The Perfect Guide to Smoking a Tomahawk Steak

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Video how to smoke a tomahawk steak

When it comes to indulging in a rich, flavorful cut of meat, the smoked tomahawk steak surpasses all expectations. While it shares its origins with the beloved ribeye, there are a few key distinctions that set it apart.

Firstly, the tomahawk steak comes with an imposing bone attached. If you’re feeling particularly primitive or just extraordinarily hungry, you can use the bone as a handle and devour the entire steak in a true caveman style. The featured tomahawk steak in this article weighs in at a whopping three pounds, making it a bit too much for a solo feast.

Another notable difference between a ribeye and a tomahawk steak lies in their size. While most ribeyes available at the store weigh between 8 to 16 ounces, a tomahawk steak is much larger, ranging from 2 to 3.5+ pounds!

Tomahawk Steak on a grill rack

Preparing the Tomahawk Steak

When you are fortunate enough to get your hands on such a prime cut of meat, it is essential to take all necessary steps to ensure a flawless end result. The preparation and smoking process for this steak typically takes about 7 hours, so allow ample time for this culinary endeavor. While it may seem like a significant investment of time, rest assured that the end product will be more than worth the effort.

Close up of a tomahawk steak
These steaks are thick! The salting process before hand brings flavor deep into the meat.

Approximately 7 hours before you intend to serve the tomahawk steak, remove it from its packaging and generously salt one side. I recommend placing the steak on a grill rack over a foil-lined pan and refrigerating it for 90 minutes.

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After the initial 90 minutes, take the steak out of the fridge, flip it over, and repeat the salting and refrigeration process. This technique draws out moisture from the meat, allowing it to combine with the salt and then be reabsorbed, resulting in an incredibly flavorful profile. Since we are dealing with a thick cut of meat, this method is one of the keys to achieving a truly phenomenal taste.

The author eating the last pieces off of the bone
Hey, that’s me! Just enjoying those crispy pieces that stayed on the bone…

Smoking the Tomahawk Steak or “Cowboy Steak”

When you are ready to begin the smoking process, apply your chosen rub to both sides of the steak before placing it in the smoker. Remember, the lower the temperature, the better the results. For this particular tomahawk, I smoked it at 180 degrees, along with oak pellets, infusing the meat with a subtle smoky flavor.

Allow the tomahawk to smoke at 180 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 110 degrees. This usually takes around 3 hours for a three-pound steak like this one. To monitor the temperature accurately without compromising the cooking process, I recommend using a reliable temperature probe such as the Thermoworks Smoke. Position the probe about an inch from the bone, as close to the center of the meat as possible.

Once the internal temperature reaches 110 degrees, remove the tomahawk steak from the smoker. Adjust the smoker’s temperature to 450 degrees. While the smoker is heating up, combine 3 tablespoons of melted butter, a clove of minced garlic, and half a teaspoon of thyme.

When the smoker has reached the desired temperature, brush both sides of the tomahawk steak with the melted butter mixture. Then, place the steak directly on the grill grates. Allow it to cook at high heat until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees. At this stage, flip the steak and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees. For my tomahawk steak, it took approximately 30 minutes at high heat to achieve the desired temperature.

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Resting Tomahawk Steak on a Cutting Board

Now comes the challenging part – resisting the temptation to dig in immediately. Allow the steak to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes before you slice into it. This essential resting period ensures that all the juices redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a perfectly tender and succulent steak.

Once the resting period is over, slice the steak into thin, tantalizing pieces and prepare to receive endless praise from your friends. Brace yourself for comments like, “This is the best steak I’ve ever had!”

Sliced smoked tomahawk steak on a cutting board. The steak is medium rare, and a smoke ring is present.
Look at all that goodness…

This cooking technique may seem familiar, as it resembles the reverse sear method commonly used for smaller cuts of steak. For more scrumptious steak ideas, take a look at my post on dry-aged beef!

Have you ever had a smoked tomahawk steak? It

For the ultimate tomahawk steak experience, be sure to visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ – your go-to destination for ravishingly delicious and expertly smoked meats.