How to BBQ a tomahawk steak

How to BBQ a Tomahawk Steak

Barbecuing a tomahawk steak is an art that combines the right preparation, precise cooking, and thoughtful serving to create a memorable dining experience. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step to ensure your tomahawk steak is grilled to perfection, impressing your guests with both flavor and presentation. Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a beginner, follow these steps on how to BBQ a tomahawk steak to achieve a mouthwatering, restaurant-quality steak at home.

How to Grill a Tomahawk Steak
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Choosing the Right Tomahawk Steak

Selecting the best tomahawk steak is crucial for a successful BBQ.

  1. Look for USDA Prime or Choice grade meat for excellent marbling and tenderness.
  2. Opt for steaks at least 2 inches thick for even cooking and optimal juiciness.
  3. Source from reputable butchers or high-quality meat suppliers to ensure freshness and quality.
  4. Check for a rich, red color and avoid grayish or brownish hues indicating less freshness.

Preparing Your Tomahawk Steak

Preparing Your Tomahawk Steak for Grilling
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  1. Pat the steak dry with paper towels to ensure a good sear.
  2. Generously season both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Create a simple marinade with olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary, and thyme.
  4. Coat the steak and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  5. Bring the steak to room temperature before grilling to ensure even cooking.

Marination Techniques

Marinating your tomahawk steak can significantly enhance its flavor and tenderness. Here are a few effective techniques:

  1. Classic Herb Marinade: Combine olive oil, minced garlic, fresh rosemary, thyme, and lemon juice. Coat the steak thoroughly and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Asian-Inspired Marinade: Mix soy sauce, ginger, garlic, honey, and sesame oil for a savory and slightly sweet flavor. Marinate for 2-4 hours.
  3. Spicy Marinade: Blend olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar. Marinate for 1-2 hours for a kick of heat.

Always bring the steak to room temperature before grilling to ensure even cooking and optimal flavor absorption.

Grilling Techniques

Grilling a tomahawk steak to perfection requires precise control of heat and placement. Follow these steps:

How to BBQ a tomahawk steak
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  1. Preheat the Grill: Preheat your grill to high heat (450-500°F) for direct grilling. For charcoal grills, create a two-zone fire by piling coals on one side.
  2. Sear the Steak: Place the steak directly over the high heat zone. Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side to create a nice crust.
  3. Indirect Heat: Move the steak to the cooler side of the grill. Continue cooking until it reaches your desired internal temperature (125°F for medium-rare).

Managing Grill Temperature

Controlling your grill’s temperature is crucial for even cooking. For gas grills, adjust the burners to maintain a consistent temperature.

For charcoal grills, add or remove coals to regulate heat. Use a grill thermometer to monitor the temperature, keeping it between 225-250°F for the indirect cooking phase.

Flipping and Resting

Flip your steak only once to maintain juices and ensure even cooking. Use tongs, not a fork, to avoid piercing the meat. After grilling, let the steak rest for at least 10 minutes.

This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring a tender and flavorful bite. Cover the steak loosely with aluminum foil while resting.

BBQ Cooking Techniques for Tomahawk Steak
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Similar to cooking a tomahawk steak, our Prime Rib Roast BBQ guide provides detailed steps to ensure a perfect cook for another impressive BBQ experience.

Serving Your Tomahawk Steak

Presentation is key when serving a tomahawk steak. Here are some creative ideas:

  1. Classic Carving: Slice the steak against the grain into thick, juicy pieces. Arrange them fanned out on a large cutting board or platter for a rustic, family-style presentation.
  2. Garnish: Add a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme for a touch of color and aroma.
  3. Accompaniments: Serve with grilled vegetables, a side of creamy mashed potatoes, or a fresh salad. Consider a bold, red wine reduction or a chimichurri sauce for added flavor.
BBQ Tomahawk Steak Serving Instructions
Credits to Tom Hixson of Smithfield

Pairing Suggestions

Pairing your BBQ tomahawk steak with the right drinks and side dishes can elevate the dining experience:


  • Red Wine: Bold reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec complement the rich, beefy flavors.
  • Craft Beer: A robust stout or a hoppy IPA can balance the steak’s savory taste.
  • Cocktails: Try a classic Old Fashioned or a smoky Mezcal cocktail for a sophisticated touch.
Pairing Suggestions BBQ a Tomahawk Steak
Credits to Crave Local

Side Dishes:

  • Grilled Vegetables: Asparagus, bell peppers, and mushrooms add color and flavor.
  • Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes or crispy roasted potatoes provide a comforting contrast.
  • Salads: A fresh arugula or spinach salad with a tangy vinaigrette can balance the richness of the steak.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these common pitfalls to ensure a perfectly cooked tomahawk steak:

  1. Skipping the Resting Period: Not resting the steak can cause juices to run out, resulting in a dry steak.
  2. Improper Seasoning: Under-seasoning can lead to blandness; generously season with salt and pepper.
  3. Inconsistent Heat: Ensure even grill heat to avoid uneven cooking. Use a two-zone fire setup.
  4. Overcooking: Use a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking; aim for an internal temperature of 125°F for medium-rare.

Advanced BBQ Techniques for Enthusiasts

Grilling tomahawk steak, a large cut known for its impressive appearance and flavor try these advanced techniques to enhance your tomahawk steak:

  1. Reverse Searing: Slow-cook the steak indirectly until it reaches 110°F, then sear over high heat for a perfect crust.
  2. Dry Aging: Dry age the steak in your refrigerator for 3-7 days to intensify flavor.
  3. Wood Smoking: Use wood chips like hickory or oak for a smoky flavor. Soak chips and add them to the coals during cooking.
  4. Compound Butter: Top the steak with a homemade herb-infused butter for extra richness.

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