Porterhouse vs. T-Bone

Porterhouse and T-bone steaks often confuse people because they look pretty much the same at first glance and come from the same part of the cow. But saying they’re the same steak? That’s a mistake. According to USDA guidelines, they are, in fact, distinct cuts. The key difference lies in the size of the tenderloin section.

What’s the Difference Between a Porterhouse and a T-bone Steak?

In the United States, the key difference between a Porterhouse and a T-bone steak lies in the size of the tenderloin portion. According to USDA guidelines, a steak qualifies as a Porterhouse only if the tenderloin is at least 1.25 inches wide at its widest point. If the tenderloin measures less than 1.25 inches, then the cut is classified as a T-bone.

A portion of 2-inch filet mignon in a porterhouse steak
A portion of 2-inch tenderloin in a porterhouse steak
1.125-inch Wide Filet Portion in a T-Bone Steak
1.125-inch Wide Filet Portion in a T-Bone Steak

Every porterhouse and t-bone steak has strip steak and tenderloin separated by a bone. They both come from the loin area on the cow, but here’s where they differ: the porterhouse comes from the rear area of the short loin, while the t-bone is from the front area of the short loin. That’s why a porterhouse has a bigger piece of tenderloin; there’s just more tenderloin at the rear area end of the short loin.

Porterhouse and T-bone steak compared to filet mignon and strip steak
Porterhouse and T-bone steak compared to filet mignon and strip steak

Porterhouse and T-bone both contain the same muscles. However, the proportions of these muscles differ, leading the USDA to classify them under separate names based on the tenderloin size. A porterhouse can have a tenderloin that’s as wide as 2 inches, while some T-bones feature tenderloins that are only 0.5 inches wide.

porterhouse vs t-bone comparison
T-bone on the left with 1.125-inch wide tenderloin portion vs. Porterhouse with 2-inch wide tenderloin portion on the right

Remember the portion size differences between porterhouse and t-bone steaks when you’re out at restaurants

Most restaurants sell the porterhouse as a two-person meal, so you might want to split it if you’re not super hungry. Want a smaller steak you can have all to yourself? Go for the T-Bone. It’s usually smaller, making it a better fit for a single serving. 

Porterhouses can weigh 1.5 to 3 pounds, so be sure you’ve got a big appetite before you order one. Meanwhile, a T-bone usually weighs about 1.5 to 2 pounds.

FAQs

Do Porterhouse and T-Bone Taste Different? 

No, Porterhouse and T-bone taste the same and have the same texture. They both come from the same part of the cow and have the same muscles. The only real difference between them is how wide the tenderloin is.

Which is More Expensive: Porterhouse or T-Bone?

In most cases, a porterhouse is a bit more expensive than a T-bone. One big reason for the cost difference is that the porterhouse has a larger filet. 

porterhouse, new york strip, t-bone and filet mignon
Porterhouse, new york strip, t-bone, and filet mignon

Which is Better: Porterhouse or T-Bone?

Well, that’s really up to you. Porterhouse and T-bone both come from the same part of the cow, so they taste the same. The real question is how much steak you want and how much of that steak you want to be filet versus strip. The Porterhouse is usually bigger with more tenderloin (filet), so if you’re hungry or love tenderloin, go for the Porterhouse. But if you’re more into the new york strip and want a smaller steak, T-Bone’s your pick. Either way, you’re going to enjoy your meal. That’s a guarantee.

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Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam Wojtow is a Polish entrepreneur and writer who founded Steak Revolution in 2020 because of his passion for steaks. Adam has been cooking steaks for over 5 years, so he understands well all aspects of steak, from the types of steaks and their cooking times to choosing the best cooking technique for any steak.