When you want a delicious steak with a big visual impact, look no further than this perfectly grilled Tomahawk Steak.
There’s nothing quite like a nice steak for a special occasion, and while I have several steak recipes on the site, this one is really special. Learn how to cook Tomahawk steak perfectly, a large steak on the bone that makes an impressive dinner for two.
What Is A Tomahawk Steak?
A tomahawk steak is a bone-in ribeye steak with the rib bone still attached and left very long so that it resembles a tomahawk ax.
Tomahawk steaks typically need to be ordered as a special cut from your butcher or grocery store, but can easily be found online if you’re looking for quick delivery. The size averages between two to two and a half pounds. It will generously serve two people, or provide smaller portions for three or four people.
A tomahawk steak is an expensive, special occasion cut of beef. To ensure it’s cooked perfectly, there are a few steps that should be taken before, during, and after the steak is cooked.
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How To Cook A Tomahawk Steak Perfectly
It’s tempting to add garlic, herbs, and pepper to the steak, but these will burn on the grill and are best if added after the steak is cooked. The only seasoning the steak needs before and during grilling is salt. This can be added to the steak up to three days before grilling or as soon as one hour before grilling.
To season, rub about two teaspoons of salt, any kind, all over the steak, including the sides. Place a wire rack onto a sheet pan and place the salted steak onto the wire rack. Allow the steak to sit at room temperature for an hour before grilling. Or if salting days in advance, refrigerate the steak uncovered for up to three days. This will “dry brine” the steak, adding flavor and making it more tender.
Because grilling is unpredictable and often difficult to maintain a consistent temperature, it is highly recommended that you insert a digital probe thermometer into the thickest part of the steak at this point so that you can watch the temperature and/or be alerted when the steak reaches the perfect temperature once it is on the grill. It is challenging to insert the meat thermometer once the steak begins cooking, so take the time to do this before placing the steak on the grill.
On average, a two-pound tomahawk steak will take anywhere from 25 minutes to 45 minutes to cook, depending on how you like your steak and depending on how hot your grill is. Rare steak will take less time than a medium-well or well-done steak.
Cooking Your Tomahawk Steak
Because a tomahawk steak is much thicker than the average weeknight dinner steak, it requires both searing and roasting. Both can be done on the grill.
Some online recipes recommend that you first “roast” and then “sear,” (the reverse sear method, like in my popular Roast Pork recipe). However I’ve found the best way to NOT overcook this type of steak on the grill is to do the opposite, especially if using a charcoal or wood grill. Get the searing out of the way first, and then finish by roasting. This is an expensive cut and you want to make sure it’s cooked to perfection!
The heat source and temperature is much easier to control on a gas grill than on a charcoal or wood grill, but you’ll set them all up the same way, with a hot zone and cool zone. The hot zone is for searing, and the cool zone is for roasting. This is also referred to as direct and indirect grilling.
To create the hot and cool zones on a gas grill, metaphorically divide your grill in half. Turn all of the burners to the left of the dividing line on high heat – this will become your hot zone. Then leave all of the burners to the right of the dividing line off – this will become your cool zone.
For a wood and charcoal grill, build your fire as you normally would, then push the majority of the coals or wood to one side, which will be your hot zone. The other side of the grill, with none or very few coals, is your cool zone.
Sear all sides of the steak on the hot zone, turning 45 or 90 degrees to create hashmarks if desired. Then move the steak over to the cool zone to continue roasting with indirect heat.
Monitor the steak closely using the digital probe thermometer that was inserted before cooking began, and remove from the heat when the desired internal temperature is reached according to the chart.
I prefer my steaks medium, but if you prefer your steak rare or well done, follow the cooking chart below:
|Desired Cook:||Goal Internal Temperature:||Remove From Grill at:|
|Rare:||125°F (52°C)||120°F (49°C)|
|Medium-rare:||135°F (57°C)||130°F (54°C)|
|Medium:||145°F (63°C)||140°F (60°C)|
|Medium-well:||150°F (66°C)||145°F (63°C)|
|Well done:||160°F (71°C)||155°F (68°C)|
Carryover cooking, where the heat inside the steak will continue to cook it even after it has been removed from the grill, will bring the steak up to the desired temperature.
Once the steak has reached the desired doneness, remove it from the heat and let it rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes, but no longer than 20 minutes, before slicing. This allows the juices to settle back into the steak.
How To Serve Tomahawk Steak
I like to serve a tomahawk steak on a cutting board. This can either be in slices already, or whole so that everyone can cut their own piece from the rib bone. It does make a gorgeous display in the center of the table!
Present the steak along with different sauces and butters. Try horseradish butter, chimichurri sauce, roasted garlic olive oil, or blue cheese butter, to name a few, along with cracked black pepper and fresh herbs. Serve with your favorite steakhouse sides like a baked potato with a garlic compound butter and roasted veggies.
I think this is best served as a large entrée for two. However if you’d like to stretch this steak to serve more people, try slicing it and serving it as part of something like a steak salad.Print
Listen to me explain briefly about how to cook tomahawk steaks, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:
- 1 (2 and ½ lb.) tomahawk steak
- 2 tsp. salt
- Insert a wire rack into a sheet pan.
- Rub all sides of the steak with salt, place on wire rack. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour, or refrigerate up to three days, uncovered.
- Preheat one side of grill on high. Sear all sides of steak over direct heat, then move to indirect heat to continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 130°F (about 35 minutes), or desired temperature is reached based on the chart below.
- Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Rare: 125°F or 52°C (Remove from the grill at 120°F or 49°C.)
- Medium-rare: 135°F or 57°C (Remove from the grill at 130°F or 54°C.)
- Medium: 145°F or 63°C (Remove from the grill at 140°F or 60°C.)
- Medium-well: 150°F or 66°C (Remove from the grill at 145°F or 63°C.)
- Well done: 160°F or 71°C (Remove from the grill at 155°F or 68°C.)