Filet Mignon vs Top Sirloin

Reading Time: 5 minutes Back to 5 minutes version
photo by Ivana licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

On the hunt for the very best cuts of steak for a special occasion? Look no further than here at Chicago Steak Company. We offer all kinds of cuts to choose from, including the popular filet mignon and the equally enticing top sirloin. Yet before you place an order for steaks, you’ll want to understand the precise differences between these two cuts. Making the right choice is all a matter of what you’re looking for, from texture to flavor and general portion size. Get the scoop on how the filet mignon vs top sirloin discussion stacks up.

What is Filet Mignon?


Part of the tenderloin that is deep inside the ribcage of a cow, filet mignon is one of the softest cuts of meat you can cook as a steak. It’s also remarkably lean, so it must be cooked with care. You’ll receive a relatively thick, round cut of meat. T-bone and Porterhouse steaks both include a complete filet mignon on one side of the central bone.

What is Top Sirloin?

The sirloin is the rear muscle on a cow’s back, right before the round that is the very end of their hindquarters. This area gets plenty of exercise, but still has tender cuts, such as the top sirloin steak. It’s generally boneless, while sirloin steaks that are bone-in are also available. The top cut rests near the tenderloin where the filet mignon comes from, yet it’s a separate muscle group. The meat is more marbled and tends to have a layer of fat curling through the center.

What is the Difference Between Filet Mignon and Top Sirloin?

While both of these cuts come from a similar area on the cow, they differ quite a bit.

Meat Cut

The filet mignon always comes from the center area of the tenderloin. While the top sirloin rests against the tenderloin, the top cut is separated from both the tenderloin and the bottom round muscles. The top sirloin steak tends to be more exercised than the filet mignon.

Cost

Due to its premium flavor and texture, filet mignon tends to cost more than top sirloin. Top sirloin is actually one of the more affordable cuts of beef, even at USDA Choice and Prime quality levels. Filet mignon is worth splurging on, but top sirloin is likely affordable enough you can enjoy it routinely.

Size

Top sirloin steaks are generously sized, often weighing 10 oz or more each even when cut only ¾ inch thick. Filet mignons tend to stay much smaller because they’re cut from the circular tenderloin. This results in a medallion of tender meat that is only a few inches across in most cases.

Appearance

It’s clear that the top sirloin is more marbled than the filet mignon even at first glance. Yet the deep color and soft-looking texture of the filet mignon clearly signal that it’s a high-quality cut of meat. For a visually impactful meal, it’s easy to pair the medallion of the filet with other dramatic side dishes. You can also wrap the medallion with bacon or other ingredients thanks to its tall sides. In contrast, the top sirloin is thinner and flatter, providing more of a classic steak shape.

Texture

A soft, fork-tender texture makes filet mignon one of the most popular cuts of steak around the world. Yet there’s nothing tough or lacking in tenderness about the top sirloin either. You’ll simply need a knife for it because it offers a slightly more toothsome texture. This is especially true if you use a cooking method that puts a good crust on the meat’s surface as it sears.

Taste

Both types of steak offer great beef flavor. It’s the top sirloin that wins in this category simply because of the greater marbling and fat content. Filet mignon steaks have a more delicate taste that is still mouth-watering, but not quite as intense as the sirloin cut. Unless you cook them side by side, you’re not likely to notice a great difference.

Bone Content

This is something the two cuts of beef actually share in common. Neither one features a bone, so they’re both all meat and give you a good value per pound. It’s easy to make sure you’re serving the right amount for each guest when planning a large group meal because every ounce of meat you order can be eaten.

Fat Content

The filet mignon is a steak that’s usually carefully trimmed so little visible fat is left around the edges. This lowers the fat content, especially since it’s a less marbled cut of meat. The top sirloin has more marbled and solid fat, but that helps add flavor and softness to the meat, especially during a slow cooking method.

Filet Mignon

Reserve the filet mignon for celebrations where you want to wow guests with both the appearance and texture of the meat. This cut must be cooked carefully, so make sure you’re not using a new method for the very first time with it.

Pros

  • The smaller cut offers an appropriate single serving size of beef
  • Extra soft texture for a luxurious mouthfeel
  • Fine-grained marbling of fat creates good texture
  • Pairs well with flavored butter or strips of bacon wrapped around its edges
  • A relatively lean cut of meat with a lower fat content than many other options
  • The medallion shape makes a strong visual impact while leaving space on the plate.

Cons

  • Slightly less flavorful than some other cuts of beef due to the lower fat content
  • Can’t handle all cooking methods and may fall apart or toughen up if handled wrong
  • Higher cost per ounce than many other types of steak
  • Benefits from the addition of flavors and fats, which increases the overall cost of the meal
  • Less filling if you’re a big eater.

Top Sirloin

The top sirloin steak isn’t quite as showy or refined as the filet mignon. Yet it’s a classic cut of beef for enjoying on an everyday occasion, and it’s more than high-class enough for a big night as well. It’s also forgiving of unusual or experimental cooking methods, broadening your options for preparing steak at home.

Pros

  • Well-marbled and has plenty of solid fat to keep the meat juicy during slow or long cooking methods
  • Easy to cut, even if not fork-tender
  • Works well if cut up for shish kabobs or other steak dishes
  • Versatile enough to handle broiling, baking, frying, grilling, smoking, stir-frying, and sous vide
  • Available in a variety of thicknesses
  • Flavorful
  • Less expensive than many other cuts of beef

Cons

  • Not as tender as the filet mignon
  • Higher fat content may be an issue for people on certain diets
  • Slightly less protein per ounce than the filet mignon
  • Cut is larger and more likely to constitute two or more servings.

Conclusion

Both the filet mignon and the top sirloin make for an elegant meal that will impress any guests. Yet one of them has a touch more luxury and a higher price tag to go with it. If you’re grilling out with the family, stick with top sirloin and save the filet mignon for anniversary and birthday dinners.