What is Beef Loin? A Guide to This Primal Cut

Beef loin is one of the most popular and prized cuts of beef. It comes from the back region near the animal’s spine and contains little connective tissue, making it very tender and flavorful. Keep reading to learn all about beef loin cuts, how to cook them, and why they are so highly valued.

What Part of the Cow is Beef Loin?

The beef loin comes from the back of the steer, directly beneath the spine. It runs from the rib down to the sirloin area.

Since this area does not bear much weight or movement from the animal, the loin contains very little connective tissue. This makes cuts from the loin exceptionally tender.

The loin is divided into three main sections:

  • Sirloin – The rear portion nearest the hip/pelvis.

  • Short loin – The middle section between the sirloin and tenderloin.

  • Tenderloin – The long, thin portion that extends along the backbone.

Popular Cuts from the Beef Loin

Many high-value steaks and roasts are fabricated from the beef loin. Here are some of the most popular retail cuts:

Sirloin Cuts

  • Top sirloin steak
  • Tri-tip roast/steak
  • Ball tip roast

Short Loin Cuts

  • T-bone steak
  • Porterhouse steak
  • Strip steak
  • Tenderloin roast
  • Filet mignon

Tenderloin Cuts

  • Tenderloin roast
  • Filet mignon
  • Chateaubriand

What Makes Beef Loin Special?

There are a few reasons why beef loin commands such a high price compared to other primal cuts:

Tenderness – With less connective tissue, loin cuts are extremely tender when cooked properly. The tenderloin in particular is considered the most tender cut of beef.

Flavor – Being so tender, beef loin cuts absorb seasoning well. Their fat content also provides robust, beefy flavor.

Appearance – Uniform shape and lack of gristle allow for elegant presentations. Filet mignon makes for a beautiful plated entrée.

Versatility – Loin cuts can be grilled as steaks, roasted whole, or sliced for dishes like stir frys.

Prestige – High demand, limited supply, and exceptional eating quality give these cuts prestige. They are at home in high-end steakhouses.

For these reasons, cuts from the beef loin fetch premium prices and are considered special occasion meals.

How to Cook Beef Loin Cuts

To highlight their natural tenderness and flavor, loin cuts are best prepared using dry heat cooking methods:

  • Grilling – The high heat of grilling adds nice char while keeping the inside juicy. Grill over direct medium-high heat.

  • Broiling – Similar to grilling, broiling loin cuts like T-bones gives great char. Keep 4-6 inches from heat source.

  • Pan searing – Cook in a very hot skillet to quickly brown the exterior while keeping the inside rare to medium-rare.

  • Roasting – Tenderloin and rib roasts (prime rib) do well roasted in the oven at 350°F until the desired internal temperature.

Don’t overcook these naturally tender cuts. Cook sirloin and short loin cuts to medium-rare at most and tenderloin to rare or medium-rare to prevent drying out. Use a meat thermometer to monitor temperature.

How Much Does Beef Loin Cost?

On average, retail prices per pound for loin cuts are:

  • Sirloin cuts like top sirloin: $7-12
  • Short loin cuts like T-bone: $12-18
  • Tenderloin cuts like filet mignon: $18-26

There are a few ways to get good deals on beef loin:

  • Buy larger sub-primals and butcher them yourself into steaks or roasts.
  • Look for sales on whole tenderloins and portion into filets.
  • Choose sirloin over short loin or tenderloin to save money.
  • Buy tougher portions of the loin like sirloin flap.

While expensive, a properly cooked steak or roast from the beef loin provides a memorable eating experience worth the splurge.

What is the Difference Between Loin and Tenderloin?

The tenderloin is part of the beef loin primal cut. The main differences are:

  • Size – The tenderloin is long and slender while the loin is thick and wide.

  • Location – The tenderloin runs along the inner spine while the loin covers the upper back.

  • Tenderness – The tenderloin is the most tender while loin cuts vary slightly in tenderness.

  • Muscle use – The tenderloin just tilts the pelvis and is rarely used while the loin bears more weight.

  • Cost – Tenderloin cuts are more expensive than loin cuts like sirloin or T-bones.

Both provide very tender, flavorful cuts that are best cooked fast over high heat.

Can You Braise Beef Loin Cuts?

Braising beef loin is not ideal. The lengthy moist cooking braising requires will likely cause the tender meat to become dry and stringy.

Cuts from the chuck or round are better suited for braising to break down their collagen. With tender loin cuts, the collagen is already minimal so wet cooking methods are not necessary.

It’s best to stick to high heat dry cooking techniques to highlight the premium quality of beef loin. Quickly sear or grill these cuts to a perfect medium-rare for the best texture and flavor.

Is Beef Loin Healthy?

Beef loin is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. A 3 oz. serving provides:

  • 25g of protein
  • Iron, zinc, and B vitamins
  • Only 175 calories when trimmed

Compared to other cuts, beef loin is lower in fat and calories, with more protein by weight. Choosing grass-fed beef offers even more healthy omega-3s.

Eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet, beef loin provides very high-quality nutrition. Just be mindful of portion size since these cuts tend to be higher in saturated fat.

The beef loin offers some of the most delicious cuts of beef. By understanding the differences between sirloin, short loin, and tenderloin, you can choose the right cut and cook it perfectly. Savor beef loin cuts for special occasions or when you crave an incredible steak.

Fool Proof Beef Tenderloin


Is beef loin good meat?

Loin beef cuts are among the tenderest, juiciest, and most flavorful. Unlike cuts from other parts of the body, the loin has little to do with the steer’s movement or weight carriage. That means it doesn’t have as much connective tissue, which makes meat tougher.

What is another name for beef loin?

Beef tenderloin has a few other names, including fillet, eye filet, and tenderloin steak. Because it comes from the loin primal cut of the animal, some also refer to beef tenderloin as primal steak or loin steak.

Is beef loin same as sirloin?

Both cuts come from the larger primal cut known as the loin, which runs along the back of the animal. A sirloin steak is cut from the rear portion of the loin, closer to the hip area of the animal. It is located behind the tenderloin and has a higher fat content compared to other cuts from the loin.

Is beef loin the same as flank steak?

Beef Flank Travel south from a cow’s loin and you’ll run smack dab into the flank. You’ll never find this cut on the bone, but that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to flavor — flank steak is tough yet utterly delectable.

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