal servings, he recommends portioning out single-serve cuts at about 10-ounces a piece. In other words, this is the steak to pick whether you're serving a crowd or enjoying a quiet night by yourself.

The best way to cook top sirloin

For the all-important step of cooking it, top sirloin is one of the most versatile out there. You should never overcook a sirloin, but there are numerous ways to take this cut from your butcher's counter to your dinner table. You could grill it, sear it, broil it, sous vide, or even air fry it. However, Jered Standing actually recommends a slightly different approach.

Standing points out that the fat cap found on the edge of a top sirloin can be removed with just a slight bit of trimming prior to cooking. This will help you avoid fat altogether. His suggestion is to keep it around a bit longer. "My recommendation," Standing says, "you can render the fat cap and cook the steak in its own flavorful fat instead of a cooking oil. Then, cut it away when it's time to eat." 

If you follow Standing's recommendation, you'll not only end up with a less greasy piece of meat, you'll get even more of that wonderful umami flavor. While some believe the best way to add flavor to a steak is by marinating it, Standing says that top sirloin doesn't require it. Stick with salt and pepper, and you'll be just fine. That doesn't mean you can't jazz it up for the final presentation. "If you're feeling like you want to do a little extra," the butcher says, "this is a great steak to top with a chimichurri or similar sauce when serving."