Smoked Tomahawk Steaks: Reverse Seared to Perfection

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Smoked Tomahawk Steaks: Reverse Seared to Perfection

Smoked tomahawk steaks are a thick, flintstone-like hunk of ribeye with the “handle” still attached and they taste just as awesome as they look right out of the smoker!

I make no bones about it, these steaks are easy to cook if you follow these instructions and you'll be the steak master in your neighborhood for years to come!

Be sure to use my one and only Texas style rub (instant download) just before placing them in the smoker if you really want to knock the socks off =)

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Dry Brine Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225-240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 130-135°F (medium rare)
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan/Cherry Mix
What You’ll Need
About Smoked Tomahawk Steaks

These are simply rib eye steaks cut on each side of the bone with the “handles” still attached. It ends up looking like a tomahawk and thus the name was born.

You won't likely see these in your local grocery store but the butcher will cut them this way for you if you ask.

Dry Brine These Bad Boys

As with any good beef steak, it's a great idea to dry brine them before serving. I've talked about this on many occasions but it's worth repeating.

Dry brining introduces salt to the interior of the steak. You sprinkle it on the top, it draws steak juices to the surface where it mixes with the salt to create a slurry. The salty liquid is then pulled into the steak via some science that I don't really understand completely.

To dry brine, you simply lay the steaks flat down, sprinkle them with coarse kosher salt and place them in the fridge for an hour or two. The thicker the steak, the longer I like to leave them.

These are about 2.5 inches thick so I recommend 2 hours on each side for best results.

Place the meat onto a Bradley rack or cooling rack placed over a large pan to catch any liquid that might drip off and then into the fridge for 2 hours.

At the end of 2 hours, remove the meat from the fridge, flip it over and repeat the dry brining process on the reverse side then back into the fridge for another 2 hours.

Please note, the steak will not be salty. It's enough salt to really bring out the flavor but it won't be overly salty at all.

It's now ready to be seasoned and cooked.

My Texas style rub (instant download) is a perfect combination of salt and pepper with additional spices that compliment the beef and bring out the very best in it. You'll see what I mean once you use it.

Apply a little olive oil to the top and sides of the tomahawk steaks.

Sprinkle the Texas style rub (instant download) onto the top of the steak and rub it in/spread it around with your hands. Pull some of it onto the sides of the steak as well.

Flip the steaks over and do the same Texas style rub (instant download) seasoning on the reverse side.

The steaks are now ready for the smoker.

Smoke them to 100-110°F

Set up the smoke for cooking at about 225°F with indirect heat. If your smoker has a water pan, fill it with water.

I used a mix of pecan and cherry wood for smoke. Any good smoking wood will work fine.

Once the smoker is ready, place the steaks directly on the smoker grate.

Let the steaks smoke cook until they reach an internal meat temperature of 100-110°F, I highly recommend using a leave-in thermometer such as the “Smoke” by Thermoworks to monitor the temperature while the steaks cook. You can also just watch them very carefully and use a Thermapen to check the temperature every 30 minutes or so. Once it gets close, you'll need to check it more often.

This should take about 1.5 hours at 225°F.

Reverse Sear to Medium Rare

Before the steaks are finished cooking, fire up the grill, Big Green Egg or even a charcoal chimney starter so you can reverse sear these once they have reached the target temperature of 100-110°F.

Note: You can also reverse sear these on both sides in the oven under the broiler if that is easier or the only option you have available. Be sure to place the steaks on a pan to prevent grease from dripping onto the bottom of the oven.

Once again, monitor the temperature carefully using a leave-in thermometer such as the “Smoke” by Thermoworks or by using a quick reading digital thermometer such as the Thermapen.

Once the steaks are as brown as you like and have reached your desired level of doneness (medium rare or less is best) remove them from the heat immediately.

I usually shoot for 138°F based on my family's preference.

Rest for 10 Minutes

Sit the finished steaks on the cabinet top with foil tented over it for about 10 minutes to rest. This allows the juices in the meat to redistribute throughout the entire steak.

Serve and Be Proud

Slice the meat into thin pieces that are about ¼ inch thick or the thickness of a pencil. (I somehow failed to get pictures of the glorious edge to edge medium rare that was produced in the smoker.. it was so beautiful I had tears in my eyes!)

Well, don't just stand there.. let the hungry crowd dig in!

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Printable Recipe

Smoked Tomahawk Steaks: Reverse Seared to Perfection
Prep Time
4 hrs 10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Smoked tomahawk steaks are a thick, flintstone-like hunk of ribeye with the "handle" still attached and they taste just as awesome as they look right out of the smoker!
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Hot Smoking
Servings: 4 -6
Author: Jeff Phillips
What You'll Need
  • Tomahawk steaks
  • Coarse kosher salt (for dry brining)
  • Olive oil (helps the rub to stick to the meat better)
  • Jeff's Texas style rub (instant download)
  1. Sprinkle coarse kosher salt onto the top side of the tomahawk steaks.
  2. Set the steaks on a cooling rack over a large pan in the fridge for 2 hours to let the salt melt and soak in.
  3. Flip the steaks over and repeat the salt and fridge time for 2 hours on the reverse side.
  4. Brush olive oil onto the top and sides of the steak and season liberally with Jeff's Texas style rub. Repeat the oil and seasoning on the reverse side of the steaks and they are ready for the smoker.
  5. Preheat the smoker to 225°F and once it's ready, place the steaks directly on the smoker grate.
  6. Let the steaks cook for about 1.5 hours or until they reach 1100-110°F in the center.
  7. At this point, sear the steaks on a hot grill, over live coals or under the broiler of your oven. The idea is to get a good browning on the outside of the steaks for flavor.
  8. Let the steaks rest under tented foil for 10 minutes then slice ¼ inch thick and serve.
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2018-06-14T03:30:05+00:00 By |3 Comments

About the Author:

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!


  1. Curt March 31, 2017 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Hi Jeff, I’ve been on your mailing list for a long time. I have a question about smokers and which you recommend. I’ve used charcoal and most recently had a gas/charcoal smoker which had the bottom rust out. I’m considering an electric smoker but I’m concerned that electric takes “me” out of the process. How do you feel about electric smokers and which do you recommend. I’d like to have the glass door and try to stay no higher than 400 dollars or so. Thanks for any help you can give.


    • Jeff Phillips April 4, 2017 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      In that price range and if you are wanting the glass door, I would have to recommend the Masterbuilt electric smoker. I get plenty of smoke flavor with these electric smokers and the heat range is good for almost any smoking project I want to do between 180 and 275°F but some folks have trouble getting enough smoke at lower settings or when the ambient temperature is on the warmer side. You can fix this problem by using the A-Maze-N pellet smoker which is simply a small smoke generator that costs about $28 and uses a handful of pellets to create smoke for hours at a time. You can see this neat device and how it works on Amazon at

      The ONLY downside to electric smokers (if you can call it that) is that you will usually not get a visible smoke ring on the meat. This is the pinkish/red layer on the edge of meat that is cooked using wood or charcoal. This is a chemical reaction and is something that many smoked food enthusiasts look for but is not indicative of smoke flavor.

    • Jim May 12, 2017 at 9:19 am - Reply

      I have a bradley electric smoker & a Rec-tec pellet smoker. I have a buddy with a masterbuilt with the glass front. Doesn’t take long and you can not see anything through it any ways. Specially when the smoke is pouring out.

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