What is ribeye steak?

Ribeye steak is a popular cut of beef that is highly sought after for its rich flavor and tender texture. It is sourced from the rib section of the cow, specifically from the muscle that runs along the upper rib cage, which does not receive much exercise. This lack of activity results in a generous amount of marbling or intramuscular fat, which contributes to the ribeye’s signature taste and juiciness. Typically, ribeye steaks are either sold bone-in or boneless and can be grilled, pan-seared, or broiled to achieve the desired level of doneness.

In this post, I will explain why ribeye steak is one of the best steak cuts. I’ll also explain its unique characteristics and provide some insights into why this particular cut has become a favorite among meat lovers and chefs worldwide. For me as a chef, it’s certainly one of my favorite cuts, and below, you’ll learn why.. 

What is ribeye steak?

Facts about ribeye steak
Facts about ribeye steak

Ribeye steak is a cut carved from the rib section of the cow, specifically between ribs six and twelve. It’s a pretty decent-sized piece of meat, perfect for satisfying those steak cravings.

Ribeye steak is known for its gorgeous marbling, which is the fancy term for the little flecks of fat spread throughout the meat. This fat gives the ribeye its melt-in-your-mouth texture and drool-worthy flavor. At the same time has very little connective tissue, which means you get a super tender and juicy steak without any of the tough, chewy bits. 

So, next time you’re at the butcher or a steakhouse, you’ll know exactly why the ribeye, or entrecôte, is such a beloved choice.

What does ribeye steak taste like?

The taste of ribeye steak is often described as rich, juicy, and full of flavor, largely due to its generous marbling. The marbling consists of intramuscular fat distributed throughout the meat, which melts during the cooking process, imparting a deep, savory taste and creating a tender, succulent texture. The ribeye’s distinct flavor profile sets it apart from other cuts of beef, making it a popular choice among steak enthusiasts.

Several factors can affect the flavor and texture of a ribeye steak, including the cow’s diet, age, and breed. Grass-fed beef often has a more pronounced, earthy flavor compared to grain-fed beef, which tends to have a milder, buttery taste. The cow’s age at the time of slaughter can also impact the meat’s tenderness and flavor; younger cattle typically yield more tender meat with a milder taste, while older cattle may have a stronger, more developed flavor.

Additionally, the thickness of the steak and the cooking method used can influence the final taste and texture. Thicker cuts retain more moisture during the cooking process, resulting in a juicier steak. Cooking methods such as grilling, pan-searing, and broiling can enhance the ribeye’s flavor by creating a caramelized crust while preserving its tenderness.

Varieties of ribeye steak

There are several types of ribeye steak, each offering unique characteristics based on the specific cut and preparation methods. The classic ribeye steak, also known as boneless ribeye, is a tender and juicy cut with marbling throughout, providing rich flavors. The bone-in ribeye, sometimes called the cowboy ribeye, includes a rib bone that adds extra flavor and a visually appealing presentation.

Another variation is the tomahawk ribeye, an impressive cut that features a long, Frenched rib bone resembling a tomahawk axe handle. This steak is often served as a sharing platter due to its larger size. The ribeye cap, or spinalis dorsi, is a highly prized cut known for its exceptional tenderness and marbling; it is sometimes served on its own or wrapped around another cut for a unique presentation. These different types of ribeye steaks cater to a variety of preferences and occasions, showcasing the versatility and popularity of this delicious cut of beef.

How to cook ribeye steak

Grilled ribeye steak
Grilled ribeye steak

Cooking a ribeye steak can be done using various methods, each resulting in a delicious and juicy meal. Below, I’ll explain in more detail three popular methods for cooking ribeye steaks: grilling, broiling, and pan-searing.

  • Grilling: Preheat your grill to high heat, and season the ribeye 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, depending on the thickness of the cut. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to achieve your desired level of doneness. Once cooked, let the steak rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.
  • Broiling: Position an oven rack about 4-6 inches away from the broiler element and preheat the broiler. Season the ribeye steak, then place it on a baking sheet with a wire rack on top of it or an oven-safe skillet. Broil the steak for about 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare, again adjusting the cooking time based on your preferred level of doneness. Allow the steak to rest for a few minutes before serving.
  • Pan-searing: Heat a heavy skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat, adding a small amount of oil. Season the ribeye steak and place it in the hot pan. Cook the ribeye steak for approximately 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare, adjusting the cooking time to achieve your desired doneness. Optionally, you can baste the steak with butter, garlic, and fresh herbs during the final minutes of cooking for added flavor. Allow the steak to rest before serving.

Regardless of the cooking method you choose, always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature for the desired doneness. 

How does ribeye steak compare to other similar cuts?

Ribeye steak is often compared to other popular steak cuts like the New York strip, filet mignon, and T-bone. Each of these cuts has unique features, but there are certain characteristics that set the ribeye steak apart, making it a favorite among steak enthusiasts.

  1. Marbling: Ribeye steak is known for its generous marbling, which consists of intramuscular fat distributed throughout the meat. This fat melts during cooking, infusing the steak with a rich, buttery flavor that sets it apart from leaner cuts like the New York strip or filet mignon. The marbling also contributes to the ribeye’s tender, juicy texture.
  2. Flavor: The ribeye steak is recognized for its deep, beefy flavor, which is more pronounced than the milder taste of filet mignon or the slightly firmer texture of the New York strip. This robust flavor is a direct result of the ribeye’s marbling and its location near the cow’s upper rib area, where the muscle is less exercised.
  3. Tenderness: While the filet mignon is known for being extremely tender, the ribeye steak offers a balance of tenderness and full-bodied flavor that many steak lovers find irresistible. The ribeye’s tender texture is attributed to its marbling, which ensures a moist, succulent steak when cooked properly.
  4. Versatility: Ribeye steaks are available in various forms, such as boneless, bone-in, and tomahawk cuts, offering a range of options for presentation and cooking preferences. This versatility allows the ribeye to cater to different tastes and occasions, whether you’re hosting a casual backyard barbecue or a more formal dinner party.
  5. Cooking methods: Ribeye steaks can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including grilling, pan-searing, broiling, and sous vide, among others. Each method brings out the unique characteristics of the ribeye, such as the flavorful crust that forms when seared or the smoky aroma that develops when grilled. This flexibility in cooking methods allows you to experiment and customize your ribeye experience to suit your preferences.

Since ribeye steak is compared to many other different cuts, you can learn more about it by clicking on one of the links below:

How to choose quality ribeye steak

First of all, you’ll come across organic, grass-fed, and grain-fed beef, each with its own unique flavor profile. Organic and grass-fed options are known for their earthy taste, while grain-fed beef tends to have a milder, buttery flavor. It’s all about personal preference, so choose what suits your taste buds best.

Next up, marbling. Those beautiful streaks of fat running through the meat are what make ribeye so flavorful and tender. Keep an eye out for steaks with a good amount of marbling – not too little, not too much, just the right balance for a scrumptious meal.

Now, let’s talk color. A good ribeye should have a rich, deep red color, indicating that it’s fresh and high-quality. Avoid any steaks that look too brown or have a grayish hue, as they might not be as fresh.

Thickness matters too! Thicker cuts of ribeye will retain more moisture during cooking, leading to a juicier and more flavorful result. Aim for a steak that’s at least an inch thick, but feel free to go thicker.

Last but not least, always source your ribeye from a reputable butcher, supplier, or online store. A trustworthy source ensures you’re getting the best quality meat and can provide valuable advice on which cut suits your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek recommendations – a good butcher will be more than happy to help you make a perfect choice.

How to store ribeye steak

Storing ribeye steak properly is essential to preserve its freshness and quality. If you plan to cook the steak within a few days of purchase, keep it in its original packaging and store it on the lowest shelf of your refrigerator, where the temperature is the coldest and most consistent. Make sure the temperature stays between 34°F and 40°F (1°C to 4°C) to maintain freshness.

For longer-term storage, tightly wrap the ribeye steak in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or freezer paper, and place it in a freezer-safe plastic bag, removing as much air as possible. Store the wrapped steak in the freezer, where it can last up to 6-12 months while retaining its quality. When ready to cook, thaw the steak in the refrigerator for a day to ensure even defrosting and prevent bacterial growth.

Popular ribeye steak recipes

Here are a couple of ribeye steak recipes you may want to try:

  • Classic Grilled Ribeye: Season the ribeye steak with salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs before grilling it to your preferred level of doneness. This simple yet delicious recipe allows the ribeye’s natural flavors to shine, making it perfect for a backyard barbecue or a cozy dinner.
  • Ribeye with Garlic Butter: Pan-sear the ribeye steak and finish it off by basting it with a mixture of melted butter, minced garlic, and fresh herbs. This succulent recipe adds a rich, garlicky flavor to the steak, creating an indulgent dish that’s sure to impress.
  • Ribeye with Chimichurri Sauce: Prepare a zesty chimichurri sauce made with fresh parsley, cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar. Serve it over a perfectly grilled or pan-seared ribeye for a burst of bright, tangy flavors that contrast beautifully with the rich meat.


What part of the cow does ribeye steak come from?

Ribeye steak is cut from the rib section of the cow, specifically from ribs six through twelve. It is located near the upper rib area, where the muscle is less exercised, resulting in a tender and well-marbled cut of beef.

What makes ribeye steak different from other cuts of beef?

Ribeye steak is known for its generous marbling, which consists of intramuscular fat distributed throughout the meat. This marbling imparts a rich, buttery flavor and a tender, juicy texture, setting it apart from leaner cuts like the New York strip or filet mignon.

Is ribeye steak tender?

Yes, ribeye steak is considered to be one of the more tender cuts of beef due to its marbling. The intramuscular fat melts during the cooking process, contributing to the steak’s tender and succulent texture.

What is the best way to cook a ribeye steak?

There are several ways to cook a ribeye steak, including grilling, pan-searing, and broiling. Each method has its own advantages and can produce delicious results. The key to a perfectly cooked ribeye is to use a meat thermometer to ensure the desired level of doneness.

How long can I store ribeye steak in the refrigerator or freezer?

If you plan to cook the ribeye steak within a few days, store it in the refrigerator at a temperature between 34°F and 40°F (1°C to 4°C). For longer-term storage, tightly wrap the steak and store it in the freezer, where it can last up to 6-12 months while retaining its quality.

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

A bone-in ribeye includes the rib bone, which is left attached to the steak, while a boneless ribeye has had the bone removed. Some people believe that the bone imparts additional flavor during the cooking process, while others prefer the convenience of a boneless cut. Both options offer the rich flavor and tenderness that ribeye steaks are known for.

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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