Tomahawk Rib-Eye Steak

Tomahawk rib eye steak recipe

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 52 mins
Rest Time: 10 mins
Total: 72 mins
Serving: 1 to 2 servings
Yield: 1 steak
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
2024 Calories
151g Fat
7g Carbs
160g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 to 2
Amount per serving
Calories 2024
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 151g 194%
Saturated Fat 69g 343%
Cholesterol 558mg 186%
Sodium 1634mg 71%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 160g
Vitamin C 7mg 36%
Calcium 129mg 10%
Iron 16mg 89%
Potassium 1890mg 40%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If there's a steak that resembles caveman food, it is the tomahawk rib-eye. Also called a cowboy steak, the tomahawk is a bone-in rib-eye that weighs between 30 and 45 ounces. It is nearly 2 inches thick and includes a long bone; this signature "handle" led to the steak's name. This is a large steak that can feed two people, and it can easily be prepared at home.

While a tomahawk steak is one of the more expensive pieces of meat available, it's worth the price. The rib-eye includes some of the most flavorful and tender beef, and the cut is sure to make a big impression.

The tomahawk steak is best pan seared and then finished in the oven. Just before the steak rests, it is basted with butter, roasted garlic, and fresh thyme to result in a juicy, flavorful, and tender piece of meat. Serve it with a full-bodied red wine like cabernet sauvignon and a veggie side, and recreate this classic steakhouse splurge for a fraction of the cost.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tomahawk rib-eye steak, about 1 3/4 inches thick

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 1 small head garlic

  • 2 tablespoons oil, plus more for drizzling (canola or grapeseed)

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 4 large sprigs fresh thyme

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F.

    Ingredients for tomahawk rib-eye
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. Pat the tomahawk steak dry with paper towels.

    Pat the tomahawk steak with paper towels
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. Season very liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Let the steak come to room temperature.

    Season very liberally
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the garlic. Trim off the top 1/4 inch of the garlic bulb. Drizzle with the oil and add a pinch of salt, then wrap in a foil tent, and roast the garlic for 30 minutes, until the cloves are soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 425 F.

    Garlic cooked in foil
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. Optional: Moisten a paper towel and wrap it around the steak's rib bone, then wrap aluminum foil around the paper towel.

    Aluminum foil wrapped around the steak's rib bone
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  6. In a large heavy-duty skillet (preferably cast-iron), heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until it's just starting to smoke. Lay the tomahawk steak into the skillet and sear for 3 minutes without touching it. (Step back a bit since it will smoke and spatter.)

    Tomahawk steak searing in a skillet
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  7. Using tongs and the bone as a handle, turn the steak over and cook for another 3 minutes without touching it. Using tongs and the bone as a handle, sear the short side of the steak opposite the bone, about 1 minute.

    Searing a tomahawk rib-eye steak on both sides
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  8. Transfer the steak to a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven, roasting 9 to 10 minutes, or until the desired doneness is reached. Alternatively, you can put the steak on a rack fitted into a baking sheet, which will allow air to flow evenly around the steak in the oven, thereby cooking the steak uniformly on both sides.

    Tomahawk steak transferred to a baking sheet
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  9. Use an instant-read thermometer to measure the steak's internal temperature―125 F for rare, 135 F for medium-rare, or 145 F for medium. The meat will continue to cook while it rests and increase by 5 to 10 degrees, so take that into account when pulling your steak out of the oven.

    Steak with an instant-read thermometer
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  10. While the steak is cooking, add the butter to the skillet and melt over low heat. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the butter, stirring with a wooden spoon to distribute, then add the thyme sprigs and continue to cook, about 2 minutes.

    Garlic cloves cooking in butter
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  11. When the steak is ready, take it out of the oven, and transfer it back into the skillet. Use a spoon to baste the butter and garlic over the steak. Turn the steak, and baste again, about 1 minute total. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let it rest 10 minutes.

    Using a spoon to baste the steak with garlic and butter
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  12. If you've wrapped the bone in the optional paper towel and foil, remove it now. 

    Cooked tomahawk rib-eye steak
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  13. Carve the steak against the grain then drizzle with more of the butter and garlic. Or, if the steak is for one person, simply spoon the butter and garlic over the steak. Serve and enjoy.

    A plated tomahawk rib-eye steak
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Tip

  • You may need to order a tomahawk steak from your local butcher or supermarket. While most meat departments carry rib-eye steaks, they may need to french the bone for you for a tomahawk.
  • Wrapping the bone in aluminum foil is an optional step used at steakhouses to give the bone a nice appearance if the entire steak is served to one diner. You don't have to do this, but it does make a better presentation.
  • Use peanut, canola, or grapeseed oil for this recipe. Not olive oil. Since olive oil has a low smoke point, it will smoke too much and may impart a burnt flavor to the meat. The peanut, canola, or grapeseed oil, however, are neutral oils that don't impart any flavor. Once the steak is in the oven, you can proceed with the recipe as written, and if desired, add a splash of olive oil to the skillet with the butter when creating the pan sauce.

Why Is the Tomahawk Steak So Expensive?

The tomahawk is a bone-in rib-eye cut from between the sixth and 12th rib of the beef cow. Similar to a rack of lamb, the bone is frenched to give the steak its distinctive 5- to 8-inch "handle." The extra labor involved in the cut and the fact that the meat removed from the bone becomes short ribs leads to the steak's high price.

Why Do Chefs Put Butter on Steak?

No matter the cut, butter is a key to cooking a restaurant-quality steak. Chefs often finish a steak in the oven or on the grill with a pat of butter on top. As the butter melts, the fat adds an extra richness that complements the meat's natural flavor and softens the char to ensure each bite is tender. This recipe uses a slightly different method, but the premise and results are the same.