Difference Between Cowboy Ribeye And Ribeye (Explained!)

Ever wondered about the difference between Cowboy Ribeye and Ribeye steaks?

Both cuts are highly popular and known for their rich flavor and tenderness, but there are a few distinctions that set them apart. 

The main difference between Cowboy Ribeye and Ribeye steaks is the bone. A Cowboy Ribeye, also known as a Tomahawk steak, is a Ribeye steak with a long bone attached, resembling a tomahawk axe handle. This bone not only adds visual appeal but also enhances flavor and helps with even cooking. Regular Ribeye steaks, on the other hand, are boneless but still offer the same marbling and tenderness that Ribeye cuts are known for.

Now, you might ask, why should you care about all this steak stuff? Well, knowing your cuts of meat is as important as knowing your times tables or spelling words.

When you know what you’re buying or ordering at a restaurant, you can make informed choices.

Imagine walking into your local steakhouse, confidently scanning the menu, and knowing exactly what you want – a juicy, perfectly-cooked Ribeye or a grand, flavorful Cowboy Ribeye.

Knowing your steak cuts could make this your reality!

Difference Between Cowboy Ribeye And Ribeye (Overview)

Cowboy RibeyeRibeye
BoneHas a long bone attached (resembling a tomahawk axe handle)Boneless
AppearanceImpressive presentation due to the bone-in cutBoneless, traditional steak appearance
CookingBone helps with even cooking and adds flavorNo bone, but still offers excellent marbling
SizeTypically larger and thickerSize can vary, generally smaller than Cowboy Ribeye
PresentationOften considered a showpiece and visually appealingStandard presentation, equally delicious
FlavorEnhanced flavor due to the bone and marblingRich and flavorful due to marbling


A Brief History of Ribeye Steak

Ever wondered where the ribeye steak got its fancy name? Well, let’s do a little bit of time traveling together. Hop in the DeLorean, and let’s zoom back to the mid-19th century.

We land smack dab in the middle of the Industrial Revolution – a time when machines started taking over big jobs and folks began to have a bit more free time and, importantly, more money to spend.

This newfound wealth meant people were looking to dine on finer foods, and meat, especially beef, was at the top of the list.

Enter our hero, the Ribeye, a cut from the rib section of the cow. This cut of beef was dubbed the “ribeye” because it’s located around the eye of the rib.

Visualize the cut like a circular piece of meat surrounded by a ring of fat and muscle, just like an eye!

So, from the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Industrial Revolution, the Ribeye steak was born, ready to satisfy the cravings of the fancy folk!

Ribeye Steak | Source: Animal & Food Sciences Uky


But wait, what about its cowboy cousin? Why does it have such a swaggering name?

The story goes that back in the old Wild West, the cowboys, after a long day of wrangling cattle, would sit around the campfire and cook up a feast.

They’d cut their steaks with a long rib bone attached, making it easier to roast over the open flames.

This bone-in version packed more flavor and was quite a sight to behold, hence the moniker, Cowboy Ribeye.

Nowadays, you don’t need to be a cowboy to enjoy a Cowboy Ribeye, nor do you need to be an industrial tycoon to tuck into a juicy ribeye steak.

But knowing the history behind these mouthwatering cuts of meat adds an extra layer of appreciation, don’t you think?

What exactly is a ribeye steak?

Now, we’ve delved a little into the history of the ribeye steak, but I think it’s also important to understand what it is, and where exactly it comes from.

The ribeye steak isn’t just any cut of beef. It’s kind of like the star quarterback of the meat world – prized and loved by many.

This steak is known for its rich marbling (those are the little streaks of fat you see throughout the meat) that melt when cooked, making it tender and super tasty.

If you’re a fan of the BBQ like me, then ribeye is like the best friend you didn’t know you needed. You see, ribeye steaks are incredibly versatile when it comes to cooking.

You can grill them, fry them in a pan, broil them in the oven, or even slow cook them.

And don’t forget the “eye.” The “eye” is the center part of the ribeye steak, known for being the tenderest, juiciest part.

Think of it as the treasure at the end of a rainbow – the pot of gold that makes the journey worthwhile.

In short, a ribeye steak is a tasty cut of beef located near the rib area, full of marbling that melts into a flavor party when cooked. 

What Exactly Is A Cowboy Ribeye Steak?

Imagine the wild, wild West, with its cowboys, open plains, and, of course, campfire cookouts.

Now, bring that picture into the modern day and you’ve got the Cowboy Ribeye, a deliciously rugged steak that’s as big on flavor as it is on size.

So, what’s the scoop on this Cowboy Ribeye? Well, picture a regular ribeye steak, but add a long bone sticking out from one side.

This isn’t just for show, folks. That bone isn’t only cool to look at, kind of like a steak lollipop, but it also amps up the flavor.

The bone keeps the meat juicier when it’s cooked, resulting in a steak that’s as rich and robust as a cowboy’s spirit.

This is why the Cowboy Ribeye often steals the spotlight at BBQs and steakhouses!

When it comes to cooking this bad boy, it’s a crowd-pleaser for sure.

Grilling is a top choice, with the open flames licking the meat and bone, searing in a smoky flavor that’s out of this world. However, you can also roast it or broil it, and it turns out just as scrumptious.

The Cowboy Ribeye is a bit of a show-off, always ready to prove that it can taste great, no matter how you choose to cook it.

In a nutshell, the Cowboy Ribeye is like the regular ribeye’s adventurous cousin.

It has the same rich marbling and juicy flavor, but the extra bone gives it a distinctive look and a punch of extra flavor. 

Dissecting the Steak: Anatomy of Ribeye


Difference Between Cowboy Ribeye And Ribeye
Source: Quora.com

The ribeye cut comes from – you guessed it – the rib area of a cow, between the 6th and 12th ribs to be exact.

Picture it like the prized jewel in the crown of the beef’s rib section. This spot is a sweet one, as it’s from a part of the cow that doesn’t get much exercise.

Remember, muscles that work less are more tender, kind of like how your legs feel super relaxed when you’ve been lying on the couch all day.

Now, let’s talk about the real stars of the show: the Rib Cap and the Eye. The Eye is the large, tender center of the ribeye steak. It’s kind of like the heart of the steak, keeping everything else together.

The Eye is soft and juicy, and it’s this part that gives the ribeye its name.

But wait, there’s more! Surrounding the Eye is the Rib Cap, the outer ring of the steak that’s marbled with delicious fat.

This part of the steak is like the cherry on top of a sundae. It’s the ultimate treat for meat lovers, as it’s super flavorful, thanks to all those little streaks of fat.

So, to cut a long story short, the ribeye steak is a juicy, tender cut of beef, made up of the flavorful Eye and the lip-smacking Rib Cap.

Understanding the different parts of your steak isn’t just cool; it can also help you cook it better.

The Anatomy of the Cowboy Ribeye

Just like the classic ribeye, the Cowboy Ribeye also comes from the rib area of the cow.

The major difference, and the reason it got its cowboy badge, is the extended bone that’s left in the cut.

It’s as if the ribeye decided to go on a wild adventure, lassoed a bone, and voila, became the Cowboy Ribeye! This long bone makes the steak look bigger, meatier, and dare I say, a bit more fun to eat.

But this bone isn’t just about looks. It also plays a big role in the flavor department. Picture the bone as a natural flavor enhancer.

When you cook the steak, the bone heats up and infuses the meat with extra flavor and juiciness. It’s kind of like a secret ingredient that kicks the taste up a notch!

In addition to the bone, the Cowboy Ribeye also includes the same tasty parts as the classic ribeye: the tender Eye and the flavorful Rib Cap.

Think of the Cowboy Ribeye as the classic ribeye’s adventurous sibling, with a bone that adds a special touch of flavor and fun.

Ribeye vs. Cowboy Ribeye: Unraveling the Differences

First off, let’s talk looks. The classic ribeye is a good-looking piece of meat, round with a pretty pattern of marbling.

But then, the Cowboy Ribeye comes onto the scene, boasting not just the round, marbled meat but also a long, handsome bone sticking out.

This bone doesn’t just make the steak look larger and more exciting; it also has a crucial role to play in the taste department.

Now, on to the taste and texture.

Both steaks are juicy and tender, thanks to their marbling. The Cowboy Ribeye, however, has a slight edge because of that bone.

As it’s cooked, the bone adds an extra oomph of flavor and juiciness to the meat, kind of like a secret weapon in the flavor war.

Texture-wise, both have a tender, melt-in-your-mouth quality, but the Cowboy Ribeye often turns out juicier, all thanks to our friend, the bone.

Lastly, let’s talk health.

Both steaks have similar nutritional profiles, rich in proteins and fats. But the Cowboy Ribeye, due to its larger size and the bone, might have slightly more calories.

So if you’re watching your waistline, you might want to keep that in mind.

Ribeye and Cowboy Ribeye in Culinary World

Stepping into the culinary world is like stepping into a magical kingdom, and in this kingdom, the ribeye and Cowboy Ribeye are like two popular princes, each with their own unique charm.

From fancy steakhouses to backyard barbecues, these two steaks are superstars, stealing the spotlight in many delicious dishes.

Starting with our friend, the classic ribeye, this steak is a star in many dishes.

One of the most popular ways to cook it is simply grilling it to perfection, seasoned with just salt and pepper to let its natural flavor shine.

It’s a masterpiece in simplicity! Ribeye also makes a star appearance in steak frites, a classic French dish where the juicy steak is served with crispy fries.

And let’s not forget the famous Philly cheesesteak sandwich, where thin slices of ribeye are topped with melted cheese and tucked into a warm, toasty bun. Yum!

On the other hand, the Cowboy Ribeye often takes center stage in more rustic, hearty dishes.

Picture a perfectly grilled Cowboy Ribeye, served with a side of smoky baked beans and corn on the cob.

The bone adds a touch of wild, cowboy-like charm, making the dish feel like it came straight from a campfire cookout.

And in high-end steakhouses, the Cowboy Ribeye is often served ‘tomahawk’ style – a large cut intended to be shared, and definitely Instagram-worthy.

Watch this:


Buying Guide: Choosing Between Ribeye and Cowboy Ribeye

Picking out the perfect steak is like going on a treasure hunt. And when it comes to choosing between ribeye and Cowboy Ribeye, it’s all about knowing where to look and what to look for.

First stop on our trip is the supermarket. Supermarkets can be great places to find a good steak.

They usually have a wide variety of cuts, including both the ribeye and Cowboy Ribeye.

However, the steaks here might not always be as fresh or as high-quality as what you’d find at a butcher shop.

Butcher shops are like the hidden gems of Steak Town. The butchers often know their meat inside and out (literally!), and they can help you pick the perfect steak.

Plus, you’ll often find the freshest and highest quality steaks here, including both ribeye and Cowboy Ribeye.

When hunting for the perfect ribeye, there are a few things to keep an eye out for. You’re going to want to look for a steak that’s nice and thick, with a good amount of marbling.

Marbling, those little white streaks of fat in the steak, is like the magic ingredient that makes the steak super tender and juicy.

Remember, the more marbling, the better!

On the other hand, when you’re looking for a Cowboy Ribeye, you’ll want to look for all the things you’d look for in a ribeye, plus one extra thing: the bone.

A good Cowboy Ribeye should have a long, clean bone, which not only makes the steak look super cool, but also adds extra flavor and juiciness.

Cooking Tips for Ribeye and Cowboy Ribeye

Starting off with the classic ribeye, this steak is a fan of high heat and quick cooking. The best cooking methods for ribeye are grilling and pan-searing.

Picture it like this: the high heat is like a superpower that helps the steak get that perfect, crispy crust on the outside, while keeping the inside juicy and tender.

Just remember to let your steak rest for a few minutes after cooking. It’s like giving the steak a little nap to let all the juices redistribute.

Now, the Cowboy Ribeye, with its bone-in goodness, likes a little extra care. Grilling is a great method for this cut too, but with a twist.

You’ll want to use a two-zone fire – that means one side of your grill is hotter than the other. Start by searing the steak on the hot side for that awesome crust, then move it to the cooler side to let it finish cooking gently.

This way, the bone has time to impart its flavor, and you won’t risk burning your steak.

Let’s borrow some wisdom from top chefs for these steaks. First, always season generously with salt and pepper.

It’s like giving your steak a suit of armor that brings out its best flavors. Second, let your steaks come to room temperature before cooking.

It’s like warming up before a big race, ensuring even cooking. Lastly, always let your steak rest after cooking.

Remember the nap we talked about earlier? That’s the key to a juicy steak.

The Debate: Cowboy Ribeye vs. Ribeye – Which Is Superior?

First off, let’s talk about public opinion. Imagine a popularity contest where both steaks are trying to win the most votes.

You might find that it’s a pretty close call. Some folks love the classic ribeye for its tenderness and juicy flavor.

They’re fans of the well-marbled meat that just melts in their mouth.

On the other hand, some people (including myself) are head over heels for the Cowboy Ribeye. They’re all about that extra flavor from the bone and the rugged, cowboy-like charm it brings.

Now, let’s see what the experts have to say.

I’ve talked to a number of chefs and I’ve found that most of them have a soft spot for the Cowboy Ribeye. Remember how we talked about the bone adding flavor? Chefs love that!

Plus, the bone-in steak makes a more dramatic presentation on the plate, making it a favorite for high-end steakhouses.

However, that’s not to say chefs don’t appreciate a good ribeye. Its consistent marbling and tenderness make it a joy to cook and serve as well.

But the most important opinion in this debate is yours.

Yep, you heard that right! It’s all about what tickles your taste buds and makes your stomach do a happy dance.

Maybe you love the classic ribeye’s tenderness and juiciness, or maybe you’re all about the Cowboy Ribeye’s bone-in flavor.

The best way to decide? Try them both! 

Difference Between Cowboy Ribeye And Ribeye (Conclusion)

That concludes this article. But before we sign off, let’s do a quick recap of the epic face-off between the Cowboy Ribeye and the classic ribeye.

First off, let’s remember those key differences. Picture the ribeye and the Cowboy Ribeye as two superheroes with their unique abilities.

The classic ribeye is known for its well-marbled meat that’s super tender and juicy. It’s like the superhero with the power to make your taste buds dance with joy.

The Cowboy Ribeye, on the other hand, comes with a bone. That bone isn’t just for show; it’s like a magic wand that adds extra flavor to the steak.

This steak’s got a rugged charm that can transport you to a wild west cowboy cookout.

But here’s the thing. Choosing between these two steaks isn’t about who’s better or worse. It’s not a contest of who can fly higher or run faster.

Instead, it’s about personal preference. It’s about what you, yes, you, enjoy more. It’s like picking your favorite superhero.

You might love Superman for his strength and speed, or you might prefer Batman for his gadgets and strategy.

The best way to find out which steak you prefer? Have a taste test! You’ll get to enjoy two delicious steaks and find out which one makes your taste buds cheer the loudest.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is It Called a Cowboy Ribeye?

the Cowboy Ribeye, such a wild west-sounding name, isn’t it? So, why does it bear this moniker? Well, it’s all about that rugged, hearty appeal. The Cowboy Ribeye is a ribeye steak that’s left with a long section of the rib bone attached. This bone isn’t just for show; it actually adds a robust flavor to the steak, making it a hearty, satisfying meal, something you’d imagine a cowboy would enjoy after a long day on the range. The bone also gives the steak a rugged, almost primal look that adds to its cowboy charm.

Are There Any Significant Nutritional Differences Between the Two?

While the Cowboy Ribeye and the classic ribeye are similar in many ways, their nutritional profiles are slightly different. Both cuts are high in protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles, and both contain a good amount of iron and zinc. However, the Cowboy Ribeye, with its bone and additional fat, might have slightly more calories and fat content than a boneless ribeye. But remember, these differences are minor and, in a balanced diet, either steak can be a tasty source of protein and nutrients.

How to Best Grill a Ribeye or a Cowboy Ribeye?

Now, for both the ribeye and the Cowboy Ribeye, grilling is a fantastic way to unlock their flavors. First off, preheat your grill. You want it nice and hot so that you get a beautiful sear on your steak. Season your steak with some salt and pepper. Remember, good quality steak doesn’t need much else. Then, place your steak on the grill. For a ribeye, you’ll want to grill it for about 5 minutes each side for medium-rare. For the Cowboy Ribeye, because of its bone, you might need a little more time, maybe 7 to 8 minutes each side. Remember, every grill is different, so it’s a good idea to use a meat thermometer. Aim for an internal temperature of 130°F to 135°F for medium-rare. And there you have it, grilled to perfection!

Can I Substitute Ribeye for Cowboy Ribeye in Recipes and Vice Versa?

You can often swap a ribeye for a Cowboy Ribeye and vice versa in most recipes. Just keep in mind that the Cowboy Ribeye, with its bone, may take a little longer to cook. Also, if you’re swapping a ribeye into a recipe that calls for a Cowboy Ribeye, you might find the flavor slightly less intense as the rib bone in a Cowboy Ribeye does add a bit of flavor. But, in the grand scheme of things, you can enjoy the flexibility of using either depending on what’s available or what your personal preference is.

Which Is More Expensive: Cowboy Ribeye or Ribeye?

In general, you might find that the Cowboy Ribeye is a bit pricier than the classic ribeye. This is because the Cowboy Ribeye includes a portion of the rib bone, which adds to its weight and flavor profile. It’s also a bit more dramatic in its presentation, which can bump up its price, especially at restaurants. However, prices can vary based on factors like where you’re shopping, the quality of the meat, and whether it’s organic or grass-fed. 

As a passionate enthusiast of smoking, grilling, and BBQ, Mark has dedicated his life to perfecting the art of outdoor cooking. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has honed his expertise and authority on all things related to meat smoking, grilling, and BBQ. From mastering the perfect cut of meat to choosing the right wood for the smoker, Mark has the knowledge and experience to help you become a pro at outdoor cooking.

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