Grilling is often thought of as the ultimate way to cook a steak. Yet it’s a method that works better for some cuts of beef than others. The Tomahawk steak is a great candidate for throwing on the grill because of its marbling, fat content, and generous bone length, which is a convenient handle for flipping. Using the right technique will help you make the most of this sometimes pricey type of premium steak. Succeed the next time you grill Tomahawk steak with these tips and tricks.
Best Type of Grill to Use
Most types of grills will work well for cooking the Tomahawk steak, as long as the cooking surface is large enough to evenly heat this large cut. It can be harder to fit the long bone section under the lid of a smaller grill, and it’s too tough to trim at home without the right equipment. You’ll want a grill surface that is at least 24 inches long or wide in most cases. Propane and pellet stoves give you the most control over the temperature level, ensuring even cooking without the need to rake any coals. But if you’ve practiced using a charcoal grill, it can work just as well for this type of steak.
Preparing the Steak For the Grill
Tomahawk steaks have a great flavor all on their own, so they don’t need a lot of preparation to get them ready for the grill. The large bone and the thickness of the meat limit the value of marinating this steak. However, you can try dry brining the meat to increase the tenderness and flavor. Simply rub the surface of the meat with Kosher salt the day before you plan to cook the steak, then let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. If you choose to brine the meat, don’t add any further salt before cooking. As with most cuts of beef, let the meat come to room temperature by sitting it out for 20 to 30 minutes before you grill Tomahawk steak.
Preparing the Grill
Getting the grill hot and stable at a good cooking temperature takes some practice. If it’s your first time using a particular grill model or type, try cooking up some inexpensive chicken thighs first to build your skills. No matter the grill, aim to set the grate so it’s in a medium position that isn’t too close to the heat source or too far away.
Set up the grill with at least two distinct cooking zones if possible. Set some of your burners for high heat, and some of them for low heat. Make sure to let the grill heat up for at least 10 minutes, or until it reaches a temperature of around 275 to 300 degrees overall and 225 degrees in the low heat zone. Brush the cleaned grates with high-heat oil before putting the steak on to cook.
Use a chimney to light the charcoal without using any lighter fluid. When the charcoal is beginning to turn white on top and is glowing slightly, lift up the grate of the grill and dump them in. Rake and arrange the coals so they’re thicker and hotter on one side and thinner and lower heat on the other side. Set the grill back in place and wait to start cooking until the coals are evenly red and glowing.
Fill the pellet hopper with the pellets you prefer for grilling beef. Aim to have at least 2 lbs of pellets on hand per hour of cooking time so you don’t run out. Use the ignition switch to light the grill. Use a low heat setting first, aiming for around 225 degrees F. When the grill comes to temperature, oil the grates and start cooking the steak.
While there are all sorts of quick tricks to try and guess the doneness of a steak, only a meat thermometer with an instant-read probe will give you the truth. When you’re spending money on USDA Prime beef like a top-quality Tomahawk steak, you don’t want to risk overcooking just by guessing the doneness. For the Tomahawk, you’ll want to reach the following temperatures for the corresponding level of doneness:
- 120 degrees: Rare
- 130 degrees: Medium rare
- 140 degrees: Medium
- 155 degrees: Medium well
It’s not recommended that you grill a thick cut of beef like the Tomahawk steak past medium well. Make sure to pull the steak off the grill when it is 5 degrees below the listed temperatures since it will gain the final rise in temperature when it is resting.
Choosing Tomahawk Steaks to Grill
If you’re trying to save space or work with a smaller grill, consider looking for a trimmed Tomahawk where the bone is shortened. Look for good marbling and deep red color in the muscle tissue. You may find this cut labeled as a bone-in ribeye as well since it’s cut from the same meat that makes up the ribeye roast.
Other Options for Cooking Tomahawk Steak
The Tomahawk steak takes on a smoky flavor and nicely crusted texture when cooked on a grill over relatively low heat. Smokers also work well for this cut and require basically the same cooking steps. If you don’t have space in your backyard or on your patio for a grill, you can try using your oven or a large pan on the stovetop instead.
Grilled Tomahawk Steak Recipe
- 1 Tomahawk steak, 2 to 3 lbs
- 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon of granulated garlic
1. Bring your steak out of the refrigerator about half an hour before grilling. While it warms up on the counter, preheat your grill and prepare it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
2. Rub the salt, pepper, and garlic on the surface of the meat. Place the steak on the heated grill, starting out over the cooler zone.
3. Cook the meat until it is 10 degrees below the internal temperature for your desired level of doneness. Then move the steak to the high heat area or turn the grill up to high heat to sear the steak for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
4. Remove from the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Consider using a flavored compound butter on the Tomahawk steak while resting to give it a burst of flavor.
Grilling an awe-inspiring Tomahawk steak isn’t as intimidating as it may look. Just build your general grilling skills first, then stay focused on keeping the heat levels steady and not flipping the thick steaks too often as they cook. Don’t forget your favorite side dishes from the steakhouse for pairing with your delicious dinner straight from the grill.
Grilled Tomahawk Steak
- 1 2-3lb tomahawk steak
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- Bring your steak out of the refrigerator about half an hour before grilling. While it warms up on the counter, preheat your grill and prepare it according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- Rub the salt, pepper, and garlic on the surface of the meat. Place the steak on the heated grill, starting out over the cooler zone
- Cook the meat until it is 10 degrees below the internal temperature for your desired level of doneness. Then move the steak to the high heat area or turn the grill up to high heat to sear the steak for 2 to 3 minutes per side
- Remove from the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving