Porterhouse vs T-Bone | What is the Difference?

If you are a steak lover, chances are that you have heard of a Porterhouse steak and T bone steak. While most people tend to believe that these types of steak are one and the same, the truth is, they are actually two different types of steaks.

Thus, this brings in the puzzle: what is the difference between a porterhouse steak and a T-bone steak?

In this article, we will be discussing the differences between porterhouse steak and T-bone steak in terms of their origin, appearance, taste, cooking methods, and much more.

But, before we go any further, allow me to introduce you to what a porterhouse is vs what is a T-bone.

What is a Porterhouse Steak?

Porterhouse is a beef cut that is obtained from the rear end of the short loin. It comprises a large strip cut and a large portion of the tenderloin steak. Even though it originates from a single bone in the butt of the animal, a porterhouse now refers to any steak that has two bones – right & left femur bones.

In terms of appearance, you will notice that this type of steak is larger than a T-bone. Not only is it larger but the steak will also have a bigger and thicker section of meat, which makes it more flavorful than that of the T-bone steak.

The bone is actually placed right in front where the strip meat and tenderloin meet. Thus, when cooking, you want to make sure that you leave this part undisturbed.

Note that for a steak to be classified as a porterhouse, its tenderloin fillet section must be at least 1.25” thick.

What is a T-Bone Steak?

A T-bone steak is also cut from the short loin section but closer to the front. It contains portions of tenderloin and strip, but the tenderloin is usually a smaller portion than that of the porterhouse. This steak is basically a smaller and thinner version of the porterhouse. 

Since this type of steak doesn’t include a top loin, as well as it is a bit smaller, the T-bone steak will be cheaper than that of a porterhouse.

You will be able to recognize a T-bone because it will have one bone only – located in the center of the cut and crossed by a large tenderloin. Note that for a steak to be classified as a T-bone, its tenderloin fillet section must be at least 0.25” thick.

Differences Between Porterhouse and T-Bone

Since you now have a brief idea of what a T-bone and porterhouse are, let’s dive into the main discussion of what is the difference between a porterhouse and a T-bone.

As earlier stated, these beef cuts vary in a range of aspects including the sizes, source of the steak, prices, preparation method, and others. Thus, we shall have a look at these aspects for a deeper understanding of the differences.

1. Source of the Steak

Both the Porterhouse and T-Bone are steak cuts obtained from the short loin of a cow. However, the T-bone is a steak cut from the front section of the short loin while a porterhouse is a steak cut from the rear end of the short loin.

Porterhouse comes from the short-plate primal cut that includes the large end of the tenderloin and sirloin. This cut is taken from the larger end of the short loin, through to the center of the animal’s spine.

On the other hand, the T-Bone is derived from the short-plate primal cut that combines two lesser cuts; these are the tenderloin and strip loin. The T-Bone is taken from the middle of the short loin, just above the porterhouse steak cut.

Therefore, while the porterhouse cut is larger than the T-Bone, but both cuts include a portion of tenderloin and strip loin with a porterhouse containing more tenderloin than a T-Bone.

2. Size / Appearance

A porterhouse steak includes a section of tenderloin that is longer and wider. Due to this, a porterhouse will have a rounder and larger appearance than that of the T-bone cut.

Contrastingly, T-bones are smaller in size and thinner than porterhouses. This is because they only contain the short loin muscle and not tenderloin meat.

In addition, the porterhouse contains more meat than a T-bone because it has a bigger and thicker section of meat, making it a preferred cut when you want to feed more people.

The porterhouse has more tenderloin and can weigh up to 3 pounds while the T-bone will weigh around 2 ½ lbs.

3. Thickness

When it comes to thickness, these two types of steaks differ greatly. Porterhouse steak tends to be much thicker than a T-bone steak because it is made up of multiple components including tenderloin as well. As such, porterhouse steak is substantially thicker than a T-bone steak of the same weight and area.

4. Price

The price of the steaks often varies depending on where you are buying them. In most cases though, a porterhouse strip steak will cost more than T-bone steak because the porterhouse is larger in size and made up of two types of meat as opposed to just one.

5. Cooking Method

When it comes to cooking these types of steaks, there are two popular methods that can be used: pan searing and grilling.

Both methods have their own pros and cons, but ultimately, the final taste will be determined by the type of meat used to make these steaks as well as how it has been marinated or seasoned.

Although both steaks are easy to cook, porterhouse steak needs more attention and can be easily overcooked if not monitored properly.

This is because it consists of two different types of meat, each requiring a different cooking temperature and thus must be cooked separately. The tenderloin section has to be served rare or medium-rare for best results while the porterhouse part should be served medium or well done.

On the other hand, T-bone steak is much thinner than porterhouse steak. Its less complex structure means that almost all sections are cooked at about the same rate, thus making it easier to monitor. This in turn makes it much easier for you to serve.

How to Prepare a Porterhouse Steak

Tip: The best way to cook a porterhouse steak is by broiling it over high heat (4 – 6 minutes per side) or pan-searing it in hot oil for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. As a rule of thumb, porterhouse steaks are best cooked using higher heat and shorter cooking time.

Porterhouse steak cuts are derived from the meatiest part of the short loin and are well-marbled with rich flavor. They are best cooked using high heat and short time (6 minutes per side).

Unlike T-bone steaks, porterhouse steaks have a bone in them and must be seasoned accordingly (salt/pepper). Also, make sure you have enough room to flip the steak because they are bigger than T-bone steaks.

Cooking Method

To prepare your porterhouse steak cuts at home, start by sprinkling salt and pepper on both sides of the steak and allow them to rest for about 10 minutes before cooking.

This will help get moisture into the steak and bring it to room temperature. If you like your meat rare, then cook porterhouse steaks for only 4 minutes. Medium rare steaks should be cooked between 6 – 7 minutes. And if you like porterhouse steaks well done, then cook them between 8 – 10 minutes per side.

Now that we’ve gone over the differences between these two steak cuts, it’s time to determine how long you should cook each side.

When cooking porterhouse steaks, cook them for 6 – 7 minutes per side (4 – 5 minutes on each side) if you like your steak rare.

If you want a medium-rare steak then cook it for about 8 minutes per side (6 minutes on each side). And to add even more flavor, finish the top of your steak for 1 – 2 minutes under high heat.

Note: Garnish your porterhouse steaks with butter and chopped parsley before serving them for the ultimate dining experience!

How to Prepare a T-Bone Steak

Tip: To cook a T-bone, use a lower temperature setting (2 – 4 minutes per side) while pan searing. As mentioned earlier, it is important that the bone with meat attached to it should not be disturbed during cooking because it provides the steak with more flavor.

For starters, when cooking T-bone steaks, it is advisable to cook them on both sides first and then finish them off by broiling/grilling the top side of the meat so that it gets caramelized and rich with more flavor.

This is especially important due to the fact that these steaks are thinner than porterhouse steaks (only a ¼ inch in thickness).

As mentioned earlier, T-bone steak cuts are derived from the meatier part of the short loin. The tenderloin and strip loin are separated by a T-shaped bone with meat attached to it.

Also, since the thickness of this cut is thinner than that of porterhouse steak cuts, you will want to use extreme caution when cooking them. And even though they seem smaller in size to porterhouse steaks, you can serve more people by using T-bone cuts because of their thickness.

Cooking Method

To prepare your T-bone steaks at home, start by sprinkling salt and pepper on both sides of the steak and allow them to rest for about 10 minutes before cooking. This will help get moisture into the steak and bring the meat to room temperature.

When cooking T-bone steaks, it is important to use a cast-iron skillet or heavy-duty grill pan because they retain more heat and distribute it evenly on both sides of the steak. Also, make sure that you add enough oil so that there is 1/4 inch of liquid in your pan (i.e. oil).

This will help sear the meat while cooking, locking in the juices and keeping your T-bone steak tender on the inside while giving it a nice crust on its outside.

At this point, you can add some butter to enhance that flavor. Anyways, don’t use butter for more than 30 seconds so as not to burn it. Add a pat of butter and let it sizzle until it’s golden brown, which will bring out the rich flavors of the meat.

Cook for 3 – 5 minutes on one side over medium-high heat. Then turn your steak over to cook the other side with more salt and pepper sprinkled on it (1 – 2 minutes per side).

Finally, finish it off by cooking the top part of your steak for 1 – 2 minutes under high heat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is Better Porterhouse or T-Bone?

Basically, this depends on the reason you need the steak. A porterhouse is a better option than the T-bone when you want to feed more people because the size of the cut is thicker.

On the other hand, a T-bone is a better option when looking for a steak that is easier to cook since it doesn’t need a lot of attention.

How Long Should You Cook a Porterhouse Steak?

When cooking porterhouse steaks, remember that they do take a little longer to cook as compared to other steak cuts.

You have to cook them for about 8 – 10 minutes per side if you want red (medium-rare) meat and about 12 minutes per side for rare meat. However, the time you cook the steak also depends on the thickness with thicker porterhouse steaks requiring you to cook them longer.

Are Porterhouse Steaks Tough?

In general, porterhouse steaks are not tough. If you buy them fresh as opposed to frozen then cooking should never be a problem.

Nevertheless, it is important that you read the instruction above on how to cook porterhouse steaks properly so that they remain tender.

Should You Tenderize Porterhouse Steak?

No, it is not necessary to tenderize porterhouse steak. Because of the strip and filet cuts that constitute a porterhouse steak, it is already flavorful and tender. Therefore, you might actually end up ruining your steaks if you tenderize them too much.

What 2 Steaks are in a Porterhouse?

A porterhouse comprises the strip steak, which is the outer muscle, and the tenderloin steak which is the inner muscle.

How Long Do I Cook T-Bone?

It is always recommended to check the level of doneness of the steak by using an accurate meat thermometer. The inside temperature should be at a minimum 145°F and 180°F, respectively for rare, medium-rare, medium, well-done, and done.

For T-bone steaks that are one inch thick or less, cook them for about 8 minutes on each side. For thicker steaks cook them for about 10 minutes on each side.

How Do You Cut a T-Bone Steak?

Although T-bone steaks are not difficult to cut, you will need a few tools for the job. A good quality chef’s knife, as well as a sawing motion, will be enough to do the job.

To get started, hold the steak with your left hand and push it inwards with your right hand so that the bone is completely removed from the steak. Take a look at the meat and note the direction the fibers are running.

After that, you can slide the knife back and forth across the fibers which are also referred to as across the grain to cut your steak into slices.

How Do You Make T-Bone Tender?

T-bone steaks don’t need tenderizing. However, there are ways to make them more tender. For one, you can soak them in a cold liquid of your choice so that they absorb the flavor and become more tender.

However, we recommend that you flash cook it over dry heat by broiling or grilling to maintain the tenderness of the steak.

How Do You Grill a T-Bone Steak Medium-Rare?

Grilling a T-bone steak can be tricky especially if you are planning to cook it medium-rare. However, there is an easy way out.

Start by preheating your grill to high heat for about 15 minutes before cooking the steaks on both sides for about five minutes on each side. After that, turn the heat down to low heat.

Finish the cooking by covering your grill and letting it cook for about four minutes on each side while still covered.

Which is Better New York Strip or Porterhouse?

Both New York strip steaks and porterhouse steaks are quite tasty. If you look at them from a cost perspective, then a New York strip steak will be cheaper as compared to a porterhouse steak.

However, if you are looking for flavor then we recommend that you go for a porterhouse steak since it has both strip and tenderloin cuts.

Conclusion

When it comes to steaks, you can’t go wrong with either option. If your budget is higher and you are looking for a bigger piece of meat that will provide lots of servings per steak, then porterhouse steaks are your go-to option.

However, if your budget is on the lower side and you want a reasonable amount of food, then T-bones are more suitable for you given their cost-effectiveness.