What Is Porterhouse Steak?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

grilled porterhouse steak
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The undisputed king of the steakhouse, one porterhouse steak can weigh 2 pounds; it's the classic "hanging off the edge of the plate" dinner extravaganza. Generally marketed in restaurants as a meal for two, the porterhouse combines the tender filet mignon with the meaty-flavored New York strip, eliminating the need to make a difficult choice.

What Is Porterhouse Steak?

The porterhouse is a composite steak that's derived from the point where the tenderloin and top loin meet. If you remove the bone and cut out the two steaks that make up the porterhouse, you get a tenderloin steak and a top loin (or New York strip steak). So if you order a porterhouse, expect big portions!

A porterhouse can be served whole or sliced, depending on how you want to divide it up. For someone with a very hearty appetite, it is a tremendous meal—even a challenge. As a steak for two, a porterhouse makes the perfect steak to indulge in on particularly special occasions.

Raw t-bone steak
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How to Cook Porterhouse Steak

For the most authentic steakhouse flavor, cook your porterhouse on the grill. But you can also get great results with the broiler or in a smoking hot cast iron skillet on the stovetop. Use light seasoning but a generous amount of salt and try not to cook the steak beyond medium, or 145 F, at the most.

To grill a porterhouse, start hot and fast, giving the surface a good sear. Cook it to the point right before the fat would start to burn, then flip it and sear the other side. To get those restaurant-style diamond grill marks, rotate it 45 degrees on the same side before you flip it and repeat on the other side.

Once it browns on both sides, move it to a cooler part of the grill to finish it to your desired doneness. To add richness, place a pat of butter in the center of the steak a few minutes before you pull it off the grill. This is a popular restaurant trick that brings out the flavor.

The burly porterhouse makes an ideal candidate for a cowboy steak. Give it a Southwestern twist by rubbing it all over with a paste that includes garlic, chili powder, chipotle powder, salt, and pepper. Then wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for a few hours so it absorbs the spices before you grill it.

What Does Porterhouse Steak Taste Like?

The porterhouse gives you a taste of both the filet and the loin, with the less flavorful filet racking up points for tenderness and the strip steak scoring with its beefy flavor. When you start with a high-quality cut, this steak needs little in the way of adornment.

Porterhouse Steak vs. T-bone Steak

A porterhouse is basically the same cut as a T-bone steak, but the porterhouse is generally cut thicker and must contain significantly more of the tenderloin filet relative to the loin portion than a T-bone steak. The United States Department of Agriculture regulates the porterhouse classification. To qualify, the filet portion must measure at least 1.25 inches thick from the bone to the widest edge.

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Porterhouse Steak Recipes

The porterhouse requires a little finesse to properly cook the two distinct steaks included in the cut, but it generally adapts to whichever steak cooking method or recipe you prefer.

Where to Buy Porterhouse Steak

When buying a porterhouse steak, look for one cut at least 1.5 inches thick. Occasionally, butchers will sell "thin" cut steaks, but these are largely pointless. A porterhouse should be thick, and not just because it is a huge steak and deserves to be so. In order to get a large steak like this cooked to perfection without it drying out, it needs to have significant mass and thickness. 

A good porterhouse should have a deep, rich color without any gray. The fat should be white and not yellow. Look for good marbling throughout the meat, particularly the loin portion. Don't try to get a bargain on a steak like this. While dry-aged and/or prime grade versions of the porterhouse will be expensive, you can find a good "choice" grade steak that is fresh and very flavorful. 

Storing Porterhouse Steak

You can generally keep a porterhouse steak in your refrigerator in the store packaging for up to 48 hours. For longer storage, repackage it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or butcher paper and place it in the freezer. For the best flavor, use it within three months. For longer freezer storage, it's best to vacuum-seal the steak first to prevent freezer burn.

Nutrition and Benefits of Porterhouse Steak

Like most beef, a porterhouse provides ample amounts of protein, some B vitamins, iron, and zinc. But with more than 1,000 calories per pound, the nutritional considerations for a porterhouse, which typically weighs 2 pounds or more, depend largely on how much of the giant steak you actually eat.