The universally popular “Ribeye” or “Rib Steak” is a favorite among BBQ beginners and enthusiasts alike thanks to the wonderful flavor profile, tenderness, and juicy texture it can bring to the table. It comes from the rib section of the cow and is usually composed of multiple muscles. The ideal rib-eye can be either boneless or bone in and features a healthy amount of marbling. It is a prized cut of meat that tends to be expensive to procure. However, it is also forgiving to cook and can be used with a variety of cooking techniques and recipes that can really showcase the sunning flavor and texture.
The rib eye is one of our absolute favorites to cook, whether it is in the pan or on the grill. We have cooked and sampled the rib eye done in various ways hundreds of times, and it is time to share all our secrets about how to buy, prep, and cook this deluxe cut to perfection.
In this article, you can learn all you want about the popular rib eye steak, how to cook a rib eye steak to perfection, and other relevant details that will help you master this cut of meat.
What is a Rib Eye Steak? Let us Explain.
The rib eye steak can be found in restaurants and home kitchens across the world. It is different from what is traditionally known as the “beef rib” and is also known in some parts of the world as “whiskey filler” or “Scotch fillet”. There are two main muscles in the rib eye, one of the Which is called the cap while the other is called the eye.
What is the Difference Between a Rib eye and a Rib Steak?
Ribeye and Rib Steak are used interchangeably with one another all the time. However the actual difference is that a true rib eye has the bone removed, whereas a rib steak still has the bone attached.
What Part of the Cow is the Rib Eye Steak?
A rib eye steak comes from the rib section of the cow, specifically from the upper rib cage part. These rib muscles are usually very lightly worked during the daily activities of the cow. For this reason, they are especially tender and feature quite a bit of marbling or intramuscular fat. The two main muscles are usually separated by a layer of additional fat. For this reason, a lot of fat gets rendered when you cook this steak. This bastes the meat while cooking and keeps it moist, resulting in a tender, juicy product with an excellent mouth-feel, and an intense beefy flavor.
Rib Eye vs. Sirloin
While they are found close to each other on the cow, the rib eye and sirloin steaks are very different in nature and need different handling and cooking techniques for best results. The sirloin steak is a much leaner cut of meat with significantly less marbling. The sirloin is also a much heavier worked muscle, which means you need to give it a lot of love and care to get it tender. While both steaks can taste great, it is far easier to get good results out of a rib eye.
Ideal Size and Calories
You can purchase a rib eye in both boneless and bone-in form. The bone-in steak can give you far more tender results with less effort. You might get the boneless version from a local butcher if you ask for a Delmonico steak. Depending on the cut, rib eye steaks can range from about 8 ounces to one or more pounds by weight. A typical portion, something that most restaurants would serve, is one that weighs between 16 and 20 ounces and is between 1 to 2 inches in thickness. This ideal thickness makes it easy to cook the steak to the perfect doneness across various cooking methods.
Rib eye steaks can be a healthy protein option for those watching the calories, coming in at about 850 calories per cooked steak portion of 10 ounces.
Where to Buy Ribeye Steak?
Local butcher shops are a great way to get a high quality ribeye steak. They are more likely to inform you of where the beef came from, how they were raised and what they were fed. Online butcher shops have grown in popularity as well. Snake River Farms has grown a very successful online meat delivery business. Don’t worry about the meat spoiling, they package the meat exceptionally well and ship quickly.
How to Cook a Rib Eye Steak
The best way to cook a rib eye steak is not to complicate things and treat it simply with some intense heat and seasoning. First, you need to pay close attention to the product as the quality, size, and thickness of the steak should dictate the optimal cooking method. For a thicker product, you might want to explore using the oven for some reverse searing. However, the best results usually come from a quick turn on the grill or in a hot pan.
For optimum results, you can salt your steak liberally with flaky salt and keep it in the open or uncovered in the fridge. This draws out moisture and intensifies the flavor. Then, let the steak come up to room temperature before putting it directly on to a hot grill.
Once on the grill, make sure to turn to get an even sear and attractive grill marks, while paying close attention to the internal temperature, preferably with a probe-style meat thermometer plunged into the thickest part of the steak. Aim for an internal temperature of 115F for a rare steak and 125F for medium rare, the two best ways to enjoy this steak.
Once grilled, you need to rest the steak for a while before cutting into it to preserve all the juices. Here is a detailed guide on grilling a steak to perfection that you can follow.
For a perfectly pan seared rib eye, the first thing you need is a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or pan. Once you have the skillet hot, you need a little neutral flavor oil with a high smoke point. Liberally salt your room temperature steak for 15 minutes before the cook. Completely dry off the steak (eliminates evaporation when on the hot pan) and put it in the hot pan, turning once on each to get that perfect sear. Then, you can lower the heat and put in a stick of butter, some crushed garlic and a little rosemary. Turn the steak and start basting with a tilted pan. Depending on the thickness of the steak, it should be ready in a few minutes.
Once you reach the requisite level of doneness, you can take the steak out and rest it for a while before slicing. The brown butter makes for a great ready sauce to pour over the slices.
If you have a particularly large and thick rib eye, you can use the oven and a reverse sear method to get perfect results. You can follow the dry brine method to intensify the flavor and use a mild marinade or dry rub right before cooking. Put your steak in the oven after inserting a probe thermometer and cook on a medium-high heat. Take your steak out a little before it reaches the target temperature as your steak keeps cooking while resting.
Then, you can take your steak to your cast iron pan and some sizzling heat to finish the steak with a sear. For added flavor, collect the drippings from the oven, add them back to the pan, and whip up a quick pan sauce.
Avoid adding strong flavors or marinades to your rib eye. These can easily overwhelm the natural beefy taste of the steak. For ideal results, start with a room temperature steak and cook it to a rare or medium-rate doneness. Once your steak is done cooking, rest it at least as long as you cooked it, and preferably longer. This preserves the juiciness of the steak and keeps things moist. While slicing, slice against the natural grain of the meat to get soft, tender slices.
Always do a quick test to confirm your steak is safe to eat. Read our guide here.
Some Notable Recipes
It is a good idea to keep things simple with rib eye steaks. This butter basted steak recipe can be a good starting point to enjoy the natural flavor of the steak. From there, you can experiment with other recipes. You can check out recipes that include serving the rib eye with onion jam, or some sweet Gorgonzola butter. You can even try your hand at some shabu-shabu.
Tips and Tricks
You can definitely get pro results while cooking rib eye by following these important tips:
- Buy a prime quality certified steak or pick up freshly cut steak from your local butcher. The better the quality, the better the results you can expect.
- Salt the meat before cooking using flaky salt. You can do this in advance to draw out the moisture and intensify the flavor.
- Use pepper only after cooking as it can burn under high heat. Use freshly ground pepper, preferably ground to a coarse texture. Avoid pre-ground or powdered pepper.
- A quality, well-seasoned cast iron skillet is an excellent way to cook a rib eye. Use a neutral, low smoke point oil to start the steak and finish by basting with some quality butter for the best results.
This equips you perfectly to buy the right version of the rib eye and prepare and cook it perfectly, whether you prefer the grill, the pan, or other techniques. This is sure to be an exceptionally rewarding culinary journey and you can go on to research and find new and exciting recipes and cooking techniques down the line.