tomahawk steak

How Big Is a Tomahawk Steak?

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Tomahawk steaks are making a huge comeback, and today, you will find them in more places than Vegas! This monster steak is famed for its sheer size, weight, and interesting, sort-of satisfying, look.

But how big is a tomahawk steak? This steak averages between 30-45 ounces! What mainly affects the size is the age of the steer, the location of the cut, and the thickness of the cut. The length of the bone will also have an impact.

It’s important to know how big meat cuts are to better calculate cooking times, portion sizes, and even portion costs.

In today’s article, we will take a look at it all! From what exactly a tomahawk steak is, how it differs from a ribeye steak, how big it is, and how many people it serves. Keep reading to learn so much more!

What Is a Tomahawk Steak and Where Is It Cut From?

A tomahawk steak, also known as a tomahawk ribeye steak or cowboy steak, is a cut that is quickly gaining popularity again. While it was once seen as a little bit kitsch, today it signifies sophistication and a more exquisite palate.

This cut comes from the longissimus dorsi of a steer (also called bullock). In simpler terms, it is cut from the loin area.

It is essentially a ribeye steak but has a minimum of 5 inches of rib bone attached to it. This steak is cut on either side of the spine and includes muscles that are not utilized often. And that’s the secret of this cut.

The less muscle is used, the more tender, juicy, and flavorful it is. That’s why free-range meat is often considered to be tough and almost chewy. The animals move around too much, which toughens up the texture of the meat.

This cut also has some exceptional marbling, which just further adds to the wonderful flavor.

Now, another feature that makes a Tomahawk steak unique is that 5-inch bone sticking out at one end. This bone is French-trimmed (all of the fat and meat around it is removed) so that it resembles a Native American tomahawk.

Tomahawk Ribeye Versus Ribeye Steak

The key difference here is the long bone. A ribeye steak only has a short stump that sticks out the side of the cut. And as we have mentioned, a tomahawk steak has at least 5 inches of French-trimmer bone.

tomahawk vs ribeye

Other than that, the two cuts are pretty much the same.

Now, many people do claim that tomahawk steaks are more buttery and tender than ribeye steaks. And we wouldn’t completely disagree with that statement. But the problem is that every butcher doesn’t always cut them correctly.

Technically, a tomahawk steak should be cut from the 6th and 12th rib. The ribeye is cut from the primal rib section.

So, if the butcher took the cut from the correct spot, it’s hands-down better than a ribeye steak. But if not, it’s the same thing, just with a bone in it.

How Big Is a Tomahawk Steak?

Okay, so how big is a proper tomahawk steak? 

While many factors will ultimately influence the final weight and size of this steak cut, on average you are looking at 30-40 ounces per portion (850 grams to 1.1 kilograms). That’s pretty massive!

Keep in mind that a lot of this weight does come from the massive bone, which you obviously don’t eat.

What Affects the Size of the Tomahawk Steak?

The two main factors that will affect the weight and size of this steak are the size of the animal and the thickness of the cut.

If you have two steers that are the same age, but one is genetically bigger, the cuts it will give will be bigger as well. Pretty basic in concept.

Then, the thickness of the cut will massively decrease or increase the weight. 

Ideally, a tomahawk steak should be 2 inches (5.1 cm) in thickness. This will leave it juicy and tender without overcooking it. Plus, you can get some excellent caramelization on there!

If the cut is thinner, the weight will decrease and so will the cooking times. If the cut is thicker, the steak will be heavier and take much longer to cook. Again, 2 inches is perfect for this cut!

How Many People Does a Tomahawk Steak Feed?

It depends on how much each individual can eat. We’ve all seen people smash these massive cowboy steaks or monster burgers. So anything is possible really!

But realistically, if you want to order or make a tomahawk steak at home, it will easily feed 2-4 people if served with sides.

If you are catering for people you don’t know, work on 2 people per steak. You can always use leftover (untouched) meat for another function.

How Long Do Tomahawk Steaks Cook?

The size of the steak will drastically affect the cooking time. As we’ve mentioned, these steaks average between 30-45 ounces each. The difference in weight can cause you to easily overcook or undercook this expensive cut.

 cooked tomahawk steak

Furthermore, the doneness of the steak will also affect how long it needs to cook. Rare steak takes significantly less time to cook than a well-done steak.

So, on average, a 40-ounce 2-inch tomahawk steak will take 30-40 minutes to cook in an oven at low heat (280⁰F). That’s when it should reach medium doneness.

If you grill the steak, which uses significantly higher heat, it will take about 20-25 minutes for the same steak to cook to medium.

Related Questions

Why Are Tomahawk Steaks So Expensive?

This cut is quite expensive, averaging around $35 to $70 per pound (16 ounces). So, one steak could cost you between $70 to $140! The price difference has to do with availability in your region. This is a rare cut. You can only get about two or four from a single cow. Plus, it’s highly sought-after due to its juicy flavor and tender, buttery texture.

What Is the Best Way to Cook a Tomahawk Steak?

Most people grill tomahawk steaks over charcoal or wood. You can also use gas if that’s all you have. This technique works well because it can create some charring, which adds a smoky umami flavor to the meat. It can also be lowered to cook the steak well.

Other methods you can look into include smoking the steak or roasting it. But again, grilling is the best.

How Much Bone Is in a Tomahawk Steak?

As we’ve mentioned before, a lot of the weight in this steak is from the bone. Each steak consists of about 20-30% bone. This mainly depends on how long and thick the bone is. 

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