What is a Tomahawk Steak

Tomahawk steak is a high-quality cut of meat, and it can be intimidating to prepare. However, knowing how to make the perfect seared steak is essential information.

Want to learn how to cook a tomahawk steak like a professional? We’ve got you covered.

What is a Tomahawk Steak, Exactly?

Also known as ribeye steak, a tomahawk steak is a piece of rib meat with the bone attached. These steaks tend to be extremely thick and tender.

The tomahawk comes from two muscles outside of the rib cage of the steer. These muscles are not used as much as others, which is why they are tender and soft. When you cook a tomahawk steak right, you get a rich flavor that melts in your mouth. 

Because they are generally a large cut, you’ll likely have trouble cooking them in a skillet. While some people choose to oven-roast them, grilling is the best method.

What Cut of Meat is a Tomahawk Steak?

The Tomahawk steak comes from between ribs six through twelve (the rib primal). The cut is at least two inches thick and “frenched” (they trim the fat away). The cut leaves the rib bone intact, which is part of what makes this such a juicy option in liquid-based cooking.

What Does Tomahawk Steak Taste Like?

Tomahawk steak is as tender as can be, with a rich buttery flavor. The meat is beautifully marbled, and the addition of the bone adds a wonderful meaty flavor to the steak. It delivers robust flavors when you prepare it correctly.

It is so flavorful that it only needs a pinch of salt and pepper to create an unforgettable meal. A perfect description for this high-quality cut of meat would be “succulent,” but you will have to try it for yourself.

Tomahawk Steak vs. Ribeye: What’s the Difference?

Most people confuse Ribeye with Tomahawk steak, and we can see why—it is actually the same piece of meat. A Tomahawk steak is a bone-in Ribeye, taken from the rib area. The butcher can sometimes take out the bone, leaving the boneless Ribeye cut.

The easiest way to differentiate Tomahawk steak vs. Ribeye steak is through the presence of a bone—a Tomahawk Ribeye steak is on the bone, and Ribeye is not. While you can cook both meat cuts on the grill, the Tomahawk Ribeye requires reverse grill searing, and a normal Ribeye tastes better when cooked in the oven.

Tomahawk steak will take longer to cook than Ribeye because the bone serves as an insulator. They taste the same in terms of flavor, but because Tomahawk steaks cook more slowly than Ribeyes, it may be juicer (if left 1-2 minutes longer on the grill). Many have trouble cooking the Tomahawk steak evenly because of its large size.

Bone-in steaks hold their shape better and make for a unique presentation, whereas boneless Ribeye steaks allow for caramelizing all sides evenly.

The consistency of any beef cut is impacted by the temperature and device in which the meat is cooked.

Where to buy Tomahawk Steak

When you buy a tomahawk steak, you want to go to a quality butcher. You can pick them up from your local grocery store pre-sliced and packaged. However, a butcher will be able to give you the cut and quality you desire.

After you find a butcher, you need to know what to look for in a steak. The most important elements are:

  • Color – You want to select a steak with no brownish spots. If the meat is in a case, pull it out and look at it in regular light. If you go to the butcher, the meat should be fresh.
  • Marbling – Marbling refers to the amount of fat in your meat. Fat helps the meat maintain its flavor and melt in your mouth like butter. Try to pick a steak with a well-marbled eye in the middle and a large muscle on top.

Cooking Methods

The best cooking method for a Tomahawk steak is the grill. However, that is not the only way to bring out its greatest qualities. Why not combine cooking methods?

For example, you could reverse sear Tomahawk steak. Cook it in the oven until 10 degrees lower than your preferred finishing temperature, then turn it on the broiler to sear in the juices. You can also pan-sear it before putting it into the oven.

Nutrition & Calories

A 4-oz Tomahawk steak contains about 2000 calories, 145 grams of fat, and 135 grams of protein. As with all other beef steaks, there are no carbohydrates unless you add them while cooking. However, the steak’s calorie count and nutritional information will vary, depending on the size you choose.

Tomahawk Steak Recipes

The Tomahawk steak is versatile in its seasonings, but how you cook it matters most. You should always start with a room-temperature steak and use coarse salt and ground black pepper as a rub. Then, use a meat thermometer and aim for a medium-rare temperature (130 degrees).

The final step is to ensure that your cooking surface is hot and ready to sear the Tomahawk steak—a two-inch steak takes about 18 minutes with one flip. Rest it for five minutes before serving.

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About the author

Adam can tell you the difference between a flank steak and skirt steak and any other cut of meat. He loves sharing his knowledge of steaks with everyone, ensuring you get the perfect steak every time.