Tomahawk steak is a cut of meat that comes from the rib primal section of the cow. It is a thick, bone-in steak. It’s an extremely delicious piece of meat that can be served with sides such as mashed potatoes or vegetables.
In this article, I’ll teach you everything you need to know about this fantastic piece of meat. As a chef, I’ll share how to cook tomahawk steak so that it’s juicy and tender every time. And last but not least, I’ll share a few tomahawk steak buying tips.
What is Tomahawk Steak and Where Does It Come From
Tomahawks steak is a thick, bone-in ribeye steak that gets its name from its impressive size and shape. The steak is cut with at least three inches of rib bone still attached, which gives it a dramatic appearance when cooked. It gets its name because it resembles a tomahawk axe with a long handle and a large, broad blade.
This cut of steak is said to date back to the early days of the American West when cowboys would cook their steak on an open fire. These days, tomahawks steak is a popular choice for special occasions and can be found on the menus of many steakhouses.
It pairs well with bold red wines, making it the perfect centerpiece for a luxurious dinner party. Whether you’re grilling it up for a summer cookout or cooking it to perfection in the oven, tomahawk steak is sure to impress your guests.
Flavor, Texture, and Marbling of Tomahawk Steak
Tomahawk steak (also known as a cowboy steak) is a high-quality cut of beef that is prized for its texture, rich flavor, and marbling. As one of the tenderest cuts of meat, tomahawk steak has a buttery, tender texture that melts in your mouth.
This rich texture is complemented by its full, bold flavor, which is heightened by marbling – small streaks of fat that run throughout the steak.
Whether you enjoy it grilled or pan-seared or served with a flavorful sauce, tomahawk steak is sure to satisfy your tastebuds and leave you wanting more. So if you’re looking for a truly decadent dining experience, make sure to read my step-by-step guide below on how to cook tomahawk steak.
How To Cook Tomahawk Steak
I’ve included 3 different cooking methods for tomahawk steak. Since the meat is flavorful, avoid using any marinades or rubs, which can mask the taste. Season the beef with salt and pepper before cooking. I’ll start with the most popular cooking method – grilling.
Here’s the equipment you’ll need:
How To Grill Tomahawk Steak
- Bring steak to room temperature. Leaving steak out for 30-60 minutes before grilling will help ensure even cooking;
- Season. While steak is getting to room temperature, season it with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper;
- Prepare the grill. Prepare the grill for two zone cooking. For a charcoal grill, light the coals and let them burn until they are covered in grey ash. One side of the grill should be hot, and the other should be cooler. If using a gas grill, turn the gas on one side of the grill to high and leave the other side on medium;
- Grill steak. Place tomahawk steak on the hotter side of the grill and sear for about two minutes per side. Then move to the cooler side of the grill and cook to desired doneness;
- Rest. Once the steak is cooked to your liking, remove it from the grill and place it on a cutting board or wire rack. Allow it to rest for at least 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. Resting will allow the steak to reabsorb its juices, resulting in a juicier, more flavorful steak.;
- Cut and serve. Cut steak against the grain into thin slices and serve with your favorite sides.
How To Reverse Sear Tomahawk Steak
- Bring tomahawk steak to room temperature. Bringing steak to room temperature is essential because it helps the steak cook evenly from edge to center;
- Season. Season the steak with a generous amount of kosher salt and pepper while the steak is getting to room temperature. Salt will help to tenderize the meat even more;
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit;
- Cook the steak in the oven. Cook the steak in the oven until the internal temperature is 30° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. I’m cooking my Tomahawk steak medium-rare; therefore, I’ll take it out from the oven when the steak’s internal temperature is 105° Fahrenheit;
- Preheat the skillet. Preheat the cast-iron skillet until it’s smoking hot. Add a little bit of oil to the skillet, and using tongs, place the steak in the pan;
- Sear the steak. Sear each side of the steak for about 45 seconds- one minute or until you’ve achieved a nice golden brown crust;
- Rest and serve. Remove from heat and let rest for three to five minutes. Slice against the grain and serve with your favorite sides.
How To Pan-Fry Tomahawk Steak
- Bring tomahawk steak to room temperature. It will allow the steak to cook evenly from edge to center;
- Season. Season the steak with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper while it’s coming to room temperature;
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit;
- Preheat the skillet. Preheat the skillet until it’s smoking hot, and add a few tablespoons of oil to the pan (preferably high smoke point oil);
- Sear each side of the steak. Sear for about two minutes per side or until you’ve achieved a nice golden brown crust. Continue cooking on medium for about 4 minutes. Add some butter and fresh herbs. Baste the steak with the herb butter;
- Finish in the oven. Place skillet in preheated oven and cook until steak reaches desired doneness;
- Rest and serve. Remove the Tomahawk steak from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice against the grain into thin slices and serve with your favorite sides.
Tomahawk Steak Buying Guide
Unfortunately, Tomahawk steak is not readily available at most supermarkets. So the best place to buy Tomahawk steak is either at a specialty meat market, online, or farmer’s market if you’re lucky.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing Tomahawk steak:
- Marbling. The more marbling the meat has, the more tender and flavorful it will be. So when looking to buy Tomahawk steak, look for the one that has a good amount of marbling throughout (a list of best-marbled steak cuts);
- Thickness. Tomahawk steak is a thick cut of meat, so you’ll want to make sure that the steak you purchase is at least two inches thick;
- Price. Tomahawk steak can be on the pricier side, so be prepared to spend a little more money on this cut of meat than you would otherwise;
- Smell. Steak should smell fresh, not sour. If it smells sour, that means the meat is starting to go bad, and you should avoid it;
- Color. Color is yet another excellent indicator of freshness. The meat should be a deep red color with no brown or grey areas. If you see any brown or grey areas, that means the meat is starting to go bad. Ask the butcher if it was exposed to oxygen for too long;
- USDA grading. USDA grades meat on its quality. The two highest grades are Prime and Choice. If you see a Tomahawk steak graded USDA Choice, that means it’s high-quality meat. It’ll most definitely be tender, juicy, and flavorful. Prime, however, is the best of the best and will be even more tender, juicy, and flavorful but can be hard to find. Restaurants are more likely to serve Prime grade Tomahawk steak. So if you want to treat yourself to the best quality Tomahawk steak, perhaps your local restaurant can help you out;
Tomahawk Steak Recipes
You’ll notice that most Tomahawk steak recipes use very little seasoning. Tomahawk ribeye steak has an intense flavor. The intramuscular fat combined with a rib bone attached delivers incredible flavor and tenderness to this luxury steak.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite Tomahawk steak recipes:
And here’s a video recipe for Tomahawk steak with chimichurri:
What is the difference between Tomahawk steak and ribeye?
The difference between Tomahawk steak and ribeye is that Tomahawk steak includes the rib bone, whereas ribeye does not.
Why is Tomahawk steak expensive?
Tomahawk steak is an expensive cut of beef because it’s a thick cut of meat that includes rib bone. The size and the bone make it a little more expensive than other cuts of steak.