Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Positioning the tenderloins away from the heat source prevents them from overcooking.
  • Starting with lower heat and finishing with high heat deliver a steak with a better edge-to-edge gradient of doneness.

When it comes to steak, I'm aneconomy cuts man. Well, I say with a bit of a grumble that I was an economy man before my choice cuts ofskirt,hanger, andflankbecame so desirable that their market value shot up beyond "bargain" territory. Still, they're easier on the wallet thanhigh-end cutslike ribeyes and T-bones, which I certainly love but can hardly justify buying, knowing that I'll be just as happy with a steak that's a quarter of the cost.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (1)

But I'm also a man who would never pass up a porterhouse under the right circ*mstances, so whenKenjiasked me to develop a recipe for perfectly cooked T-bone steaks (courtesy ofPat LaFrieda meat), I jumped at the opportunity. The well-marbled,dry-agedprime steaks delivered to SE headquarters were so beautiful that I affectionately dubbed them "my babies," and promised myself that no harm would come to them.

I've grilled enough steaks to know how to treat them right, but I did pit a few winning T-bone techniques against each other to see if one would ultimately earn me the title of #1 Steak Dad.

Anatomy of a T-Bone

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (2)

The T-bone is a twofer: You get both the strip loin and the tenderloin in one cut. The bone portion of the T-bone is part of the steer's vertebrae, from the short loin primal (that's the spot between your rib cuts and your sirloin cuts). If you rotate the "T" of the T-bone to be situated horizontally, with the bigger portion of meat on top, you can better see where this cut lies on the cow.

The strip loin—also called a New York strip steak—is the larger portion of the T-bone. The chunk of meat sits on top of the vertebrae—the back of the steer. On the other side of the bone is the tenderloin, which sits next to the lower part of the spinal cord. A single T-bone is only one half of this spinal section. Yeah. Cows are big.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (3)

Although it's not a hard and fast rule, to be considered a T-bone, the tenderloin section generally needs to be at least a half-inch wide from the edge of the bone to the edge of the meat. When the tenderloin section jumps up to one and a half inches wide or more, it can then gain the title of "porterhouse," althoughtechnically, you can still correctly refer to it as a T-bone. The porterhouse comes from the back of the short loin, where the tenderloin section is larger.

T-Bone Selection and Prep

To get the perfect T-bone for grilling, there are a few important things you'll want to look for:


Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (4)

First and foremost, you want to go thick with your cut. A minimum height of one and a half inches is best; two inches is even better. When grilling a steak, you want to be able to develop that dark, crusty sear while keeping the inside a nice rare to medium-rare. That's a near-impossible feat with a thin steak, since the inside will be thoroughly overcooked by the time the outside develops a proper sear. A hefty cut that's big enough to split between two or more is key to achieving a perfectly cooked T-bone.


Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (5)

Next, you want to check out the marbling. Marbling is made up of intramuscular fat, and you're certain to see more of it in the strip loin than in the tenderloin, but both should have streaks of beautiful white fat in them. This fat is what brings the big, beefy flavor to the T-bone, and you won't get that top steakhouse flavor without it. You should always do a visual inspection to best determine the marbling, but in terms of USDA beef grades, "Prime" is the label to look for. "Choice" is the next step down in marbling, followed by "Select."

Size of the Tenderloin

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (6)

Finally, if you want that tenderloin section to be all it can be, it's best to choose a T-bone with a generous portion of tenderloin. Fat doesn't just deliver flavor—it also insulates. Because the tenderloin is leaner, it'll always cook through more quickly than the strip; the smaller it is, the faster it will do so. To ensure the filet section of the T-bone comes out to a respectable medium-rare, porterhouse-sized tenderloin sections of one and a half inches or larger are definitely the way to go.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (7)

Once you have your perfect T-bone, prep doesn't need to go any further than salt and pepper. Salting should be done at least 40 minutes prior to grilling, with a heavy layer of kosher salt—remember that you're seasoning for a thick, meaty steak. Kenji has already explained all thescience behind salting, but basically, the salt needs time to first draw moisture out of the steak, and then break down the muscle fibers, so that the now-concentrated, flavorful liquid that was drawn out can be reabsorbed.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (8)

Right before the steak is ready to hit the grill, it can be given a layer of freshly ground pepper, to taste—I personally like a lot of coarse pepper, which gives the crust of the final steak a sharp bite and a little extra crunchy texture.

Some folks prefer adding pepper at the end, claiming that it can taste burnt or bitter if added before cooking, but Ilikethe flavor of charred pepper. It does have a bit of bitterness, but it also attains a sweetness that balances it out.

Grilling a T-Bone: 3 Methods, 1 Winner

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (9)

As I mentioned, I had no intention of destroying any of these beautiful porterhouses I had in my possession in the name of experimentation. So when it came time to grill them, I stuck to the methods that I knew would lead to success. While no steaks were harmed in the making of this post, there was certainly one that was better than the rest.

Method 1: The Sear and Roast

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (10)

If you take a stroll back in time, you'll find me proclaiming that the best way to cook a massive T-bone is to sear it over high, direct heat, then move it to indirect heat to finish cooking. This is certainly the method you'll most commonly come across, and it's served me well with many a steak. So, even though I do things a little differently now, I thought it was only right to give the sear-and-roast method a fair shot.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (11)

To develop a great sear on an uncooked steak, you want to go for the highest heat you can get. With charcoal, this is the point when a whole chimney full of coals has just finished lighting and is covered in gray ash. When I dumped my fresh batch of briquettes out, my thermometer tipped off the scale, but I was likely running around 650°F (343°C)—lump charcoal will get you a good 50°F-plus higher.

Over this heat, the steak seared beautifully, especially since I flipped it every 30 seconds or so to cook it evenly and maximize that crust. Once it was browned to my liking, I transferred the porterhouse to the cool side of the grill and positioned it so the strip loin was facing the fire. Then I covered the grill and let the steak cook until it reached my desired temperature of 125°F (52°C), for a medium-rare tenderloin.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (12)

After giving it a 10-minute rest, I sliced into both the strip loin and the tenderloin and was pretty pleased—both had a rosy-red, soft center, with not too much grayness around the edges. It was a worthy steak, but I've come to learn that it can be even better.

Method 2: The Reverse Sear, Version 1

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (13)

For more of an even, edge-to-edge cook in a large steak like this, the reverse sear is your best friend. It's a method that Kenji developed forCook's Illustrateda while back.

As the name implies, this method swaps the roasting and searing, so the steak is first brought up over indirect heat to a temperature about 5°F below your final desired doneness, then seared over direct heat. This usually results in a steak that's more evenly red throughout. It's also a more effective way to sear, since the steak's exterior will have less moisture to burn away after it's been cooking for a bit. With a porterhouse, though, I questioned what the best roasting position would be in order to achieve perfect doneness in both the strip loinandthe tenderloin.

The first theory I tested was that the steak should be situated so the tops of both the strip loin and the tenderloin faced the fire. Since the tops of both sections of the T-bone are larger than the tapered bottom, it would make some sense that the top should take longer than the bottom to cook.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (14)

As I kept an eye on the temperature of each side of the T-bone, I quickly learned I was wrong. Since the tenderloin has less fat than the strip, it actually cooked faster, registering a good 5°F hotter than the strip all through the cooking process. This wasn't going to work out—if anything, given its relatively low-fat content, the tenderloin needs to belesscooked than the strip.

In terms of even cooking, it was a decided improvement over the first steak, with a more even rosy color throughout. But we can do better.

Method 3: The Reverse Sear, Version 2

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (16)

With the last of my three porterhouses, I went with the reverse sear again, but this time positioned the strip to run parallel to the fire, with the tenderloin facing away from the coals. As I monitored the temperature this time, the tenderloin was coming in at least 5°F cooler than the strip, which was exactly what I wanted to see.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (17)

After letting the steak roast until the strip hit 115°F (46°C) and the tenderloin was at 110°F (43°C), I quickly seared it off, let it rest, and cut in.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (18)

This time around, the strip was perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge. The more delicate tenderloin still had a little grayness around the sides, but to a lesser extent than in my previous attempts, making this method the clear winner.

T-Bone Enhancement

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (19)

All of those steaks were beefy, salty, peppery, and just all-around delicious. But they were still missing a component of pan-searing steaks that's lost on the grill—butter basting. When cooking indoors with a cast iron skillet, I add some butter and herbs to the pan, basting the seared steak with the rich, melted fat as it cooks.

To bring a little of this butter-herb infusion to my grilled steak, I melted a few tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan, then added thyme, garlic, and lemon zest and let those "steep" together as the hot butter cooled. Once that last porterhouse came off the grill, I spread a decent portion of that flavorful butter over the steak while it was resting.

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (20)

I had a few other tasters with me to help eat through all these steaks, and, while each successive T-bone was well praised, it was the one with the butter that really stood out and had me feeling like I had rightfully raised the steaks and earned that title of #1 Steak Dad. (Is it strange that I'm the kind of dad who eats his perfectly charred, rosy-red babies?) Now, if only these babies were able to get me a mug stating my achievements, so I could properly show them off to the world...

May 2014

Recipe Details

Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak

Prep5 mins

Cook45 mins

Active60 mins

Resting Time10 mins

Total60 mins

Serves2to 4 servings


  • 2 whole T-bone steaks, at least 1 1/2 inches thick (about 30 ounces each; see notes)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. At least 45 minutes before cooking, season steaks generously with salt and pepper on all sides, including edges. Set steaks on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to cook. Alternatively, season steaks immediately before placing on hot grill.

    Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (21)

  2. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.

    Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (22)

  3. Arrange steaks on cooler side of grill with tenderloins (the smaller medallions of meat) positioned farthest from the coals. Cover and set top and bottom vents to half-closed position. Cook steaks, turning once (but always keeping tenderloin farthest from the coals), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the coolest part of the strip (the larger section of meat) registers 115°F (46°C) and the tenderloin registers 110°F (43°C) for medium-rare, about 15 minutes. Cooking times can vary drastically depending on the heat of the grill, so begin checking after 10 minutes.

    Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (23)

  4. If coals are not blazing-hot at this point, add more to the fire and allow fire to become hot again. Transfer steaks directly over coals and cook, turning, until very well seared on both sides. Using tongs, hold steaks on their edges to sear the sides as well. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 10 minutes, then serve.

    Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (24)

Special Equipment

Grill, chimney starter, instant-read thermometer, wire cooling rack, rimmed baking sheet


This method works just as well with porterhouse steaks, which are simply T-bones with larger portions of tenderloin attached.

Read More

  • How to Get Started Grilling
  • The Four High-End Steaks You Should Know
  • Slow-Smoked Porterhouse Steaks Recipe
  • Pan-Seared, Butter-Basted Thick-Cut Steak Recipe
  • Grilled Steaks
  • Beef Mains
  • Memorial Day
  • 4th of July
  • Labor Day
Perfectly Grilled T-Bone Steak Recipe (2024)


How to cook the perfect T-bone steak on the grill? ›

Sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, flipping only once. Then, move the steak to the low-heat side of the grill, covered, for another 5-10 minutes until a meat thermometer reads between 125-130℉. Transfer the steak to a clean plate tented with foil for 5-10 minutes to rest before enjoying.

How do you make a tough T-bone steak tender? ›

7 Ways to Tenderize Steak
  1. Pounding. Using a meat mallet (or kitchen mallet) to pound steaks helps soften and tenderize the meat. ...
  2. Salting. Most cuts of steak benefit from being salted up to an hour in advance of cooking, but especially tougher cuts. ...
  3. Marinating. ...
  4. Velveting. ...
  5. Slow Cooking. ...
  6. Enzymatic Application. ...
  7. Scoring.
Oct 18, 2022

How to make a perfect steak on the grill? ›

Place the steaks on the grill and cook until golden brown and slightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the steaks over and continue to grill 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare (an internal temperature of 135 degrees F), 5 to 7 minutes for medium (140 degrees F) or 8 to 10 minutes for medium-well (150 degrees F).

How do you season a T-bone steak before grilling? ›

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil the grate. Stir together salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, coriander, and turmeric in a small bowl. Rub over steaks on all sides.

How long to cook a T-bone steak per side? ›

Add oil to hot skillet and when it begins to smoke add steak. Reduce heat slightly and cook steak until browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer skillet to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted sideways into the steak registers 120 degrees F for medium-rare, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Should I marinate a T-bone steak? ›

Some people marinate t-bone steaks with olive oil and other ingredients. However, marinating is more appropriate for tougher cuts like a sirloin tip. Because t-bone steaks are tender, simple seasonings are enough. Salt and pepper are musts when it comes to seasoning your steak.

Why is my T-bone steak chewy? ›

Typically, leaner cuts like the flank or skirt can be chewy if not prepared correctly. Cooking Method: Overcooking can cause the steak to lose its moisture, making it dry and chewy. Conversely, undercooking can make certain cuts feel tough. Aging Process: Steaks that are not properly aged can be less tender.

What to season your steak? ›

There are many spices available for seasoning a steak, with salt and pepper topping the list. However, other spices, like thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and minced onion, are also good options to enhance your steak's flavor. Or, use a one-and-done approach with Chicago Steak Seasoning.

How do you cook a bone in steak evenly? ›

Sear the steak in a hot skillet.

If it's not, you'll either overcook the edges to compensate, or end up with an underwhelming exterior. Once it's very hot, drop the steak in cook for about a minute on each side, no more. You can flip back to each side for a further 30 seconds, but don't cook it longer than this.

How do you cut a T-bone steak after cooking? ›

If you are carving a bone-in steak, cut along the bone and pull the meat away. Take a good look at your steak and note which direction the fibers are running. Slide your knife back and forth across those fibers — across the grain — cutting your steak into slices. Keep each piece no more than ¼ inch thick.

What is the rule of 3 for grilling steaks? ›

As a rule of thumb, when cooking steaks that are 1-1/2 inch thick, you want to go by the 3-4 rule. That is, three minutes per side on direct heat, then four minutes per side on indirect heat. That will get your steaks to a beautiful pink medium-rare.

Do you close the grill when cooking steak? ›

This depends on what you're cooking, the size/type of your barbecue and the weather outside. In a professional restaurant kitchen setting, where taste matters more than energy efficiency, chefs typically cook steaks on a grill that has no lid.

What to add to steak before grilling? ›

3. Season the Steak: Steaks don't need much to make them great. Just before grilling, brush them lightly on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you want to get fancy, you can add spices like chili powder, paprika, or garlic powder to the rub.

How long do I cook a T-bone steak on the grill for? ›

For the perfect medium-rare T-Bone steak, grill for 10–13 minutes for a 1-inch steak, and 14–17 minutes for a 1½ inch steak, turning about 1 minute before the halfway point. A meat thermometer should read 130°F. Rest your steaks for 5 minutes before serving, covering lightly with foil.

How to grill T-bone steaks medium well? ›

For medium-rare grill steaks for 4-5 minutes per side, for an internal temperature of 135-140 F. To cook t bone steaks to medium-well, cook for 8-9 minutes per side, until the internal temperature is 165 F. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes, before you slice them.

Why is my T-bone steak tough? ›

Overcooking: One of the most common causes of a tough and chewy steak is overcooking. When a steak is cooked for too long, the muscle fibers can become tough and chewy, and the meat can become dry and flavorless. Low-quality meat: The quality of the meat can also play a role in the tenderness of a cooked steak.

Is a T-bone better than a ribeye? ›

The T-Bone offers a dual-flavor experience, combining the strip steak's robustness with the tenderloin's tenderness. In contrast, the Ribeye boasts an intense beefy flavor and exceptional tenderness, thanks to its marbling. Ultimately, the choice between T-Bone and Ribeye comes down to personal preferences.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tyson Zemlak

Last Updated:

Views: 5831

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tyson Zemlak

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Apt. 662 96191 Quigley Dam, Kubview, MA 42013

Phone: +441678032891

Job: Community-Services Orchestrator

Hobby: Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Metalworking, Fashion, Vehicle restoration, Shopping, Photography

Introduction: My name is Tyson Zemlak, I am a excited, light, sparkling, super, open, fair, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.