Why Is My Sirloin Tip Steak Tough? – 3 Reasons to Consider

If you are looking for a tender, juicy steak for dinner, you probably didn’t buy a Sirloin Tip Steak.

And if you did, you may now be asking, “Why was my sirloin tip steak tough and chewy?”

Even if you didn’t overcook it, a sirloin tip steak could turn out to be tough and chewy.

You may have thought you were buying a steak similar to top sirloin.

That’s what happened to me. The package said sirloin tip, so I thought I was getting a type of sirloin steak.

But I was wrong.

And here’s why.

A sirloin tip steak is not sirloin.

It comes from the cow’s round or hind quarter (legs), and a top sirloin comes from a less exercised portion called the top sirloin.

Sirloin tip got its name because it is anatomically located next to the tip of the sirloin.

But, what does exercise or location of the steak have to do with it being tough or tender?

Let’s find out.

Why Was My Sirloin Tip Steak Tough and Chewy?

There are three primary reasons why the sirloin tip, which comes from the round, will be tough and chewy. The parts of the body that move the most (i.e., the legs) will contain the toughest meat. Because the legs get the most exercise and movement, this part of the cow is lean and less tender. It also has more connective tissue. Without knowing this, you might also not know there are ways to prepare your steak, so it’s more tender before you cook it.

1. Sirloin Tip is Lean

A lean muscle tends to have less fat.

That’s true for humans as well.

Since the sirloin tip comes from the part of the cow that gets the most exercise, it makes sense that it would be leaner than, let’s say, the loin, which gets little exercise.

The opposite is also true. The least exercised part of the cow will have more fat.

Fat is what gives the steak flavor, and intramuscular fat called marbling makes your steak tender.

Therefore, if your steak is mostly lean with little intramuscular fat, then it will be tough before you even cook it.

2. Sirloin Tip Is Less Tender

If lean equals less fat and fat makes the beef tender, you can see why a sirloin tip is also less tender.

If your goal is to have a tender sirloin tip steak rather than a tough and chewy one, you will need to tenderize it.

Tenderizing involves breaking up the connective tissues, which is the third reason a sirloin tip can be a tough cut of beef.

3. Sirloin Tip Has More Connective Tissue

Each cut of beef is made up of connective tissues.

The connective tissue includes the ligaments, tendons, silverskin, and muscle fibers.

  • Ligaments connect the bones.
  • Tendons connect the muscle to the bone.
  • Silverskin is that white layer of fibrous tissue over the meat (or muscle).
  • And the muscle fibers are the fibers within the connective tissue.

Since the legs (where the sirloin tip is located) move more than some of the other parts of the cow, the connective tissue will get thicker and tougher in those areas.

Read this article from Rackz BBQ to learn more about The Types of Connective Tissues in Meat.

Meat Tenderizing Tips

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Tenderizing the Sirloin Tip Steak

If you just throw salt and pepper on your sirloin tip steak and sear or grill it, more than likely, it will be tough and chewy.

So, before you cook it, try one or two of these four ways to make your steak more tender:

  1. Pound it out with a meat mallet – place the steak in something clear if you prefer, so the mallet doesn’t directly touch the meat. Then begin pounding it but not too hard, breaking up the connective tissues. Hitting will also spread the steak out a little, making it thinner. Don’t overdo it! (See the video above for a demonstration) Or, if you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use your foil roll to pound or purchase a Kitchenaid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer.
  2. Score the meat – scoring involves a sharp knife and making diagonal cuts across the steak. You can score for several reasons, but one of the reasons is cutting the connective tissues to tenderize it. (see video below)
  3. Marinate your steak – letting your steak refrigerate for a time (1-24 hours) in a marinade will make your beef more tender. What to use in your marinade is a discussion in itself. But the video above will give you one idea. I will just say many people use lime juice, but there is some evidence that the acidic nature of lime will have an opposite effect on your meat if soaked for longer than 8 hours.
  4.  Sprinkle your beef with a meat tenderizer – you can buy a powder that specifically targets making your meat more tender. One I recommend is Adolph’s Unseasoned Tenderizer.

How to Score Flank Steak

Final Thoughts

There you have it!

If you were asking, “Why was my sirloin tip steak tough and chewy?” I hope you have learned some reasons why that particular cut of meat is tough from the start.

Sirloin tip comes from the hindquarter, the part of the cow that gets the most exercise. Meat from this section tends to be leaner, less tender, and have more connective tissue than a steak that comes from other parts of the cow.

I didn’t even touch on the fact that undercooking or overcooking can also make steak tough or chewy. This article mainly focused on the steak itself and why sirloin tip is a tougher cut of beef.

If you have any thoughts about what I have written, I would love to hear them. Just leave a comment below.

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