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Tomahawk Steak vs. Ribeye: 3 Key Differences, How to Cook Each, and Nutrition Comparison

Tomahawk vs Ribeye Differences

Tomahawk Steak vs. Ribeye: 3 Key Differences, How to Cook Each, and Nutrition Comparison

Are you ready to dive into the in-depth comparison between two mouth-watering cuts of beef? Discover the five crucial differences between two popular steaks — tomahawk steak vs. ribeye. We will examine the key difference in the buttery marbling content and finish by comparing their essential nutritional value. You can learn everything needed to decide which delicious steak to choose for your next steak dinner!

These two delicious cuts of beef are known for their flavorful and juicy texture and availability at high-end steak houses. But how exactly do they differ? Let's take a closer look!

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Tomahawk Steak vs. Ribeye: The Differences You Need to Know

Tomahawks and ribeyes are both prime cuts of beef, with the main difference being the presentation and bone length. A tomahawk steak is essentially a ribeye steak, but with at least five inches of rib bone left intact and frenched, meaning the bone is trimmed of meat and fat, giving it a clean, handle-like appearance. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also adds flavor and richness to the steak. On the other hand, a traditional ribeye steak is cut closer to the bone and does not have an extended bone. Both steaks boast a rich marbling of fat, ensuring a tender, juicy, and flavorful eating experience.

Let's take a closer look to understand the unique differences between these two succulent cuts of beef:

Marbling: The Key Difference Between Tomahawk Steak and Ribeye

Marbling is the white specks or lines you can see in raw meat. It is the unsaturated intramuscular fat found between the muscle fibers and is considered a healthy fat. There are many benefits of having a higher marbling content in meat, such as:

  • People consider the steak to be of higher quality.
  • Marbling makes the steak juicier and more tender.
  • It can help the meat stay moist while it's cooking. Also, without much marbling, your steak will be easier to dry during cooking.

When it comes to tomahawk and ribeye steaks, tomahawk steaks usually contain more marbling than ribeye. Tomahawk steaks have more marbling because even though both cuts come from the same section of the cow, the tomahawk steak gets cut to include more muscle and fat tissue from the rib. As a result, tomahawk steak has a higher amount of intermuscular fat than ribeye, which creates marbling.

Grilled tomahawk beef steak set, on wooden serving board, on white stone background, top view flat lay, with copy space for text
Tomahawk steak is a larger, bone-in ribeye.


Cooking Method Differences: Tomahawk Steak vs. Ribeye

Even though the preferred cooking methods between tomahawk steak and ribeye are very similar, the ideal cooking time and temperature needed for each method can vary because of the differences in size, thickness, and the bone in a tomahawk steak. This is an important factor to remember when preparing these flavorful steaks.

Below, you will find a table that outlines the recommended cooking methods for both cuts, along with the temperature and cooking time differences between the two. This table uses the average weight and thickness of each steak.

Cooking MethodTomahawk Steak (32 oz, 2 in)Ribeye (9 oz, 1.5 in)
Grilling (direct heat)10-12 minutes on each side at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.3-4 minutes on each side at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Broiling8-9 minutes on each side at the highest temperature (500 degrees Fahrenheit).4-5 minutes on each side at the highest temperature (500 degrees Fahrenheit).
Pan-searing4-5 minutes on each side at high heat.3-4 minutes per side at high heat.
Recommended temperature and cooking time differences for grilling, broiling, and pan-searing tomahawk steak and ribeye based on average weight and thickness for a medium-done steak.

The cooking times and temperatures listed in this table are for achieving medium doneness for the steaks. Adjust as needed for your desired level of doneness.

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Tenderness Differences: Which One Is More Tender?

Tomahawk steak and ribeye get cut from the same section of a cow, so they have the same muscle fibers, but the tomahawk steak is generally more tender than a ribeye because of 3 factors: Its marbling content, the thickness, and its bone-in style.

Let's go further in-depth on why these factors make tomahawk steak more tender than ribeye:

  • Marbling: The fat or marbling in a steak melt when it's cooked, which then coats the muscle and breaks down the fibers in the muscle, making the steak more tender. Tomahawk steaks are typically more tender because of the higher marbling content.  
  • Thickness: A tomahawk steak is a thicker cut of meat than ribeye, which allows heat to transfer evenly to help break down tissues in the meat to make it more tender. It also gives less opportunity for overcooking the meat, resulting in tougher meat.  
  • Bone-in: The bone in the tomahawk steak can help your steak cook more evenly and retain moisture, which will help prevent over-cooking or undercooking some sections of the steak. This can help keep the steak tender and juicy throughout the meat.

Although tomahawk steaks naturally have aspects that will make the meat more tender, you could use different cooking preparations to make your ribeye just as tender.

Appearance: Visual Differences Between Tomahawk Steak and Ribeye

A ribeye steak is a smaller cut of meat, while a tomahawk steak is a big cut with a large bone sticking out five or more inches long. Therefore, with just one glance, the easiest way to distinguish these two steaks is the bone protruding from the tomahawk steak. Although you can have a butcher leave the bones in the cut of ribeye steak, it's more common for a ribeye to be boneless.

fresh grilled ribeye steak with broccoli,carrot and cherry tomatoes on side
Ribeye steak can be served with any side dish.


Tomahawk Steak vs. Ribeye Nutrition: Calories, Fat, Protein

Tomahawk vs Ribeye Nutrition
Nutritional differences between a tomahawk and ribeye steak


Tomahawk steak and ribeye are packed with protein but differ in other nutritional aspects that can affect your diet. Take a look at the table below to compare the nutritional information of these mouth-watering steaks. The data is based on 9-ounce servings of tomahawk steak and ribeye, as provided by Nutritionix.

Nutritional FactsTomahawk Steak (9 oz)Ribeye (9 oz)
Total Fat57 g48 g
Cholesterol204 mg198 mg
Sodium138 mg147 mg
Total Carbohydrates0 g0 g
Protein60 g63 g
Caffeine0 mg0 mg
Nutritional facts between tomahawk steak and ribeye.

What Is Tomahawk Steak?

Tomahawk steak is a large, juicy cut of beef from a cow's rib section. This steak gets its name from the prominent bone still attached to the meat, which resembles the shape of a hatchet or tomahawk handle.

The tomahawk steak is a larger beef cut, usually weighing between 2 to 3 pounds. It's known for its marbling and tender texture. This type of steak is generally prepared using dry-heat methods, such as grilling or broiling, and is one of many popular steaks featured in high-end steak houses and restaurants.

Tomahawk steak is an excellent choice if you're looking for an impressive cut of beef to impress your guests. This unique cut not only adds a flavorful aspect to your meal but also resembles a tomahawk axe, providing an eye-catching visual appeal to any dish. To complement your steak perfectly, try this recipe for garlic mashed potatoes!

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What Is Ribeye?

A ribeye is a beef cut from the rib primal on a cow, usually cut from the 6th rib bone to the 12th. This cut of steak is known for its juicy and flavorful texture, mainly because of its marbling content. This makes it a favorite among steak lovers and a popular option on the menu at most steak houses.

Ribeyes have a bold and beefy flavor when it's cooked, typically getting prepared using high-heat methods to sear the outside of the steak and lock in the moister inside the steak. They taste the best when cooked to a medium-rare to medium level of doneness.

If you're a steak lover, ribeye's rich, beefy flavor and juicy texture will thrill your taste buds. But, to improve your dining experience even further, pair it with a delicious side dish like this savory roasted asparagus with feta cheese recipe. This dish will impress your guests and take your meal to the next level!

Grilling rib eye steak at home. Natural smoke. Summer grill, cooking at home concept
Tomahawk steak and ribeye are best when grilled, broiled, or pan-seared.

©Pedal to the Stock/Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Infographic comparing tomahawk and ribeye steaks.
The bone that is left in a tomahawk gives it a handle-like appearance.
  • The biggest difference between a tomahawk steak and a ribeye is visual: the tomahawk always has at least five inches of rib bone left intact, while the ribeye lacks extensive bone.
  • A tomahawk steak is richer and more flavorful than a ribeye, although both cuts of steak are considered delicious.
  • Tomahawk steaks generally contain more marbling, contributing to their more intense taste.
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a portion of delicious hot savory juicy Salisbury beef steaks with mushroom onion gravy served on black plates on a wooden table, view from above

Salisbury Steak Recipe

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com


Homemade Salisbury steak is an old fashioned recipe that keeps showing up on dinner tables because it's a comfort food that people remember from family dinners. Dinnertime can create wonderful memories, especially with classics like this recipe as the main dish.


  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can of Condensed French Onion Soup
  • 11/2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Dry Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Mustard Powder


  1. In a large bowl, mix together cup condensed French onion soup with ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, salt and black pepper. Shape into 6 oval patties.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown both sides of patties. Pour off excess fat.
  3. In a small bowl, blend flour and remaining soup until smooth.
  4. Mix in ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder.
  5. Pour over meat in skillet. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While tomahawk steaks and ribeye are popular cuts of beef, they have some key differences. The main distinction is that tomahawk steak has more marbling, which results in a higher-quality steak that is juicier and more tender. Tomahawk steak is also thicker and bone-in, which might help in even cooking and moisture retention.

Ultimately, the choice between tomahawk steak and ribeye is about personal preference and the qualities you are looking for in a steak. For example, if you prefer a steak with more marbling, then tomahawk steak might be the better choice, but ribeye might be a better option if you prefer a steak with a shorter cooking time.

Whether you go for the tomahawk or ribeye, you'll surely enjoy a mouth-watering steak dinner!

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