What Is a Tomahawk Steak (& How to Cook It Like a Pro)

Jayden Lawson
Published by Jayden Lawson
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

Do you ever just look at a cut of meat and think wow, that looks so good.

Introducing the tomahawk steak, a cut you can picture the Flintstones eating. The tomahawk steak has quickly gained worldwide popularity, thanks to the age of Instagram food selfies.

While this juicy, impressively large steak looks good for the gram, is it really as tasty as it looks? In this article, we’ll look at the tomahawk steak in all its glory, as well as the secrets to cooking this ultimate meat lollipop.

Quick Summary

  • A Tomahawk Steak is a large bone-in ribeye steak, weighing between 30 - 45 ounces, cut with 5 inches of bone left intact, resembling a tomahawk ax.
  • This steak is known for its impressive appearance and good marbling, often used for Instagram food selfies or themed BBQs.
  • Cooking a Tomahawk Steak requires a slow application of heat to avoid burnt edges and a raw inside, with grilling recommended for the best flavor.

What Cut Is A Tomahawk Steak?

A raw tomahawk steak on white background

The tomahawk is an impressively large bone in ribeye steak, big enough to feed two or three people. The tomahawk chop is kept on the rib bone and usually weighs between 30 - 45 ounces.

These steaks come from the outside muscles of the steers’ rib cage and are essentially ribeye beef steak.

The difference being, the tomahawk ribeye is specifically cut with 5 inches of bone left intact [1].

Using the frenching technique, which shapes the bone, connective tissue, and fat to resemble a handle, this extra-long bone uses the same culinary techniques that shape a rack of lamb.

Since this juicy steak cut is similar to a ribeye cap, the meat usually has good marbling and is tender.

While it truly gives off those caveman vibes, with the right cooking technique, this tomahawk ribeye steak is far from stone-age.

Other Names For This Steak

The name tomahawk is rather fitting, due to its tomahawk ax-like appearance. Just like many steaks and cuts of meat, this mouth-watering goodness also has a few other names:

  • Rib Steak - Since this steak comes from the rib primal and still has the bone attached, it’s only natural that it’ll be referred to by this name.
  • Cowboy Steak - Once you shorten the bone on a tomahawk steak, it is then classed as a cowboy steak [2].

Chances are, your butcher will know what this steak is.

How Big Is A Tomahawk Steak?

A cooked tomahawk steak on white background

A typical tomahawk ribeye steak weighs around 40 ounces and is approximately 2 inches in thickness.

Keep in mind, this also includes that huge bone, therefore the steaks actually weigh about 13 to 16 ounces of beef per person.

While I’d certainly be impressed if you had the muscles to tackle this fat ribeye alone, this is definitely a sharer. After all, it is the biggest single steak.

If you and a friend have a big appetite, then we suggest 2 people share this chunk of beef. It pares gorgeously with a bottle of wine on a romantic occasion.

Also Read: Tomahawk Pork Chop

How Much Does It Cost?

You’ll have to do a little research on places near you where you can purchase this bad boy. Your local butcher may have them in stock, or it may be possible for you to put in an order for one.

On a quality steak, you’ll be looking to pay around $100. If you want to be real about it, $50 - $80 of that will be going on the considerably long bone handle.

Recommended Article: Best Places to Buy Prime Steaks

Are These Steaks Worth It?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in this case, the steak-holder. If you want to look at the steak from a technical point of view, that big bone marrow doesn’t add to the flavor of the meat.

Whether you plan to grill or cook up your ribeye at home or dine out at restaurants, you’re paying a lot more for the presentation vs what you’re actually going to taste.

The biggest joy of this impressive steak is how it looks. If you’re an Instagram foodie or you’re looking to throw a caveman-themed BBQ, then you may happily be willing to pay this price.

How to Cook A Tomahawk Steak on A Grill or Smoker

Tomahawk steak on a grill close up image

Looking to cook a tomahawk steak? Look no further.

Since the steak is so big, when it comes to cooking methods, we need to slowly apply heat rather than sear it straight off. We wouldn’t want burnt edges and a raw inside.

Many people choose to oven cook or skillet their meat, but in my experience, that isn’t the best heat method available. Popping your tomahawk ribeye on the grill will do wonders for the flavor.

“Their thickness makes it all too easy to end up with a burnt exterior and a cold, raw middle… A prewarmed steak will sear much faster, minimizing the amount of overcooked meat under the surface.”

- The Food Lab, Kenji Lopez-Alt

Take a look at our grill cooking process: 

  1. Give your steak piece 1 or 2 hours outside of the fridge. Depending on the size of the meat will determine how long it needs to adjust to the room temperature. Pat dry and add the seasoning.
  2. Light the coals inside your chimney. Once they’re at a good temperature, slide them to one side of the grill. This should leave one side empty, where you can place your steak on the grate above.
  3. Every 5 minutes, flip your steak. This includes the sides too.
  4. Use your meat thermometer to check the inside after 15 minutes. Once the temperature has reached 115 - 120 F, pull it off the grill and cover it in foil. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Now it’s time to sear. Add more coals to your chimney to bring the temperature heat up. Leave the grate for 3 to 5 minutes, and once hot, place your steak above the coals.
  6. Sear all sides of your steak for one minute then take it off heat. A medium-rare will be about 130 to 135 F.
  7. Add some butter and salt, serve and enjoy.

Read More:



  1. https://www.ruthschris.com/menu/dinner/tomahawk-ribeye/
  2. https://www.certifiedangusbeef.com/cuts/Detail.aspx?ckey=157
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Jayden Lawson
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