What is Rib Cap Steak and How Can You Cook It?

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Wood-Grilled Cap, Whit Truffle Béarnaise

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Tasty is a subjective term in most cases, but it’s not likely that you won’t agree that ribcap steak is one of the tastiest cuts you’ll encounter. The cap of ribeye steak is primarily hailed as one of the best cuts of steak you can put in your mouth, thanks to its incredible marbling that gives it its full flavor and perfect texture. If you haven’t yet heard of this type of steak, you’ll want to learn about it. Fortunately, we have all the details for you on the ribcap, how you should cook it, and why you should add it to your arsenal of steak options.

What is Ribeye Cap Steak?

This cut of steak goes by a lot of different names, so it’s possible that you’ve heard it referred to as rib eye cap steak, prime rib cap, Wagyu rib steak, or its Latin name, spinalis dorsi. Regardless of its name, it all comes from the same spot: the rib primal area of the animal, which sits under and lends its support to the backbone. This is also the same area where you’ll get prime rib and ribeye cuts of steak.

What Makes Rib Cap Steak So Good?

The rib caps are actually part of a beef ribeye cut. These come from the curved top end of the ribeye, the part with muscle that sits against the backbone. This rib area is not used for much movement, which is why it has the fantastic melt-in-your-mouth texture that it does. Basically, the more a muscle is used, the less tender it is because it gets worked in more. Infrequently used muscles like the rib muscle are the kind most steak lovers crave (like filet mignon, for example)! The cut also doesn’t come from a fatty part of the cow, so there’s no excess fat to make it gristly and chewy, but it does have just the right marbling to keep it tender and full of flavor.

Getting Rib Caps at the Butcher Shop

Visiting the butcher shop for a ribcap steak is your best bet to ensure you’re getting the quality steak you want. Your butcher is likely to carry the best of the best USDA Prime and Certified Angus Beef, and you can advise the butcher that you’d like only the rib cap. If they don’t already have some cut, they’ll be able to butcher it for you to give you just that delicious, flavorful eye of prime beef. 

You can also ask your butcher for the tenderloin wrapped in butcher’s twine, so you can enjoy the rest of the tenderloin too.

Is There a Difference Between Wagyu Rib Cap and Regular Ribeye Cap Steak?

You may have heard of Wagyu steak and how its standards are among the highest for steaks. Well, the same is true for the Wagyu rib cap. If you find a steak that’s denoted as Wagyu ribcap steak cut, you have a steak that’s been graded with the Wagyu grading system. The system sets exceptionally high standards for its steaks, much like the USDA Prime grading system. These rib steaks are just about as perfect as you can get.

How to Cook Ribeye Cap Steak

Now, it’s time to learn how to cook ribeye cap steak to churn out the perfect steak for dinner. Much like your other favorite cuts of steak, the ribeye cap cut fares well pan-seared on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet or cooked on the grill. Both cooking methods bring out the steak’s delicious flavors, and if you’re careful about cooking time, leave the smooth texture intact.

For either method, the preparation process will be the same. First, trim any excess fat off the outer edges of the steak. Then, add some olive oil to all sides, and season your steaks with salt and ground black pepper or your favorite steak seasoning. Be sure to have your ribcaps come to room temperature, usually for about a half-hour or so, before you cook them.

If you’re cooking your steaks in a cast iron pan, first melt a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the steaks slowly and allow them to cook on one side for about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Then, flip to the other side and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Medium rare is a desirable goal for ribcaps, and you’ll need to cook them to about 140 degrees for this level. You can add a little minced garlic to the pan after flipping, too, for a flavorful boost.

On the grill, sear your ribcaps over high heat for about two minutes on each side, and then move to another part of the grill over medium heat. You’ll need to cook them for another 4 to 6 minutes on each side to your level of doneness. Your total cooking time will vary depending on the type of grill you use, so it’s a good idea to keep a close watch on your steaks and the grill temperature during cooking.

With either method, be sure to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak. Then, let your rib cap steak rest for 10 to 15 minutes before you slice or enjoy it to lock in all the juices and allow the steak to reach the proper temperature.

Note: Like filet mignon, this cut works exceptionally well with a balsamic vinegar marinade or finishing sauce. Try this marinated steak recipe.

Conclusion: All About the Rib Eye Cap Steak

Beef rib caps are quite a treat for any steak enthusiast! We hope this article introduced you to this incredible rib cut and gave you some ideas for cooking it. As always, check out our other helpful steak articles, tips, and recipes at Steak University!