Learn the grilling technique pros use to deliver a perfectly cooked thick and juicy cowboy ribeye steak.
4.47 from 15 votes

By Christie Vanover | Published September 5, 2016 | Last Updated May 24, 2023

Home | Recipes | Reverse Seared Cowboy Ribeye

Looking for the perfect steak? This cowboy ribeye recipe will match up to anything you’ll find at the best steakhouses.

sliced cowboy ribeye, cooked medium rare.

What is a cowboy ribeye steak?

Ribeyes are a beautiful cut of steak because they are so wonderfully marbled with fat and flavor. They are cut from the rib primal of the cow, which is the exact same place where the prime rib roast is cut.

You can purchase ribeye steaks cut in a variety of ways, including bone-in ribeyes and boneless ribeyes. They can also be cut thick or thin.

A tomahawk ribeye and cowboy ribeye are very similar. They are both the same type of bone-in ribeye cut, but the difference is the length of the bone.

A tomahawk steak has a very long bone; whereas a cowboy cut steak has a bone that’s been cut just a little bit longer than the steak meat itself.

What is a reverse sear?

Reverse searing is a two-step method often used when cooking larger pieces of meat. Cowboy ribeye steaks are usually about two inches thick, so it’s the perfect cooking process for this steak.

side of cowboy ribeye showing thickness.

With the reverse sear method, you start by setting up your grill or smoker to a lower heat with an indirect zone. This means there is no direct flame under the meat. During this phase, the meat cooks slowly and absorbs smoke flavor.

Once the steak is almost done, it’s finished over hight heat to form a flavorful crust and perfect sear. If you were to start with just high heat on a steak this thick, it would char on the outside before it finished cooking inside.

PRO TIP: To aid in the cooking process, leave the steak at room temperature while you heat your grill. This way it won’t be ice cold when it hits the grill.


raw cowboy ribeye steak with salt and pepper.
  • Cowboy Ribeye Steak: Look for a 2-3-pound steak that is about 2 inches thick. I order mine from Snake River Farms. See the marbling in the picture above? That is pure flavor. You only get that level of marbling from American Wagyu Gold™ from Snake River Farms.
  • Kosher Salt: It’s important to use a coarse salt for this recipe. I like Diamond Crystal because it’s flakier than other kosher salts, so it dissolves beautifully.
  • Black Pepper: It’s also important to use coarse or extra coarse black pepper. This helps create a crunchy, flavorful bark on the crust. My go-to black pepper is the extra coarse (16-mesh) from Spiceology.

Substitutions: Instead of just salt and pepper, you could also use a blend of salt, pepper and granulated garlic or my recipe for Steak Rub.

See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.

How to cook the Keyword

  1. STEP ONE: Season the steak on all sides. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of salt and pepper. Be sure to use it all to get maximum flavor. I usually use four pinches of each per side.
cowboy ribeye seasoned with salt and pepper.

Make sure to add seasoning to the sides too. Then, let it rest on the counter while you heat your grill.

showing side of cowboy ribeye seasoned with salt and pepper.
  1. STEP TWO: Heat your grill to 250F degrees with an indirect heat zone.

If you have a kettle charcoal grill, push the lit coals to one side and smoke the steak on the grill grate over the side without coals.

If you’re cooking on a ceramic cooker like a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg, insert the ceramic deflector plate.

For a gas grill, turn one burner to medium heat. Adjust that burner until the grill temperature reaches 250F degrees. Cook on the side with the burners turned off. To add smoke, use wood chips in a foil pouch.

If you have a pellet grill, simply set the temperature to 250F degrees.

For a Ninja Grill, follow my recipe for Cowboy Ribeye Steak on Ninja Woodfire Grill.

PRO TIP: Oak, cherry and hickory wood chunks, chips or pellets are great options for this recipe

  1. STEP THREE: Place the steak on the grill over indirect heat. Insert a digital meat thermometer through the side into the center of the steak, avoiding the bone and fat pockets. Cook the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 110F degrees. This will take about 45 minutes to an hour.
cowboy ribeye on grill.
  1. STEP FOUR: Once it hits that 110F mark, it’s time to crank up the heat. Remove the steak from the grill and increase the grill temperature to 400F degrees.

If you have a kettle charcoal grill, move the steak to the side of the grill grate with coals.

On a ceramic cooker, remove the deflector plate.

For a gas grill, move the steak to the side of the grill with the burner turned on to high or medium-high heat.  

If you have a pellet grill, simply reset the temperature to 400F degrees.

You can also finish the steak on a griddle or in a large cast iron skillet over high heat. If using a hot skillet, add a little oil to the pan.

  1. STEP FIVE: Once the grill is setup for direct heat, place the steak on the grill. Sear for about 5 minutes per side or until it reaches your desired doneness. I aim for 130F degrees for perfect medium rare.
cowboy ribeye seared on grill.

PRO TIP: For this step, try to keep the grill lid closed. Keeping it open could cause unwanted flareups. If you get flareups, move the steak to a cooler part of the grill.

  1. STEP SIX: Once the steak reaches your desired internal temperature, let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This helps the juices relax so they stay in the meat when you slice it. Loosely tent with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
reverse seared cowboy ribeye steak.

How to serve keyword

Once the meat has rested, you can slice into it. It’s pretty impressive to bring the entire steak on a cutting board to the table and slice it in front of everyone, especially for special occasions.

Finish with a pinch of sea salt and some fresh herbs like fresh thyme or parsley for added flavor and serve with a robust red blend or cabernet sauvignon. 

cowboy ribeye steak cut in half showing it's cooked medium rare.

Otherwise, you can slice it in the kitchen and add slices to each dinner plate along with some delicious sides like Grilled Mini Hasselback Potatoes or Fresh Grilled Vegetable Spring Salad. This cowboy ribeye steak recipe is also great with a dollop of Ancho Garlic Compound Butter.

fork taking bite of medium rare slice of cowboy ribeye steak.


If you have any leftover cowboy ribeye, save it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Smaller slices are great for sandwiches, quiche or quick bruschetta appetizers. You can also freeze leftover steak for up to six months.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Season liberally with salt and pepper
  • Cook over low, indirect heat first
  • Finish over high, direct heat to form a crust

Frequently Asked Questions

What cut of meat is a cowboy steak?

A cowboy steak is a bone-in ribeye steak cut from the rib primal of a cow. It has a slightly longer bone than a regular bone-in ribeye, but a shorter bone than a tomahawk steak.

What’s the best way to know when a steak is done?

For the most accurate results, use an instant-read thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the steak. Slide it in through the side of the steak into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding the rib bone.

How do you sous vide a cowboy steak?

Instead of using the reverse sear method on a grill, place the seasoned steak in a vacuum sealed bag in a water bath. Submerge your sous vide machine into the water and set it to 110F degrees. Once the steak reaches temperature, remove it from the bag and sear it on a hot grill or in a cast iron pan.

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reverse seared cowboy ribeye steak.

Reverse Seared Cowboy Ribeye

Learn the grilling technique pros use to deliver a perfectly cooked thick and juicy cowboy ribeye steak.
4.47 from 15 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 cowboy ribeye
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp course ground black pepper


  • Season: Season liberally on all sides with salt and pepper. Let the steak rest on the counter while you heat your grill.
  • Heat Grill: Heat your grill or smoker to 250F degrees with an indirect heat zone. Add cherry or hickory wood chunks, chips or pellets for great smoky flavor.
  • Smoke: Place the steak on the grill over indirect heat and cook without turning until the internal temperature reaches 110F degrees.
  • Adjust Grill: Remove the steak from the grill. Heat your grill to 400F degrees with a direct heat zone.
  • Sear: Place the steak on the grill over the direct heat. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness and your preferred doneness. Keep the grill lid closed to prevent flare ups.
  • Rest: Remove the steak from the grill, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.



Calories: 476kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 46gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 1862mgPotassium: 628mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 0.01gVitamin A: 42IUCalcium: 24mgIron: 4mg

This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator

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