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!
- 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
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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.
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 and that's all there is to it!
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.
I don't usually measure it but rather eyeball it however, professional chefs recommend ½ teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat. These tomahawks normally weigh in at about 2 lbs each so about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt should do it if you want to measure. Since we'll do both sides, you can do ½ teaspoon per side.
These are about 2.5 inches thick so I recommend 2 hours on each side for best results.
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 and there is no need to rinse. 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 (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) is a perfect combination of salt and pepper with additional spices that compliment the beef and bring out the very best in it. Fortunately, it doesn't have a lot of salt so you can use it in moderation with the dry brining and still not oversalt the meat. 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 (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) 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.
The steaks are now ready for the smoker.
Set up the smoker 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.
Before the steaks are finished cooking, fire up the grill 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 the steaks are the color 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.
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.
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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Thank you for the great advice. Followed your rib recipe and everyone loved them. Used your rub and sauce. On point! -Charles W.
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Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! -Michelle M.
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- 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)
Sprinkle coarse kosher salt onto the top side of the tomahawk steaks.
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.
Flip the steaks over and repeat the salt and fridge time for 2 hours on the reverse side.
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.
Preheat the smoker to 225°F and once it's ready, place the steaks directly on the smoker grate.
Let the steaks cook for about 1.5 hours or until they reach 1100-110°F in the center.
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.
Let the steaks rest under tented foil for 10 minutes then slice ¼ inch thick and serve.