On average, a cow can produce around 18 steaks, and among them, ribeye and tenderloin stand out as two of the most premium and delectable steaks.
There are several distinctions between them which is why steak lovers often get confused about which one they should choose.
Is it also challenging for you to choose one between these two meat cuts? Well, this “ribeye vs tenderloin” guide is the way to go in which I will differentiate them sincerely to help you understand whether ribeye or tenderloin is the ideal pick for you.
Ribeye Steak – A Detailed Overview
BBQ enthusiasts know ribeye steaks with other famous names like Spencer cut, beauty steak, Delmonico steak, and Scotch fillet.
The fan base of this meat cut is enormous because it promises rich flavor and juiciness, tender texture, and mouthwatering taste when cooked to perfection.
But what is a ribeye steak, where it comes from, and what are its other characteristics? Let’s find out.
It is a beef cut that can be boneless or bone-in, and each offers a different outcome. The exact location of a ribeye steak is between the sixth and twelfth ribs, which are inside the rib portion, and it is near the neck of the cow.
One of the most-liked characteristics of ribeye is that it comes up with a good amount of marbling and intramuscular fat all over its surface, which makes it a flavorful and tender dish.
There are a few important considerations to look after when purchasing a ribeye steak, such as it should be at least 1 inch thicker or more, its grade should be higher (USDA Prime or Choice), and it must have abundant marbling all over the meat.
A ribeye with the abovementioned qualities will offer extraordinary results, from rich flavor to maximum tenderness and juiciness.
Furthermore, it tends to be a versatile meat cut that you can cook in different ways, but I endorse you cook it through the grilling and pan frying method as they offer the best results.
Inspecting Tenderloin Steak Deeply
It is another finest beef cut that provides an authentic beefy taste, and it comes from beneath the ribs portion, which is next to the cow’s backbone.
Compared to other steaks, it is usually longer and narrower, stretching from the cow’s hip bone to its shoulder blade.
Interestingly, the muscle from which this meat cut comes is not heavily used, which is why it becomes exceptionally tender, making it a top-notch option among steak lovers.
Furthermore, it is usually cut into two pieces named loin and filet. The loin cut is near the hip bone and is bigger than the filet.
Naturally, the filet consists of more tender meat, but the loin cut also offers a flavorful outcome and tender eating experience.
In short, the significant differences between these two cuts (loin and filet) are that a loin is bigger but less tender, and a filet is more petite but more tender.
Here’s a fact, more people prefer cooking filet because it is considered one of the more minor yet tender meat cuts with a delectable taste.
Speaking of cooking, like a ribeye steak, you can cook tenderloin in different ways as well, like roasting, pan frying, and high-heat grilling.
Are there any similarities between a ribeye and a tenderloin?
The structure and amount of marbling and intramuscular fat might not be the same, but they do have some similarities that I have highlighted below.
Firstly, both of these steaks are premium beef cuts that offer a flavorful and highly tender outcome every time you cook them to perfection.
Secondly, they tend to be versatile meat cuts which is why you can cook them through different cooking methods. For example, roasting, grilling, and pan frying.
Also, they both are not too thick, which is why it is more suitable to cook them through a method that requires a higher temperature.
Lastly, their popularity is almost the same among steak lovers, and you’ll easily find them in grocery stores or local supermarkets.
Ribeye Vs Tenderloin – Head To Head Comparison
Now, allow me to take you through the most important part of this article, in which I will compare these steaks deeply and see which one overcomes the other in a specific aspect.
Starting with their location in the cow, a ribeye comes from the rib section and is certainly located between the sixth to the twelfth ribs.
But tenderloin has a different spot in the cow as it is taken from a section called loin which is beneath the ribs and back part of the cow.
As you can now understand that they come from different cow parts, so this is where the accurate comparison begins between these two steaks.
Amount Of Intramuscular Fat Or Marbling
One of the primary distinctions between a ribeye and a tenderloin is the amount of intramuscular fat (commonly known as marbling) they have all over the meat.
Generally, a ribeye obtains more fat or marbling than tenderloin and some other popular steaks. I love this steak for two main reasons.
Firstly, it has plenty of marbling, and secondly, this marbling is spread evenly from the edges to the inside of the meat.
Conversely, a tenderloin obtains less fat than ribeye, and one evident reason behind it is its location inside the cow.
Are Both Of Them Boneless?
Tenderloin steak or filet mignon typically comes boneless, whereas a ribeye steak can be boneless or bone-in.
A bone-in ribeye can raise its selling prices because it increases the meat’s weight, and its presence can add an extra layer of flavor to your outcome.
Which Is Thicker?
On average, both ribeye and tenderloin steaks have a similar thickness, which can range from 1 to 1.5 inches, and is a pretty good thickness for a steak.
So, in short, there is typically no significant difference between these two cuts in terms of thickness.
The difference in texture between ribeye and Tenderloin steaks is mainly because of the variations in their fat content and muscle use.
The abundant marbling and fat in ribeye melt slowly during cooking. As a result, it keeps the meat moist, juicy, and tender for a delightful eating experience.
In contrast, the low-fat content and minimal muscle use of tenderloin steak results in unmatched tenderness, soft and delicate texture, and a melt-in-your-mouth outcome that I believe every BBQ enthusiast prefers.
Cooking Duration & Easier To Cook
In terms of faster and easier cooking, the tenderloin takes the lead over the ribeye. Due to the lean nature and smaller size of tenderloin, it cooks relatively faster.
Also, it is pretty easy to cook if you just keep an eye on its internal temperature to avoid overcooking.
On the other hand, the generous marbling over the ribeye steak’s surface can make it’s cooking session longer than ribeye. But I believe that if you have patience, it is also easier to cook.
Most importantly, the cooking duration of both ribeye and tenderloin steaks is not fixed as there are a few essential factors to look after, such as the steak’s weight, cooking temperature, and cooking technique.
Which Steak Is More Flavorful?
If you have been purchasing and cooking steaks for some time, you might know that the flavor profile of any meat depends on the amount of intramuscular fat or marbling it has.
Now, if I inspect these two steaks with this mechanism, a ribeye rises as a more flavorful steak than tenderloin because it contains more marbling.
Also, people in the BBQ community claim that ribeye is the most flavorful steak from the cow, and so do I.
But a tenderloin is also an excellent option because if you cook it perfectly, its leaner size and average marbling promise an evenly cooked steak that is delectable, exceptionally tender, succulent, and has a milder flavor.
When comparing ribeye and tenderloin steaks, there are several notable differences between them.
For example, per 100g, ribeye steak contains around 291 calories and 21.81g of fat. On the other hand, tenderloin has approximately 196 calories and 15.8g of fat per 100g.
Furthermore, in terms of protein, ribeye offers 23.69g per 100g, which is higher than tenderloin’s 15.18g per 100g. So, these two premium steak cuts have a clear nutritional difference.
Here’s a detailed guide on ribeye steak’s nutrition facts and anything else that you might want to read.
Which Steak Costs You More?
A tenderloin steak is usually more expensive than ribeye, and a prominent reason behind it is that tenderloin’s leaner nature makes it the most tender beef cut. Also, it is widely admired by steak lovers, which can also increase its price tag.
But ribeye is also a premium beef cut and costs slightly less than tenderloin. So, you can expect to pay for these two steaks relatively more than the other steak options.
Tenderloin Vs Ribeye – Which Steak Is Ideal For You?
Like any other meat or steak cut, it depends on your personal preferences whether to purchase and cook ribeye or tenderloin. However, I can make your buying decision easier by exploring which steak suits your taste, texture, and nutritional requirements.
Suppose you prefer a leaner meat cut that becomes exceptionally tender and offers a milder taste when cooked perfectly, then I would suggest you go with tenderloin steak.
On the other hand, ribeye is an ideal pick for those BBQ enthusiasts who like a well-marbled steak with a slightly higher fat content that promises a flavorful and delicious outcome.
Also, you’ll have to keep the price factor in mind, as tenderloin steak tends to be more expensive than ribeye. But if tenderloin suits your requirements, it is entirely worth the price you pay for it, and so does the ribeye steak.
In conclusion, several exceptional characteristics make both ribeye and tenderloin premium beef steaks.
But you must look after a few essential considerations like flavor, texture, tenderness, amount of marbling, and price when choosing one between these two steaks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is ribeye more tender than tenderloin?
No, tenderloin tends to be more tender than ribeye due to its location inside the cow, where the weight-bearing is minimal. Also, its fat and muscle use is less than ribeye, which is another reason behind its tenderness.
Is ribeye cheaper than filet mignon?
Ribeye and tenderloin (filet mignon) are premium steaks and cost you more than the other steaks. But when it comes to a comparison of these two, filet mignon costs you more.
Why is my ribeye steak tough?
Undercooking or overcooking seems to be a prominent reasons why your ribeye steak might get tough as well as dry.
Caspian James, the Founder and Chief Editor at FaveGrills, is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise on the latest Smokers and Grilling Products along with mouth-watering barbecue recipes. He constantly researches new gear with a sharp eye for detail, providing the FaveGrills community with in-depth reviews.