What Is the Difference in Top Sirloin & Top Round Steak?

by Jodi Strehlow

Individual definitions, regional variations and interchangeability of meat terms affect labeling.

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Steak lovers agree that a top sirloin steak is preferred to a top round steak. For the average meat eater, personal taste will determine preference. Top sirloin steaks are ideal for grilling, but individuals who enjoy tenderizing and preparing meat for a specific dish may want to choose a top round cut.

USDA Ratings

The United States Department of Agriculture inspects and rates meat for standardized production, marketing and distribution. The age and sex of the animal affect ratings; steers, bullocks, bulls, heifers and cows all yield different rates. The quality of the carcass also affects the rating; muscle firmness and fat distribution, or marbling, determine the quality of the meat. The overall rating determines one of eight destinations: Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter or Canner.

Cuts of Meat

During the butchering process, the location on the body determines the meat type. All cuts come from one of the following areas: chuck, rib, short loin, sirloin, round, shank, brisket, plate and flank sections on the body. Sirloin refers to the meat that comes from the loin area and includes tri-tip roast, flat-bone steak, pin-bone steak, round bone steak, flap steak, beef loin, bottom sirloin butt and top sirloin steak. Bottom round roast, eye round roast, round tip roast, rump roast, round tip steak, ball tip steak, breakfast steak, knuckle steak, sandwich steak, minute steak, sirloin tip steak and top round steak come from the round, or rump region. Sirloin tip steak is not the same cut as top sirloin steak. Sirloin tip steak comes from the round region, not the sirloin.

Top Sirloin Steak

Top sirloin steak comes from the sirloin region. A top sirloin steak is large and cut from 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches thick with a small amount of bone. The bone adds flavor to the meat. Boneless top sirloin steak comes from the bottom region of the sirloin area. Top sirloin steaks are tender, full of flavor, marbled with fat are ideal for grilling or broiling. Beef loin, shell steak and strip steak are top sirloin steak cuts. People in the Eastern United States refer to a boneless top sirloin as a Kansas strip. The western states call it a New York strip. Depending on the individual, a New York strip can refer to either a boneless top sirloin or boneless top loin cut. The best burgers are made of ground sirloin, not ground beef.

Top Round Steak

A top round steak comes from the rump region. Top round steaks are more muscular, tougher and less marbled than sirloin cuts. Top round steaks should be roasted or cooked with moist heat. Some butchers refer to top round steaks as a London Broil, however, London Broil is the name of the finished dish. A flank steak is the traditional cut used for making London Broil. Ground beef consists of less favorable cuts of meat, such as round, chuck and flank. Hamburger meat is ground beef with fat added during the grinding process.

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About the Author

Jodi Strehlow has been a freelance writer since 1992 and has experience writing employee how-to handbooks. Jodi earned an Associate of Arts in social and behavioral sciences from Merritt College and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from San Francisco State University.