If you’re craving the unbelievable flavor and texture of beef (and an interesting experience), then you’ve got to try a tomahawk steak. But why is a Tomahawk Steak so expensive?
Whether you’ve been shopping online (like at Porter Road), at the grocery store, or browsing the menu at your local steakhouse, you’re likely wondering if it’s worth the price.
Learn more about why tomahawk steak is so expensive, and get a few tips on how you can get the most out of this prime cut of beef.
Reason #1 – Tomahawk Steaks are made from High Quality Primal Cuts
The main reason tomahawk steak is so expensive is that it’s prepared from the ribeye (just like the similar Cowboy steak). Bone-in ribeyes are large, hearty steaks cut from the forequarter rib section of the beef.
This beef cut is super tender because of the marbled fat spread throughout the meat. Marbling equals tenderness and flavor (similar to other expensive options like Wagyu Picanha).
Also, the rib meat is not as muscular as other parts of the beef, which makes for a deep, savory, and moist delicacy.
Reason #2 – Tomahawk Steaks Need Extra Processing & Preparation
The bone-in ribeye steak (side note – a boneless ribeye is often called a Spencer Steak) transforms into a tomahawk steak when it’s French trimmed. This means the meat is scraped off about 5 inches of the rib bone.
This makes the steak look like it has a handle, thus the tomahawk name. For those primal eaters, it actually can be a handle to grab onto for eating this juicy steak right off the bone.
Once it’s frenched, the ribeye is known as a tomahawk steak. Some people refer to it as a cote de boeuf or a cowboy steak.
Although the cowboy steak is a ribeye, it has a shorter bone than a tomahawk steak making it a slightly less impressive steak.
Reason #3 – Tomahawk Steaks are Usually Large & Heavy
Authentic tomahawk steaks are easily 1 to 2 inches thick and, with the bone, at least a foot long. They usually weigh about 3 to 4 pounds, which is a much larger portion than most cuts of steak.
Reason #4 – Tomahawk Steaks are Novel, Fun & Well-Marketed
So, the main reasons tomahawk steak is so expensive is it’s a prime, massive cut of marbled, flavorful meat. The dry-aged bone-in rib eye adds more value to the steak.
But finally, it’s well-marketed and novel in a way that a “regular” expensive steak (like filet mignon or porterhouse steak) is not.
It’s an Instagram ready steak in ways that other expensive steak options like a filet mignon or a Porterhouse steak is not, and it simply makes for a fun dining experience. That experience adds value & expense to the steak.
How to Choose a Tomahawk Steak in the Store
Whether you buy your steak at the local butcher, the grocery store, or online retailer like Porter Road, a good way to increase your chances of finding a decent tomahawk steak is to know what piece to choose.
Since tomahawk steak is a luxury cut, you should call ahead to your butcher or grocery store to order it. Make sure to ask for a steak cut from the loin end of the rib roast. They’re the most tender.
Here are a few tips on selecting a full-flavored tomahawk steak:
Examine the Cut
Spend some time inspecting the rib eye steak. If you see any gray or brown on the steaks, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve gone bad.
But, it could mean that they’ve been on the shelf for a while. The freshest tomahawk steak will be red.
Keep in mind that ribeye might not be as red as cheaper cuts of flank or chuck. This is because the cuts from thicker muscle have more myoglobin, which makes the red color.
Another note is that thicker steaks like the tomahawk are fresher on the inside because less meat is exposed to the air.
Look for Fat & Marbling
Even though many people are conscious of fatty foods, when it comes to steak, it’s a good thing. The whole point of marbling is that it adds flavor and tenderness to the meat.
You don’t want too much fat around the outside of the meat, but some fat helps it cook evenly.
Check the Labels
The labels placed on meat packages today are confusing. You might see labels for ‘grass-fed,’ ‘organic’, and ‘pasture-raised.’ So, how do you decide which is the best?
- Dry-Aged – Premium grades of meat like tomahawk steaks are sometimes dry-aged. The meat is aged under controlled conditions that improve flavor, tenderness and add value. The drying concentrates the flavor. Most likely, you won’t find dry-aged steaks at the grocery store. They’re usually offered at restaurants and specialty meat markets.
- Grass-Fed – This doesn’t necessarily mean that grass is the only thing the cattle ate. Completely grass-fed cattle is ideal, but the USDA only requires the beef to eat 50 percent grass. So, the USDA label for grass-fed doesn’t mean it’s fully grass-fed, but it still indicates higher quality..
- Pasture-Raised – You might think this label means the cattle only ate grass, but this isn’t true. It actually means that the cattle lived in a pasture or meadow. It doesn’t mean that they only ate grass.
- Organic – When you see the USDA organic label, it means the cattle weren’t exposed to any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. They can also graze in a pasture year-round. The only grain they can eat is hormones and antibiotic-free. Organic meat is the most regulated and demanding, so this would be your best choice when selecting tomahawk steaks.
If you’re buying from a butcher, you can ask about the labels for your steaks.
How to Cook a Thick Tomahawk Steak at Home
Since the tomahawk steak is so incredible both in flavor and visual plate appeal, you want to keep the preparation simple.
Just a little coarse salt, pepper, and a dab or butter, olive oil or blue cheese will unlock the flavor.
Although everyone has a favorite way of cooking steak, reverse searing is one of the best methods for tomahawk steaks. Reverse searing is a method for indirect grilling at a low temperature to cook the inside of the steak.
This also allows you to smoke the steak if you like the smoked flavor. Be sure to make use of a good meat thermometer.
After the indirect cooking, place the steaks directly on the high heat part of your grill grate or cast iron pan. Sear them until they’re sizzling with the melted fats, and become crusty. This usually takes from 2 to 4 minutes on each side.
How to Get the Most from a Restaurant Tomahawk Steak
Enjoying an evenly charred tomahawk steak at a high-end restaurant is like eating a little piece of paradise.
To get the most out of your steak when ordering at a restaurant, you want to make sure they’re transparent about where they purchase their steaks. This way, you’ll know the quality of the meat.
If you’re lucky, the restaurant will let you choose your steak. Then, you can check the color, marbling, and size.
For those with hearty appetites, you can select a rack of tomahawk steaks that can weigh as much as 100 ounces.
Make sure you give instructions about how you like your meat cooked. Tomahawk steaks are delicious when grilled to medium-rare.
Alternatives to the Tomahawk Steak
Don’t worry if you’re on a budget, or you just want a flavorful steak to grill for your friends and family. You can find great ribeyes and other cuts of meat that are tender and juicy.
Here are a few alternative steaks you can grill in place of tomahawk steaks:
- Ribeye Steak – Usually without the bone, tender and juicy
- T Bone Steak – Two steaks in one, top loin and tenderloin
- Strip – One half of a T-bone
- Sirloin – Fast cooking and flavorful
- Rump – A bit tougher but full of flavor
As you can see, you don’t have to give up the flavor of steak if tomahawk steaks aren’t in your budget (or you could just buy a whole cow).
Is a Tomahawk Steak Worth the Price?
Tomahawk steaks are huge cuts of meat, which increases the cost. Also, you’ll pay more if it’s dry-aged. Whether tomahawk steak is worth the price is a matter of individual taste.
If you’re all about steak and love them tender and juicy, then splurging on a tomahawk steak would be worth the price for you.
If you get one that’s cooked right either in a restaurant or at home, it will be one of the best steaks you’ve ever eaten.
FAQs About Why Is a Tomahawk Steak So Expensive
Here are a few FAQs about Tomahawk Steak.
Are tomahawk steaks worth the money?
Tomahawk steaks are undeniably delicious, novel, and interesting. They are not a “classic” or primal cut, though. We think they are a fun dining experience, even if it’s not something we’d buy regularly.
What’s the point of Tomahawk Steak?
The point of Tomahawk steak is to enjoy a large, meaty cut of steak that is cooked to perfection. This cut of steak comes from the rib section and has a lot of flavor. Tomahawk steak is perfect for those who love their meat big and juicy. It’s novel, fun, and different.
Yes, there’s a lot of marketing that goes into the Tomahawk Steak, but that’s exactly what makes it fun and different.
Is Tomahawk Steak a good cut?
A tomahawk steak is not a cut of beef – it’s a style of a cut (usually ribeye). However, they are generally cut from a good cut of beef.
What’s so special about a tomahawk steak?
A tomahawk steak is special because of its unique shape. The long, thick cut of meat is similar to a ribeye, but features a large bone running down the center that makes it look like a tomahawk axe. This interesting presentation makes the steak an impressive addition to any dinner table.
How do you get a good Tomahawk Steak?
Make sure you are paying for a good, fresh primal cut of beef (like rib eye) that will be made into a tomahawk. A good Tomahawk Steak should not be marinated. It should just be season and cooked properly.
Is Tomahawk steak better than ribeye?
They are usually the same thing. A tomahawk steak is a beef dish usually served in steakhouses. The cut of meat has nothing to do with being better–it’s the presentation and uniqueness that makes it special.
Why wagyu tomahawk is expensive?
Wagyu tomahawk steak is expensive because Wagyu beef is a high-quality, luxury meat. The cattle that produce Wagyu beef are bred for superior marbling and typically yield a much higher percentage of intramuscular fat than other breeds.
This higher level of marbling results in a more tender, juicy and flavorful steak. Additionally, the extra processing and presentation of a tomahawk makes it that much more expensive. Be sue to pair it with an amazing meal.
What’s the difference between tomahawk and cowboy steak?
There’s no real difference, except the Tomahawk is usually cut to have a longer bone for its “handle” than the cowboy.
How many will a tomahawk steak feed?
A tomahawk steak will probably feed 2-3 people, depending on how hungry they are. It’s a pretty hefty piece of meat!
However, that all depends on how large the cut is. Look at the total ounces and divide by 6oz.
How much does a Tomahawk steak cost?
A tomahawk steak can cost up to $119 at a steakhouse. It is a ribeye steak that is cut from the shoulder blade and has a long, thick bone running down the center.
What cut is a Tomahawk steak?
Tomahawk steaks are a type of ribeye steak. They are named for their resemblance to the tomahawk axe, with a long bone that extends from the shoulder all the way to the ribcage. Tomahawk steaks are typically cut about 2-3 inches thick and can be grilled or pan-fried.
What is a Tomahawk steak?
A tomahawk steak is a thick, large cut of steak that typically comes from the rib eye or loin area of the cow. It is usually around 2-3 inches thick and has a long, narrow shape. Tomahawk steaks are often grilled or seared on the stovetop, but they can also be roasted in the oven.