What is Beef Rib Steak? A Guide to this Classic Cut

Beef rib steak is one of the most prized and flavorful cuts of beef. It comes from the rib section near the front of the cow. With its ample marbling, tender texture and beefy taste, rib steak has been a cherished grilling favorite for generations.

In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about beef rib steak including where it comes from on the cow, how to cook it best, and some key facts every beef lover should know. Let’s dive into this iconic cut!

Where Beef Rib Steak Comes From on the Cow

Beef rib steaks are cut from the rib primal, one of the 8 primal cuts on a steer. The rib primal runs from ribs 6 through 12 along the upper middle of the cow’s body beneath the front quarter. This area does little work, so the muscles stay very tender.

Within the rib primal, rib steaks are specifically cut from the rib subprimal which runs approximately from ribs 9-12. Steaks cut closer to the loin end contain the more tender longissimus muscle. The further out on the ribs it comes from, the more complexus and spinalis muscles it will contain which have even more fat marbling.

Names for Beef Rib Steak

Beef rib steak goes by several common names, depending on factors like whether the bone is attached and how it is cut:

  • Ribeye steak
  • Rib steak
  • Cowboy steak – Rib steak with extra thick bone attached
  • Delmonico steak – Rib eye or rib steak from the smaller end of the rib primal
  • Spencer steak – Tender portion of rib eye with the bone and deckle fat removed
  • Beauty steak – Rib steak consisting of the longissimus and spinalis muscles

Essentially, while the names vary, they all refer to steaks cut from the rib section containing the premium rib eye muscle that delivers rich flavor and tenderness.

Characteristics of Rib Steak

These are some of the typical traits found in a beef rib steak:

  • Tender – From a lightly worked area, rib steak has abundant fine-grained marbling that keeps it juicy and tender.

  • Marbled – Rib steaks contain extensive fat marbling within the rib eye muscle which bastes the meat during cooking and provides outstanding flavor.

  • Flavorful – The generous marbling gives rib steaks a robust, beefy flavor that steak connoisseurs crave.

  • Juicy – When cooked properly, rib steak is succulent and moist thanks to its marbling. Overcooking though can lead to dryness.

  • Large eye – Rib steaks contain a large, oval-shaped rib eye muscle with a prominent central eye of fat.

  • Moderate weight – From the smaller end of the rib, these steaks average 10-16 ounces. Further out they can reach 30+ ounces for cowboy steaks.

How to Cook Rib Steaks Perfectly

Rib steaks are best enjoyed cooked hot and fast by grilling or pan-searing to medium rare doneness so the interior stays pink and juicy. Use these tips for perfect results:

  • Grill at high heat – Grill over direct high heat until nicely charred on the outside and 120-125°F internally. Let rest before serving.

  • Pan-sear – Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until very hot. Cook steaks 2-4 minutes per side depending on thickness.

  • Don’t overcook – Cook only to medium rare so the fat can properly baste the meat. 140°F at most.

  • Let meat rest – Allow steaks to rest 5 minutes after cooking so juices redistribute evenly.

  • Pat steak dry – Dry the exterior well before cooking to maximize browning.

  • Use a meat thermometer – Be sure to accurately monitor doneness.

  • Salt before cooking – Generously salt before cooking to improve flavor. Pepper after.

  • Add aromatics – Cooking over fresh herbs, garlic or onions boosts flavor.

For easy cooking with fantastic results, rib steaks are hard to beat!

Cut Variations

Rib steaks come in a few common cut variations:

  • Bone-in – Most commonly sold with the bone still attached. The T-shaped bone improves flavor and aids juiciness.

  • Boneless – The rib eye steak without the bone attached. Easy to portion and serve.

  • Cowboy cut – Extra thick boneless or bone-in cut typically around 1 inch+ thick and 18 ounces or more.

  • Tomahawk – Thick steak with long rib bone frenched for dramatic presentation.

  • Spencer – Boneless rib eye steak with the deckle fat and bones removed for more defined muscle shape.

No matter which cut you select, rib steaks deliver timeless rich flavor!

Doneness Guide

Proper doneness is key to enjoying rib steaks at their juicy best. Use these guidelines for cooking and checking your steak:

  • Rare: Bright red cool center, warm and soft. 120-125°F
  • Medium rare: Warm red center, firmer but tender. 130-135°F
  • Medium: Light pink warm center. 140-145°F
  • Medium well: Small trace of pink in center. 150°F
  • Well done: No pink, brown throughout. 160°F+

For rib steaks, rare to medium rare delivers ideal juiciness and tenderness. Use an instant-read thermometer to check doneness.

Popular Ways to Serve Rib Steak

A grilled or pan-seared rib steak is delicious all on its own, but here are some tasty ways to dress it up:

  • Steakhouse salad – Serve sliced steak over mixed greens with blue cheese.

  • Steak sandwich – Sliced rib steak with caramelized onions and horseradish on a toasted baguette.

  • Steak frites – Seared rib steak served with crispy french fries and garlic aioli.

  • Steak tacos – Dice grilled rib steak and stuff into warm corn tortillas with pico and guacamole.

  • Steakhouse butter – Melt compound butters spiked with herbs or bleu cheese on top of steaks.

However you serve it up, rib steak always satisfies!

Where to Buy Rib Steaks

Check these sources when shopping for rib steaks:

  • Butcher shops or meat markets
  • High end grocery stores like Whole Foods
  • Online meat delivery services
  • Warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club often sell them in bulk packs

For the best quality, choose USDA Choice grade rib steaks with ample marbling and a thick ribbon of fat on one edge. Steaks should appear bright red and fresh when raw.

Expect to pay $15-25 per pound for Choice rib steaks depending on cut, bone-in vs boneless, and other factors. Prime grade or Wagyu steaks cost more.

How Long do Rib Steaks Last?

  • Raw refrigerated rib steaks maintain quality for 3-5 days past the sell-by date.

  • Frozen, rib steaks last 4-6 months in a home freezer before losing flavor and moisture.

  • Cooked rib steaks keep 3-4 days refrigerated. Reheat gently before serving again.

Rib steaks can be frozen for longer term storage. For best results, wrap tightly in freezer bags, press out all air, and freeze as fast as possible.

Nutrition Facts

A 6 ounce boneless, Choice rib eye steak provides approximately:

  • Calories: 290
  • Fat: 19g
  • Saturated fat: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 85mg
  • Sodium: 60mg
  • Protein: 30g
  • Vitamin B6: 0.6mg
  • Vitamin B12: 2.1mcg
  • Zinc: 6mg

Rib steaks are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals while providing a satisfying dose of healthy fats. Just watch your portions since they are relatively high calorie.

In Conclusion

For steak aficionados, beef rib steak is the pinnacle of grilling perfection. The generous marbling delivers rich flavor and tenderness not found in leaner cuts. Whether you opt for a classic T-bone steak or go big with a “tomahawk” rib steak, this primal cut never fails to satisfy. Look for thick, well-marbled steaks and grill up a little slice of steakhouse heaven right in your own kitchen. Rib steak is truly one of nature’s culinary gifts to meat lovers!

Know Your Rib Steaks! Breaking Down the Cuts from the Beef Rib section


Is beef rib steak the same as ribeye?

The rib steak or ribeye is a cut of beef from the rib section, one of the nine primal cuts, and is prized for its tenderness and flavor. The ribeye is a boneless cut taken from the rib section of beef cattle while the rib steak is a bone-in ribeye.

Is beef rib steak any good?

For the ultimate juicy, beefy flavor, a ribeye is a great choice. These ultra-flavorful steaks are essentially individually cut prime rib roasts, and they come from the cow’s upper rib area. Ribeyes are super fatty, which allows them to retain their juiciness even when cooked over very high heat.

What is another name for rib steak?

In the United States cuisine, a bone-attached beef rib can be called “rib steak”, “beef rib”, “bone-in beef rib”, “tomahawk steak”, “bone-in rib steak”, “ribeye steak” or “cowboy cut”. In Australia and New Zealand, a bone-in rib steak is called a “ribeye”.

Is beef rib steak tender?

Ribeye is a favorite cut of beef because it is loaded with fat marbling that gives it a good flavor and a wonderful mouth feel. Coming from the rib area of the beef steer, the muscle tissues are fairly tender already, making it a great choice for quick cooking methods like grilling or frying.

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