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. My first bite was so juicy, meaty, and delicious, it was like all my dreams came true.
But it’s also tempered by its equally insane price when served in a steakhouse. If you want all the joy of a tomahawk at only half the cost, you should make it at home (unless it’s a special night out of course). Home-cooked steaks are the best steaks.
Tomahawks were a little scary to cook between the high cost and unusually thick cut. Luckily, I did the research so you don’t have to. Read on for the nerdiest tome on how to buy, cook, or serve a perfect tomahawk steak.
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. Is it the same as a bone-in ribeye? Yes, but presentation counts for a lot in food, and you can’t beat the power of a 24″ rib bone.
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, yes, 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.
If you’re making them at home, 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 instantly smiles.
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.
Are thick-cut bone-in steaks better?
Without a doubt, thick bone in steaks are better. 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. The thickness of the steak makes it more forgiving: 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 between 30 oz to 60 oz. In my experience, every tomahawk I’ve ever bought to cook at home has been between 48 oz and 60 oz.
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.
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”. It was worth it though, because his family got to look forward to it for a week. They made a weekend 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 ordinary to amazing. It’s a good signifier of quality that’s come a long way from the ’90s lies of Kobe beef everything.
USDA Prime and Certified Angus are both easily as good, if not better, so there’s no need to hunt any specific cow down. 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.
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 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 that beeps when the target temp is hit. They can be really cheap, wireless app driven, or something in between. Personally I always go with the cheap option. If all you have is an instant read, be sure to 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: Don’t do this
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.
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 can buy a low side pan such as a plancha or this cast iron crepe pan. You can also try to squeeze it down as best you can, then baste whatever can’t touch with some butter.
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 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, then sear so it’s as hot as possible when serving.
How to reheat steak
To reheat a steak, just let it come to room temp on the countertop for about an hour, 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 expensive steak dinner in Kobe, they served it 16 different ways. Check here for our guide to all the best steak sauces.
Side dishes for steak
Is it even steak without sides??
We’ve also done ours with fish sauce and lettuce wraps.
How many calories in steak
If calories are important to you, you’ll probably own a kitchen scale. Tomahawks are ribeyes, and ribeyes are 191 calories per 100 grams. Pro tip: Weigh the bone afterwards and subtract from the weight indicated on the label for a rough estimate of the calories in your steak.
Steak long and prosper
How to cook Tomahawk Steak
How to cook tomahawk steak perfectly every time
Steak cooking temp
Rare: 125ºF | Medium rare: 135ºF | Medium: 145ºF | Medium well: 155ºF | Well done: ?♂️
How to cook Tomahawk Steak
Amount Per Serving (100 g)
Calories 291 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 10g63%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.