Meet the Tomahawk Steak: Get to Know What Makes This Cut Special


In the league of beef cuts, one truly stands out from the rest. This one has everything hardcore beef lovers crave: intense marbling that leads to next-level flavor, mouthwatering juiciness, and a look that’s as unique as its name—which coincidentally happens to be fun to brag about when cooking it. We’re talking about the tomahawk steak.

Consider this a lesson in all things tomahawk. Read on for a beefy course of knowledge and tips, including the definition of the tomahawk, how to cook it, and where to find this epic cut.

What is a tomahawk steak?

Also known as a rib steak, bone-in rib steak, or frenched bone-in rib steak, the tomahawk hails from the rib primal. In other words, it’s essentially a very thick ribeye steak with a significant section of the rib bone still attached. This extra section of rib bone gives the tomahawk its showstopper appearance.

uncooked seasoned tomahawk steak

What’s the difference between a tomahawk and cowboy steak?

Both the tomahawk and cowboy steak are called frenched steaks because some the rib bones have been cleaned and exposed to be showed off. A cowboy steak’s rib bone typically measures just a few inches, while the tomahawk’s rib bone measures 12 inches or more (and gives it an impressive appearance). How much rib bone left on a tomahawk is up to the butcher.

What’s the best way to cook a tomahawk steak?

As a thick, well-marbled cut, the tomahawk performs well with many preparation methods, including broiling, smoking, and reverse searing or searing. (You don’t get to be a star without being versatile, right?) That said, many aficionados prefer to fire up the grill when they have tomahawks on their menu.

How to Grill a Tomahawk Steak

Step 1: Remove the steaks from the fridge ahead of cooking and season liberally with salt and pepper. Let the seasoned steak sit at room temperature.

This step, sometimes called dry brining, draws the moisture out of the steak. The salt dissolves in the beef’s moisture and is then reabsorbed into the meat, boosting flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. Though the tomahawk is not short on flavor, tenderness, or juiciness naturally, this step turns the experience up a notch.

Step 2: Preheat your grill for two-zone cooking, keeping one side of the grill hotter for searing and the other side cooler for more consistent cooking.

Step 3: Start your steak on the cooler side of the grill and cook until a thermometer reads 120°F for medium rare.

Step 4: Move your steak to the high heat side of the grill and sear for 3-4 minutes per side.

Pro tip: position the rib bone toward the cooler side of the grill to keep that iconic tomahawk handle from charring and turning black. Many grill masters wrap the bone in foil to prevent this as well.

Step 5: Remove your steak from the grill once a thermometer shows your desired doneness. That’s 129°F to 134°F for medium rare, 135°F to 144°F for medium, and 145°F to 155°F for medium well. Remember, steak will continue to cook as it rests, so we recommend removing the steak from the grill when it’s about 5 to 10 degrees under your desired temperature.

Step 6: Let the tomahawks rest on a cutting board before indulging. We recommend 10 minutes or so to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the cut. This massive steak can be shared, so grab a friend or two.

Where do I find tomahawk steaks?

With its dramatic looks, the tomahawk is a bonafide celebrity on social media. And with more beef buffs learning about this unique cut from their favorite influencers, they’re asking for it at the grocery store and their favorite restaurants.

tiktokers making tomahawk steaks

Popular TikTokers showing off the majestic marbling and breathtaking brown crusts on their tomahawk steaks

Don’t be afraid to connect with your grocery store’s butchers or the pros at your local specialty meat market. They’ll be able provide you with tomahawk steaks cut and trimmed to your preference.

As far as restaurants go, there are so many trendy and innovative eateries serving tomahawks. Even nationwide institutions like Morton’s The Steakhouse and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar have tomahawks on their menus. So, keep an eye out, talk to your server, and, of course, follow your nose.

How to Choose a Tomahawk Steak

When shopping for tomahawks, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Be on the lookout for big tomahawks—by that we mean steaks with ample meat and a good meat-to-bone ratio, so you pay for substance (and not just style).
  • Make a play for marbling—look for consistent, prominent marbling to ensure you buy the tastiest of the tomahawks on display.
  • Get your tomahawks from a trusted grocer or meat market—tomahawks can be a hefty spend, but when you shop at a place you can trust, these steaks are more than worth the beefy price tag.

Create Your Own Legendary Tomahawks With 1855 Black Angus Beef

We’re proud to supply restaurants and grocers with USDA Prime and Upper 2/3 Choice Black Angus Beef.

Q: What does that mean for you?

A: You can pick up 1855 Black Angus Beef tomahawks nearby and host a cookout that will be award-nominated, envy-inducing, and raved about for ages.

Want to try other recipes using beef from the rib primal? These recipes are drool-worthy.


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