How to Smoke a Tomahawk Steak + Reserve Sear (8 Simple Steps)

I love smoking a tomahawk steak!

Not only does it taste DELICIOUS, it looks EPIC!

There is nothing like picking up the bone and bringing out your inner caveman!

The only problem? Tomahawks steaks are expensive!

So you want to cook it perfectly!

Don’t worry I have smoked dozens in my time. So follow my steps below!

The Difference Between Tomahawk Steak and Ribeye Steak

It’s useful to understand the difference between a tomahawk steak and a ribeye steak

The ribeye steak comes from the cow’s ribcage, specifically from the 6th rib to the 12th, running towards the spine.

It’s usually well-marbled which makes it a tender steak.

If want to see how to smoke a ribeye steak, check out my EPIC recipe.

The tomahawk steak is a ribeye with about 5 inches of rib bone still attached.

It is trimmed to form a handle like a tomahawk ax handle (this explains the name).

This handle serves a good purpose while smoking the meat, as it helps to help flip it over while grilling or eating the steak.

Another big difference is that the tomahawk steak is cut thicker than your regular ribeye steak by 2 inches or more.

How to Smoke Tomahawk Steak on a Pellet Grill

It takes about 7 hours in total to prepare and smoke this steak but it’s really worth the effort.

  • 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/Oak/Cherry Mix

What You Need For Smoked Tomahawk Steak

Tomahawk steak (about 3-inch steak)

2 tbsp of coarse kosher salt

Black pepper

Pepper

Olive oil 

1 clove minced garlic

3 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 tsp thyme

Your Favorite Beef or Steak Seasoning

1 Pellet Grill, 

1 Cast Iron Skillet

Meat Thermometer

Note: you could also use an Offset Smoker, Ceramic Grill, or Charcoal Grill

How Long to Smoke Tomahawk?

It takes about 3 hours to smoke a tomahawk steak.

Smoke until the internal temperature is 10°F from your desired temperature (this step should take about 3 hours).

Smoking this tomahawk is a two-part cook.

First, you smoke the tomahawk then sear it.

See the guide below you know when to pull your meat from the smoker.

Step 1: Prepare the Steak

Place the steak on a grill rack over a pan, give it a rub with kosher salt cover with foil, and then place it in the fridge for 90 minutes.

Remove the steak from the fridge, flip it, then salt and refrigerate it again. This will help to tenderize the steaks.

This helps extract the moisture that combines with the salt and then gets sucked back into the meat.

We’re dealing with a thick cut of meat here, and it’s one of the big keys to building an amazing flavor profile with this steak.

Step 2: Bring the Meat up to Room Temperature

Remove the steak from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature, so it cooks evenly.

Skipping this step will result in an overcooked exterior and an undercooked interior.

Pat the steak dry after it rests and seasons it with pepper and salt.

Step 3: What Temperature to Smoke Tomahawk Steak At?

 To smoke a tomahawk steakpreheat your pellet smoker to 220°F – 225°F.

Step 4: Smoking the Tomahawk

Once heated place the tomahawk on the grill grates.

Smoke until the internal temperature is 10°F from your desired temperature (this step should take about 3 hours).

Note: Use a quality meat thermometer to monitor the internal temp without frequently opening the lid of the smoker. Place it about an inch from the bone (as close to the center of the cut of the meat as you can)

Using a temperature probe, remove the meat once it reaches your desired internal temperature.

  • Rare: 115°F-125°F
  • Medium Rare: 125°F-135°F
  • *Medium: 135°F-145°F
  • Medium Well: 145°F-150°F
  • Well Done: 150°F-155°F

Step 4: How to Reverse Sear Your Tomahawk

You either use a cast-iron skillet or your grill.

if you’re using a skillet drop in butter, once you see slight smoking, add the tomahawk steak to the skillet.

This will create a nice, tasty crust on the outside of your tomahawk steak.

Reverse sear until the tomahawk steak is brown and has reached your desired internal temp, for medium-rare I do about 2 minutes per side.

If your using thee reverse sear method, cook your tomahawk until it reaches your desired internal temperature in the table below

  • Rare: 125 degrees°F
  • Medium Rare: 140°F
  • *Medium: 145°F
  • Medium Well: 150°F-155°F
  • Well Done: 160°F

If you need more help reverse searing your steak, see the full resource here.

How Long to Let Your Tomahawk Steak Rest

Let your tomahawk rest for at least 5 minutes after smoking and searing it.

Then when you cut it, slice the steak against the grain.

Then get ready to hear your friends tell you this is “the best steak we’ve ever had!’’.

Smoked Tomahawk Steak on a Pellet Grill

It takes about 7 hours in total to prepare and smoke this steak but this delicious meal is really worth the effort.
Prep Time4 hrs 10 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, lunch, main, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, bbq, dinner, grill, lunch
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 500kcal
Cost: 30

Equipment

  • 1 Pellet Grill
  • 1 Cast Iron Skillet
  • Meat thermometer

Ingredients

  • Tomahawk steak about 3-inch steak
  • 2 tbsp of coarse kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • Your Favorite Beef or Steak Seasoning

Instructions

Prepare the Steak

  • Place the steak on a grill rack over a pan.
  • Give it a rub with kosher salt .
  • Cover with foil.
  • Place it in the fridge for 90 minutes..
  • Remove the steak from the fridge.
  • Flip it, then salt and refrigerate it again.

Bring the Meat up to Room Temperature

  • Remove the steak from the fridge let it rest at room temperature.
  • Pat the steak dry after it rests and season it with pepper and salt.

Preheat Your Pellet Smoker

  • Make sure you preheat your pellet smoker to 220-225°F.
  • Once heated place the tomahawk on the grill grates.
  • Smoke until the internal temperature is 10°F from your desired temperature (this step should take about 3 hours).
  • Let it rest for at least 5 minutes.

A tomahawk is one of the cuts that barely needs anything.

Just some salt, butter and your on your way to cooking the perfect steak.

Do you reverse sear your steak?

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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