Every once in a while, a new cut of meat appears that seems to come out of nowhere. The tomahawk steak is the latest example.
It’s popping up on television programs, Michelin-starred restaurants, and, of course, the internet. It’s a cut designed to wow an audience.
Grilling a large piece of high-quality meat might seem like an intimidating task. What if you mess it up?
But cooking a perfect tomahawk steak on a gas grill is not that difficult. Read this guide and you’re on your way to cooking the best steak in your life!
All you really need in addition to your gas grill is a meat thermometer and some salt.
What is a Tomahawk Steak?
A tomahawk steak is a special cut of beef ribeye that looks like a single-bladed ax.
If you imagine the steak that Fred Flinstone would order when he’s out for his anniversary dinner with Wilma, you’d have a pretty good idea. It’s big, and it’s impressive.
Nothing says meat-eater like a cut of meat you could bludgeon your enemies with.
Other names for the tomahawk include cowboy ribeye or bone-in ribeye.
In essence, it’s a standard ribeye with extra rib bone left on — sometimes up to 20 inches.
The steaks are usually cut about two inches thick and often weigh more than two-and-a-half pounds. The rib is frenched, meaning the excess meat is removed for presentation purposes.
While it is most common with beef, the tomahawk cut can be made with any type of rib meat. Bison, venison, and pork chops can all be cut into tomahawk steaks.
Tomahawk steaks are all about presentation. While many will disagree, studies have been done that prove the bone adds no flavor or other culinary value.
So in theory, there is no flavor difference between a tomahawk and a regular ribeye. However, scientists have also concluded that our sight has an effect on how we experience taste.
This is what explains the popularity of tomahawk steaks — food presentation is an important part of the experience of eating.
Where to Buy It
Tomahawk steaks are a pretty specialized cut, so you are unlikely to find it on the shelf at your local market.
Some specialized meat markets will carry them, and you can order a tomahawk online or as a special request at your meat monger. Expect to pay more than what you’d pay for a regular boneless ribeye.
We recommend ordering your tomahawk steaks from the Holy Grail Steak online store. They have a great selection from Black Angus and Wagyu to Kurobuta Pork tomahawk steaks and whole racks.
In fact, their tomahawk steaks are so much in demand that they are often sold out — so if you see that there are some in stock you better order some!
How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak on a Gas Grill
Tomahawk steaks are large pieces of meat, so you might have to tweak your traditional grilling methods to get them cooked properly. If you throw them on a hot grill, you risk overcooking the exteriors or undercooking the interiors.
Most professional chefs employ the reverse sear method to get it right. This means that you will cook the steak until it’s almost done on indirect heat, and then you finish it off over a sear to caramelize the exterior.
You can do the entire process on the grill, but some chefs prefer the more even sear you get with a heavy-duty cast-iron skillet.
No matter how you do it, the tomahawk steak is one of the most impressive cuts you can make on a gas grill. With the ability to completely control the heat using the zones on a grill, you can get it cooked perfectly and impress everyone at the table.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for cooking a tomahawk steak on a gas grill:
What you will need:
- Tomahawk steak(s)
- Meat thermometer
- Salt (+ other seasonings of your choice)
Step 1. Prepare the Tomahawk Ribeye Steak
Tomahawk steaks are a treat, so it’s probably best not to over-think the preparation. Use simple, high-quality ingredients.
Take the steak out of the fridge and allow it to come close to room temperature before cooking.
Then, season it with an even coating of kosher salt — use about one teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. Rub the salt all over the steaks, sides included.
You can also add some freshly ground black pepper and other seasonings of your choice.
Remember, since tomahawks are thick, they will require more seasoning than the thinner cuts you may be used to.
Step 2. Grill on Indirect Heat
Preheat your grill until the temperature gauge is somewhere between 250°F and 300°F.
Set up your grill for indirect cooking, with one side of the grill either completely off or set to low heat.
Once the grill is up to temperature, start the steaks on the indirect side. Use an instant-read thermometer, or another type of meat thermometer, and grills the steak until it’s close to your target internal temperature, 15 or 20 degrees below your ultimate goal.
For example, if you’re aiming for medium-rare at 135 degrees, move the steak when it hits 110 to 115 degrees.
Step 3. Sear
Once the steak is in the 110 to 115-degree range, move it to direct heat for searing.
There are many ways to sear a steak. You might use the hottest part of the grill or the sear burner if your grill has one.
The most important thing is that the part of the grill where you are searing is hot enough!
Sear the steak for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Watch for a dark caramel-colored crust to begin forming.
Some prefer to use a cast-iron skillet set on the side burner, which can get super-hot and produce a fabulously even sear.
Step 4. Rest
As with any large cut of meat, resting is essential. This will allow the meat to reabsorb some of its juices as it continues cooking. Skipping the resting phase will produce a drying, less satisfying steak.
Rest the steaks for five to ten minutes, wrapped loosely in aluminum foil. Do not wrap them tightly since this could soften the seared crust you worked so hard to form!
Serve the steaks with a pad of high-quality butter and your favorite sides.
One great option is to make your own steak butter by mixing the following ingredients together in a bowl:
- 6 tablespoons of salted butter (almost room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- lemon zest of half a lemon
Tomahawk Steak on a Gas Grill FAQ
How long should I cook a tomahawk steak on a gas grill?
Grilling a tomahawk steak can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your steak, desired doneness, and the grilling temperature.
It’s best to use a meat thermometer to get your steak to the right doneness.
How much does a tomahawk steak cost?
Prices of high-grade tomahawk steaks start from around $40 per pound and go much higher.
But remember that not all of this is meat — the bone might weigh almost as much as the meat, depending on how it’s cut.
Is a gas grill good for cooking a tomahawk steak?
A top-quality gas grill is a great option for cooking tomahawk steaks. You can easily control the cooking temperature and set the grill for indirect cooking as well as get it hot enough for searing.
Final Thoughts on Cooking a Tomahawk Steak on a Gas Grill
The tomahawk steak is a cool treat for a backyard cookout. It’s delicious when prepared well, and something to impress your family and friends when presented well.
If you’ve got the money to spend and want to go all out, find a wagyu tomahawk and give it a try!
Read next: How to Cook Ribs on a Gas Grill