Dinner Recipes




Cowboy Steak vs. Tomahawk: 6 Important Differences

Cowboy Steak vs Tomahawk Steak

Cowboy Steak vs. Tomahawk: 6 Important Differences

Have you ever wondered what the difference between cowboy and tomahawk steak is? It's important to know when you're sitting down to decide which steak to eat. Although there are many differences between these two cuts of meat, the size and fat content are the most important difference between the two.

Tomahawk steak has more fat content and is larger than cowboy steak. You can’t go wrong with either steak, as they both come from different cuts and have their own unique flavor. Take a closer look at these two juicy steaks and learn the differences between the two.

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Cowboy Steak vs. Tomahawk: What Are the Differences?

Tomahawk and cowboy steaks are both ribeye cuts, but they have important differences. Cowboy steaks are leaner and contain less fat, but tomahawk steaks are fattier and more marbled, producing a more intense, rich taste. The most striking visual difference is tomahawks have a long frenched bone that adds flavor while cowboy steaks have a shorter bone. Both steaks are ideally served medium-rare to medium-well. Also, you can grill or pan-sear both to perfection.

Beautifully seared tomahawk steak, medium rare set, on wooden serving board, on old dark wooden table background, top view flat lay
Tomahawk steaks are known for their marbling and fat content.

Shape Difference

Cowboy steaks usually have the fat cut off, so all that's left is the meat and bone. On the other hand, Tomahawk steaks have a bigger amount of meat but more fat left on. Also, cowboy steaks' bone handles are longer than tomahawk handles. The short bone handle of a tomahawk makes it look like a hatchet.

Size Differences

Cowboy steaks are often cut from the ribeye, whereas tomahawks are cut from the primal, resulting in a smaller cowboy steak. Cowboy steaks are also smaller after the fat gets removed. Both are quality cuts of beef that are tender and delicious when cooked correctly.

Color Differences

Tomahawk steaks have more marbling than cowboy steaks, so they tend to have a more vibrant red color than cowboy steaks. You can also see that tomahawks have white along the edges where the fat is, while cowboy steaks have no fat.

Marbling Comparison

Cowboy steaks have less marbling through the steak, making it a leaner cut of meat. Conversely, tomahawk steaks have more marbling, creating a flavorful, tender cut.

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Fat Content on Each Steak

Tomahawk steak has more marbling, which means it has more fat than a cowboy steak. You could trim the fat off, but your better option would be cowboy steak if your diet restricts your fat content.

Comparing Taste

Cowboy steak and tomahawk are great-tasting meat cuts, but their flavors differ. Tomahawks have an intense, rich flavor due to their fat content, while cowboy steaks taste beefier.

What is Cowboy Steak?

The cowboy steak is a rich and tender bone-in ribeye cut that has 5 to 6 inches of the rib bone. The cowboy steak is usually frenched so that the bone is less than 5 inches long; if the bone is longer than 5 inches, it is not a cowboy steak. Because of its rich flavor and juiciness, this cut of meat is often chosen by steak lovers.

Cowboy steaks are 2 to 3 inches thick and weigh 2.5 pounds. Depending on the thickness of the steak, it might range from 14 to 24 ounces. This steak has enough meat to feed two people with only one steak! It is crucial to note that the weight of the steak is never a guarantee of its quality or flavor.

How to Cook Cowboy Steak

Raw uncooked black angus beefmarket steak closeup with tomatoes garlic herbs and peppercorns rosemary on wooden dark old rustic table planks
Cowboy steak is a thick cut of meat, so it needs a lot of seasoning.

There are many ways to enjoy a tender, juicy cut of steak. Cowboy steaks are ideally served medium-rare to medium and can be grilled or pan-seared to perfection. But how do you cook these steaks the right way? Cowboy steaks are commonly grilled or pan-seared.

How to grill cowboy steak:

  • Defrost the steak in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours, then take them out of the fridge and let them rest for half an hour to a whole hour.
  • Season these steaks very generously because the meat is thick it will need a good amount of seasoning.
  • Preheat your grill to 325 to 350 degrees. You should grill these steaks on indirect heat and finish searing it over direct heat.
  • Grill cowboy steaks for 20 minutes on each side. The internal temperature of the steak should be at 125 to 130 degrees before you move it to direct heat.

How to pan-sear cowboy steak:

  • Add oil to a pan over medium-high heat, be sure the pan is searing hot before you add the steak.
  • Season your steak generously. You can also season the fat on the steak.
  • Cook the steaks for 6 to 7 minutes on each side to create a medium-rare steak.
  • If the steak is particularly thick and needs more cooking time, you can finish it in the oven.

What is Tomahawk Steak?

The tomahawk steak gets its name from its bone. Its bone gives it a hatchet or a tomahawk handle, which is where this cut of meat gets its name from. This type of steak is usually frenched, where a butcher will clean the bone of most or all meat and fat, just leaving the bone for a handle. This is a ribeye cut from the beef rib.

Tomahawk steak is known for its marbling and thickness, which gives it a rich flavor and tender texture. It is often considered one of the best cuts of beef for grilling or sous vide.

How to Cook Tomahawk Steak

Grilled tomahawk beef steak set, on wooden serving board, on white stone background, top view flat lay, with copy space for text
Tomahawk steak taste delicious when it's cooked medium-rare on a grill.

The tomahawk steak is a delicious and versatile cut of beef. Cooking this cut of steak is simple. The biggest challenge is to know when to take it off the heat. With a temperature reading probe, you can cook your steaks to perfection by measuring the internal temperature of your steak.

There are many ways you can cook this steak, but some of the best ways are to grill the steak, or sous vide.

How to grill tomahawk steak:

  • Brush the grill grates with oil and preheat the grill.
  • Season the meat with salt and pepper.
  • Place the steak on the hottest portion of the grill and sear each side for 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Cook the steak in a high-heat area for 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove the tomahawk from the grill at 120 to 125 degrees for a medium-rare steak.

How to sous vide tomahawk steak:

  • Fill your precision cooker halfway with water and warm it to 125 degrees
  • wrap the bone in a paper towel and knot it with butcher's string.
  • Season the steak well with salt and pepper.
  • Add the steak and fresh herbs to a bag. Using a vacuum sealer, seal the bag.
  • Place the bag in the water, submerging the meat completely.
  • Cook for 3-4 hours.
  • Preheat a cast iron pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Sear the steak for 3-4 minutes on each side, spooning butter over the top.


Final Thoughts

Infographic comparing cowboy steak and tomahawk steak.
Both of these steaks are fantastically tender.
  • Cowboy steaks tend to be smaller than tomahawks. This isn't too surprising, as tomahawk steaks are one of the largest steak varieties.
  • Tomahawk steaks have more marbling, meaning that the fat content is higher. This is worth taking note of if you're trying to find a leaner steak, or if you prefer a steak with a fattier taste.
  • Because of the lower fat content, cowboy steaks have a beefier taste compared to tomahawks. A tomahawk steak has an intense, rich flavor.
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Smothered Steak Recipe

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 pound round steak, cut in strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 green peppers, sliced
  • 1 (16 ounce) canned tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1/3 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 (4 oz.) can of mushrooms, drained
  • 1 (10 oz.) package of frozen green beans


  1. Put steak strips, flour, salt, and pepper in crock pot.
  2. Stir well to coat steak.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, coating the top of the steak evenly.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours (high for 4 hours).
  5. Serve with rice.

Cowboy and tomahawk steak are excellent choices for any dinner. They feature a large amount of flavor and nutrients. However, there are a number of differences between the two cuts of beef, including shape, size, color, marbling, fat content, and taste.

Personal taste, dietary constraints, and the occasion ultimately determine the choice between the two. Whether you choose a cowboy or a tomahawk steak, both will fulfill your need for a soft and juicy piece of meat.

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