Whip out a sirloin steak for your summer barbecue (or bring one if you aren’t afraid to upstage your hosts) and congratulations; you’ve just kicked things up a notch.
But when we tested 11 supermarket steaks we found inconsistent thickness, fat levels and marbling.
This means that running to your nearest supermarket and grabbing the first sirloin steak you see is no guarantee of quality. You need to look more closely to choose the perfect cut.
Our experts, who ranged from master butchers to chief executive of the Institute of Meat, told us exactly what to look out for when choosing, how to cook them to perfection and, of course, which supermarket had the tastiest, most succulent steaks on offer.
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Supermarket sirloins put to the test
- Aldi Specially Selected 36 Day Aged Sirloin Steak – £19.78 per kg
This sirloin steak is aged for 36 days, more than any other steak we tasted, but this hasn’t driven the price up. It’s also one of the cheapest we compared. Ageing is important, but our experts said it wasn’t the be-all and end-all.
- Asda Extra Special Aberdeen Angus Sirloin Steak – £17.62 per kg
The only steak that undercut Aldi’s on price was Asda’s Extra Special offering. At £17.62 per kg it’s the cheapest, but it’s still had 21 days ageing on the bone and another nine to mature.
Head to our guide on the best sirloin steaks to see which supermarket impressed us the most.
- The Co-op Irresistible 28-day Matured Hereford Beef Sirloin Steak – £25 per kg
Not inviting, not tempting, not enticing, Co-op thinks this luxury sirloin is impossible to resist. Our experts were certainly impressed with how the steaks looked raw.
- M&S Salt Dry Aged Sirloin Steak – £34 per kg
Most of the steaks we tested had been hung on the bone, but this M&S steak is one of the few to be salt aged. It’s a relatively new process that’s said to give the meat a sweeter flavour.
- Morrisons The Best British Beef Shorthorn Sirloin Steak – £22 per kg
Shorthorn isn’t a breed you see too often – supermarket sirloins tend to be from Aberdeen Angus or Hereford beef – but it’s praised for its rich flavour and tender meat. We tried it to see if Morrisons had made the most of this less-common meat.
- Ocado Gold 2 Angus Beef Sirloin Steaks – £22.50 per kg
Lean and full of flavour, that’s what Ocado thinks of its finest sirloin steaks, but did our experts agree? Lean isn’t necessarily a word you’d associate with sirloins, which should have a sizeable strip of fat at the top edge of the cut and marbling.
- Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference 30 Day Matured Sirloin Steak – £23.33 per kg
Some of our judges didn’t think the Sainsbury’s sirloin looked too appetising, but did it make up for its less-than-stellar good looks with incredible, moreish flavour?
- Tesco Finest Dry Aged Sirloin Steak – £34 per kg
Along with M&S, Tesco’s sirloin was the most expensive we tasted, so expectations were high for flavour, aroma and tenderness.
- Waitrose 1 30 Dry Aged Hereford Beef Sirloin Steak – £34 per kg
Waitrose describes it luxury sirloins as ‘meltingly tender’ with ‘exceptional flavour’. High praise indeed, but did our experts agree?
How to choose the perfect steak
Two of the supermarket steaks were good enough to be named Which? Best Buys, but even if you can’t get to one of those shops, follow these tips to select a better steak from the shelves:
- Choose a thick steak – if it’s too thin then the edges will curl up while you’re cooking and it doesn’t look very nice. It needs to be the same thickness throughout, too, otherwise you’ll have one end overdone and the other rare.
- Fat is important – you want a fairly thick strip across the top and visible marbling running through the meat. Fat means flavour. Don’t choose a steak without it.
- Deep red not pale pink – darker meat means an older cow that’s had a more active life. It should be tastier as a result.
Cooking the perfect steak on a barbecue or hob
Sirloin steaks don’t come cheap, but you don’t need to worry about overcooking your beautiful cut of beef so long as you follow these steps.
- Let the steak get to room temperature, which should take around 20 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t put your meat on heat straight from the fridge.
- Add oil and salt to both sides of the steak. You can put some pepper on too if you want to char, but it’s not necessary if you don’t like the flavour.
- Get your barbecue or pan hot; you need high temperatures to seal the meat. If you don’t hear a sizzle then take your beef off and wait a bit longer.
- Cooking steaks rare, medium and well done doesn’t have to be a guessing game. The oval muscle below your thumb has the same density as steak. Relax it and touch the tip of your thumb the tip of your little finger and prod the muscle. A well done steak will feel the same. Your ring finger matches a medium steak, middle finger for medium rare and your forefinger if you want it rare.
- Tempting as it is, don’t start chomping on your mouth-watering steak without letting it rest. Start slicing too soon and all the juices will escape. You don’t want that flavour to run all over your plate, so let it rest for about six minutes.