This easy Tomahawk Steak recipe comes out perfect every time. Find out exactly what they are, where to buy them, and even how to store any leftovers!
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What is a tomahawk steak
First, let’s talk about what it isn’t.
A tomahawk steak – also called a “cowboy ribeye” – isn’t an obscure cut of beef that’s particularly unique or special. It’s actually a very common cut (although arguably also one of the best) known as the bone-in ribeye. It’s very flavorful with incredible marbling throughout, which is why it’s widely considered one of the most delicious cuts of beef to order out or to cook at home.
A ribeye and a tomahawk have two distinct differences. On a bone-in ribeye, the bone is cut off so that the only bone present is surrounded by the actual cut of meat. On a tomahawk steak, that bone is left attached and cleaned for a french cut, making for a gorgeous presentation.
The second difference is that the tomahawk cut is typically much thicker than a ribeye. A ribeye is normally 1 – 1.5 inches thick whereas a tomahawk falls around 2 inches. This results in up to double meat per steak, and at least up to 50% more.
Tomahawk steak prices and where to buy
They’re not cheap and you’re mostly paying for the presentation, regardless whether you buy them to cook at home or order one at a restaurant. That said, they’re a luxurious cut of beef and might be worth the indulgence if you’re looking for something special and impressive.
I did a little research for what they cost at different restaurants in my area of DC/Northern VA. I also searched for places to purchase a tomahawk ribeye to cook at home, so you can make the decision for yourself.
In a restaurant
- Ruth’s Chris – 22 oz – $65.00 (steak only)
- American Prime – no weight listed – $49 (steak only)
- Mastro’s – 33 oz – listed as “Chef’s Cut Ribeye Chop” – $87 (I believe this is the steak only but I haven’t been here personally)
Cooking at home
- Amazon – a package of 2 steaks at 2.5 – 3.5 lb each – $289.95
- Costco – pack of 4 steaks at approximately 2.5 lb each – $329.99
- Huntspoint – pack of 2 steaks at 3 – 3.5 lb each – $160.95
Note: The steaks linked to above are not endorsements as I haven’t personally tried them. I’ve provided them for price references only.
How to make this tomahawk steak recipe
Hands down, the best way to cook a cowboy ribeye steak, or tomahawk, is to sear it on the grill over high heat then finish it in the oven. This is true for many cuts of beef, but especially this one.
There’s very little hand-on time which makes it a very easy recipe. First, you’ll want to remove the steaks from the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so they’re not completely cold when they go on the grill.
Next, you’ll rub the steaks all over with olive oil (this will raise the temperature of the meat’s surface which will help it get a nice, even sear). Season the steaks very generously with a high-quality coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Sear the steaks on a VERY HOT grill grate (a gas grill is most common but a charcoal grill will work, too, and will add a lot of flavor) directly over the flames for about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove them from the grill, place them on a sheet pan, and insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, as close to the center as you can get.
Put them in the oven and cook them for about 30 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 130° F. Remove the steaks from the oven, place them on a cutting board, tent them gently with aluminum foil, and allow them to rest for 10-15 minutes.
See? This tomahawk steak recipe uses a very simple process that will give your steaks a seasoned crust on the outside while being done to perfection on the inside!
Can you sear it on the stove instead of the grill?
Yes, absolutely, especially if you use a cast iron skillet. The issue there is that these babies are pretty large with the bone extending out, and a grill has a lot more surface area to ensure you get a good sear. If you decide to go forth and use the stove, be sure you preheat your pan over high heat.
How to know when they’re done
I mentioned this once already, and I’m going to remind you again at least one more time, but the easiest and most accurate way to get them to the perfect doneness is to use an oven-safe meat thermometer. I highlight this twice in the tomahawk steak recipe below because it’s that crucial to consistent success.
I use one that has an alarm and I would never be without it. I couldn’t find mine on Amazon but this one has an alarm as well as many wonderful reviews.
Cooking tomahawk (or cowboy steak) to 130° F is our preference, but of course you can cook it to your desired doneness if it happens to be different. Use this chart to help you decide on rare to well-done (although I don’t recommend anything more than medium at most). Here are the temperatures for each, keeping in mind that the temperature will rise another 5 degrees while its resting:
- Rare 125°
- Medium-Rare 135°
- Medium 145°
- Medium-Well 150°
- Well done 160°
Tips for the BEST Tomahawk Steaks
- Use an oven-safe meat thermometer. One more time, for the people in the back: use an oven-safe meat thermometer!
- Season it VERY well with salt and pepper
- Top it with a compound butter (more on that below)
- If you have a steak rub or seasoning that you can’t live without, feel free to use it in place of the salt and pepper.
- Be sure to sear over high heat, directly over the flame
- Let the meat rest both before hitting the hot grill and after it comes out of the oven
- Add some fresh herbs, such as rosemary, to the sheet pan to infuse some additional flavor
How to store and reheat
Cover and refrigerate leftover steak for up to 4 days. It’s always best eaten the day you make it, but if you do end up with leftovers, make sure you reheat it gently. I’ll often just let it come to room temperature and call it a day, but you can add it to a preheated skillet on medium-low heat just to warm it.
It’s also fun to make an entirely new dish using some leftover steak recipes!
How to serve
A big ol’ Tomahawk rib steak is impressive no matter how you serve it. You might just want to put each steak on a plate and call it a day!
Another option, especially if you’re feeding more than 2 people with a steak each, is to slice it before plating, leaving the meat closer to the bone unsliced for presentation.
As for what to serve with this tomahawk steak recipe, any of your typical steak side dishes will work here. A few of our favorites are Smoked Mac and Cheese, Vegetable Tian, Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Creamed Corn (made with or without cream), and Crispy Baked Potato Wedges.
I highly suggest topping each steak with some compound butter! It adds incredible flavor – especially truffle butter – and a bit of sophistication with little effort. Check out these 9 Compound Butter recipes to choose your favorite. They also work with chicken and fish!
If you’re still undecided about whether these are worth the price, or if you’re nervous about cooking something yourself with such a hefty price tag, you might consider making a prime rib roast instead. It’s practically fool-proof yet it’s still delicious and impressive!
- 2 Tomahawk steaks
- olive oil
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Compound Butter, room temperature
- Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and leave them on the counter for 30 minutes.
- About 15 minutes before you're ready to cook, preheat your oven to 375° F and your grill to 500° F.
- Rub the steaks all over with olive oil in a thin layer. Season them really well with a high-quality coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper (coarse pepper is best).
- Place the steaks on the grill directly over the flames. Cook them for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until both sides have a good sear and they release easily from the grates.
- Remove the steaks from the grill and place them on a large sheet pan. Put them in the oven and cook them for about 30 minutes (this will vary depending on the size and thickness of the steaks), or until they reach an internal temperature of 130° F (keep in mind that they'll continue cooking after removing them from the heat so the temperature will still raise somewhat). It's highly recommended to use an oven-safe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak prior to going into the oven.
- Remove the steaks from the oven, place them on a cutting board, tent them gently with foil, and allow them to rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Serve immediately after resting, or top with compound butter before serving.
It's highly recommended to use an oven-safe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak prior to going into the oven.
Although this recipe is written for 2 people, it will easily serve 4 since the steaks are quite large. If serving for more than 2, consider slicing the steaks after they rest but before serving (leaving some meat unsliced near the bone to keep the gorgeous presentation).
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1950Total Fat: 132gSaturated Fat: 50gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 63gCholesterol: 660mgSodium: 501mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 178g
Amounts do not include compound butter.