How to Grill a Tomahawk Steak

When you choose a Tomahawk prime beef cut of steak, you choose the most beautiful cut of steak possible -  a 36-ounce ribeye that’s cut with at least 5 inches of rib bone left on it, and the meat and fat are trimmed on it with the bone left intact, causing it to resemble a handle, or Native American tomahawk axe. Because the muscles in this cut aren’t used as much as others, it has an abundance of marbling and tender, soft, and buttery-tasting meat. 

This exquisite cut of steak is not going to fit into a skillet, and with the thickness of this cut (a minimum of 2 inches) you don’t want to sear it the traditional way, as you want to avoid overcooking the outside and undercooking the inside of it. 

No need to feel daunted when cooking your Tomahawk steak! The best way to tackle this endeavor is by grilling it over indirect heat, and here is how you prepare and grill it: 

First Thing’s First  - Thaw Your Tomahawk:

Before anything else, be sure to thaw your steak correctly. This step is vital to your Tomahawk’s delicious outcome, and not taking the proper precautions and steps when thawing it could result in it unevenly cooking, or, worse, food poisoning. Whether you start the day before, or are crunched on time, there are different ways for you to properly and safely thaw it. The safest and easiest way is to place it in the fridge 48-72 hours before cooking it. 

Check out our list of dos and don’ts for thawing your Tomahawk

Season Your Tomahawk:

Seasoning your Tomahawk is an imperative step in the cooking process as well - after all, no one ever said that they love bland steak. Seasoning is done before cooking your Tomahawk, and the longer you let the seasonings (especially salt) work their way into the meat, the more delectable your Tomahawk will be! After all, keep in mind that the inside of the steak is unseasoned, so you really need to pay attention to the outer layer of the steak and give it enough flavor so that the seasonings on the outside are enough for each delicious bite. 

For the best results, rub a generous amount of coarse salt and pepper (try our in-house Sergio’s seasoning for added deliciousness) into your steak, and don’t forget the sides! at least 30 minutes before cooking, and then let the seasoned Tomahawk sit at room temperature 1 hour before cooking as well, making sure that it entirely reaches room temperature, so it does not cook unevenly. Check out our to-do list for how to season your steaks like a pro. If you want to add more bursts of flavor with a twist to your steaks, check out our list of easy-to-do amazing steak crusts, with everything from a coffee run to garlicky goodness to a melty gorgonzola steak crust. 

Once it has reached room temperature, and before you start grilling, wrap the entire part of the exposed bone in foil so that it does not burn. 

Preheat and Prep Your Grill for Indirect Grilling:

The best way to cook your Tomahawk is by grilling it with an indirect heat method, because a perfect cut of meat deserves to turn out perfectly. Indirect grilling is a simple cooking technique that’s perfect for thicker cuts of steak. You want to avoid cooking thicker cuts over direct heat because you increase the risk of burning the outside and/or finishing the outside of the cut before it finishes cooking on the inside. 

The end goal when cooking a steak is to have a delicious browned and crisp outer crust with a tender juicy inside, and cooking with indirect heat (placing your steak next to the flames of the grill instead of right over them) is your best friend when it comes to this. This is easy to do with both gas and charcoal grills. 

Prepping a Gas Grill:

Light only one burner. However, if the grill has three or more burners, light only one side of the burners (never the middle burner). You will cook the steak in the area the furthest away from the lit burner. 

Prepping a Charcoal Grill:

Once you have lit your charcoal with a chimney starter, set up a three-zone fire, and place the lit charcoal (you’ll know they’re ready when they ash over and turn grey) in a lower area of the grill. Push the charcoal to one side of the grill with the proper heat proof tool, putting most of the coals on 1/3 of the grill. Be sure the middle and opposite of 1/3 of your grill does not have any coals in it, as this is your indirect heat area and where you will cook your steak. 

Once your grill temperature reaches 225°F, it’s ready for action!

Grill Your Tomahawk:

Once the internal grill reaches 225°F, put your Tomahawk as far away as you can from the direct heat, and close the grill lid. For about 45 minutes grill your steak in the indirect heat, and flip it every 10 minutes. For medium-rare doneness, cook it until the internal temperature of the steak reaches 130°F (use an instant-read thermometer, no guesswork here!). If a different level of doneness is desired, check out our guide on how long to cook your steak. On top of that, keep in mind the most common steak cooking mistakes that are made and check out our guide on how to avoid the biggest steak cooking mistakes and steps on grills your steak to perfection

Sear Your Tomahawk:

Once your Tomahawk has achieved the desired level of doneness, it’s time to finish up this beauty with a beautiful browned sear to get that crisp wonderful crust that pairs with the juicy tenderness inside. Depending on what type of grill you’re using, either fire up those burners to high heat and place your steaks directly over them, or place your steaks over the hot charcoal in your grill. For 3-5 minutes, flip your Tomahawk every 30 seconds, until the perfect level of brown crispy crust that you wish for develops on your steak. 

Let Your Tomahawk Rest:

Although you’ll be tempted to dive right into this glorious, buttery, and juicy wonderfulness, be sure to let your Tomahawk rest for 10-15 minutes. The juices need to redistribute before you cut into it, or else you might as well kiss some of that juiciness goodbye as it will leak out, and your plate will enjoy it instead of you.

Slice Your Tomahawk:

If you wish to slice this baby up, be sure to keep in mind that when doing so, you want to make sure that you’re cutting the muscle fibers and shortening them, because this results in steak that is much easier to chew. This is called slicing against the grain (the grain being the direction of the steak’s muscle fibers). To do so, merely make perpendicular slices that make a “T’ with the grain of the steak, and there you have it. 

Conclusion:

If you feel like melty garlicky butter or meaty juices would make your masterpiece even better, then check out our recommended finishing touches for your steak - our house made Maitre d’Butter and Au Jus


Check out our Accoutrements Package that contains our in-house Sergio’s seasoning, our Maitre d’Butter, and our Au Jus.  


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