What is bone-in ribeye steak?

Bone-in ribeye steak is a cut of beef known for its rich flavor and tender texture. This cut comes from the rib section of the animal, specifically the upper rib cage, and includes a portion of the rib bone, which contributes to its distinct look and taste. The ribeye is characterized by its marbling, or the intramuscular fat, resulting in a juicy and flavorful steak. Bone-in ribeye steak is often enjoyed grilled, broiled, or pan-seared.

In this post, I’ll explain the origins of the bone-in ribeye, discuss its unique characteristics, and provide insights on how to cook, store and choose this amazing piece of meat. 

What is bone-in ribeye steak?

Fact about the bone-in ribeye steak
Fact about the bone-in ribeye steak

The bone-in ribeye steak, also known as a cowboy steak or prime rib, is a highly sought-after cut of beef, renowned for its rich flavor and tender texture. It is sourced from the rib section of the animal, specifically the upper rib cage, which is known for producing some of the most succulent and flavorful meat.

One of the distinguishing features of a bone-in ribeye is its size. This cut includes a portion of the rib bone, which not only adds to its visual appeal but also contributes to its robust flavor. The bone-in ribeye typically weighs between 16 to 24 ounces, making it an impressive and satisfying centerpiece for any meal.

A key factor that contributes to the bone-in ribeye’s exceptional taste is its marbling. Marbling refers to the intramuscular fat dispersed throughout the meat. When cooked, this fat renders and melts, infusing the steak with a depth of flavor and succulence that is difficult to rival. The presence of marbling is often used as an indicator of quality when selecting cuts of beef.

Another aspect that sets the bone-in ribeye apart from other cuts is the minimal connective tissue present. This results in a steak that is tender and easy to cut, providing a satisfying eating experience.

What does bone-in ribeye steak taste like?

The taste of bone-in ribeye steak is highly regarded for its exceptional combination of flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. A key factor contributing to its taste is the marbling found throughout the cut. This intramuscular fat, when cooked, renders and melts, infusing the meat with a rich, buttery flavor that is both savory and satisfying. The marbling also ensures that the steak remains juicy and succulent during the cooking process, enhancing the overall dining experience.

Regarding tenderness, the bone-in ribeye steak is considered one of the more tender cuts of beef available. This tenderness can be attributed to the minimal connective tissue present in the meat, which allows for a smooth, easy-to-cut texture that melts in the mouth. The combination of tenderness and marbling ensures that each bite is flavorful and enjoyable, creating a memorable eating experience.

Different types of ribeye steaks

Here are some of the most common types of ribeye steaks (bone-in ribeye steak is excluded from the list):

  • Boneless Ribeye Steak: As the name suggests, this type of ribeye steak does not include the rib bone. This makes it easier to cut and portion, but it may have slightly less flavor compared to its bone-in counterpart. Boneless ribeye steaks still offer the rich marbling and tender texture that the ribeye is known for.
  • Ribeye Cap Steak: Also known as the spinalis dorsi or deckle steak, this cut comes from the outer rim of the ribeye, which is considered the most tender and flavorful part of the steak. The ribeye cap is prized for its marbling, tenderness, and rich flavor, making it a sought-after choice among steak connoisseurs.
  • Tomahawk Ribeye Steak: This impressive cut is a bone-in ribeye with an extended, Frenched rib bone resembling a tomahawk axe. The Tomahawk ribeye offers a striking presentation and is often used for special occasions or as a centerpiece for a meal. The extended bone helps to insulate the meat during cooking, resulting in a tender and flavorful steak.
  • Delmonico Steak: Although not exclusively a ribeye cut, Delmonico steak often refers to a boneless ribeye steak that is thicker and sourced from the front part of the rib section. It is named after the famous Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City, which popularized the cut in the 19th century.

How to cook bone-in ribeye steak

Grilled bone-in ribeye steak
Grilled bone-in ribeye steak

There are several methods to choose from when cooking bone-in ribeye steak, including grilling, broiling, and pan frying. Each technique offers unique results in terms of flavor and texture.

However, keep in mind that cooking bone-in ribeye steak can be more challenging than boneless ribeye steak due to the presence of the rib bone. The bone acts as an insulator, causing the meat surrounding it to cook more slowly than the rest of the steak. This can make it difficult to achieve even cooking and the desired level of doneness throughout the entire cut. Additionally, the bone-in ribeye’s larger size and irregular shape may require adjustments to cooking times and techniques compared to a more uniform boneless ribeye.

  • Grilling: Grilling is a popular method for cooking bone-in ribeye steak, as it imparts a smoky flavor and attractive grill marks on the meat. To grill a bone-in ribeye, first, preheat your grill to high heat. Lightly oil the grates and season the steak with salt and pepper or your preferred seasoning. Place the steak on the grill and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare or until the desired level of doneness is reached. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, aiming for 130°F (54°C) for medium rare. Allow the steak to rest for a few minutes before slicing to retain its juices.
  • Broiling: Broiling is another way to achieve a flavorful, caramelized crust on your bone-in ribeye steak. To broil, preheat your oven’s broiler and position the oven rack 4-6 inches below the heating element. Place the seasoned steak on a broiler pan or a foil-lined baking sheet with a wire rack. Cook the steak for about 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare or until the desired doneness is achieved. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer, looking for 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare. Allow the steak to rest before slicing and serving.
  • Pan Frying: Pan frying allows you to cook your bone-in ribeye steak with precision and control, resulting in a beautifully seared crust and tender interior. To pan fry, heat a heavy skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of oil with a high smoke point, such as canola or grapeseed oil. Season the steak with salt and pepper or your preferred seasoning. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the steak to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd it. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare or until the desired level of doneness is reached. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the steak is cooked to your liking, aiming for 130°F (54°C) for medium rare. Allow the steak to rest before cutting to preserve its juices.

How does bone-in ribeye steak compare to other similar cuts?

Some common cuts that are often compared to the bone-in ribeye include the New York strip, filet mignon, and T-bone steak.

The New York strip, also known as strip loin or sirloin steak, is a leaner cut compared to the bone-in ribeye. While it is still tender and flavorful, the reduced marbling produces a slightly firmer texture and a less buttery taste. The New York strip is an excellent choice for those seeking a leaner option while still enjoying a high-quality steak.

Filet mignon, which comes from tenderloin, is known for its remarkable tenderness due to the minimal amount of connective tissue. While it is considered one of the most tender cuts available, the filet mignon lacks the marbling found in a bone-in ribeye, which results in a milder flavor profile.

The T-bone steak is a combination of two cuts in one, with the New York strip on one side and the filet mignon on the other, separated by a T-shaped bone. The presence of the bone adds flavor to the meat, but the two distinct cuts offer different textures and flavors within the same steak. While the T-bone can provide a diverse dining experience, it may not deliver the same level of marbling and flavor consistency as the bone-in ribeye.

How to choose a quality bone-in ribeye steak

Bone-in ribeye steak comes in various options, including organic, grass-fed, and grain-fed, each offering unique attributes in terms of taste, nutrition, and environmental impact. Organic steaks are produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones, while grass-fed cattle are raised on a natural diet of grass, resulting in leaner meat with a slightly different flavor profile. Grain-fed cattle are typically raised on a diet of grains, which can contribute to a higher degree of marbling in the meat.

Marbling, or intramuscular fat, plays a significant role in the quality and taste of a bone-in ribeye steak. The marbling renders during the cooking process, infusing the meat with a rich, buttery flavor and ensuring a juicy, tender texture. The color of the meat is another factor to consider when selecting a bone-in ribeye. A deep, rich red color with creamy white marbling is generally considered a sign of high-quality meat.

Thickness is also an important aspect when choosing a bone-in ribeye steak. A thicker cut allows for better heat distribution during cooking, ensuring a more even and thorough cooking process. Thicker steaks also tend to retain more moisture, resulting in a juicier final product.

Sourcing your bone-in ribeye steak from a reputable butcher or supplier is crucial to ensuring the highest quality and safety standards. Reputable suppliers prioritize animal welfare and sustainable practices and adhere to strict guidelines to provide customers with the finest cuts of meat. By choosing a trusted source, you can enjoy the delicious taste of a bone-in ribeye steak with the confidence that it has been ethically and responsibly produced.

If you want to learn more about how to pick a good steak, make sure to click on this link to learn more.

How to store bone-in steak

When storing raw bone-in ribeye steak in the refrigerator, it is important to keep the meat at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below. This will help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Place the steak on a plate or tray and cover it loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to protect it from contaminants and prevent it from drying out. Ideally, store the steak on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator to minimize the risk of cross-contamination with other foods.

If you don’t plan to cook the bone-in ribeye steak within 3 to 5 days of purchase, it is recommended to store it in the freezer. Before freezing, wrap the steak tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and then place it in a resealable freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible. This will help protect the meat from freezer burn and maintain its quality. Label the bag with the date of freezing and the type of steak for future reference. Frozen bone-in ribeye steak can be safely stored for up to 6 to 12 months.

To thaw frozen bone-in ribeye steak, it is best to transfer it to the refrigerator and allow it to defrost slowly, maintaining a safe temperature throughout the process. Depending on the thickness of the steak, this can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. For faster thawing, you can use the cold-water method by submerging the sealed steak in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to maintain a cold temperature. Once thawed, cook the steak promptly to ensure the best quality and safety.


What part of the cow does bone-in ribeye steak come from?

Bone-in ribeye steak comes from the rib section of the cow, specifically from ribs 6 through 12. The cut includes a portion of the rib bone, which enhances the flavor and presentation of the steak.

Is bone-in ribeye steak more tender than boneless ribeye steak?

Both bone-in and boneless ribeye steaks are known for their tenderness due to their high degree of marbling. However, the bone-in ribeye may offer slightly more flavor because the bone helps to retain moisture during cooking, resulting in a juicier and more tender final product.

What is the difference between a bone-in ribeye steak and a tomahawk ribeye steak?

Both cuts come from the rib section and include a portion of the rib bone. The key difference is that the tomahawk ribeye steak has an extended, Frenched rib bone, which resembles a tomahawk axe. The extended bone in the tomahawk ribeye offers a striking presentation and may help to insulate the meat during cooking.

How long should I cook a bone-in ribeye steak?

The cooking time for a bone-in ribeye steak depends on the thickness of the steak and the cooking method used. Generally, it takes about 4-5 minutes per side when grilling or pan frying and 5-6 minutes per side when broiling for medium-rare doneness. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, aiming for 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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