Ribeye vs. Tenderloin: A Detailed Comparison

ribeye and tenderloin steak

Ribeye steak and tenderloin steak are two very different steak cuts. Both steaks have different flavor profiles and textures. Both cuts look very different and cost differently. Tenderloin can set you upwards of 100% more than a ribeye steak. However, both cuts have an incredibly juicy texture, making them so popular. True steak lovers will try to convince you that ribeye steak is a better choice. I have to agree with them; however, everyone has a personal preference for flavor.

In this article, we will explore the main differences between ribeye steak and tenderloin. However, first, let’s get familiar with both steak cuts starting with a ribeye:

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What is a Ribeye Steak?

what is a ribeye steak

Ribeye steak is a cut coming from the primal section called the beef rib. Its incredible fat marbling makes it an exceptionally juicy and flavorful cut. You should know that steak flavor consists of marbling mainly. The primary muscle running through the ribeye is the longissimus dorsi muscle. It doesn’t get much exercise; therefore, the muscle is exceptionally tender. Ribeye steak comes either bone-in or boneless, but they are similar apart from one thing.

The bone adds loads of flavor and moisture to the meat; however, at the same time, it makes it more challenging to cook. Often you’ll find that meat near the bone cooks much slower. So while the rest of the steak can be medium-rare, meat close to the bone is still rare. At a grocery store, you’ll often find it labeled as “rib steak.”

On the other hand, Boneless steak is also an incredibly juicy piece of meat. It has a good amount of marbling, making it moist and highly flavorful with a buttery texture that is to lust for.

What is a Tenderloin Steak?

what is a tenderloin steak

Tenderloin steak is a long and narrow muscle located within the loin. Several cuts are cut from the tenderloin muscle: filet mignon, chateaubriand, and tournedos. It is an extremely tender piece of meat because the muscle is not weight-bearing. However, because it lacks marbling, it’s not as flavorful as a well-marbled steak cut.

Tenderloin is a lean steak cut and comes trimmed of all fat and connective tissue making it an even less flavorful cut. But what it lacks in flavor compensates for an incredibly smooth and tender texture.

Ribeye vs. Tenderloin: Which is Better?

Ribeye vs. Tenderloin: Which is better

The Difference in Fat Content

The difference in fat content between ribeye and filet mignon is quite striking. Ribeye coming from the rib area has an abundance of marbling. While the filet mignon is relatively lean. Quite often, butchers remove excess fat and connective tissue from the tenderloin’s exterior to make them even more tender and appealing to the customer’s eye.

The Difference in Flavor

The more fat content the steak has, the more juicy and flavorful it will be. Regarding marbling, ribeye steak has more marbling running throughout the meat than tenderloin cut does. If you prefer flavor over everything else, ribeye steak is for you. It’s packed with rich flavors, unlike tenderloin which is delicately flavored meat.

The Difference in Texture and Tenderness

Both the ribeye and filet mignon have great texture and are tender. Ribeye has a smooth texture with a finer grain towards the central eye of the ribeye steak. At the same time, the spinalis section has a looser grain.

Tenderloin has a very soft texture which is hard to match. Regarding tenderness, it’s hard to find a better steak than filet mignon.

The Difference in Appearance

Both steaks look differently, so it’s not hard to recognize which one is which. Tenderloin is a long, round, and narrow cut, while the ribeye steak is flat and wide and comes at about an inch thick (you can find even 2-inch thick steak). Both are great when it comes to size because they fit perfectly in a cast-iron skillet, grill, or oven.

The Difference in Cost

Ribe-eye steak starts from $13/lb to $15/lb, while the tenderloin is far more expensive, coming at $20 to $25 per pound on average. Indeed you can find even higher prices depending on a supplier.

The Difference in Cooking

Both steaks are very easy to cook however both have subtleties when it comes to preparing them correctly. Tenderloin tends to dry out quickly if overcooked (make sure to check the steak’s internal temperature) because it lacks marbling. Also, filet mignon cooks faster.

Cooking ribeye steak is very straightforward. The intramuscular fat makes it harder to grill because fat dripping on an open fire tends to burn. Other than that it’s easy to cook ribeye on a cast iron skillet on a grill and in the oven.

Tenderloin Versus Ribeye Steak: Final Words

So, filet mignon vs. ribeye, how do these two steaks compare to each other. Ribeye steaks have more flavor, which is essential for most steak lovers. Filet mignons, on the other hand, are incredibly tender; however, they have a mild flavor. So it’s entirely up to your taste buds. If you prefer a tender cut the best steaks come from the tenderloin section. However, if you prefer flavor and buttery smooth texture, rib-eye steaks will please your appetite. Other than that, both steaks benefit from the same cooking methods: grilling, pan-frying, and broiling.

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Is ribeye or tenderloin better?

If you prefer the texture, then tenderloin is a better steak. However, rib-eye steak is the best option if you like flavor. Overall, ribeye steak, prime rib, and strip steak are packed with more flavor and therefore deliver o more pleasant steak experience.

Which is more tender rib eye or filet mignon?

Filet mignon is the most tender steak cut you can buy. Ribeye, on the other hand, is not far behind. It has a smooth texture with a slight bite to it.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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