A tomahawk steak is every steak lover’s dream. The first time a tomahawk steak was put down in front of me I was filled with a sense of wonder and joy – that first bite was so juicy, meaty, and delicious, it’s like all my dreams came true. For real, it really was that magical.

But it’s also tempered by the knowledge in the back of your mind that you spent mad cash on it, so unless it’s a special night out, if you want all the joy of a tomahawk at only half the cost, you should make it at home. I did just that awhile ago and I’ve been making tomahawk steaks a few times a year ever since, because home-cooked steaks are the best steaks.

Tomahawks can be a little scary to cook between the high cost and unusually thick cut, so if you’ve ever had any questions about how to buy, cook, or serve a perfect tomahawk steak, read on for the nerdiest tome to tomahawks ever, aka: Our Ultimate Guide to Tomahawk Steaks and Why You Need One In Your Life.

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What is a tomahawk steak?

Tomahawk steaks are bone-in ribeyes, cut from ribs 6-12, with a huge length of bone left intact and the meat frenched up to get everything clean looking.

Are they a total scam?

You’re inevitably going to hear from someone that tomahawk steaks are a total scam, pound-for-pound overpriced, and that you’re just paying for a bone. It’s not totally wrong: a tomahawk steak absolutely goes for a premium over a regular bone-in ribeye steak – at a restaurant. And, yeah, they do taste more or less the same as a bone in ribeye.

But any thick cut steak also often goes for a premium over a smaller steak of the exact same kind. Fewer people buy them, and that raises the price. I love tomahawk steaks because their popularity means they’re so much easier to come by than a good 2.5” thick cut bone-in ribeye. When we lived in San Diego, we used to drive 25 minutes up the coast to find a good thick cut bone-in ribeye, but you can even get tomahawks at costco now (though I’d still get mine back at Siesel’s if I were in SD).

If you’re making them at home, the scam factor completely disappears: the price premium is much smaller and makes sense for a special home celebration or weekend meal. The moment you pull out out that giant tomahawk steak for the grill, everyone who isn’t vegan/vegetarian instantly smiles.

Presentation is 100% worth something, or people wouldn’t sprinkle gold flecks on their food. When we ordered our first tomahawk, we were so in love that we asked the waiter if we could take it out of the dark restaurant to take a photo with it. As we all know, love makes things taste better.

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Are thick-cut bone-in steaks better?

Without a doubt. Often the meatiest, beefiest, most flavorful parts of the meat are right next to the bone. The thickness of the steak allows you to get a good medium rare/whatever finish you want on the inside while still getting the deeply browned thick crust of your dreams on the outside. If you look at the ombre of the meat in the first photo, you can see that a regular 1/2″ supermarket ribeye would be basically cooked through by the time you get a crust of that quality on it.  The thicc-ness of the steak makes it more forgiving too: it’s basically impossible to overcook a 2″ steak without great effort and forgetfulness.

How big are tomahawk steaks?

Depending on which bone you get, tomahawks can range in size. The internet says they can range from 30oz to 45oz, but that hasn’t been my experience: every tomahawk I’ve ever bought to cook at home has been between 48oz and 60oz. A buddy just bought one from costco the other day at a whopping 60oz.

Where do you buy a tomahawk steak?

Costco is often your best bet to get a tomahawk if you want one right away, but if you want something truly special, I’m a big fan of Snake River Farms American Wagyu Tomahawk.

Of course, the best place to buy any meat, if you still have one in your community, is your local butcher. Period. All of the best steaks I’ve ever had came from local shops no matter where in the world I was. They may need a few days to get it ready or order it in, but it’s the best option.

snake river farms tomahawk steak | www.iamafoodblog.com

Tomahawk steak at costco?!

Did I really say costco earlier? Yes! Costco sells Tomahawk steaks and they are offically ‘American Wagyu’. I haven’t tried it but a buddy of mine did and his review was: “really good, tastes like bone-in ribeye at double the price”. I call that a victory because his family got to look forward to it for a week before the weekend came and they made a whole afternoon of it with wine and lobsters and good times.

What is American Wagyu?

American wagyu is Japanese cows, hopefully Japanese Black Cows (called Kuroge Wagyu in Japan) that are raised and pastured in America. They can be full-blooded or cross bred with other breeds. I’ve had a lot of it and it can definitely range in quality from same-as-any other-beef to amazing. It’s a decent signifier of minimum quality that’s a long way from the ’90s lies of Kobe beef everything.

Honestly though, USDA Prime and Certified Angus are both easily as good, if not better. With any steak, even and consistent (and copious) marbling is often a great sign of how good that steak will be. Grass fed is better than Grain or Corn fed/finished, as well, in my opinion.

tomahawk steak | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to cook tomahawk steak

You can cook a tomahawk steak just like a normal one, the most important factor is to make sure it’s well tempered (rested to room temperature) so you’re getting the inside up to temp fast enough before the outside burns. It’s much better to get the inside right up to medium rare so you can sear without worrying. There are a bunch of ways of doing that, here are my favorites.

how to cook tomahawk steak | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to cook steak: in oven

Set your oven as low as it can go, about 250ºF for most people, and leave your steak in there for about 40 mins to an hour. If you have a meat thermometer or oven probe (more on that below) leave it in until it is 10 degrees lower than your desired final temperature. A chart is below as well for easy reference.

How to cook steak: sous vide

This one is easy: add your steak and any rubs, marinades you would like to a water bath and set it for 10 degrees lower than you want to end up at. The steak can stay in the bath for up to 8 hours (aka, overnight).

How to cook steak: on grill

This one definitely needs a meat thermometer but also produces the best flavor in my opinion, espcially if doing charcoal. Move your coals to one side, or if using gas, only light up one side of the grill. Leave your steak as far away as possible from the coals or the burner on the other side of the grill and close it. Flip once in awhile to make sure you’re getting even heat.

The importance of a meat thermometer

When cooking steak, especially one that costs north of $100, a meat thermometer is essential. I recommend an oven probe for steak, one that beeps when the target temp is hit. They can be really cheap, extremely expensive wireless app driven, or something in between. Personally I always go with really cheap. If all you have is an instant read or thermocouple style, that’s good enough, just check often to make sure the steak doesn’t get overcooked.

Steak cooking temp

For a quick and easy reference, when we have dinner parties in our house, our steaks are roughly done at:

  • Rare: 125ºF
  • Medium rare: 135ºF
  • Medium: 145ºF
  • Medium well: 155ºF
  • Well done: 🤷‍♂️

Searing your tomahawk steak

Once you have your internal temperature up to where you want it, you’ll need to sear it. I like to always rest a steak before searing (more on that later). When searing, use as high of a heat as you can produce.

If you’re already grilling it, all you need to do is warm up the grill to max while you’re resting it, then move it over to the direct heat zone and grill it to the right color (for me, that’s 30 seconds on a side). If your steak was done sous vide or in oven, you’ll need to sear it on a stove (more on that below) or some other way – I use an 800 degree pizza oven.

searing tomahawk steak | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to sear tomahawk steak on a stove

Cooking a tomahawk on the stove is difficult because of the bone. Even if your cast iron pan is huge, aka 14”+ wide, you’ll probably find it hard to contact the entire steak to the pan. You have two options: buy a plancha style or low sided pan like this cast iron crepe pan, or squeeze it down as best you can, then baste whatever can’t touch with some butter. Ironically, because it’s such a large cut, tomahawk steaks are actually more forgiving of overcooking than a regular steak, so it’s not so stressful.

How long to let steak rest for

When you apply heat to muscle fibers they contract and squeeze out moisture. Resting time allows the fibers to relax again, reabsorb some of the moisture, and generally produces a more tender and much juicier steak. You don’t necessarily need to wrap the steak in foil (though it helps) but allowing it to rest for 5-15 minutes after the main cooking process is absolutely vital. Longer is better.

I prefer to rest my steak before the sear to keep things as hot as possible when serving.

how to cook tomahawk steak | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to reheat steak

A 60oz tomahawk is more than even large families should eat in one sitting, so you’ll probably have leftovers. To reheat a steak, just let it come to room temp on the countertop for an hour or so, then sear and serve.

Best sauces for steak

Some people believe in nothing but good ol’ salt and pepper. For me, I prefer to change the taste of the meal as it goes on, so I start with a pure bite of salt and pepper, then move onto a nice steak sauce or other preparation. When we had our high dollar steak dinner in Kobe, they served it 16 different ways. Check here for our guide to all the best steak sauces: peppercorn, creamy mustard, garlic mushroom, coconut curry (it’s a french thing), and japanese chimichurri.

Side dishes for steak

All the best steaks are steak and sides:

We had ours with fish sauce and lettuce wraps.

Vietnamese tomahawk steak wraps | www.iamafoodblog.com

How many calories in steak

Tomahawks are ribeyes, and ribeyes are 191 calories per 100 grams. You can use this handy calculator to get the number of calories per ounce (although keep in mind the bone is often 10+ ounces).

Your tomahawk weight: oz

____ grams x 291cal/100g = ____ calories for your tomahawk ribeye

If calories are important to you, you’ll probably own a kitchen scale. Just weigh the bone afterwards and subtract from the weight indicated on the label for a better guestimate of the calories in your steak.

The tomahawk steak of my dreams

Tomahawk steaks are a special occasion meal for sure, but they’re totally worth the price when you make them at home and it’s super rewarding to know that you flawlessly cooked such a large hunk of meat. I hope you give it a try soon.

Steak long and prosper 🖖
Mike

 

How to cook a tomahawk steak | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to cook Tomahawk Steak

How to cook tomahawk steak perfectly every time
Serves 8
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 1 tomahawk steak 48-60oz
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter if desired

Instructions

  • Let your steak come to room temp on the countertop. Preheat your oven to 250ºF or one side of your gas/charcoal grill on low. Season your steak with salt and pepper.
    tomahawk steak tempering | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Put the temperature probe into the thickest part of the steak (see notes if you don’t have a probe-type thermometer) then put the steak in the center of the oven or farthest away from the heat on the grill until it hits 10ºF below your desired temperature, flipping every 5 minutes or so. See notes for steak cooking temps.
    reverse seared tomahawk steak | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Rest your steak for 5-15 minutes (longer is better) while you heat up your grill, pizza oven, blow torch, or cast iron pan.
  • Sear your steak until your desired color is achieved (about 30 seconds per side for me). Serve immediately with fixins and sauces, if desired.
    how to cook tomahawk steak | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

If you don't have a probe type thermometer, check with an instant read as you flip every 5 minutes.
Steak cooking temp
Rare: 125ºF | Medium rare: 135ºF | Medium: 145ºF | Medium well: 155ºF | Well done: 🤷‍♂️

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
How to cook Tomahawk Steak
Amount Per Serving (100 g)
Calories 291 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 80mg27%
Sodium 54mg2%
Potassium 260mg7%
Carbohydrates 0.01g0%
Fiber 0.01g0%
Sugar 0.01g0%
Protein 24g48%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Comments

  1. Sabrina says:

    whoa, I have to make this, I regularly make ribeyes, but have never ventured into Flintstone sized steaks, if only because it looks so fun! thank you!

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-Steph & Mike