How to Grill a Tomahawk Steak: Make a Show-Stopping Meal!

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You’ve tried steaks but have you ever had a Tomahawk steak cut? This may be the ultimate carnivore meal; a huge hunk of meat with a big bone handle. It even looks like caveman food and is aptly named Flintstone steak as well.

Or perhaps you know it as a cowboy steak. No matter what you call it, this cut of meat is something else. 

These steaks are huge and are at least 2 inches thick. Some of the bigger cuts can feed an entire family, although some people have attempted to eat it whole-and succeeded.

If you want to give a Tomahawk steak recipe a try, you might be a little intimidated. The huge chunk of meat can be pretty pricey and if you mess up, you waste a whole bunch of money and ruin a perfectly good dinner.

We’ve rounded up the best ways of cooking a tomahawk steak, even for beginners. This article will tell you how to grill a Tomahawk steak and make a meal fit for a king. Once you’re through, a tomahawk ribeye won’t seem so daunting!

What is a Tomahawk Steak?

Grill Tomahawk Steak
grill Tomahawk Steak

The tomahawk steak is a ribeye beef steak that is cut in such a way that there are at least five inches of rib bone left unbroken. This extra-long, French-trimmed bone uses the same cooking technique that forms a rack of lamb. The bone is trimmed around the meat and fat so that it looks a lot like a handle.

The beef tomahawk is named after the Native American tomahawk ax. Besides the names we mentioned earlier, it is also called a tomahawk chop steak, bone-in ribeye, and cote du boeuf.

This flavorful steak is extremely soft, tender, and marvelously flavored. The tomahawk is primarily taken from the longissimus dorsi or the longest loin of the beef. It contains the muscle outside the rib cage that runs alongside the spine.

These muscles are rarely used, which makes them extra tender, and contains a decent amount of fat. Once cooked, this intramuscular fat mixes with the gelatin and juices released from the large bone, giving the tomahawk meat its unique flavor and buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

A grilled or smoked tomahawk steak is generally cut into thin slices and served in the shape of the steak. When served with something like mashed potatoes and greens, it makes for the heartiest, most filling meal ever.

How to Grill a Tomahawk Steak: Cook a Tomahawk Steak on a Gas Grill

How to Grill a Tomahawk Steak
grilling tomahawk steak

This section of the article will show you how to prep a Tomahawk steak on a gas grill. Most Tomahawks are too big and need to be cooked outside on a grill.

Here’s your guide on how to cook a tomahawk steak on a Weber gas grill or something similar.

What You Need:

  • 1 Tomahawk rib-eye steak
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Granulated garlic and paprika (optional)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, slightly smashed
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Half a stick of butter
  • Probe thermometer

Grilling Tomahawk Steaks: The Usual Way

  1. Start by seasoning your steak properly. Sprinkle a liberal amount of salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and the spices of your choice and pat the seasoning into the meat. This will infuse the flavor into the meat and even dry it up a little, giving you a better sear.
  2. Allow your steak to rest at room temperature for about half an hour, letting the seasoning sink into the meat.
  3. Meanwhile, fire up your grill. This will take just 5-10 minutes on a gas grill to reach the desired temperature. If you’re using a charcoal grill, this might take a little extra time to get your fire right.
  4. Set up a 2-zone cooking surface – one side of your grill should be extremely hot, about 500-550F degrees for searing the steak. The other side should be cooler so you can slowly cook the steak to your desired doneness.
  5. Once the searing surface is hot enough, set the steak on the grate and press down.
  6. After 2-3 minutes, turn the steak 45 degrees, without flipping the meat over. Press it down into the grate again, and sear for 2.5 minutes.
  7. After a total of 5 minutes on the first side, flip the tomahawk ribeye steak and repeat the previous step, searing the other side for 5 minutes total with a 45-degree rotation after 2-3 minutes.
  8. Now that the searing is done, move the steak over to the other section of your grill to cook the steak through. Place the steak on a raised rack and insert your meat probe thermometer into the middle of the steak.
  9. In an aluminum or stainless-steel pan, add the butter, garlic clove, and sprigs of rosemary and thyme.  Place the pan on the grill and under the steak to catch drippings from the beef, so that mixes with the butter sauce.
  10. Every 5 minutes, baste the butter sauce mixture in the pan over the steak with a basting brush.
  11. At this point, there is no set cooking time. Grill the steak until it reaches your level of doneness.

    The tomahawk timing is secondary to the internal temperature. If you like steak rare, cook until it reaches 125F. For a medium-rare tomahawk, grill till the internal temperature is 130F.
  12. After the steak reaches the desired temperature, remove the tomahawk from the grill and let it rest for 10-15 minutes, before cutting and serving.

Reverse Searing a Tomahawk Steak on the Grill:

To reverse sear tomahawk steak, you have to cook it through first, and then sear it on the grill.

  1. One hour before cooking, season your thawed steak with lots of salt, pepper, and any seasonings you want.
  2. Set your grill up for indirect high heat. There will be 2 zones on your grill once again; half the grill with direct high heat, and the other half with no heat.
  3. Place the steaks on the grill away from the lit coals, over the indirect heat, with the bone side of the steak facing the heat. Shut the lid, and position the air holes right over the steak.
  4. After ten minutes, flip the steak carefully. After 20 minutes of cooking on indirect heat, when it reaches an internal temperature of 115F (105F for a rare steak) in the thickest part, the steak will be ready to sear.
  5. In the meantime, melt the butter and cook the garlic and herbs in it until fragrant and infused into a sauce.
  6. Shift the meaty part of the steaks right over the coals, with the bone located above the indirect heat zone of the grill.

    Sear the steaks and flip them over every other minute, until it has a brown and crusty surface. From time to time, baste the melted butter over the steak for extra flavor.
  7. Remove the steak from the grill and put it on a very large platter. Let it rest for 10 minutes and then cut it up; run a sharp knife along the curve of the bone to carve the meat from the bone.
  8. Serve the meat alongside the ribs for a bit of a visual treat!

Cooking a Tomahawk Steak in the Oven:

Don’t have a grill? We’ll show you how to cook a tomahawk steak indoors. Make sure you have a large oven, a huge cast-iron skillet, and a big tray that fits in the oven.

[Check out the best warming trays and defrosting trays from our collection]. 

This method is ideal if you’re stumped on how to cook a 3-inch-thick ribeye steak, as the gentle oven heat won’t burn the surface or overcook the meat. It is also suitable for mini tomahawk steaks.

  1. Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 350F.
  2. Pat your steak with kitchen towels until it is dry and season it well. Let it rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the garlic by trimming off the top 1/4 inch of the garlic head.

    Brush with olive oil and add a pinch of salt, then wrap it in foil and roast the garlic for 30 minutes or until the cloves are soft and can be squeezed out. Allow the garlic to cool.
  4. Increase the oven temperature to 425F.
  5. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until it starts smoking. Place the tomahawk steak in the skillet and sear one side for 3 minutes without touching it.
  6. Use tongs and the bone as a handle to turn the steak over and sear the other side for 3 minutes without touching it. Then, for one minute, sear the short side of the steak opposite the bone.

    [Shop for the best tongs for grilling right here].
  7. Move the steak to a rimmed baking tray and put it in the oven, roasting for 9-10 minutes, or until the desired doneness is reached. You can also place the steak on a rack fitted over a baking sheet for improved air circulation and more even cooking.
  8. Measure the steak’s internal temperature; 115F for rare, 125F for medium-rare, and 135F for medium. Remember, the meat continues cooking after it is taken off the heat.
  9. As the steak is cooking, melt the butter in the skillet over low heat. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the butter, crushing and mixing them in with a spatula or wooden spoon. then add the herb sprigs and cook them for an extra 2 minutes.
  10. Once the steak is ready, remove it from the oven, and transfer it back into the skillet. Use a spoon or brush to baste the butter and garlic over the steak. Flip the steak, and baste again for another minute.
  11. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 minutes, before cutting or carving.

Tomahawk Steak vs. Rib Eye

Rib eye steaks and tomahawks are from the same cut of meat. However, there are still a few of differences between the two:

Rib eye steaks don’t have the signature bone handle. The other major difference is in size.

The tomahawk is cut to the thickness of the rib bone, and is generally about 2 inches thick, and weighs 30-45 ounces. On the other hand, the traditional ribeye is a little smaller.

Besides this, the two have subtle differences in taste and texture.

Any Extra Questions?

01. How Long Do I Cook a Steak on a Charcoal Grill?

For a rare or medium-rare steak, cook each side for 3-5 minutes on each side. For a medium steak, cook for 5-7 minutes, and 8-10 minutes for a well-done steak.

02. Where Can I Find a Tomahawk Steak Near Me?

If you aren’t sure where to buy tomahawk steak cuts from, try any butcher in your locality. You can even order them from online butchers and shops specializing in cuts of meat.

03. What is the Best Temperature to Cook Steak on Grill?

The ideal temperature for steaks is 450°F to 500°F, for thorough and even cooking.

04. What are Some Good Sides Dishes to Serve with Tomahawk Steak?

Side dishes like mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, garlic mushrooms, roasted asparagus, or Brussel sprouts look and taste amazing alongside tomahawk steak! You can also add some fresh salad or steamed greens with some rustic bread as well. 

Final Thoughts

If you ever wondered how to make a tomahawk at home, you weren’t the only one. Knowing how to grill a tomahawk steak is a great way to showcase your culinary skills and wow your guests. 

Even if you are just cooking for yourself, this is a steak that you can prepare for any celebratory meal, or just as a treat for yourself. Happy grilling!

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