When you’re craving a delicious beefy dinner, nothing beats a juicy ribeye steak. This classic cut of beef is known for its incredible marbling, buttery texture, and rich flavor—perfect for creating something special in your backyard kitchen.
In this post, we’ll cover everything from what is a ribeye steak, the types of cuts from the ribeye area, why ribeye is so popular, and how to cook ribeye steaks and related cuts.
Let’s explore why the ribeye could be considered the king of steaks.
What is a Ribeye Steak?
A ribeye steak is one of the most sought-after types of beef steak that comes from the rib section of a cow.
Cut largely from the longissimus dorsi muscle, which doesn’t get much exercise, the ribeye is particularly desirable. This is because the relative lack of exercise makes the meat tender and gives it generous marbling (i.e., the intramuscular fat threads that make a steak juicy and delicious).
Of course, such desirability comes at a price – making ribeye one of the more expensive cuts of beef. But legions of ribeye fans say the intense, beefy flavor is well worth it.
What Part of the Cow Does the Ribeye Come From?
The rib primal area of a cow is located in the upper back, near the spine, and in the cow’s forequarter. This area is where butchers get the “rib roast” from. After being cut from the rib section, the rib roast is then separated into individual ribeye steaks by further butchering.
The below video by the Bearded Butchers shows the process of butchering ribeye steaks from a side of beef. Everything you need to see is in the first five minutes of the video. Although in this video they are butchering heart-shaped ribeye steaks by butterflying the cut, it’s easy to see how a normal ribeye would be cut from the rib roast (just complete the butterfly cut, and you’ll have two ribeye steaks).
Pro Tip: In addition to the marbled sections that make for excellent grilling and broiling, the rib primal area also contains some tough muscle cuts (which are prepared differently than the ribeye steak). For example, short ribs and back ribs – which are commonly braised – also come from this section of the cow.
Prime Rib vs. Ribeye: What’s the Difference?
Prime rib and ribeye steak are the same cut of meat (rib roast), just prepared differently. For prime rib, the meat is roasted before being cut and served; for ribeye steak, the meat is cooked after being cut into steaks.
Why is Ribeye Steak So Popular?
Ribeye steak is a favorite among steak lovers across the world, thanks to its relative tenderness and rich flavor. The rise of high-end steakhouses has made the ribeye even more popular due to their exclusive use of prime-grade beef.
Prime-grade beef contains higher levels of marbling than Choice-grade beef (the most common grade at grocery stores), which gives the steak an even more flavorful taste. Consequently, prime ribeye steaks tend to be more expensive than other cuts of beef as it is one of the most sought-after cuts by meat connoisseurs.
The marbling in a ribeye adds moisture and flavor to the meat, making it a juicy and mouth-watering cut. The fat laced throughout the muscle helps keep the steak tender while also providing excellent flavor.
In short, prime-grade ribeye steaks are among the most coveted cuts due to their superior taste and texture. This is what makes the ribeye steak a go-to option for special occasions, or simply when you want to indulge.
How to Cook Ribeye Steak?
As it is a larger cut of steak, cooking ribeye usually requires some skill so as not to dry out or overcook the meat.
When it comes to preparing the perfect ribeye steak, you can choose between two tantalizing methods: Grilling and Pan Frying. Both will give your meal a delightful flavor and mouth-watering aroma that will leave everyone at the dinner table wanting more.
Let’s explore both.
- Start by patting the steak dry and generously sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper or your favorite seasonings.
- Heat your grill until you can only hold your hand just above the grate for 1-2 seconds at most. (for a gas grill, heat it as high as possible)
- Next, sear the meat until it develops a nice crust, usually about 3-4 minutes total per side. It’s best to flip the steak frequently while grilling, to develop an even, uncharred, reddish-brown crust. The first few times you flip it, the steak will not look like it’s forming a crust – this is normal! Be patient and keep flipping it, and a beautiful crust will soon develop.
- Once the crust has developed, move the steak to a portion of the grill with indirect heat and allow the interior of the steak to slowly come up to temperature – about 130°F (54°C) for medium rare or 140°F (60°C) for medium. The total sear time is usually about 6-8 minutes, followed by a few more minutes in indirect heat.
- Finally, let it rest for about 5 – 10 minutes before serving so that all those juiciest flavors stay inside your ribeye steak when you cut it.
- Start by lightly seasoning both sides of the steak with salt and pepper (or your favorite seasonings) and let it come up to room temperature before cooking.
- Heat your pan over medium-high heat until it’s hot enough that water sizzles when dropped onto it, then add oil or butter to coat the surface of the pan.
- Next, carefully place your steak into the pan and press down hard with tongs or a spatula for at least 20 seconds per side. This will help create an even sear on both sides of your steak.
- Sear the meat until it develops a nice, reddish-brown crust.
- Reduce heat slightly if needed to prevent burning while still maintaining good heat for cooking. Flip your steak every 2 minutes or so until an internal thermometer reads 130°F (54°C) for medium rare or 140°F (60°C) for medium doneness. Total cook time in a pan should be around 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your steak (use longer cook times for thicker cuts).
- Finally, let it rest for about 5 – 10 minutes before serving. This keeps all those delicious juices stay inside your steak when you cut it, instead of them dripping out onto your plate.
How to Serve Ribeye Steak?
Ribeye steaks can be served with a range of sides, such as roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, creamy mashed potatoes, or our signature smoked mac & cheese for additional savory depth. For those who prefer something sweeter, honey-glazed carrots go very well with this succulent cut.
Whether you prefer to stick to classic sides or experiment with other flavorful combinations, adding sides that complement rather than overpower the ribeye’s unique flavor is key.
What are Other Cuts Related to the Ribeye?
In addition to the ribeye steak, there are a few other beef cuts that come from the ribeye or nearby. These are the ribeye cap steak, cowboy steak, and Delmonico steak.
What is Ribeye Cap Steak?
Ribeye cap steak or spinalis dorsi steak is a small yet intensely flavorful cut of beef that comes from the area near traditional ribeye. This steak is prized for its high levels of fat marbling, giving it an intense flavor that other cuts of steak can’t match, as well as a tenderness that rivals a filet mignon.
However, the unique and exquisite flavor of ribeye cap steaks comes at a price. The skilled butchering required to source and prepare the cap cuts makes it more expensive than regular ribeye (or, you can cut it out from the rib roast yourself, as demonstrated in the video from steak experts Guga Foods below). That said, many steak connoisseurs agree that the distinctive flavor and texture of a ribeye cap steak are well worth the cost. When cooked medium-rare to medium, the steak offers rich taste rewards.
To get the most out of the ribeye cap steak, it’s important to use high-heat cooking methods such as grilling or pan-frying to bring out all the delectable flavors. For those looking for a truly remarkable steak experience, the ribeye cap is definitely worth considering.
What is Cowboy Steak? (aka Tomahawk Steak without the long rib bone)
Cowboy steak is a large bone-in ribeye cut from the top portion of beef close to where chuck meat is taken. Butchers traditionally “french” this cut–they cut away fat and meat from the bone end of a rib steak.
Due to its size, Cowboy requires longer cooking times compared to the standard ribeye. The larger size of this cut also means that more seasoning and oil are needed for even cooking, as well as careful monitoring to ensure that the steaks don’t overcook or dry out. But it also has higher fat content and marbling throughout, making it incredibly juicy and full of flavor.
When grilling or searing Cowboy steak, it’s important to use high temperatures since it contains delicious fat that we want to render, which aids the signature juicy texture while still leaving a nice char on the outside. Let this richer cut rest for about 10 minutes after it’s cooked to let all the delicious juices and flavors settle before serving. This will help make sure you get an even flavor distribution throughout each bite.
What is Delmonico Steak? (aka Chuck Eye Steak)
Where a Delmonico steak is cut from is in the eye of the beholder. The term originated from Delmonico’s in Manhattan, one of America’s first fine dining establishments. Back in 19th Century Manhattan, the name “Delmonico steak” almost certainly applied to the best available cut. In essence, the original Delmonico steak was the best of whatever the restaurant’s proprietors could source that day.
Today, the term Delmonico steak often refers to a cut that comes from the Chuck Eye Roll, found closer to where the tougher brisket meat is located on cattle. It tends to have less fat marbling throughout, but its unique flavor profile and robust texture are what make Delmonico an ideal choice for grilling or broiling.
Delmonico steak can be expensive since there isn’t much meat available for this cut, so make sure you know what you’re getting when buying this steak.
For cooking, treat a Delmonico steak like a ribeye steak.
Ribeye steaks have exceptional flavor due to their high-fat content and marbling throughout the cut, as well as an excellent texture that makes them perfect for quick grilling or pan-frying. It’s little wonder that they are one of the most popular cuts of steaks available.
Whether you’re looking for something quick and easy or something special for a date night dinner, a ribeye steak is sure to please.