Smoked Tomahawk Steaks: Reverse Seared to Perfection

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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 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°F (107°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 130°F (54°C) (medium rare)
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan/Cherry Mix
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
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.

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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, 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.

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

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

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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.

Season with the Texas Style Rub

My Texas style 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.

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Sprinkle the Texas style 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.

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Flip the steaks over and do the same Texas style rub seasoning on the reverse side.

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The steaks are now ready for the smoker.

Smoke them to 110°F (43°C)

Set up the smoker for cooking at about 225°F (107°C) 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.

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Let the steaks smoke cook until they reach an internal meat temperature of 110°F (43°C), 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 (107°C).

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Reverse Sear to Medium Rare

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 110°F (43°C).

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 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 130°F (54°C) based on my family's preference.

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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.

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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!

4.8 from 9 votes

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!
Prep Time4 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time6 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 4 -6



  • 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 dissolve and absorb into the steak.
  • 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 (107°C) 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 110°F (43°C) 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 while also bringing the internal temperature of the steak up to medium rare or about 130°F (54°C).
  • Let the steaks rest under tented foil for 10 minutes then slice ¼ inch thick and serve.

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4.78 from 9 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Your New York steak recipe is similar to this, but instead of dry brining with salt in the frig, it calls for oil and Texas rub, left sitting on the counter while you prepare the smoker then smoking this way. Is there a difference between the two steaks that would call for this difference in brining?

  2. Question – about how long are they on the grill to get to 130°? By “hot grill” (on gas) do you mean high or med-high? Thanks! Looking forward to this for Father’s Day! :-)

  3. I did a few tomahawks last summer. Very tasty, but in the end I felt a bit cheated about paying for a big bone. Not sure I’ll do it again.

  4. 5 stars
    Go to your local Sam’s Club on Mondays. Chances are you will find tomahawks left over from the weekend. My local Sam’s Club always has tomahawks and getting them on “clearance” only makes it better. You know what I’m eatin’ on Monday nights!

  5. Did one of these last night. It was a mammoth piece of meat. Used an electric smoker at ~230 degrees and pulled it at 130 for a quick sear and a perfect medium. It was one of the better steaks I’ve had. I want to experiment with the seasoning a little bit moving forward, but it was delicious. Also used Hickory, which is all I had, but would like to try something lighter next time.

  6. Hi Jeff,

    I’ve been a long time subscriber/follower. I usually prefer my meats more to the medium well doness. I wrapped at 125°F for 25 minutes then seared. The steaks melted in or mother’s like butter. (I also made Creole steak butter but really didn’t need it. )

  7. 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.


    1. 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 https://www.smoking-meat.com/amnps

      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.

    2. 4 stars
      Hi Curt,
      I have a Masterbuilt electric smoker and we love it. It maintains a steady temp,
      it must be well insulated I use it in winter in Wisconsin. The day it dies I will
      order a new one but not one with a glass door. The people that have them
      complain about not being able to see thru the smoke so it’s not doing much good.
      I also have a one tube pellet smoker that you can buy on Amazon for about $15.00
      I know people complain about only getting 1 or 2 hours of smoke from these tubes
      but they must be doing something wrong because I always get 5 hours of smoke
      from a filled tube. I use only the tube but for heavy smoke you could use the
      original Masterbuilt method of adding chips to the smoker plus the tube but you
      have to feed the Masterbuilt quite often. With the tube I fill it, light it and I
      know I’m good for 5 hours.
      Hope this helps with your decision.