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What Is a Ribeye Steak?
Ribeye steaks are usually cut from beef ribs nine through 11 in the rib section of a cow. This cut of beef contains several different muscles, the largest of which are the longissimus dorsi (aka eye), a tender muscle also found in the strip steak, and the fattier spinalis dorsi (aka deckle or rib cap), which sits on top of the longissimus dorsi. The ribeye is so fatty that it’s the part of the carcass USDA inspectors check out when grading meat, since it serves as a good indicator of how well marbled the cow is. Like prime rib and filet mignon, it's one of the more expensive cuts out there, so you want to cook it right.
What’s the Difference Between Bone-In and Boneless Ribeye Steak
Bone-in ribeye steak will take longer to cook than a boneless ribeye, because the rib bone acts as an insulator. Flavor-wise, bone-in and boneless steaks taste the same. But because t-bone steaks cook more slowly, they provide a little wiggle room in terms of overcooking, but they can also make it more difficult to cook the whole steak evenly. Bone-in steaks hold their shape slightly better and make for a more fun presentation, whereas boneless steaks allow for caramelizing all sides of a steak.
6 Ways to Cook a Ribeye
As a tender cut of beef, ribeye tastes best when cooked just to the point of juiciness, between rare and medium. This is usually accomplished with high-heat cooking methods such as grilling.
- Grilling: A ribeye is easiest to grill with a two-zone fire, with one medium-hot zone and one medium-low zone. If using a charcoal grill, arrange coals so that one area is hotter. For a gas grill, keep one burner on low and the other on high. Brush the grate with vegetable oil. Sear the ribeye over high heat until charred, about 3-4 minutes per side. Move to the medium-low zone and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for rare.
- Broiling: Broil a ribeye steak in the oven on a broiler pan or in a seasoned cast-iron skillet until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Learn more about how your broiler works here.
- Pan-Frying: Pan-frying the ribeye on the stovetop is one of the quickest and easiest methods, allowing you to keep an eye on it throughout cooking.
- Skillet-to-Oven: This method involves quickly searing the ribeye steak in a hot (not smoking) cast-iron skillet, then transferring to a 350–450°F oven to finish cooking.
- Reverse Searing: Using the same technique as skillet-to-oven, reserve searing flips the order: First baking the ribeye steak in a moderate oven (around 275°F) until almost done (about 90-95°F for medium-rare), about 15 minutes, then briefly searing the steak in butter until crusty and brown. This method works best with a hot cast-iron skillet, so preheat the skillet when you turn on the oven.
- Sous Vide: You can use an immersion circulator to cook a ribeye steak sous vide. Season your ribeye with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Throw a bay leaf or fresh thyme or rosemary sprig into a zip-top bag with the steak and set in a prepared water bath, set the temperature that corresponds to your desired level of doneness on the immersion circulator. Depending on its thickness, your steak should be ready in about an hour, at which point you can briefly sear the ribeye in a hot skillet, just until a brown crust forms. Learn more about the sous vide cooking method here.
3 Tips for Cooking Perfect Ribeye Steaks
- If your steak has a thick piece of fat on one end called a fat cap, it’s best to render it or you’ll end up with a chewy, inedible piece of fat hanging off an otherwise beautifully cooked ribeye. To render the fat cap, use a strong pair of tongs to hold the steak vertically against the heat source, cap side down, until the fat is tender.
- To get a lovely brown crust on your ribeye steak, you’ll need to absorb excess moisture, either by seasoning with salt and letting your steak rest in the refrigerator uncovered overnight, or by patting it dry with paper towels before cooking.
- Always let ribeye (and every type of steak, really) come up to room temperature before cooking to ensure more even cooking. For thick-cut steaks like ribeye, budget at least 30 minutes.
Ribeye Temperature Guide
Use a digital instant-read thermometer to check the temperature of ribeye steaks, which are usually just thin enough to prevent a traditional meat thermometer from getting an accurate reading. Or use physical cues—the way the meat feels when you touch it and its color—to determine if ribeye is done. Rest ribeye for five to 20 minutes after cooking, to relax the proteins and distribute juices. The carryover cooking that happens during resting will increase the internal temperature of a steak by about 5°F, so keep that in mind when calculating internal temperature.
- For rare ribeye, aim for a final internal temperature of 120°F-130°F.
- Medium rare is 130°-135°F.
How to Serve a Ribeye
However you cook your ribeye, make sure to slice against the grain when serving. The fatty marbling in ribeye can be chewy, but slicing against the grain will make it easier to eat and increase the apparent tenderness of the meat. Ribeye is packed with beef flavor and pairs well with classic steak sides. Try ribeye steak with:
4 Ideas for Seasoning Ribeye
A ribeye steak tastes great simply seasoned with salt and pepper, but it can also stand up to stronger flavors.
- Cutting a garlic clove in half and rubbing the cut side all over the steak will add a little garlicky flavor to your steak without the danger of minced garlic burning in the pan.
- To make a red wine pan sauce, transfer the cooked steaks to a plate or cutting board to rest. Meanwhile, pour the fat off the pan, reserving the browned bits (aka fond). Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet along with ¼ cup minced shallots and cook over medium heat until the shallots soften, about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with ½ cup red wine, scraping up the brown bits. Simmer until the wine mixture has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of low-sodium beef broth and simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add 2 tablespoons butter and stir to incorporate.
- Compound butter is great for steaks because the butter starts to melt when it hits the hot meat, making a delicious sauce for dunking french fries or anything else you serve with your ribeye. Combine one stick of softened butter with a tablespoon of minced herbs, a minced shallot, and a little citrus juice or vinegar. Shape into a log and refrigerate until firm. Slice and serve on steaks.
- Herb mayonnaise: Like butter, but mayonnaise. Whisk mayonnaise with freshly squeezed lemon juice, finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, or basil, garlic, and salt.
Juicy Ribeye Steak Recipe
Prep Time30 min
Total Time50 min
- 1 ribeye steak, about 1–2 inches thick
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra virgin) or other neutral vegetable oil
- Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and let stand at room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour, or refrigerate up to 72 hours. (If refrigerating, bring steak back to room temperature before cooking, by resting for 1 hour.) Pat dry with paper towels and season with more salt and pepper. Press pepper into the steak to adhere.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat. When the butter foam subsides, add the steak. Sear until a brown crust forms, about 2 minutes per side. Use strong tongs to press the edge of the steak into the pan, rolling and cooking edges until the fat is rendered. Return steak to pan flat-side down, reduce heat to medium, and cook until desired degree of doneness, about 2–2½ minutes for medium rare. For medium rare, the internal temperature should be 125°-130°F, internal color should be opaque, lighter red, and texture should be just resilient to the touch, droplets of red juice should rise to the surface of the steak.
- Remove the steak from pan and transfer to a cutting board or plate, tent with foil, and rest, 5–20 minutes. This is a good time to make a simple pan sauce, if desired. Internal temperature will increase about 5°F during resting.
Learn more about meat cooking techniques with Chef Thomas Keller here.