Beef Tenderloin vs Prime Rib: What Is the Difference?

Beef, beef, BEEF, boy, is it a precious thing! It indeed is the best type of meat out there, don’t you think so? It’s so rich in taste and color, simply so awesome, it seems nearly impossible to us someone wouldn’t love it.

But “beef” isn’t one unitary kind of meat; as you probably already know, there are numerous types of beef, and they differ in taste, texture, smell, and even price as well. They are called cuts, and the two of the most well-known and most loved of them are Tenderloin and Prime Rib.

What is the difference between Tenderloin and Prime Rib? The main difference between Tenderloin and Prime Rib is that while Tenderloin is a nearly lean cut of beef known primarily for its tenderness, Prime Rib is as popular as it is for its rich fat content.

But this is just a really, reaaaally brief answer – to really understand this topic, we need to dive much deeper into it. So what are we waiting for?

Beef Tenderloin vs Prime RibPin

Main Differences Between Tenderloin vs Prime Rib 

  1. Tenderloin and Prime Rib may get confused because both of these cuts are considered to be the absolute best parts of beef.
  2. However, they are still different cuts – Prime Rib comes from Rib roast, which is located closer to beef’s head than the tenderloin cut.
  3. Tenderloin also usually isn’t seen roasted whole since it is much more common to cut it into individual steaks (known as filet mignon).
  4. Prime Rib is also much fattier than the nearly lean Tenderloin, while the latter is more tender.
TenderloinPrime Rib
Part of meatTenderloin is located between the sirloin and top sirloin.Prime Rib can be found in the rib section of the cow.
Type of cutTenderloin is a boneless cut found between the first and second loins.Prime rib roast is a cut found between the ribs 6 and 12.
PriceTenderloin is one of the most expensive parts of beef.Prime Rib definitely isn’t cheap as well, but it isn’t that expensive either.
TendernessTenderloin is exceptionally tender; in fact, it is what gave it its name.Prime Rib is tender as well, but not as much.
TasteTenderloin is tasty; it may be too dry for someone, though.Prime Rib is known for its fattiness, which is the main reason so many people like it.
PreparationTenderloin is usually roasted after being cut into small, individual steaks.Prime Rib is most often 3cooked whole and cut into smaller pieces after.

Tenderloin: How It Differs From Prime Rib?

So now we understand the fundamental differences between these two cuts of beef, but that still doesn’t mean we’re over! In order to actually know what makes them different, we need to get to know about each of them in detail. So let’s start with Tenderloin.

What Cut of Beef Is Tenderloin?

Tenderloin is a cut of beef coming from the loin part of a cow; to be precise, it is located just under Sirloin and Top Sirloin and next to Short Sirloin (and slightly in the middle of it, too). That means it isn’t as far away from Prime Rib, but we’ll get there soon.

What Does a Tenderloin Look Like?

Beef Tenderloin is a cone-shaped cut of meat, that may look a little bit like a pencil; the majority of it looks nearly like a cylinder, but it starts getting smaller and smaller as we get to the part of it closer to the cow’s head; that end of Tenderloin is pointy.

What Does Tenderloin Taste Like?

Tenderloin is tender and lean and has, unlike Prime Rib, a mild flavor that is often described as “buttery.”

What Makes Tenderloin Stand Out?

This isn’t so hard to guess since it is literally what gave tenderloin its name – Tenderloin is simply tender as hell, much more than any other cut of beef you can find. So if tenderness is what you’re looking for, here you’ve got your favorite.

Tenderloin Nutrition

This obviously depends, but on average, 4oz of Tenderloin would contain 240 calories, 90 of which comes from the roughly 10 grams of fat we would find in this portion. And that makes it a somehow healthy choice of beef, especially while comparing it to Prime Rib.

Tenderloin Pricing

The price of meat varies by place and time, so let’s start by simply saying that Tenderloin is expensive, definitely more than Prime Rib is. If you’re looking for numbers, a good piece of tenderloin could be bought, by average, for something like $20/lb.

Best Way to Cook and Serve Tenderloin

The best way to cook and serve Tenderloin is by cutting it into small, individual steaks and then searing it in a pan at a high temperature with oil or butter. Then, finish it in the oven to avoid drying out (that may happen pretty easily because tenderloin is am almost lean cut). 

You can serve it with a delicious side dish like fries, and a good sauce might come in handy, too, because it may be too dry sometimes.

Some would argue that doing that is just drowning the delicious flavor of the meat itself, though, so choosing something simple, like eating it with just a piece of bread, may be a good choice as well.

Prime Rib: How It Differs From Tenderloin?

Okay, so that is that Tenderloin is behind us! And that means only one thing – we have to get a closer look at Prime Rib now.

What Cut of Beef Is Prime Rib?

Prime Rib is a cut from the primal rib of a cow that may contain anything between two and seven ribs.

What Does a Prime Rib Look Like?

Prime Rib looks simply like a bunch of beef with no characteristic shape. The looks of cooked Prime Rib are known better – it’s red and juicy and has an easily recognizable crust on the surface.

What Does Prime Rib Taste Like?

Prime Rib is exceptionally fatty and juice, which makes it flavorful as hell. It is very tender too (even though not as much as Tenderloin), but you will probably be more focused on its rich flavor than that.

What Makes Prime Rib Stand Out?

To be fair, we’ve already explained that above – what made so many people fall in love with Prime Rib is simply its taste. But if we should be more specific, it’s safe to say that mainly its fattiness makes Prime Rib stand out.

Prime Rib Nutrition

But that comes with a downside – 4oz of Prime Rib contains nearly 400 calories, with almost 300 hundred of those coming from the fat, which makes something around 30 % of the weight of the whole meat. 

Prime Rib Pricing

As we’ve mentioned while talking about Tenderloin, Prime Rib isn’t as expensive as that cut of beef. It still isn’t cheap, though; by average, you would be able to buy it for something around $17/lb.

Best Way to Cook and Serve Prime Rib

Unlike Tenderloin, Prime Rib is most often prepared as a whole and only after that is cut into smaller pieces, which gives it the signature crust we talked about.

Since Prime Rib is fatty and rich in taste by itself, you definitely shouldn’t combine it with other flavorful things like sauces. If you want to do that, it’s better to choose Tenderloin. Or maybe some other cuts; we’re yet going to get there, though.

Tenderloin vs Prime Rib: Which Is Better?

You can’t say which one of these cuts of beef is better since it all depends upon who eats it. For those who like really rich, fatty taste, the choice is undoubtedly Prime Rib. If you’re seeking tenderness more, though, you should go with Tenderloin.

Alternatives to Tenderloin and Prime Rib

Don’t you like either of those two? Or are these cuts maybe too expensive for you? If you’re looking for some other cuts of beef, there are countless options to choose from.

And even though only a few of them come near the level of Tenderloin and Prime Rib, you don’t need to worry at all; we’ve chosen two popular cuts that DO nearly hit that level to ease your searching!

Eye of Round Steak

Firstly, we simply must recommend the very popular eye of round steak, which is a cut from the cow’s rear leg. And it is also probably the best alternative to Tenderloin you can find.

Why, are you wondering? Well, it simply resembles its taste a lot but is much more cheaper. But one crucial difference is that eye of round steak isn’t nearly as tender as tenderloin, and therefore it’s best to simmer it. 

Afterward, it will make an awesome carved roast beef, though, and therefore can be used to make great sandwiches or cheesesteaks. 

Top Loin

And what about the substitution for Prime Rib? There is a pretty straightforward answer called Top Loin Roast! This cut of beef comes, ironically enough, from nearly the same parts of the cow as Tenderloin but resembles the taste of Prime Rib very closely. 

The reason for that is that it is considerably fatty as well and prepared in a similar way. After all, it is also known as “the cheaper Prime Rib,” and that says anything, we suppose.


Tenderloin and Prime Rib are probably the most exclusive and wanted cuts of beef out there, but they are definitely not the same. Prime Rib is fattier, while tenderloin is, according to its name, more tender.

Tenderloin is usually a bit more expensive, but Prime Rib isn’t a cheap piece of meat either. Therefore, you have to be prepared to spend quite a fortune on a delicious steak from these parts of beef. But you most likely won’t be disappointed – there is a reason why are tenderloin and prime rib so popular.



Image credits – Canva

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