Porterhouse Vs Ribeye: Which Is Our Favorite Cut?

November 29, 2022

Steak lovers have pitted these two cuts of beef against each other incessantly. Each side insists that their favorite cut is the better choice for dinner and rightly so since porterhouse and ribeye are exceptional prime choices for a meal.

I love beef, which is why I have cooked and eaten beef on a daily basis for over a decade. While I would not advise anyone to emulate my lifestyle, it gives me a unique perspective on the porterhouse vs. ribeye debate.

The way I break it down is ribeye for haute fine dining and porterhouse for fuller more wholesome meals. My basis is the differing qualities of the meat which I will explain below.

That said, this determination is wholly subjective and derived from personal preference, as are most of the opinions on this matter. So let’s dissect this.

Porterhouse vs Ribeye

Characteristics Of Porterhouse And Ribeye Steaks

The table below is a quick comparison of porterhouse and ribeye.

Characteristic

Porterhouse

Ribeye

Size

1.5 -  2 lbs

½ pound

Fat content

High

Higher

Tenderness and texture

Uneven texture

Even texture throughout

Appearance

Moderately marbled

Intense marbling 

Bone Content

Large center bone

Boneless

Flavor profile

Very tasty

Even tastier 

Cost

High

Higher

Size 

Porterhouse steak is larger than ribeye steak. Arguably, the t-shaped bone mass contained in the porterhouse steak does add to its weight. A typical porterhouse steak weighs about 1.5 pounds but can go up to two pounds comfortably serving two people. 

Ribeye steaks on the other hand are slightly smaller and lighter coming in at an average of 0.5 - 0.625 pounds per steak which is a serving for one. The thickness for both steaks is almost always 1.5 - 2 inches.

The size of the top loin or the strip is the same for both porterhouse steak and t-bone steak. The tenderloin is, however, smaller in the t-bone steak than in a porterhouse steak.

Related Reading

Fat Content

The ratio of intramuscular fat to lean meat is much higher in a ribeye steak than in a porterhouse steak. The ribcage area that provides the ribeye barely forms any muscle since the region is not activated for movement or support of the animal.

This inactivity allows fat striations to form within the meat creating a magnificently marbled cut of beef, the ribeye. The fat is also visible along and around the edge of the steak and is responsible for the intensely beefy buttery flavor that a ribeye has.

The short loin, which provides the porterhouse steak is also located in a region of the animal that is barely used for movement or support. This allows the area to develop a considerable amount of fat within the muscle and therefore a beautiful marbling as well.

Compared to the ribeye, however, the porterhouse steak has slightly less fat content. Since the porterhouse steak is essentially two cuts, the strip will usually contain more fat than the tenderloin.

In order of fat content, ribeye steak has the highest, the strip has slightly less and the tenderloin has the least fat content.

Tenderness and Texture

Both ribeye and porterhouse steaks are very tender cuts of meat which is one of the reasons they are both prime cuts of beef. Ribeye steaks, however, take the mantle here and are tender all through.

Ribeye steaks have great texture and tenderness compared to a porterhouse steak. That said, porterhouse steak is comprised of two steaks with differing texture and tenderness profiles, which means if you go for a porterhouse you will get the best of both worlds.

The tenderloin is hands-down the most tender part of the porterhouse. It's quite lean which is a great choice for those who prefer a lighter fat quantity in the meat. The strip is a less tender portion but more than makes up for this with a richer buttery beefy flavor and succulence.

Appearance

Ribeye steak is characterized by intense intramuscular marbling and thicker fat margins while a porterhouse is also marbled but not as intensely as the ribeye steak.

The size of the steaks is also a dead giveaway with porterhouse being giant cuts that weigh nearly two pounds while a ribeye is a more modest-sized chunk that weighs about half a pound.

Ribeye Steak

Bone Content

A porterhouse cut has a characteristic t-shaped bone right down the middle while ribeye is a boneless cut. Bone-in ribeye steaks are called rib steaks while bone-in ribeye with a frenched five or six-inch bone attached to it is a tomahawk ribeye steak.

Flavor Profile

The flavor is the most contentious part of porterhouse vs ribeye. Porterhouse steaks have a more dynamic beefy flavor profile which is why they are such a popular choice and one of the finest steaks you can have.

On one side of the bone is the exemplar of tenderness which is the tenderloin, and a large portion for that matter while the opposite side boasts a zesty, juicy flavorful New York strip. 

Boneless ribeye steak is one of the richest steaks and a powerhouse as far as flavor is concerned. Heavy well developed marbling is the key factor in determining steak taste and ribeye contains the most intramuscular fat of the two. 

Ribeye scores on all markers of flavor and when well executed it is rich, beefy, buttery, succulent, tender, beautifully textured, and plenty enjoyable. Bone-in ribeye is an equally flavorful cut but most steak lovers insist that bone-in does not beat the boneless version.

Cost

The value of a beef cut is affected by many external factors such as the cost of raising cattle and whether the cattle are grain-fed or grass-fed. Market forces also determine the cost of these beef cuts and they may differ from one vendor to another.

On average, however, ribeye steak is slightly costlier compared to porterhouse steak. However, in most cases the difference in the cost per pound is small.

Ribeye: $15 - $20 per pound 

Porterhouse: $12 - $14 per pound

A good steak dinner serving either porterhouse or ribeye steak is also going to cost a pretty penny but in my view, the meal is worth every dollar.

An Overview Of Porterhouse Steak

Porterhouse is fondly referred to as the ‘king of the steakhouse’ due to its considerable size and delectable flavor profile. After all, a porterhouse steak is two steaks in one.

The cut is retrieved from the short loin primal which is a cut found around the lower rib portion of the cow closer to the rear.

The steak is characterized by a large center bone along the middle that separates two cuts of beef, the tenderloin or tenderloin filet, and the strip. The strip steak is also known as sirloin, top loin, or New York strip steak.

The tenderloin steak is smaller than the strip and is often confused with filet mignon. For all intents and purposes, they are the same thing but filet mignon is a luxurious tender cut that is a part of the larger tenderloin.

Is Porterhouse Steak the Same As T-bone?

It would be remiss to speak of a porterhouse steak without mentioning its closest counterpart, the t-bone steak. Most people use the terms interchangeably but there is a slight distinction which is the size of the tenderloin.

A t-bone steak has a smaller portion of the tenderloin making it overall a smaller steak compared to the porterhouse. The USDA stipulates that a steak is labeled porterhouse if the breath of meat from the t-shaped center bone to the widest end of the meat is not less than 1.25 inches. 

That is the only difference between the two. 

Related Reading

Porterhouse Steak

An Overview Of Ribeye Steak

Boneless ribeye steak is a piece of meat retrieved from the anterior center region of the cow in the rib cage or the rib primal. The ribeye cut is boneless since it is a cut of meat from between the ribs. Rib meat that comes with bone is a rib steak or prime rib.

FAQs

Which Is Better Porterhouse or Ribeye?

Porterhouse vs. ribeye is not an easy contest. In my view, neither one is the better steak. Essentially what they both offer is a delightful dining experience for your taste buds that all steak lovers will appreciate. 

Both steaks make incredibly delicious meals and a favorite steak ultimately comes down to rich flavor and personal preference. Often, people can't decide which is the better steak. This is why this debate rages on.

What Steaks Make Up A Porterhouse?

The tenderloin filet or simply tenderloin, and the New York strip which is also known as the top loin or simply the strip. A t-shaped bone separates the two cuts.

What Is A Poor Man’s Ribeye?

A poor man’s ribeye is also known as a chuck-eye steak. Chuck eye steaks are boneless cuts retrieved from the upper rib cage or rib primal just like ribeye. While ribeye comes from ribs number 6 - 12, chuck-eye comes from the fifth rib.

Chuck-eye steak is characteristically tougher but by a slight margin. The meat from this area is closer to the shoulder of the animal. The muscles in this region do get more exercise which means the lean tissue is more defined than in the ribeye meat.

A chuck-eye steak is less marbled and consequently less flavorful compared to ribeye steak.

Chuck-eye steak is still a very tender and tasty piece of meat if well-executed. Aside from the milder marbling, when placed side by side one can hardly tell the difference between ribeye and chuck-eye.

How Much Is A Chuck-eye Steak?

Assuming that you can find a vendor who regularly sources chuck-eye steak, a pound should cost approximately half of what you would pay for a ribeye of similar size.

Chuck-eye: $6 - $8 per pound.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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