Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak

April 9, 2017

Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak is one of the most perfectly cooked and delicious pieces of beef I’ve ever had the privilege of eating. Slow smoked, then seared for a perfectly pink and tender steak! I’ll teach you how to cook a tomahawk steak like a professional.

Tomahawk Steak

How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak:

To reverse sear, the tomahawk steak is cooked at a lower temperature on the smoker while the meat slowly comes up in temperature. Using a thermometer to test for internal temperature, the steak is removed from the grill about 10-15 degrees from desired doneness and the grill is then cranked up to high or a cast iron skillet is preheated. The steaks are returned to the smoking hot grill or skillet and quickly seared on each side for the perfect crunchy finish and beautiful char we all love on our steak.

This method ensures that the inside of the tomahawk steak is perfectly cooked to your desired doneness from top to bottom opposed to having dry edges on the outside and a raw hunk of meat in the middle (or worst case scenario, dry and charred all the way through.) The most important thing to perfecting this method is having a quick read internal thermometer. I have a Thermoworks MK4 and I use it to get the perfect steaks every time. For an additional visual aid, make sure you watch the video (just before the recipe card).

What is a Tomahawk Steak?

The cut: A tomahawk steak is a piece of tender rib meat (also known as a rib-eye steak) that hasn’t been fully removed from the bone. In face, the rib bone is left almost fully in tact and still attached to the meat! Rib eyes are one of my favorite steaks to grill, and while the long bone doesn’t add anything in terms of flavor, it looks amazingly awesome and makes a stunning presentation.

Oftentimes, butchers will also cut the tomahawk steaks more generously thick with the bone still attached. Some people scoff at paying for the bone, but to justify the additional cost in my mind, I let my dog gnaw on the smoked bone for a little while after dinner (without biting through the actual bone). We both got a little treat! You could also split the smoked bone and use it to make delicious bone broth.

Where to buy a Tomahawk Steak?

To get your hands on one of these behemoth beauties, you may need to do a little searching. I am SO lucky and have a grocery store, a butcher, and a Costco nearby that all carry tomahawk steaks. The grocery store has them pre-cut in the butcher’s case, Costco has them sliced and packaged and ready to go, but my favorite place by far is to get them from my butcher. He will cut one for me from the center of the rack (with the biggest spinalis muscle on top for the best flavor) and as thick as I like. Once you have a place where you can get a tomahawk steak, here’s what else you need to look for.

Color- Look for steaks that are bright red with no dark or brownish spots. The lights in the meat case are different and designed to make meat look better. Pull your steak out of the case or away from the others and look at them in the regular light. If your butcher is cutting them for you, you should have an amazingly fresh product.

Marbling- Marbling is the amount of fat laced throughout your meat. You may be trained to think that fat=bad, but giiiiirl, you gotta change your state of mind. The marbled fat in a steak means flavor. Yummy, delicious, melt in your mouth flavor. For rib-eye steaks, I always try and pick a steak with a large spinalis muscle on the top part of the steak and a well-marbled eye in the center.

Tomahawk Steak Seasoning:

The Rub: Of course, you can use good old Kosher salt and cracked black pepper on a yummy steak (it will always be a favorite of mine) but if you’re feeling adventurous give my Homemade Steak Rub a try. This steak rub was eaten on some wicked delicious reverse seared rib-eyes during the infamous Steak and Cake celebration when I broke my first Guinness World Record! No matter what you use to season, remember to be liberal. Tomahawk steaks are notoriously thick and you’ll need enough seasoning to account for that big cut of beef.

Tomahawk Steak Video

Tomahawk Steak Recipe

5 from 1 vote
reverse seared tomahawk steak
Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Resting Time
10 mins
Total Time
3 hrs 5 mins
This Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak is slow smoked, then seared for a perfectly pink and tender steak!
Course: Main Dish
Servings: 2 people
Author: Susie Bulloch (
  • 1 2 1/2-3 pound Tomahawk steak
  • Homemade Steak Rub link in recipe notes
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter melted
  • 2 pads salted butter
  1. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator approximately 2 hours before cooking to allow to come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat your grill or smoker to 225 degrees F. I used oak wood for this steak because I wanted a pronounced smoke flavor, but more mild woods like hickory or alder work great too.
  3. Season your steak liberally on all sides with the homemade steak rub (or with salt and pepper). Make sure to press the seasonings into the meat with your hand opposed to just sprinkling them on.
  4. Place the steak on the grill grate and close the lid. Cook the steaks at 225 degrees F until the internal temperature reaches 115 degrees F. Use an internal thermometer to check the temperature.
  5. Remove the steak from the grill to a separate plate. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Drop the butter into the pan and when it's melted and bubbling, it's time to sear the steaks. If you're searing at a higher heat on your grill, brush each side of your steak with melted butter.
  6. Place the tomahawk steak in the hot pan or on to the grill and sear each side for approximately 2-3 minutes or until desired doneness. Pull your steak at 125 degrees F for rare, 135 degrees F for medium rare, 145 degrees F for medium, 155 degrees for medium well, or 160 for well done (but please just give this one a go at medium rare... it really is the best).
  7. Let the steaks rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating.
Recipe Notes

Homemade Steak Rub Recipe:

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3 thoughts on “Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak

  1. As opposed to Biz, it’s 94° at 7pm. I’ve fired up the grill and began the reverse sear. Following these directions and drooling with each step. Looking forward to digging in to the 3# cut I gave my husband for Fathers Day.

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