How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak


Tomahawk steak, one of the most infamous steaks on the market, and everybody love them. They’re easily one of the most sought after steaks from any and all meat-loving carnivores. From their looks to their tastes, the tomahawk steak delivers in all categories that make even non-meat eaters give it a double look.

The tomahawk is typically a rather large steak that sits usually at about 2-inches thick and generally weighs in at 30-45 ounces. That’s enough meat to put even the hungriest of teenage boys into a food-coma! But, not only is it their sizes that leave everyone wanting more but the actual meat itself. 

Notoriously we’ve seen icons like Fred Flinstone handling this steak with ease, but don’t let the cartoons fool you; one tomahawk can easily feed a few people. However, if you do feel the need to over-indulge alone and want to ditch the silverware, the tomahawk comes with a nice 6-inch “handle” that helps form the shape of the name. It’s the ultimate caveman steak and food item!

What is a Tomahawk Steak?

It gets its name “tomahawk steak” not because it can be used as a weapon, but rather it is cut into the shape of a tomahawk. Make no mistake it isn’t a weapon of violence, but rather a weapon of peace because all who see it suffer from severe mouth watering and just want to eat it.

This guide will show you the best way to prepare and cook a tomahawk steak to perfection. With such a delicate and amazing cut, you want to make sure that you are cooking it to the best of your abilities to ensure that it’s served justice properly. Who knows, if you do it right you might gain some amazing kudos from your friends, family, and be remembered as the true Tomahawk legend. 

Getting Started

To get going on cooking the perfect Tomahawk steak you are going to need only a few things. This is a guide on how to cook a tomahawk steak on a charcoal grill and the goal is to achieve a perfect medium-rare center.

Below is a quick reference guide that will allow you to quickly check on the next step in the cooking process.

Prepare the grillBegin heating up the coals 
Prepare the steakEnsure the steak is not frozen and seasoning 
Heat the grillPlacing coals on one side of the grill, leaving an empty side 
Put the steak on the grillPlace the steak on the side of the grill that does not have any coals 
Cook the steakFlip the steak every 5 minutes until center temperatures reach around 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit 
Cool the steakOnce internal temperatures are reached, pull the steak off the grill, and wrap in tin foil. 
Add more coals Heat up more coals to add to the grill 
Sear the steakAfter about 10-15 minutes of cooling, place the steak back on the grill directly over the coals and sear the steak. 
Serve the steakAfter steak has been seared on both sides, pull the steak from the grill and serve 
Enjoy!Add a little bit of butter to serve with the steak and enjoy every savory bite! 


Step 1

The first step in cooking the best tomahawk steak possible is to begin with the grill. Heat up all the coals you’re going to need for the charcoal grill. This might take a few minutes, so steps 1 and 2 can actually be done simultaneously. 

Step 2

While the coals are heating up, let’s get the steak ready! Place your steak on whatever preparation platter you’re using. Adding seasoning is important, but don’t do it until it’s about to go on the grill. Like every great steak salt and pepper are all that’s needed, especially with such an amazing steak like the Tomahawk. 

If the steak is frozen, then today is not your day for cooking the tomahawk steak. You should let it defrost in the fridge for a few days till it’s fully defrosted and ready to be grilled. Do not grill a frozen steak!

Step 3

Once the coals have fully heated up and are ready, place them on the grill. Make sure that they don’t take up the whole grill, but only consume half of the grill. This is because we are going to be cooking with only indirect heat because such a thick steak runs a high risk of undercooking the center while overcooking the outside.

So allowing only one side of the grill to be covered with coals is best so that the steak can sit on the opposite end. 

Step 4

Now that the grill is ready and the steak should be too, this is the perfect time to season the steak. Lightly add pinches of salt and pepper to the steak before placing it on the grill.

Once the tomahawk steak is seasoned, place it on the grill. Remember that we’re cooking with indirect heat so place the tomahawk steak on the side of the grill that doesn’t sit over the hot coals. 

Step 5

Now that we’re actually cooking the steak, this is probably the most important part. Generally to reach a medium-rare steak the internal temperature should be about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. However, we aren’t going to cook directly to that temperature right away because later on in the cooking process we will be searing the steak. 

This means that we should aim to cook the tomahawk steak to about 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit on the internal temperature. Flip the steak every 5 minutes until the center reaches 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit then remove the steak from the grill. 

Step 6

We’re going to now wrap the steak in tin foil and let it cool down for about 10-15 minutes. This is going to start the searing part of the cooking process. 

Step 7

While the steak is cooling go ahead and begin to heat up more coals to later add to the grill. We want to get the grill nice and hot so the steak can sear perfectly.  

Step 8

Once the coals are heated up properly, add them to the grill simply placing them over the old ones. After you’ve added the new coals to the grill, unwrap the steak from the tin-foil and place it back on the grill. 

This time we are going to place the steak directly over the burning coals, unlike last time, because to sear we will need a lot of direct heat. Searing is a pretty quick process, so expect this part to go much faster than the actual grilling process. 

Step 9

Allow both sides of the steak to get a good sear directly over the hot coals. It should take only about a minute on each side, but if it takes a little bit longer to properly char, that’s okay too.

After both sides of the Tomahawk steak have been properly seared, remove the steak from the grill.

Step 10

Finally, the time we’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to serve this amazing, perfect tomahawk steak! Serve it with some butter and maybe even add just a little bit more seasoning to it if you desire. Enjoy every bite of it!

How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak on a Gas Grill


What Cut is a Tomahawk Steak?

The Tomahawk steak is technically the same cut as a rib-eye steak, so it comes from the outside of the ribs. It’s typically left with about 5-6 inches of bone, which resembles the handle of the Tomahawk ax, while the meat resembles the ax.

Here is a quick video that describes different cuts of beef ribs.

How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak on a Gas Grill?

The steps you take to cook a tomahawk steak on a gas grill is about the same as you would with a charcoal grill. The main point is that the steak is cooked on indirect heat, which means it isn’t sitting directly above the heating source on the grill.

When you’re pre-heating the grill, make sure that it reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit before placing the steak on the grill.

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Steak?

Smoking a Tomahawk steak is a little bit more of a lengthier process than grilling one would take, expect to carve out a few hours of your day. 

Simply heat the smoker to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, put your rub on the steak, and place it in the smoker. It should take about 3 hours, but more importantly ensure that the internal temperature is at a safe temperature before removing it from the smoker. 

How do You Reverse Sear a Tomahawk Steak?

Reverse searing is a great way to make sure that your tomahawk steak “locks” in all its flavor and juices. It’s a very quick process after the steak has been mostly cooked. 

One of the most important steps is to make sure that you take the steak off whatever you’re cooking in before it reaches the desired internal temperature in the center. This will make sure that the steak isn’t overcooked when you finish searing it. 

After you’ve removed it from it’s cooking source, wrap it in tin foil and set it aside. Heat up either the grill you used to cook it to a high temperature or even a skillet on the stove. Once the searing surface is hot, place the steak on it and let it sit for 30-60 seconds on each side till both sides have a nice sear on them. 

Always make sure that the internal temperature is safe for eating and then serve! 

If you’d like a visual on how to reverse sear a tomahawk steak check out this video.

What Temperature do You Cook a Tomahawk Steak?

The temperature you should cook a tomahawk steak to is about 130 degrees Fahrenheit at the internal center of the steak.

Are Tomahawk Steaks Tender?

Tomahawk steaks are extremely tender when cooked properly. To ensure that your steak remains tender while cooking, don’t overcook it or cook it at a high temperature. 

Since it’s such a thick steak, you shouldn’t cook it at direct high heat, but rather indirectly so that the external doesn’t get overcooked too fast in the process. 

What do You Serve With Tomahawk Steaks?

What you serve with a tomahawk steak is completely up to you! It goes best with a lot of different side dishes such as potatoes, breadrice, veggies, or a combination of all of them!

What is the Difference Between a Cowboy Steak and Tomahawk Steak?

Cowboy steaks and Tomahawk steaks are essentially the same things, the only difference is the length of the bone it comes with. Cowboy steaks typically have shorter bones than the Tomahawk steak. 

How do You Grill a 3-inch Tomahawk Steak?

How you grill a 3-inch tomahawk steak is the same process as cooking a 2-inch steak, the only difference being the grill, oven, or smoker might be a lower temperature. 

Thicker cuts take longer to cook and this means that the outside of the steak runs a higher risk of overcooking, so cooking at a lower temperature, though may take longer, will produce the same results if it was a 2-inch steak. 


Tomahawk steaks are one of the most desired steaks in the meat-eating world. It’s full of so much flavor and is notorious for being incredibly tender and juicy. The unique look of a Tomahawk steak resembles that of a traditional Native American battle-ax with the way the bone sticks out like a handle and the cut of meat itself looking like the meat.  

Cooking a tomahawk steak is a definitely a delicate process, but when done right it’s one of the best steaks you could ever ask for. It’s a rather large cut of meat that can feed multiple people depending how hungry they are and how it’s served. Typically it taste best when cut into thinner slices and served with a little bit of butter. 

If you decide to cook a tomahawk steak, make sure you follow the directions that this guide illustrates to leave your tastebuds praising you and your steak cooking abilities.

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.