Cowboy Steak is an extra-thick ribeye with a French-trimmed bone for a stunning presentation. This mouthwatering cut is exceptionally tender and juicy. Learn how to make the perfect cowboy ribeye in the oven or on the grill!
Look no further than the cowboy ribeye when you want to savor one of the best types of steak. It tops the tenderness and flavor scales with an impressive look. Best of all, it’s versatile and easy to prepare in the oven as well as on the grill or stovetop.
What is a Cowboy Steak?
A cowboy steak is a thick-cut ribeye where the rib bone is french-trimmed so it extends out a few inches from the meat for presentation purposes. When the bone is longer than 5 inches, it’s called a tomahawk steak. The typical cowboy ribeye will be 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches thick and weigh 18-36 ounces each.
Coming from the rib primal of the cow, the cowboy cut steak contains the tender longissimus dorsi muscle known for its marbling and flavor. The origin of the name cowboy steak is unclear, although the steak has a rustic look to it. Basic bone-in ribeyes are usually cut thinner with a smaller piece of bone that’s not trimmed.
How to Cook Cowboy Steak
You can cook a cowboy steak in the oven, on the grill or on the stove just like a ribeye. Here’s how to prepare the steak for cooking:
- Remove it from the fridge an hour ahead to approach room temperature for even cooking.
- Pat dry the steak with paper towels to remove excess moisture that could interfere with searing.
- Rub the steak with a high-temperature oil like canola oil, sunflower oil or refined olive oil.
- Season the steak generously with salt and pepper as well as any dry rub seasonings you may be using.
Cowboy Steak in the Oven
Baking is the most common oven method, whereby you pan-sear for 1 minute per side over high heat in a cast iron pan. Then you transfer the pan to a 400°F oven to finish cooking for 10-15 minutes more depending on desired doneness.
Broiling avoids the pan-searing step and is a great option when you have a reliable broiler. Position the oven rack so the meat is 3-4 inches from the heat source and let the broiler preheat for at least 10 minutes. The steak will need 8-15 minutes per side depending on thickness and the broiler.
Cowboy Steak on the Grill
Making BBQ cowboy steaks is easy using a reverse sear. Cook low-and-slow on indirect heat at 275°F until the steak reaches an internal temperature of 100°F. Then raise the heat to maximum and sear 2-3 minutes per side until your desired doneness is reached.
If you want crosshatch grill marks, rotate the steaks 90 degrees halfway through each side.
When Is It Done?
The most reliable way to check cowboy steak doneness is by measuring the internal temperature using an instant-read thermometer. Insert the probe into the middle of the steak to check your desired doneness:
|Desired Doneness||While Cooking||After Resting|
|Rare||120°F (49°C)||130°F (54°C)|
|Medium Rare||125°F (52°C)||135°F (56°C)|
|Medium||130°F (54°C)||140°F (60°C)|
|Medium Well||135°F (56°C)||145°F (63°C)|
Even after you remove the steak from the heat, the temperature keeps rising about 10°F more on a thick cut like a cowboy steak due to carryover cooking.
Note that the USDA states that 145°F is the safe final temperature for steak even though it’s not always observed.
How to Serve Cowboy Ribeye Steak
After cooking, let the steak rest for 5 minutes covered with foil or a plate before serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute through the meat for the juiciest steak.
To serve, you cut along the bone to separate it from the meat for easy slicing. The following are delicious side dishes and condiments for cowboy ribeye steak:
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Cowboy Steak Recipe
- 2 cowboy steaks, 1½-2½ inches thick (18-36 oz each)
- 2 tablespoons oil, canola oil or refined olive oil, divided
- 2-3 teaspoons coarse salt, or kosher salt
- 2-3 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional
- Remove the cowboy steaks from the refrigerator 1-2 hours so they can approach room temperature for even cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Also, place a cast iron pan over high heat for 5 minutes to get very hot while you get the steaks ready.
- Pat dry the steaks with paper towels to remove excess moisture that could interfere with searing.
- Rub the steak with 1 tablespoon oil on all sides. Then season with salt and pepper.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the hot pan and using swirl to coat. Note: the pan handle will be hot, so use oven mitts to avoid burns.
- Using kitchen tongs, carefully place the seasoned cowboy steak into the pan. Sear for 1 minute. Flip and sear the other side for 1 minute more.
- Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and cook for 10-15 minutes more or until desired doneness is reached. Halfway through, add the butter and spoon the pan juices on top of the meat to baste.
- Check doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the middle of a steak: 120°F is rare, 125°F is medium-rare, 130°F is medium and 135°F is medium-well.*
- Remove the steaks from the oven to a carving board or serving platter. Cover with foil and let them rest for 5-10 minutes so the juices can redistribute throughout the meat.
- Cut along the bone to separate the meat from the bone. Then slice crosswise against the grain to serve.
- Yield: One cowboy ribeye yields two to three 8-oz servings depending on how thickly it's cut.
- * Doneness: Avoid cooking a tomahawk to more than medium in order to get the most tender steak.
- Grilled Cowboy Steak: Prepare the steak according to the instructions above. Then grill at 275°F (135°C) for 30-40 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 100°F (38°C). Raise the heat to maximum and sear for 2-3 minutes per side or until your desired doneness is reached. Remove from the grill to rest covered with foil for 5 minutes before serving.
- Pan Fried Cowboy Steak: Preheat a cast iron skillet for 5 minutes over medium-high to high heat until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Then add the steak and fry, flipping every one minute for even searing until desired doneness is reached. Note: You can usually only fit one cowboy steak into a pan due to its large size.
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