If you want add some pure shock value for your next cookout, then you need to know how to grill tomahawk steak. And I’m here to show you how!
But first, let’s just demystify what a Tomahawk steak is. Quite simply, it is a bone in ribeye! So when you go to buy that big ass steak at your butcher and the cost is per pound, you are quite literally paying for the bone that you will use as your steak handle. But let’s be honest that it’s just quite fun to cook a tomahawk steak sometimes, especially for special occasions.
If you are going to go all out once you’ve learned how to grill a tomahawk steak, then I recommend getting quality beef. I am quite the beef snob for many reasons but the first reason for steak is because fat equals flavor and a Prime Steak will always have more marbling than a Choice steak. And if you can get a Wagyu steak then even better! I try to buy steaks from companies I trust don’t inject their beef with weird stuff stuff and that’s another reason to I go for high quality! I’m a fan of Snake River Farms for Wagyu Beef, I also like using Meat N Bone for meat. These days with all the e-commerce companies shipping beef there are so many options you don’t have to rely on what you find at your local butcher!
GRILL SET UP: 2 Zone Grilling
The next thing you want to consider is your grill set up. Because the bone is still attached, your Tomahawk is guaranteed to be at least an inch or more thick so you will need to set up two zone grilling so you can do the reverse sear.
GRILLGRATES: The Key to Perfect Char Marks and Even Cooking
And if you want those sexy char marks, (and let’s face it, if you want to know how to grill a tomahawk steak then you know you do) then you’ll need a set of GRILLGRATES.
As a Certified Steak Cook Offs Association Judge and someone who has dabbled in the steak circuit, I will tell you no one enters a steak competition without using GrillGrates. And if you are a serious griller, up your street cred with a set of GrillGrates outfitted to your grill. They are a nice addition because they eliminate flare ups which could ruin your beautiful steak, help cook more evenly, offer “Grate” char marks, and also function as a griddle when flipped to the other side. I love to use them for making Smash Burgers on my grill. IN essence, I don't need a flat top grill because I just use the flat side of my GRILLGRATES to accomplish the same thing.
The Reverse Sear: Why It's a Must for a Tomahawk Steak
Okay back to the reverse sear. It is imperative to reverse sear your Tomahawk. Just as a refresher, a REVERSE SEAR is when you let the steak come to temp on the indirect side and then sear at the end. A regular sear would be when you Sear first and then go on the indirect side (like they do in restaurants- they sear and then put in the oven).
The benefit of the reverse sear is that we can let the steak absorb smoke flavor on indirect before searing it at the end. Contrary to popular belief and according to my own research, meat does not stop absorbing smoke during the entire process (though it definitely seems to slow down as it heats up) which is why starting the meat on some smoke before searing it makes sense over searing it and then hoping it still gets smoke.
Best Wood Pairings for Tomahawk Steak
I like cherry, oak or maple on red meat. Some people like mesquite or hickory but I think they are overpowering. But that is up to you!
How to Season Tomahawk Steak
I believe less is more with a good steak. If you are using a high quality steak with good marbling, then you shouldn’t need much more. I like kosher sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and a touch of smoked paprika. As a bonus, sometimes I add a touch of food grade charcoal powder to make the outside black. It is tasteless but it adds a nice color contrast when you slice the meat as you get a nice red interior contrasting the black outside. It just looks damn sexy. And you’ve spent all this money on a big ass sexy Tomahawk steak so that’s another reason to be a little extra. (As a bonus activated charcoal is great for other things like brushing your teeth, gas and bloating and detoxification- the list goes on).
Butter and Steak: a Match Made in Food Heaven
After doing a stint in the Steak Competition circle, I’ve gotten to the point of not being able to eat steak without butter. Now, if this is a high quality steak then again, you don’t need a bunch of extra stuff but I must tell you that melted butter on a juicy steak is so damn good that once you do it you’ll be spoiled forever too.
If you want to be like the steak cook-off people, butter is a requirement. You will get yourself a nice little cast iron pot for the grill like this one and let the butter heat up on the grill while your steak is on indirect. Add fresh herbs, garlic and a touch of salt. And of course only use good butter like Kerry Gold. (Not to get off on a tangent but you should be eating organic butter anyway. Why? Because cows are fed all kinds of nasty stuff and all those toxins end up in their fat which is what butter is, which means you are eating a very concentrated form of toxins like hormones and glyphosate if you don’t buy organic). Sadly our food supply is loaded with chemicals that are making us sick but I digress, I’ll leave that for another blog post. The moral of the story is buy organic butter when you buy butter.
You will baste your steak in butter once you have put it on the GRILLGRATES for a sear, before you flip it to the other side. The GRILLGRATES do a great job of shielding the steak from the flare ups you get from the Butter run off on the grill.
Here are some of my favorite compound butter recipes that you can try if you want to be a little extra:
Cowboy Compound Butter
Blue Cheese Basil Butter
Temperature: Let Internal Temp, NOT TIME, Be Your Guide
If you don’t have an internal read thermometer, then now is the time to get one. You can’t call yourself a serious griller without one. I’ve been using Thermoworks Thermapen for years and I believe they are the best. They now give up to 1 second internal readings in the Thermapen One so you can quickly know what the internal temp is of your meat.
Many people always want to know how long to cook something and I tell them this is not how you think about cooking meat, it is always the TEMPERATURE!!! There are too many variables to go by time – temperature is your one and only true guide on when the meat is done.
For cooking purposes, depending on how you want to cook your steak, you will want to work backwards.
If you want a medium rare steak of 125 internal degrees, then you will want to work backwards. For example, once you’ve gotten your grill set up for 2 zone cooking and the direct side is ready for searing at about 450-500 degrees (and the GRILLGRATES are heated up and super hot and ready for a nice sizzling sear) while your indirect side you’ve got your steak hanging out absorbing smoke flavor from your wood chunks. So, if your end goal is 125 internal, pull the steak off indirect at 115 degrees and put it on the direct side for a sear of 2-3 minutes per side. This means if you want a cross hatch then one minute and then pick up the meat and place it in the opposite direction to get the cross hatch. It is best to use your phone timer because you’ve come this far let’s not screw it up! Repeat on the other side and then let the meat rest for 10 minutes under foil. Remember that meat will continue to cook once you’ve taken it off the grill. Also, the reason you rest meat is that it takes a bit for the juices to redistribute and the color to come back. Have you ever noticed that if you immediately slice into a steak when you pull it off the grill even if it was pulled at the correct temperature it looks almost whitish on the inside and it takes about 10 minutes for the true color to come back?
Okay guys, that’s it, That's the key to cooking a tomahawk. If you give this method a try please leave a comment and also tag me on instagram @GrillGirlRobyn – I love hearing from all of you!Print
How to Grill Tomahawk Steak
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 2-3 steaks (depending on thickness) 1x
The best way to grill a Tomahawk steak is to use the Reverse Sear Method, add some wood chips for smoke flavor, use GrillGrates for perfect char marks and to ensure even cooking, drizzle with butter, and start with high quality meat in the first place.
- 1 tomahawk steak- I prefer Prime or Wagyu from Snake River Farms
- wood chips or chunks – I prefer Cherry, Oak or Maple
- 2 tsp kosher sea salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- optional 1 tsp food grade charcoal powder
Butter- for basting the steak
- 1 stick Kerrygold or Grassfed butter
- 2 cloves smashed garlic
- 1 sprig rosemary
- dash salt
Prepare your grill for 2 zone grilling- direct and indirect with the direct side getting up to 450 degrees and the GrillGrates on the Direct zone. Rub your steak with the charcoal (optional), paprika, salt and pepper evenly on both sides. Next, add your wood chips to your grill (I add them to the side where they will hit the coals but not burn up right away so they have time to smoke) and let them begin to smoke. Add your tomahawk and let it cook on indirect until you've gotten 10 degrees under your desired temp. While the steak is on indirect, put your butter ingredients in your cast iron pot on the indirect side and let the butter melt. Once you've reached your baseline temp of 10 degrees under your desired temp, put the tomahawk on the grill grates and let them sear for 1-2 minutes. Then place them the opposite side (same side) to get a crosshatch char mark. Baste with lots of butter. After a total of no more than 4 minutes, repeat on the other side. Test your internal temp with your meat thermometer to ensure you are not going over and remove immediately after searing. Tent under foil for 10 minutes before cutting the bone off and slicing into the ribeye. Serve with additional remaining butter.
Affiliate links have been used in this post.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Beef, Steak, Tomahawk Steak, Steak Dinner, Beef
- Method: Grill, BBQ, Smoke
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: How to Grill Tomahawk Steak
Want more grilled beef recipes? Check out these posts!
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