posted July 25, 2022
Perfect Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak
Tomahawk Steak is one of the most delicious pieces of beef you’ll ever have the privilege of eating. Using a reverse sear method, it’s slow smoked and then seared for a perfectly pink and tender steak.
What is a Tomahawk Steak?
A tomahawk steak is a piece of tender rib meat (also known as a bone in ribeye steak) that hasn’t been fully removed from the bone. In fact, the rib bone is left almost fully intact and still attached to the meat! Ribeyes 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 for a stunning presentation.
Oftentimes, butchers will cut the steaks generously thick with the bone still attached. Some people scoff at paying for the bone in this ribeye steak, but to justify the additional cost, I like to split the smoked bone and use it to make delicious bone broth. Then I have a highly nutritious broth I can consume later or use to make soup.
This tomahawk steak is an awesome cut of meat that every BBQer should cook up at least once. Not only does it taste amazing, but it looks incredible too.
Where to Buy Tomahawk Steak
To get your hands on one of these behemoth beauties, you may need to do a little searching. I am lucky to 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, and Costco has them sliced, 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 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 is bad, but you gotta change your state of mind, my friend. The marbled fat in a steak means flavor. Yummy, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth flavor. For ribeye 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.
Seasoning for Tomahawk Steak
There are a few options for seasoning this steak. 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.
- Salt & pepper. To keep things simple, season your steak with a mix of kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic powder.
- Beef Rub. If you’re feeling adventurous, give my Beef Rub a try. This seasoning has a salt and pepper base that is perfect on beef. You can buy it straight from the Hey Grill Hey Store, and it’ll make this steak taste amazing.
- Homemade Steak Rub. If you don’t have any of my Beef Rub on hand, you can also make your own Homemade Steak Rub. This steak rub was eaten on some wicked delicious reverse-seared ribeyes during the infamous Steak and Cake celebration when I broke my first Guinness World Record!
How did you season your steak? Let us know your favorite in the comments below!
Reverse Sear Tomahawk Steak
While there are a variety of methods for cooking tomahawk steak, I prefer to reverse sear my steak on the smoker. This method ensures that the inside of the steak is perfectly cooked to your desired doneness from top to bottom as 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).
To reverse sear, cook the steak at a lower temperature on the smoker while the meat slowly comes up in temperature. Using a meat thermometer to test for internal temperature, remove the steak from the smoker about 10 degrees from desired doneness.
Next, crank up the heat on your grill to High or preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Return the steak to the smoking hot grill or skillet and quickly sear on each side for a perfectly charred finish.
The most important thing to perfecting this method is having a quick-read internal thermometer. I have a ThermoWorks ONE and I use it to get the perfect steaks every time.
How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak
Here’s the 411 on how to cook a tomahawk steak using a reverse sear. It’s relatively easy and allows these thick steaks to cook evenly.
- Allow steaks to come up in temp. Remove the steak from the fridge 1-2 hours before you plan to cook it to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat your smoker. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F. I used oak for this recipe because I love the way smoking with oak enhances the rich flavors in this steak. Feel free to use your favorite hardwood.
- Season. Season liberally on all sides with Beef Rub or salt and pepper. Press or pat the seasoning into the meat.
- Get smoking! Place the meat directly on the grill grates and close the lid. Using an instant-read meat thermometer, smoke until the internal temp of the steak is within 10 degrees of your desired doneness (see the next section for temperatures).
- Prep for the sear. Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over high heat (or turn your grill on High). Drop butter into the skillet and allow it to melt and bubble. (If searing on your grill, brush each side of the steak with butter).
- Sear. Place the steak directly in the hot pan or on the hot grill and sear each side for 2-3 minutes until the internal temperature of the steak reaches your preferred doneness.
- Rest, slice, and enjoy! Let the steaks rest for 10-15 minutes. Then slice, serve, and enjoy!
How Long to Cook a Tomahawk Steak
It will take approximately 1 hour to cook a tomahawk steak using the reverse sear method. The exact time it takes to cook your steak will vary with each cut of meat you cook. Rather than watching the clock, be sure to use an instant-read meat thermometer to gauge the temperature of the steak while it cooks.
Take the steak off the smoker and sear when it reaches the following temperature:
- 115 degrees F for rare
- 125 degrees F for medium rare
- 135 degrees F for medium
- 145 degrees F for medium well
- 150 degrees F for well done
Remove the steak from the sear to rest when it is at this final temp:
- 125 degrees F for rare
- 135 degrees F for medium rare
- 145 degrees F for medium
- 155 degrees F for medium well
- 160 degrees F for well done
More Steak Recipes
If you loved this tomahawk steak recipe, you’ll love these other great steak recipes from Hey Grill Hey:
Tomahawk Steak Recipe
This recipe was created for you, backyard griller! Here at Hey Grill Hey, we’re in the business of helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero. You can find more of my smoking and grilling recipes here on my website (browse the Homepage for inspiration) on Instagram, YouTube, or our Facebook Page.
This post was originally published in August 2017. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.
Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak
- 1 3-pound Tomahawk steak
- 2 Tablespoons Hey Grill Hey Beef Rub (or 2 teaspoons each of salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
- 1 Tablespoons salted butter (melted)
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter (cut into 2 pads)
- Remove steak from fridge. Remove the steak from the refrigerator approximately 1-2 hours before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat. 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.
- Season. Season your steak liberally on all sides with the Beef Rub (or with salt and pepper). Make sure to press the seasonings into the meat with your hand as opposed to just sprinkling them on.
- Smoke. Place the steak directly on the grill grates of the smoker and close the lid. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 115 degrees F for medium rare (this took me approximately 1 hour). Use an internal thermometer to check the temperature periodically as the steak cooks.
- Preheat skillet. 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.
- Sear. Place the tomahawk steak in the preheated skillet and sear each side for approximately 2-3 minutes or until the steak reaches your 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).
- Rest and enjoy. Let the steaks rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating.
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