The tomahawk is the granddaddy of steak. It's a very large double-cut ribeye with the bone in. It's big, it's beefy and it's a carnivore lovers dream steak.
The bone is typically Frenched, meaning that excess fat and meat have been trimmed off the bone. The rib bone adds some flavor and protects part of the steak from the high heat of the grill. It also gives the steak the appearance of a tomahawk, hence the name. If you like a ribeye, give this a try.
Choice vs. Prime
A tomahawk is one of those steaks where the quality of the meat really matters. Choice meat is good for a lot of cuts, but, in my opinion, a tomahawk steak is not one of them. Think about it. A prime rib roast is cooked at 250°F for 3 - 4 hours to make it tender. A bone-in ribeye is basically the same cut of meat but it is cooked fast like a steak, not low and slow like a prime rib roast. That means there is no time for the meat fibers to break down to make the steak tender.
This is where quality comes in. In my experience, a high quality prime ribeye is more tender than a choice ribeye. A prime steak will have more fat and should be more tender than a choice steak. If you can find a prime tomahawk steak, I think it worth the extra money.
There are really only a few ways to cook a tomahawk steak. Sous-vide with a reverse sear is hard to do because the tomahawk steak is so darn big it's a challenge to get the whole thing in a sous-vide bath. Reserve sous-vide for another cut of meat. A cast iron skillet is also not really an option, the tomahawk will not fit.
That means it's time to break out the grill and set it up for direct heat on one side and indirect heat on the other. A gas barbecue would certainly work but I prefer the flavor and hint of smoke that comes from cooking it over coal.
The best way to make the perfect tomahawk steak is to cook a room temperature steak over indirect heat to within 5° of your target temperature and then reverse sear it on both sides directly over hot coals. Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the steak to determine when it's done. Remember to pull it off the grill 5° below your target temperature. The bone will retain heat and the steak will continue to cook and come up those last 5°.
In the video, I cooked the tomahawk in a wood-fired oven on a Tuscan grill grate that I made with some parts from my local hardware store. A few nuts and bolts and a replacement cast iron grate for a barbecue was all it took.
I let the Tuscan grill heat up in the hot oven for about 10 minutes. Then, I put the steak on the grill grate and moved it to the coolest part of the oven until the internal temperature hit 125°F. After that, I pulled some of the hot coals from the back of the oven and placed them directly under the grill grate. A few minutes later the tomahawk had a nice reverse sear.
- A great big tomahawk steak
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- A big appetite
See recipe card for quantities.
With a tomahawk steak, less is more. Simple seasonings is all it takes. A little olive oil, salt and pepper is all this steak needs. The beefy flavor is intense and a little char from the sear completes the steak.
Brush the tomahawk with oil on both sides.
Season the steak with salt and pepper and it's ready for the grill.
A Tuscan grill heating up in wood-fired oven.
A tomahawk steak seared on a Tuscan grill.
Be aware that this cut of meat has a lot of fat and it will cause a flare up. Watch your eyebrows. If you enjoy a good steak, this is worth trying.
For this recipe, I used a homemade Tuscan grill inside a wood-fired oven. Overkill? Perhaps. An inexpensive charcoal grill would work just fine.
You won't have any leftovers.
Take the steak out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before grilling. The steak needs to come up close to room temperature before it is placed on a hot grill. Otherwise, it will take longer to cook and the outside will be way overdone.
Also, use chunk charcoal instead of briquets. Chunk charcoal will add a hint of smoke that makes the tomahawk even more special.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with this recipe.
Seared Tomahawk Steak - How to Cook a Double Cut Bone-In Ribeye
- 1 each Tomahawk steak large
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper freshly ground
- Setup grill for direct heat.
- Brush both sides with olive oil.
- Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
- Grill 3 - 4 minutes per side to desired doneness (suggest medium-rare).