T-bone vs Ribeye Steaks: 5 Key Differences You Should Know

September 22, 2022

If you're in a rush, I'll ask you to go for the ribeye steak with no second thought. I'll choose it any day over the T-bone. Why? Because it's often thicker than a T-bone and has a mix of intramuscular fat and meat that positively influences the taste. This is a perfect steak for the grill, sous-vide cooking, or pan-searing. That's not to say T-bone steaks as worthless. It's a slice of leaner meat that's perfect for oven-baking or grilling. 

If you're still with me, I'll talk about the ribeye and T-bone steaks separately and see which is the best cut overall. I've known these steaks well during my time as a steak enthusiast, cook, and pit master. So without further ado, let's get down to business.

t-bone vs ribeye

Ribeye vs. T-bone Steaks: Which Is Better?

I mentioned earlier that the ribeye steak is the better choice for me. I can't speak for you since our tastes, and diet habits are probably different. But if you like a good-tasting and thick steak, go for a ribeye. 

If you're a weight watcher, you won't enjoy a ribeye steak because your inner consciousness won't let you. However, I have compared the ribeye and T-bone steaks side-by-side, hoping we can find an overall winner. 

Which Has More Fat Marbling 

I'm going with the ribeye. It has that amazing marbling; a good amount of fat streaked around and inside the meat. However, the lower fat in T-bone steaks makes them develop a more beefy flavor. 

Don't confuse this information to mean the T-bone steak is more flavorful than a ribeye. I really do believe that a combination of fat and meat is what makes a piece of steak tasty. 

Winner: Ribeye steak

Which is Thicker? 

I also like the ribeye cut because it's thicker. You'll be able to get more crust on it, and a ribeye steak will retain the juices better.

T-bone steaks typically have thicknesses that start at around 0.5 inches, while your ribeye can reach 2 inches in thickness or even more. 

Winner: Ribeye steak

Which is Healthier?

I don't mean to downgrade the qualities of a good T-bone. The T-bone steak contains lesser fat than the ribeye. 

It's leaner and ideal for steak lovers who may be watching their weight or just don't like fatty meat. T-bone steaks also contain higher intramuscular fat but not as much as a T-bone steak.

Be that as it may, all's not lost for ribeye fans who watch the fat content in their steaks. According to some steak lovers, if you boil a ribeye, the fat content will drip away. Of course, that may be a deviation if you have a different cooking method that doesn't involve boiling the meat. So, T-bone takes it!

Winner: T-bone steak

T-Bone Steak with Baked Potato

Which is More Flavorful?

Although the ribeye doesn't have the stronger meaty flavor, I think the ribeye wins this again.

This is because of its good fat-to-meat ratio, which gives it a rich flavor. However, the T-bone also has a beefy flavor and is really flavorful. Because it's a bone-in steak, when you grill it, the bone marrow will find its way into the meat and turns it flavorful. You know what I'm saying if you like your bone-in steaks broken and sucked. 

That's why I think it's an injustice to compare a T-bone steak to a boneless ribeye. We'd be able to judge better if we're dealing with a bone-in ribeye steak cut. 

You can guess the result. The resulting steak will have an explosive taste, especially if you cook it with a method that allows the fat and bone marrow to mingle.

Winner: Ribeye steak

Which is Easier or Faster to Cook?

Of course, the ribeye steak takes longer to cook because it is usually thicker. However, if you have the same weight for these two steaks and cook them, the ribeye steak cooks faster than the T-bone steak.

First, high-fat steaks cook faster. Secondly, a steak with a bone cooks slower because the bone shields the meat from the heat.

Winner: Ribeye steak

Which is More Expensive?

Despite the quality of meat of T-bones and the higher content of ribeye steaks, guess which meat is more expensive at the steakhouse – the rib eye!

It's often said in the steak world that the more expensive a steak is, the more unsaturated fats they have. Some say it's because fat is in fashion, and I will never be able to wrap my head around that. But it's what it is.

However, I do think T-bones are a bang-for-your-buck type of steak. If you're on a budget, this should be your choice. 

Winner: T-bone steak

Bone-In Tomahawk Ribeye Steak

What's a Ribeye Steak?

The rib eye is a beef steak from the rib area, more precisely from the prime rib. That's why it is also known by that name. 

Ribeye is cut out boneless in the area of ​​the back of the beef between the eighth and twelfth rib, more precisely between the neck of the beef and the rump steak. 

This meat is usually served boneless and has a distinctive taste. This is ensured by fine deposits of fat with good marbling. The meat stays juicy when roasted and develops a unique aroma.

The rib section from which the rib eye comes from includes about six to twelve ribs and the longissimus dorsi muscle. 

The muscle meat is framed by the fatty tissue-rich top rib lid as a lean core. The steak does not get its name from the eye of fat present but from the visible muscle strand that looks like an eye. 

This is the characteristic feature of the rib eye. The well-perfused piece of meat comes from the front back. This makes the preparation easy and uncomplicated.

What Makes Ribeye Steaks Popular?

The rib eye steak is popular because of its tender muscle meat and intense fat marbling. The fatty tissue keeps the meat wonderfully juicy when grilling and roasting and gives it an intense taste.

Overall, the steak consists of different muscle strands that are separate from each other by fatty tissue. Next to the eye (longissimus muscle), there is the spinalis dorsi at the top. This muscle, also known as the rib eye cap, is sometimes offered separately as the "best part of the rib eye." But it is quite rare.

How Do You Prepare a Rib Eye Steak?

For me, the rib eye naturally belongs on the grill: First, it is briefly grilled on all sides at high temperatures (1 to 2 minutes at around 450 degrees per side). 

So, it gets a nice crust and delicious roasted aromas. Let it steep in the indirect area until the desired doneness. 

The meat should then rest for a while. Alternatively, you can grill your rib eye steaks in a reversed style.

Below is how it's done on a charcoal grill:

The ribeye steaks taste simply wonderful when grilled. The eye can still be seen after grilling.  It's best cooked medium rare or medium to an internal temperature of 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit when it is tender pink in the core. 

What Is the T-bone Steak?

The T-bone steak is a classic cut in the American grill culture. On one side, it contains a beef short loin, also known as a New York strip steak or Delmonico steak. On the other side is a tenderloin steak also called a filet mignon which always ends up with a tender texture.

Filet mignon and New York strip in just one steak - what more could you ask for? These are considered some of the two best cuts of beef. 

Both the ribeye and T-bone steaks are separated by a vertical bone with an intersection at the top to make what you have as the T-bone. 

The T-bone is a beauty steak that owes its name to its typical appearance with the T-shaped bone that separates the two muscle groups. 

Obviously, what gives the T-bone steak its name is the bone. It has a characteristic T-shape.

The short loin has a layer of fat that lies between the transverse (the vertical line of the T) and the spinous section (the horizontal line of the T on the right). 

T-bone steaks are also heavily marbled (but not as much as ribeyes). The fat melts during grilling and gives the T-bone a unique succulent flavor profiles.

As mentioned, the meat has a low-fat content and a mild taste. However, the T-shaped bone adds an additional aroma to the meat when roasting and grilling. So the T-bone always has a full-bodied taste overall.

What is the Difference Between a T-bone and a Porterhouse Steak?

Both steaks are cut from the back of the beef and look confusingly similar. The only difference is that the porterhouse steak has a larger proportion of fillet mignon.

The porterhouse is cut further back where the fillet is somewhat thicker

How is a T-bone Prepared?

To prepare a T-bone steak, slightly cut the fat edge. Then sear on both sides over very high heat in the cast iron pan/grill. 

Ideally, the fillet should get less heat. Then you should let it simmer in the oven or the indirect grilling zone at approx. 250 degrees.  

I always recommend medium rare for doneness so you can have your meat cooked properly. This corresponds to a core temperature of around 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. You should measure the internal temperature with a thermometer (caution: do not measure on the bone!). 

After preparation, season with sea salt, sprinkle some pepper, and leave to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes.

T bone steak garnished with rosemary and cherry tomatoes

Conclusion 

T-bone vs. ribeye steaks: we've done it justice. If left to me, it's ribeyes any day. It may be the more expensive steak, but the price difference isn't much.  

These decisions are what you need to make when you're in the butcher shop. Are you going to go for the ribeye or the T-bone? I recommend choosing the thicker cut with the better marbling, which is the ribeye steak.

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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