Breaking Down the Differences Between T-Bone & Porterhouse Steaks

Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks are different…..very different.

Organizations in the meat community have created guidelines that clearly define both cuts of meat.

Both cuts should be respected as their ownEven the USDA has guidelines that clearly describe what a Porterhouse or T-Bone can be.

For those people who would like to believe that Porterhouse and T-bones are in fact the same, you are not entirely wrong. 

Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks are made of the same cut of the cow called the short loin.

Do you want to know the real difference between the Ribeye vs Filet Mignon? Read on to find out!

Delicious Stack of Steaks

The Difference Between Porterhouse and T Bone Steak

The main difference between Porterhouse and T-Bone is size of the actual filet.

Both cuts of meat have the t-shaped bone that split the two sides of the steak.

On one side you have the Tenderloin Filet and the other is known as the New York Strip.

Porterhouses are bigger than T-Bone steaks. To be considered a Porterhouse a T-Bone must be at least 1.25 inches in thickness.

So because these steaks can virtually look the same the next time you find yourself about to order a nice Porterhouse remember one thing:

It will be much bigger than a T-Bone, and could even be shared with another.

A T-Bone is about an inch smaller in thickness than a Porterhouse steak but to is always over .25 inches.

Otherwise, it wouldn’t be considered a true T-Bone and could classify as a regular bone-in New York Strip.

What is a Porterhouse Steak?

The porterhouse comes from the nerve end of the cow which is why the cut of meat has a marbleized look from the fat deposits.

This makes the New York Strip portion of the steak very flavorful.

Porterhouse steaks have a substantial amount of meat on the bone, this contributes to the high cost of this special cut of steak.

The sheer magnitude of the filet is what truly sets a Porterhouse apart from a T-bone. 

You are receiving a considerable more amount of meat when you decide on this particular cut.

How to tenderize steak
A porterhouse steak I have seasoned and getting ready to grill

What is a T-Bone Steak?

T-bones got their name because of the shape and the cut of the meat. 

T-Bones are cut closer to the front end of the cow, this makes for a more narrow cut of meat.

This cut is lacking of the amount of fat that you would find in a Porterhouse. 

The T-bone contains a tenderloin which is why it is known to be a tender cut of meat without grizzle that you may find in a porterhouse.

The unique thing about T-Bones is that they are made mostly of filet meat.

This means that in some case you if you can find a thicket T-Bone you may save money without having to spend so much to have a ‘Porterhouse’.

t bone steak on a plate in a kitchen
A t-bone steak I have just grilled

Difference Between T-Bone & Porterhouse Steak

  1. Tenderloin Size: 
    Upon appearance both steaks can be said to look the same.

    Though if one were to think of the size of the of the whole steak you could easily be mistaken.

    No wonder there is so much confusion differentiating both steaks.T-Bones and Porterhouse steaks are cut from what is known as the short loin.

    The main factor of differentiation is the size of the tenderloin which can vary greatly, from this there are a few ways the two steaks can be classified.

  2. IMPS Number: 
    To give more clarification to the differences between Porterhouse steaks and T-Bones the IMPS system was created to help people better understand the two cuts of meat. The institutional meat purchase specification (IMPS) are given to the different types of meats.

    There is a mere 1 digit difference when you go to order your Porterhouse or T-Bone steaks so you should make a note of this slight difference.

    When buying a Porterhouse one should use the number 1173 while if you want a T-Bone you should use 1174.

  3. Thickness: 
    The Thickness of these two steaks can be quite tricky when it comes to classifying the two.

    Size definitely does play a role however that is not the case in all instances of Porterhouse and T-Bone steak sizes.

    T-Bones are typically found in thinner sizes across most stores than you would see from a Porterhouse Steaks. Both steaks could be found as large as 50 ounces.T-bones define a whole class of steak types which means that no matter the size all Porterhouses are T-Bones and but not all T-Bones can be classified as a Porterhouse.

    A Porterhouse steak is taken from the short loin at the back of the cow which explains why it is typically thicker in nature than T-Bones which are cut from the middle of the loin.

  4. Origin:
     It is very obvious where the T-Bone got its name from, it simply looks like a the letter T. The Porterhouse name may have more confusion surrounding its origin.

    The writer Charles Dickens tried a delicious steak at a local hotel that he was quite fond in Porterhouse in Ohio.

    The name then stuck at the hotel where the owner then decided to use the name Porterhouse on his menu after his delight of knowing how much Mr. Dickens loves the steak.

    Now this is just a theory, no one truly knows for sure where the name came from. Others speculate that it may have originated from New York. Some believe first uses if the name may have been ‘pothouse’.

How to Cook Porterhouse And T-Bone

It is no secret that T-Bones and Porterhouses are high-quality cuts of meat.

When it’s time to be cooked they don’t need much to make them taste delicious.

The best way to get the most out of your meat is to use coarse sea salt and pepper.

Give both sides of your steak a give rub with these and a little bit of olive oil and your good to go!

Want to Smoke Your T-Bone?

Most people just grill their steak!

Why not try smoking it?

It adds a super declious flavor. See the smoked t-bone recipe here. This recipe will ensure your steak comes out super juicy and smoky!

Wrapping It Up

I hope that I have been able to clear up what the difference between Porterhouse and T Bone steaks is. 

One of my buddies trying to tell me a T-Bone and a Porterhouse was the same thing.

It’s safe to say my backyard erupted into an argument – so I had to find out for myself. 

Do you have a friend who needs to know the truth about T Bone and Porterhouse steaks? 

Smoke On!


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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2 thoughts on “Breaking Down the Differences Between T-Bone & Porterhouse Steaks”

  1. Dennis Robinson

    I thought porterhouse was slightly inferior. Now it doesn’t really matter. I’ll take whichever has the best price. Either onne is a great tasting steak.

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