What’s the average tomahawk steak weight? Anyone who’s ever seen one of these behemoths will know that it’s higher than that of most traditional steak cuts. But just how much weight are we talking about here?
Tomahawk Steak Weight
A tomahawk steak might weigh as little as 1 pound, but that’s rare. It’s more common for these cuts to weigh 2 to 2-1/2 pounds when they’re packaged for sale. Bear in mind that some of that weight is taken up by the bone, and since this is a fatty cut to begin with, the shrinkage factor is higher than it would be for cuts like tenderloin.
What Is Tomahawk Steak?
A tomahawk steak has an impressive-sounding moniker, and the appearance to match. It’s a ribeye steak with a long bone still attached, which makes it resemble an ax or a tomahawk.
Alternate names for the tomahawk steak include cowboy steak (which usually has a shorter bone segment) or the more descriptive bone-in ribeye. Like its boneless counterpart, the steak is well-marbled and full of beef flavor, with a tender, juicy texture.
Average Tomahawk Steak Weight
This steak is taken from the 6th to 12th ribs on the rib primal, located in the upper midsection of the animal. As such, it’s difficult for butchers to slice it very thin—not that they would want to when there’s so much beefy goodness to be had.
Most tomahawk steaks are cut at least 2 inches thick, perhaps more. That’s not unusual for ribeyes, but it does increase the weight of the steak—particularly in this case, as the bone is still attached as well.
Depending on the size of the rib primal and the butcher’s skill, it’s possible to find tomahawk steaks that weigh just 1 pound. But it’s unusual. These steaks are typically much bigger.
You can expect a tomahawk steak to weigh at least 2 pounds. For example, the ones available in packs of 4 from Omaha Steaks weigh 36 ounces, or 2 pounds and 4 ounces apiece.
Again, some of that weight is taken up by the bone, which will be trimmed of fat and meat scraps to make it look prettier. But you’ll still be getting a hunk of delicious steak at the end of it.
To give you some idea of the presentation, the bone is around 6 to 7 inches long. About 5 of those inches are left bare and protruding from the steak portion. That means that a tomahawk steak takes up a lot of room on the grill—not to mention on the plate.
How Much Does Tomahawk Steak Cost?
As grilling enthusiasts, we appreciate the aesthetic qualities that this cut has to offer—not to mention the exceptional flavor. Unfortunately, the greater mass translates into higher prices.
Tomahawk steak takes a long time to prepare. Trimming the excess fat and meat fringe from the bone—a process known as “frenching”—requires skill and effort, which translates into higher labor costs.
This cut is also popular with chefs and other serious steak fans, but it’s not readily available in supermarkets and grocery stores. Even specialty meat shops might have a hard time stocking it.
All of these factors drive up the price of tomahawk steak. It’s hard to estimate an average price because it fluctuates so often, but you should plan on spending $25 to $100 per pound. To narrow it down further, a $50 per-pound estimate is reasonable.
If you’re lucky enough to have a local grocery store or meat market that stocks tomahawk steaks on a regular basis, keep an eye out for sales. The stores may mark down the prices if the steaks are approaching their sell-by date, even though the meat will still be fine.
Big-box stores like Sam’s Club and Costco might have tomahawk steaks on sale for as little as $10 per pound. These prices normally apply only to Choice cuts that have been frozen beforehand, though. Fresh Prime cuts from small farms will cost more.
How Many People Does a Tomahawk Steak Feed?
Since you’ll be paying top dollar for this steak, you’re probably wondering how far it will stretch. The good news is that a single tomahawk steak should be sufficient to feed more than one person, depending on the size.
Let’s assume you’ve purchased a batch of 4 tomahawk steaks that weigh 36 ounces apiece. Some of that weight will be taken up by bone, which isn’t edible. The meat will also shrink down by 30 to 40 percent when it cooks.
For steaks of this size, subtract about 1 pound to account for the bone. This might be a tad high, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Also, assume you’ll lose 50 percent of the weight due to shrinkage, as this is a fatty cut. Again, you’ll probably wind up with more—this is just a general estimate.
Once you’ve subtracted the bone, you’ll be left with a piece of steak that weighs 20 ounces. After taking a 50 percent shrinkage factor into account, that gives you 10 ounces of edible meat.
3 to 4 ounces is the recommended portion size for meat products, so that gives you roughly enough to serve 3 people. Even if your guests are big eaters, 10 ounces of cooked meat should still be enough to feed 2 of them.
Of course, you might not want to alter the presentation by carving the steak into slices to portion it out. So feel free to serve these steaks by allowing 1 per diner, especially if you’re planning an elegant plated meal. Just remember that this is a pricey option.
Premium steaks require special care. You want to make sure to get your money’s worth. If you overcook the steak, you’re sure to be disappointed.
Since the butchers have already gone through the trouble of making the steak look so appealing, you don’t have to do much to get it ready for cooking. Just pat the meat dry with paper towels and season it with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
In our opinion, a tomahawk steak doesn’t need much more in the way of seasoning. But you can add a bit of garlic powder to the seasoning blend if you’d like. These steaks are also excellent when finished with a compound butter made with rosemary or thyme.
It’s a good idea to wrap the bone with foil before cooking to keep it from getting scorched. A charred bone will detract from the flavor as well as the appearance of the steak.
Since this steak is exceptionally thick, try the reverse searing method. This involves cooking the steak slowly using low heat to bring it within 10 to 15 degrees of your preferred serving temperature, then giving it a nice strong sear at the finish.
You can pull this off in several ways. If time and weather allow, we would suggest grilling the steak over indirect heat for about 45 minutes, then putting it on the hotter side of the grill to finish cooking.
You can also use a smoker for the initial step if you really want to rev up the smoke flavor. Use oak or hickory wood chips, or a combination of the two, to complement the natural beefy taste. Then sear it over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
It’s fine to use the oven and stovetop to cook tomahawk steak, but you’ll need to have a skillet large enough to accommodate the oversized cut. Just roast it in a 250-degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how you like it cooked, then sear in the skillet.
Remember to let the steak rest before you serve it. Otherwise, it won’t be as juicy. For cuts this size, we recommend a resting period of 10 to 15 minutes.
Some people consider tomahawk steak to be a “gimmick cut,” owing to the fact that a portion of its weight is taken up by bone. But we’re inclined to disagree.
Though the bone does lend visual appeal to the steak, it also improves its flavor and allows it to remain juicy. That’s true of all bone-in cuts, and the popularity of boneless ribeye doesn’t detract from that.