Porterhouse and ribeye are two different steaks, and it’s not just about how they look. They’ve got different levels of marbling, tenderness, and flavor. They even require different cooking methods, and, yeah, they come at different price points too. Both porterhouse and ribeye are undoubtedly delicious, but which one’s the best? Keep reading to dig into the differences between porterhouse and ribeye and determine your winner.
Porterhouse vs. Ribeye: At a Glance
The biggest difference between a porterhouse and a ribeye is their flavors and fat content. Porterhouse gives you a pretty beefy and medium-tender strip and, on the flip side, a super tender tenderloin but not that flavorful. On the other hand, ribeye boasts a richer flavor due to more marbling but lacks the tenderness of porterhouse’s tenderloin. Plus, you can only get porterhouse with the bone, while ribeye comes both with and without the bone.
I like ribeye better for its great flavor and how easy it is to cook. On the other hand, I enjoy porterhouse for its mix of flavors and tenderness, plus it looks pretty impressive on the plate. Both steaks are awesome, but read on to learn more about what sets them apart.
|Location on the Cow
|Short loin sub-primal
|Two steaks in one with different muscles (Strip and Tenderloin)
|Contains 3-4 different muscles
|Medium for the strip, low for tenderloin
|A porterhouse measures about 8 inches long on the strip side and 2-3 inches wide. On its tenderloin side, it’s typically at least two-thirds as long as the strip and about 2 inches wide
|A ribeye measures between 6 to 8 inches long and gets up to about 5 inches wide at its widest point.
|The Best way to cook it
|Grilling, smoking, or broiling
|Pan-searing, grilling, oven cooking, sous-vide, and even smoking
|The strip part has a good, beefy flavor, but it’s not as robust as a ribeye. The tenderloin part has a mild flavor.
|Very rich flavor
|Strip section: Tender but with a bit of good chew. Tenderloin section: extremely tender.
|Medium-rare for strip section. Rare to Medium-rare for tenderloin section.
|Very expensive, more than ribeye
Location on the Cow
Porterhouse and ribeye come from different parts of the cow. Porterhouse is from the rear end of the short loin, part of the loin primal. Ribeye, on the other hand, is cut from the rib area, between the 5th-6th and the 12th-13th ribs, to be exact.
Interestingly, despite coming from different areas on the cow, both porterhouse and ribeye share one muscle in common—the longissimus dorsi. More on that below.
The Porterhouse is a unique steak because it’s two steaks in one, separated by a T-shaped bone. Take out that bone, and you’ve got two different cuts of meat: the larger is a strip steak, also known as a New York Strip, and the smaller one is filet mignon. Most of the strip steak comes from the longissimus dorsi muscle, which is why it’s got that beefy flavor. It’s pretty tender but still gives you something to chew on. On the other hand, the filet mignon, which comes from the psoas major muscle, is super tender and has a mild flavor.
A ribeye is one steak, but it can have up to 3 or 4 different muscles, depending on the rib it’s cut from. Every ribeye includes the longissimus dorsi muscle, also known as the eye of the ribeye. You’ll find the same muscle in strip steak, but it’s usually a bit more tender when it’s part of a ribeye. Then you’ve got the spinalis dorsi, or what most people call the ribeye cap. This is one of the tastiest parts of the cow, with a lot of marbling, a fine grain, and awesome flavor. In my opinion, the spinalis is the key reason the ribeye stands out over a porterhouse. The ribeye also has a couple of smaller muscles—the complexus and longissimus costarum. But keep in mind that the longissimus costarum is often removed, so you might not always see it in your steak.
Remember, the size of these four muscles, Longissimus Dorsi, Longissimus Costarum, Complexus, and Spinalis Dorsi, can change depending on where the ribeye was cut from.
Now, when you compare a porterhouse and a ribeye side-by-side, you’ll see the ribeye has more fat running between the muscles. The porterhouse is lean on the tenderloin side, but on the strip side, it’s got a good amount of fat. However, the fat in a porterhouse is mostly around the edges, not between the muscles, like in a ribeye.
Porterhouse is interesting because one side, the strip, has a lot of marbling, but the tenderloin side? Almost none. But if you compare it to a ribeye of the same grade, the Ribeye will always win on the marbling front. Just look at the spinalis dorsi muscle in the Ribeye; it’s full of amazing marbling, and the other muscles in the ribeye aren’t far behind.
Size and Weight
When you compare the size and weight of a porterhouse and ribeye that are the same thickness, you’ll find that the porterhouse is usually bigger and heavier. A porterhouse generally measures about 8 inches long on the strip side and 2-3 inches wide. On its tenderloin side, it’s typically at least two-thirds as long as the strip and about 2 inches wide. A ribeye, however, usually falls between 6 to 8 inches long and gets up to about 5 inches wide at its widest point.
In terms of weight, a 1.5-inch thick porterhouse usually weighs in at about 30 ounces (close to 2 pounds). The weight comes not just from the bone but also because you have two different kinds of meat, separated by that iconic T-bone. Meanwhile, a 1.5-inch thick ribeye usually weighs between 15 and 17 ounces (around 1 pound).
You can get porterhouse and ribeye cut to any thickness you like, so their weight and size can differ quite a bit. But for cooking these steaks just right, think medium-rare to medium doneness on the inside with a nice, crispy crust—I recommend sticking with a thickness between 1.5 and 2 inches.
Theoretically, you can cook the porterhouse and ribeye using the same techniques. But let’s be real—ribeye is more forgiving if you mess up, making it a good pick for folks new to steak cooking. On the other hand, Porterhouse is a different ball game; it needs more practice and skill to get right.
The tricky part about cooking a porterhouse in a skillet is its irregular shape and the bone in the middle. You’re dealing with two different cuts of meat here: a lean tenderloin and a strip steak. The tenderloin cooks faster than the strip, so you can easily end up with one part overcooked and the other undercooked. And let’s not forget the bone, which makes it challenging for the meat to get a good sear in the pan.
The two-zone fire technique is the way to go when grilling a porterhouse. Put the strip closer to the heat and the tenderloin a bit further away. Trust me; this is the simplest and most effective way to get the best out of your porterhouse: a beautifully seared crust and a pretty even doneness for both the strip and tenderloin. You can still cook a porterhouse in a skillet if you want, but believe me, you won’t get results as good as you would with a pan-seared ribeye.
Ribeye is a no-brainer to cook any way you like. It’s my top pick for cooking in a skillet. But watch out when you’re grilling it—the fat can cause flare-ups. Still, it’s one of the easier steaks to cook, and it’s pretty forgiving if you make a few mistakes.
The strip part of the porterhouse tastes like a regular strip steak, so you get a strong beef flavor. The tenderloin side, however, tastes like a filet mignon; its flavor is mild. On the other hand, a good, well-marbled ribeye has a rich flavor that’s definitely a notch above the two kinds of meat you find on either side of a porterhouse bone.
In my opinion, the cool thing about a porterhouse is you get two totally different flavors because of the two different kinds of meat on each side of the bone. But if we’re talking about pure, intense flavor, ribeye wins hands down.
The porterhouse has two different sections to talk about: the strip’s texture is a bit tight and moderately tender. But let’s talk about the tenderloin. When cooked right, it just about melts in your mouth. It’s the most tender part of the cow. Now, let’s talk about ribeye. It’s also a very tender cut of meat. The longissimus dorsi and spinalis dorsi muscles in the ribeye are more tender than the strip part of a porterhouse, but they’re not as tender as the tenderloin you get in a porterhouse.
Don’t cook your porterhouse and ribeye past medium for the best taste and all that good stuff like tenderness and juiciness. Medium-rare is the sweet spot for both these steaks. For ribeye, cooking it to around 130-140°F is where you’ll get the fat to melt and make the steak even juicier. As for the porterhouse, try to get the strip side to medium-rare and the tenderloin closer to rare if possible. If you can’t do that, ensure you don’t cook the tenderloin or the strip past medium doneness.
Based on USDA retail reports, a pound of choice grade porterhouse usually costs 30 to 50% less than choice grade ribeye. But don’t forget, porterhouse steak comes with a bone, which bumps up the weight. So, in reality, a porterhouse steak that’s the same thickness as a ribeye steak will cost you more. Just to give you an idea, a 1.5-inch thick ribeye weighs around 1 pound, while a porterhouse of the same thickness is about 2 pounds.
Which is More Expensive: Porterhouse or Ribeye?
When it comes to price per pound, the ribeye is more expensive. But that’s a bit misleading because porterhouse steaks have a big bone that adds much weight. This makes comparing them by the pound pointless. If you look at the cost for a whole steak, keeping the grade and thickness the same, the porterhouse is usually more expensive. A 1.5-inch thick porterhouse steak often weighs about 2 pounds, while a boneless ribeye of the same thickness is around 1 pound. So, when it comes down to it, you’re generally getting more meat for your money with a ribeye than a porterhouse.
Porterhouse vs. Ribeye: Which is Better?
Choosing between a porterhouse and a ribeye boils down to what you like. Both steaks are super tasty, but they offer different things. Ribeye is a better choice if you’re all about flavor and marbling. It has a richer flavor thanks to its wonderful marbling. On the other hand, if you like a combination of different textures and flavors in one steak, the porterhouse is better because it gives you two steaks in one: a strip and a tenderloin. If tenderness is high on your list, you won’t be disappointed by the tenderloin section of the porterhouse. As for cooking methods, porterhouse is better if you’re into grilling your steak using indirect heat. But if you’re a fan of pan-searing, then ribeye will no doubt be a better choice.