In this article, we compare ribeye and T bone steak and explain the main differences. Knowing the differences between various meat cuts is a good way to know what you’re getting on your plate, what flavor to anticipate, and, for steak lovers, which steak cut is superior to another.
The primary distinction between ribeye and T-bone steaks is where the meat is “cut” from the cow’s caracas. So, in more detail below, I will explain where the meat is cut from, the flavor profile of each cut, which is better, their unique attributes, and a few tips to cook your ribeye steaks and T bone steaks.
Before understanding the differences between these two steaks, it is important to understand what each of them is.
What is a ribeye steak?
The ribeye steak, not to be confused with “rib steak”; both are cuts from the rib section of the cow, but the ribeye steak is boneless while the rib steak has the rib bone intact. This cut comes from the upper rib cage closer to the neck, behind the chunk.
This cut is a muscle that extends from the cow’s hip bone up to the shoulder. The rib section is one of the nine primary cuts of the cow caracas. Ribeye is a boneless, sub-primal cut of the rib, whereas rib steak is a bone-in ribeye. Both cuts are subprimal cuts from the rib.
Ribeye steaks are very tender and have lots of marbling compared to other steak cuts. Ribeye is very sought after and popular among BBQ folks and in the restaurant industry due to its deliciously tender and juicy texture and flavor due to all the fat content in the meat.
Something important to remember is that ribeye steaks can be purchased both bone-in and boneless. Some popular cuts of bone in ribeye are cowboy steaks. The bone in ribeye is often labeled rib steak.
Attributes of Ribeye Steaks
It is very rich in fat and marble, and requires very little seasoning to get a good flavor.
Tender texture. This cut is a muscle that does not get much exercise in the animal, so it gets a rich deposit of fat content.
What is T Bone Steak?
When first cut, T-bone steak is carved from the short loin and, when first cut, this steak cut has two unique and distinctive characteristics. First, it has two steak cuts in one, divided by the unmistakably recognizable T-shaped bone.
The smaller side of the T bone contains the filet mignon, and the longer part of the steak contains the New York strip. The T bone steak is not cut from a primal cut like the ribeye is, but rather from a sub primal cut, the short loin. The short loin itself is cut from the primal, narrow part of the cut of the cow’s loin.
A T bone steak can be trimmed further to produce subprimal cuts like filet mignon and New York strip. If you cook or grill it untrimmed with the T-shaped bone, it is T bone steak.
T bone steak is a signature dish in many steak houses and is often considered an upscale dish. This is one of the finest steaks you can order or cook and is among the most popular steaks.
Related to the T bone steak is the bigger porterhouse steak, which shares many of the same characteristics as the “T” bone, but it is thicker. It has to be at least 1 and a quarter inches, whereas regular T bones are cut to at least one inch.
Something to keep in mind regarding T Bone steak is that it has two other well-known cuts, the filet mignon and the New York strip, and can also be cut as a porterhouse steak, which is thicker and larger.
Attributes of T Bone Steaks
A smaller cut than the porterhouse steak, both the New York strip and the filet mignon are part of the T bone steak, split by a T shaped bone .
This cut combines beefy flavor and tenderness thanks to having the strip and the filet.
This cut is significantly thinner than a ribeye steak, so it cooks faster.
Differences between Ribeye and T-Bone steaks
Where is the meat cut from, from which primal cut
The most substantive distinction is where the meat is cut/carved from the cow. Other things like flavor and tenderness can be subjective, and some steak lovers will argue for hours over which steak tastes better, but where each steak cut is carved from is a decisive difference. Also, things like searing techniques can impact the tenderness and flavor of a steak.
However, the origin of each steak cannot be disputed, as there is a definitive guideline for where ribeye and T-bone steaks must be cut from in order to be classified as such.
The T bone is carved from the short loin and the ribeye is cut from the longissimus dorsi muscle of the steer rib, the rib being a primal cut of the steer.
Tenderness and flavor
One common question is which steak cut is more tender, ribeye or T bone? Ribeye is more tender than T bone because of its very rich fat marbling and fat content. Also, ribeye is a longissimus dorsi muscle of the cow that is not very active and collects large deposits of fat and remains tender.
When cooking ribeye properly, the fat will keep the meat moist and juicy and prevent it from being dry. T bone has bone and is less tender as it is a leaner cut, but both cuts pack tremendous flavor.
Flavor is one area that can be subjective because there are different ways to cook a steak and season a steak. Also, not everyone has the same taste buds. However, there are recognizable flavor and tenderness traits in each steak cut.
Both steaks pack rich flavor and when cooked properly, but because of the ribeye’s fat levels, you can expect a more savory, salty profile, whereas T bone will have a more “meaty flavor”.
We slightly touched on this topic, but this is another clear difference between these two steak cuts. Ribeye has more and more pronounced marbling than T bone. The ribeye is a muscle on the cow that is fatty and tender. The top loin is a leaner cut.
Price Difference T bone vs ribeye
There are price differences. Ribeye is more expensive and there is a reason it is called a beauty steak. Ribeye is very sought after due to its tenderness and taste. The more marbled and beautiful the meat looks, the higher the cost. Ribeye is more expensive than T bone. As you can see on the chart below, the average price for ribeye is higher than T Bone’s
Tips for cooking ribeye or T bone steaks
Both of these steak cuts offer great flavor profiles and are easy to make either on your grill or on a hot pan. I prefer using my grill, but these tips apply to either cooking method.
Tip #1: Do not over season these meat cuts. Both boneless ribeye and T bone are flavorful cuts of steak and do not need too much seasoning. Ribeye, in particular, has a lot of fat content and marbling. All that rich marbling will take care of flavor.
I like to keep things simple. A simple mix of salt and pepper will yield good results.
Tip #2: Use an instant read thermometer or smart thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the steaks. Many people undercook their steaks, but even many more overcook their steaks. It is not a question of how long the steak should be cooked. Cooking and grilling techniques, as well as the size of the steak, will all influence how long it takes to cook, so instead of guessing, use a meat thermometer.
Tip#3: Try reverse searing your steaks if they are thick. This process involves grilling or smoking the steak at a lower temperature to get the internal temperature to your desired doneness level and then sear this steak at high heat. This method is especially useful for those who like medium well steaks but do not want to dry up the steak.
Tip#4: Beware of flare ups. These steaks have a lot of fat, and as the juicy fat starts melting away and hits your hot grill or charcoal, you can expect some flare ups. If you are grilling your steak, set your grill so you have a resting area or an area without coals or burners off, so when the steak flares up you can move the steak away from the fire.
Tip#5: Try to find good steaks and high-quality cuts. Besides my local butcher, I use a few handpicked online butchers for my meats. When I just want a quick steak, I go to my local grocery store, but when I want a real steak, one that I will spend a few hours prepping, searing, and grilling to perfection, I order from Snake River Farms or Crowd Cow. They are my go-to people for steaks.
So the next time you go to your local store or even a restaurant, now you know exactly what to order or purchase. I hope this article explains very well the differences between a ribeye steak and a T bone steak.
To circle back, ribeye is extremely tender and has more fat than T bone. Also, ribeye is carved from the cow’s rib while T- bone comes from the short loin. T bone has a stronger meaty flavor, ribeye has a more savory, salty, jucy, melt in your mouth flavor.
Now get grilling!