How to Smoke a Tomahawk Ribeye

  • by Omaha Steaks
Setting a well-marbled tomahawk ribeye on the smoker
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The massive, showstopping tomahawk ribeye steak is a true steakhouse cut that was made to be smoked. Fire up your smoker or grill, and enjoy the best smoked steak of your life. It’s guaranteed to impress!

Watch as our 5th generation owner, Todd Simon, smokes a tomahawk; then keep reading for five simple steps to smoke this giant steak.

What is a Tomahawk?

The tomahawk steak is a 36-ounce ribeye with a long 7-inch bone resembling an axe handle. This huge, well-marbled steak is enough meat to feed two hungry people and has an incredibly rich, buttery taste and tender texture. The marbling (those white specks of fat in the steak) will melt into the steak as it cooks, resulting in a juicy, tender steak with incredible beef flavor. Learn more about this impressive cut in our Tomahawk Butcher’s Guide.

How to Smoke a Tomahawk

Sure, you can grill a tomahawk, but smoking the meat will add incredible flavor and it’s easy to do! Follow these steps to smoke a delicious, juicy tomahawk ribeye on your smoker, or gas or charcoal grill.

1. Thaw Completely

Completely thaw your tomahawk ribeye in the refrigerator for 48 to 72 hours. This is a large cut of beef, so make sure you give it adequate time to fully defrost to allow the steak to cook thoroughly inside and out.

2. Prep & Season

Once completely thawed, pat your steak dry. Then, lightly brush with olive oil and seasoning generously with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper or our Private Reserve Rub. If desired, consider a simple dry brine 18-24 hours before cooking to lock in moisture and enhance the natural flavors of the ribeye. Bring your steak to room temperature before cooking.

How to Smoke a Tomahawk Ribeye

3. Smoke the Tomahawk to 10° Below Target Temperature

For a medium-rare tomahawk, the smoking process should take about an hour on low, flipping once. Verify temperature using a meat thermometer and remove from the smoker at 10 degrees shy of your target temperature. You will finish the cooking process with a nice hard sear for a great crust.

If you have an electric smoker, simply smoke the tomahawk on low. Check out the directions below to convert your gas or charcoal grill into a smoker.

How to Smoke on a Gas Grill (400°F using indirect heat)

To smoke the tomahawk on a gas grill, you will you use the indirect grilling technique. When using this technique, place food next to, instead of directly over the fire. If using a gas grill with 3 or more burners, turn on one side of the burners and leave the others off. If using a two-burner grill, turn on one side and leave the other off. Adjust the burner until the thermometer reads 400°F.  For that signature smoke flavor, place a smoking box or foil pouch of wood chips with holes poked in it over the burner that is ignited. Place the tomahawk on the grill grate over the burners that are off.

How to Smoke on a Charcoal Grill (400°F using indirect heat)

Smoking a tomahawk on a charcoal grill adds incredible flavor and is easy to do. To cook on a charcoal grill with indirect heat, you will only have fire on one side of the grill and use the side without hot coals for cooking. To set up, arrange the hot coals evenly on one side of the lower grate and add wood chunks to the hot coals. Place a drip pan with water below the cooking grates opposite the hot coals to keep drippings from burning. Once the grill reaches 400°F, cook the tomahawk on the cooking grates over the drip pan opposite the hot coals to cook with indirect heat.

How to Smoke on a Kettle or Bullet Smoker (250°F)

To cook a steak on a kettle or bullet smoker, simply arrange hot coals evenly on one side of the smoker grate and add wood chunks to the coals. Place a drip pan with water under the rack. Allow to smoke for 10 minutes before adding the meat. Cook the tomahawk on the cooking grate over the drip pan (opposite the hot coals) to smoke. Close lid and adjust your air vents to get the smoker to maintain 250°F.

Pro Tip: When using wood chips, soak them in water for 10 minutes before placing on the grill to reduce flareups.

How to Smoke a Tomahawk Ribeye

4. Sear for a Great Crust

Once the tomahawk is cooked to 10°F below your target temperature, use the fire to get a perfect sear. Place the tomahawk directly on the grates over the flames or on a hot grill over medium-high heat for a nice crust. For easy manipulation of the steak, allow the bone to hang off the side and use a heat-resistant glove or mitt to turn the meat.

Cook to 5°F below your target temperature. We recommend cooking the tomahawk medium-rare to medium for the best steak experience.

  • Rare:120°F
  • Medium-Rare: 130°F
  • Medium: 140°F
  • Medium-Well: 150°F
  • Well: 160°+F

5. Rest the Steak

Always rest your steak 5-10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute for an incredibly tender and juicy bite. Once rested, feel free to grab the tomahawk the bone and enjoy as a giant meat lollipop! If you have to share, serve by cutting along the bone, then slicing the ribeye against the grain into 1” slices. If desired, separate the ribeye cap for an extra special treat – that’s the most tender, juiciest section of the tomahawk. Serve with your favorite steakhouse side dish and a decadent dessert for an incredible steakhouse-worthy dinner at home.

How to Smoke a Tomahawk Ribeye
How to Smoke a Tomahawk Ribeye

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