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What Is The Best Way to Cook Tomahawk Steak: Grilling or Oven-Cooking?

If you’re looking for a zero-carb meat-based meal with high fat and protein, the tomahawk steak is one of the best choices. It’s a bit more expensive than other steaks but its flavor and nutrition profile make it a worthy choice, especially if you know the best way to cook tomahawk steak.

What Is The Best Way to Cook Tomahawk Steak: Grilling or Oven-Cooking?
  • A tomahawk steak is a ribeye cut from the beef rib, with a long, trimmed bone attached to it.
  • It has zero carbohydrates and moderate fat and protein, making it a good option for low-carb diets like Keto and Carnivore.
  • You can grill, oven cook, or smoke the tomahawk steak.
  • Grilling is a good outdoor cooking option providing smoky flavors, while oven cooking offers better temperature control.

What Is Tomahawk Steak?

A tomahawk steak is a bone-in ribeye cut from the beef rib and its shape resembles a tomahawk axe. It typically weighs 1.5 to 2 pounds and is about 3 inches thick.

It includes the eye of ribeye, ribeye cap, and complexus. The long, cleaned bone gives it a unique handle-like appearance and without it, it's known as a cowboy steak.

It can be prepared and cooked in many ways, like grilling, and when cooked, the fat inside the meat is mixed with minerals and marrow of the bone which provides a delicious taste.

You can use tomahawk steak in low-carb diets like Keto and Carnivore because it has zero carbohydrates, is high in fat and protein, and has a rich nutritional profile.

Learn More: Is Steak Good for Weight Loss? The Best and Worst Cuts of Meat

Tomahawk Steak’s Nutritional Value

Tomahawk steak is a marbled cut of meat, meaning it has high amounts of fat spread through the muscle.

This steak is a rich source of protein but also contains high cholesterol. So it’s best to consume it in moderation as high cholesterol intake can increase the risk of heart disease [1].

Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional profile of a tomahawk ribeye steak in a 3.5-oz. (100-gram) serving [2].

Calories257 kcal
Protein 17.7 g
Fat 20.35 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Calcium 10 mg
Iron 1.73 mg
Potassium 230 mg
Sodium 58 mg
Cholesterol 71 mg

Remember that the nutritional content of a tomahawk steak can vary based on factors like the specific cut of meat, the age and diet of the animal it came from, and the cooking method of the steak.

You can enjoy tomahawk steak with many cooking methods, such as grilling and smoking. Each of them requires certain equipment and recipes mentioned below.

Learn More: New York Strip vs. Ribeye: Nutrition and Taste

The Best Ways to Cook the Tomahawk Steak

You can cook the tomahawk steak with different methods such as:

  • Grilling
  • Cooking in the oven
  • Oven-finishing
  • Smoking
  • Sous Vide

No matter which method you choose, make sure your steak is fully thawed in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

Once thawed, take the steak out of the fridge 30 to 40 minutes before cooking to let it reach room temperature. Finally, season the steak as you want and select one of the following methods to cook the steak.

Grilling Tomahawk Steak

One of the best ways to cook a tomahawk steak is on the grill. To grill tomahawk steak, you can use either charcoal grilling or gas grilling.

Here’s how to grill a tomahawk steak on a charcoal grill:

  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. Place steaks over the hottest part of the grill, and sear both sides for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Switch the heat to medium and continue to grill. (The proper grilling time is mentioned in the table below).
  4. Flip the steak about 1 minute before the half time.

If you want to learn how to cook tomahawk steak on a gas grill, use the following recipe:

  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. Sear both sides for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce to medium heat and continue to grill according to the table below.
  4. Turn it about 1 minute before the halfway point.
Size Gas Grill Charcoal Grill
Rare 2+ inches 18–20 mins 18–20 mins
Medium-Rare 2+ inches 20–22 mins 20–22 mins
Medium 2+ inches 22–24 mins 22–24 mins
Medium-Well 2+ inches 24–26 mins 24–26 mins

Cooking Tomahawk Steak in the Oven

Using the oven is a good indoor option to cook a tomahawk steak with great flavor and tenderness. Here’s How to cook tomahawk steak in the oven.

  1. Place the steak on the rack of a broiler pan.
  2. Position the broiler pan so the steak is 4 to 6 inches from the heat.
  3. Broil to your desired doneness based on the times mentioned in the following table.
  4. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes after broiling.
  5. Slice and enjoy!
Rare 2+ inches 17–19 mins
Medium-Rare 2+ inches 19–21 mins
Medium 2+ inches 21–23 mins
Medium-Well 2+ inches 23–25 mins

Stovetop Skillet Tomahawk Steak with Oven Finish

If you want to cook a tomahawk steak in a pan on a stovetop, the following recipe will help you have a golden-brown sear with a rich flavor.

  1. Heat a heavy non-stick skillet over medium temperature for about 5 minutes until it's very hot. A hot pan gives the best sear.
  2. Place the steak in the hot skillet.
  3. Sear each side for 3 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  5. Place the steak on the rack and bake to your desired doneness according to the times listed in the table below.
  6. Cook for 12–14 minutes, and turn it about 1 minute before the halfway point.
  7. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  8. Enjoy!
Rare 2+ inches 10–12 mins
Medium-Rare 2+ inches 12–14 mins
Medium 2+ inches 14–16 mins
Medium-Well 2+ inches 16–18 mins

Smoked Tomahawk Steak

If you like the taste of smoked meat, you can use this method to enjoy tomahawk steak. Note that the smoking process and timing depend on factors like the cut of meat, meat's thickness, and smoker quality.

For smoking the tomahawk steak you can use the following recipe:

  1. Heat the smoker to 225°F.
  2. Place the seasoned steak on the smoker grates and smoke it until it's about 10°F below your desired internal temperature.
  3. Heat a skillet over high heat (you can use a grill or stove).
  4. Add a bit of oil to the skillet once it's hot.
  5. Sear the steak for about 2 minutes on each side.
  6. Take the steak out of the skillet and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Sous Vide Tomahawk Steak

Sous vide is a cooking method using a container that includes a water bath to cook food slowly and evenly. Sous vide steaks can also be kept for several hours before searing and serving, so they’re ready whenever you want.

Here is how to make sous vide tomahawk steak:

  1. Fill your sous vide container with warm water and set the device to 130°F.
  2. Place the steak in the water bath and cook for 150 minutes.
  3. Remove the steak from the sous vide and packaging after cooking.
  4. Heat a skillet over high heat for about 5 minutes (you can use a grill or stovetop).
  5. Add a high smoke point oil like avocado, canola, or grapeseed oil to the skillet.
  6. Sear the steak for about 2 minutes on each side.
  7. Serve immediately.

Grilling and oven-cooking are the most widely used options among these methods because ovens and grillers are available in many homes. But which one is the best way to cook a tomahawk steak?

Is It Better to Grill or Cook the Tomahawk Steak?

Both grilling and oven-cooking have their benefits and downsides for cooking a tomahawk steak. The better option depends on your personal preferences, available equipment, and weather conditions.

Grilling is a better option if you like the smoky flavor that comes from live fire. Also, it’s better for outdoor cooking and keeping kitchen messes to a minimum.

However, grilling tomahawk steaks can be challenging because maintaining consistent cooking for the steak requires close monitoring and temperature control, especially when you are outside, weather conditions such as wind and cold can disrupt grilling.

On the other hand, oven-cooking (pan-searing and oven-roasting) is often a better option if you want easy cooking and consistent doneness throughout the steak.

These in-house methods give you more control over the cooking temperature and provide a crispy and toasted crust on the outside while cooking the steak evenly on the inside.

The following table shows the differences between cooking and grilling methods for cooking tomahawk steak.

FeatureGrillingOven Cooking
Flavor Smoky and charred No smoky flavor, but evenly cooked
Convenience Good for outdoor cooking, but can be interrupted by bad weather conditions Good for indoor cooking
Temperature Control Challenging, can lead to uneven cooking Better control
Skill Required Requires skill in temperature management Easier for beginners, less attention needed

Also, the cooking method isn’t everything, because for the best result, you need to choose a high-quality tomahawk steak by considering the following features.

Learn More: The Best Meat to Smoke: 15 Best Cuts to Throw into the Smoker

How to Find a Good Tomahawk Steak?

  • Buy from a Well-Known Butcher: Look for a butcher that specializes in high-quality cuts. They should be able to provide information on the beef's origins and aging process.
  • Check for Good Marbling: A well-marbled tomahawk steak will have streaks of white fat running through the meat which adds flavor, tenderness, and moisture to the meat.
  • Look for a Thick Cut: Thick tomahawk steak is a better option for cooking since it allows for better crust and easier control over doneness. The best thickness for tomahawk steak is about 1.5 inches.
  • Consider the Grade: Look for USDA Prime or USDA Choice grades since they have the most marbling for optimal flavor and tenderness.
  • Check the color and smell: When selecting a tomahawk steak, look for a red color steak with a firm texture and a pleasant meaty aroma (not too strong).

Learn More: The Best Meat for Beef Jerky and How to Select Them


Tomahawk steak is a delicious cut from the beef rib which is more expensive than other meats because it’s so tender and flavorful. It also includes a rib bone and has a richer flavor because the bone can add to the meat's taste.

You can cook the tomahawk steak with different methods, such as grilling and oven-cooking.

While tomahawk steak is a rich and nutritious meat and can be added to many low-carb diets, it should be eaten in moderation because of its high cholesterol levels.

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