Breaking Down the Differences Between T-Bone & Porterhouse Steaks

Are you wondering what the difference between a porterhouse steak and t-bone steak?

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

Both cuts should be respected as their own. Even 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.

But real difference between the Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks? Read on to find out!

Delicious Stack of Steaks

The Difference Between Porterhouse and T Bone Steak

The main difference between a T-bone steak and a porterhouse steak is the size of the tenderloin portion.

A T-bone steak has a smaller tenderloin, typically around 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter, while a porterhouse steak has a larger tenderloin, usually measuring around 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

Additionally, porterhouse steaks are generally cut thicker, around 1 to 1 1/2 inches, compared to the thinner cut of T-bone steaks, around 1/2 to 1 inch.

Both cuts include the tenderloin and strip loin separated by a T-shaped bone, offering a combination of tenderness and flavor when cooked.

What is a Porterhouse Steak?

The porterhouse steak is cut from the rear end of the beef loin. It is specifically taken from the short loin section of the cow, which is located just behind the rib section and before the sirloin.

The short loin extends from the cow’s backbone down to the hip area. The porterhouse steak is a larger cut that includes both the tenderloin and the strip loin, separated by a T-shaped bone.

The tenderloin portion is located on one side of the bone, while the strip steak (also known as New York strip) is on the other side.

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

What is a T-Bone Steak?

A T-bone steak is a cut of beef that is similar to the porterhouse steak. It is also taken from the rear end of the beef loin, specifically from the short loin section of the cow.

Like the porterhouse, the T-bone steak includes both the tenderloin and the strip loin, separated by a T-shaped bone.

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

Difference Between T-Bone & Porterhouse Steak

The main difference between a T-bone steak and a porterhouse steak lies in the size of the tenderloin portion.

Size and Proportions:

T-Bone Steak: The T-bone steak is cut closer to the front of the short loin, where the tenderloin tapers off. It typically has a smaller section of tenderloin compared to the porterhouse.

Porterhouse Steak: The porterhouse steak is cut farther back in the short loin, closer to the rear of the animal. As a result, it has a larger portion of tenderloin compared to the T-bone steak.

Tenderloin Size:

T-Bone Steak: The tenderloin portion in a T-bone steak is generally smaller, usually around 1/2 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) in diameter.
Porterhouse Steak: The porterhouse steak has a larger tenderloin portion, typically measuring around 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) in diameter.

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.

Thickness: 

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

T-Bone Steak: T-bone steaks are often cut thinner compared to porterhouse steaks, usually around 1/2 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) thick.

Porterhouse Steak: Porterhouse steaks are generally cut thicker, usually around 1 to 1 1/2 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) thick

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

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!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

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 recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

Hungry For More?

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *