Meat

Everything You Need to Know About Rib Eye

July  4, 2014

Each week this summer, Cara Nicoletti of The Meat Hook is helping us get to know our favorite cuts a little bit better – and introducing you to a few new ones, too. Read on, study up, then hightail it to your nearest butcher.

Today: This summer, forget the usual suspects -- rib eye is where it's at.  

Rib eye on Food52

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Some people swear by a porterhouse or a T-bone; some are die-hard for the New York Strip; some won’t touch anything but filet mignon. But for me, the ultimate steak is the bone-in rib eye.

The rib eye is cut from ribs six through twelve on the cow, between the loin and the shoulder. If you’re getting more than one bone in your ribeye, this cut becomes a rib roast -- you know, those fancy showstoppers you see at holiday parties that cook for hours and hours and leave the host(ess) frazzled and sweaty. However, if you’re just getting one bone, this makes it a rib eye (called a Delmonico when boneless, a Scotch filet in Australia and New Zealand, and a cowboy steak when the rib bone is extra long and frenched). The rib eye is the fattiest of the high-end steaks, which means it has the boldest flavor. It also means that it needs to be handled differently than a porterhouse, T-bone, strip, or filet.

More: If flank steak is more your style, this one is bloody good.

Rib Eye

Because of their high fat content, rib eyes do well when cooked in a cast iron skillet. The meat is surrounded by its fat while it cooks, as opposed to losing it through the grates of a grill, which results in ultimate flavor retention. Cooking a fatty steak on the grill can lead to major flare-ups, too, which will leave your super-expensive steak charred in a matter of seconds. That being said, if you’re determined to grill your rib eye, go for it! Just keep your tongs close by, because you might need to grab the steak at a moment’s notice.  

Rib Eye

Rib eyes are flavorful enough that they don't need anything more than salt and coarse black pepper. Seriously. When you buy barbecue sauce to baste your rib eye, you break my dang heart. Don't be stingy with the salt, either! It will draw out the liquid within the steak, creating tiny beads of moisture on the surface, which then reabsorbs back into the muscle strands. This creates a kind of quick brine that gives your steak incredible flavor and tenderness. Because rib eyes are so huge, they need a good 45 minutes to an hour to come to room temperature, and absorb the salt you seasoned them with, so make sure you allot this time in your meal planning. If you don’t have 45 minutes to an hour, salt your rib eye and cook it right away -- just don’t let it sit out for an in-between amount of time.

More: Did you know you can also brine chicken, turkey, and pork chops? Here's our guide.

Rib Eye

When it comes to steak, especially big-boy steaks like the rib eye, people generally like the bravado of eating it super-rare. Hear me out, though: The rib eye is best just shy of medium, or 135° F. A long cooking time gives all that lovely fat an opportunity to render out. Skimp on the cooking time, and you’ll be chewing on gross, rubbery, un-rendered fat. Nobody wants that. 

The rib eye also has more connective tissue than other steaks, especially as it gets higher up toward the shoulder, and those tissues also need time to render and break down. A 1 1/2-inch steak should cook for about 5 minutes on each side in a hot skillet or grill. Invest in some grapeseed oil -- it has a higher smoke-point than most neutral oils, which means you can get a better sear on your steak without setting off the fire alarm. 

Rib Eye

Lastly, remember to let your steak rest after you cook it. Put a pat of butter on it for extra fanciness, tent it with foil to keep the heat in, and give it 10 minutes to reabsorb the juices and relax before slicing it against the grain and serving. You'll be a rib eye fanatic yet.

What other cuts of meat do you want to know more about? Tell us in the comments!

Photos by Mark Weinberg

23 Comments

MerryChristmas C. January 24, 2017
I googled bone-in ribeye and this came up. My steak is precisely 1.5 inches thick and I took it out almost 2 hours before cooking, generously applied S&P. Preheated my cast iron skillet on high on my electric stove (with the requisite grape seed oil), placed the room temperature steak in the skillet and set the timer for 5 minutes, turned it over, set for another 5 minutes. When the timer went off I moved it to a warm platter, covered with aluminum foil and left it sit for a full 10 minutes. Unfortunately, what I ended up with wer perfectly cooked side dishes and a raw steak. I had to broil it for another 20 minutes to get it to a medium. PLEASE, Please, please, do not trust time in this recipe for a 1.5 inch thick bone-in ribeye. While everything but the time is accurate, this should have been a wonderful dinner but the extra time it takes to cook, beyond 5 minutes per side, has the potential to ruin a special dinner. It took 20 minutes under the broiler after the 10 minutes in a skillet and then there was the covered and waiting time (twice) and I am not an amateur cook by any stretch.
 
Gino August 15, 2015
Hope you can enlighten us one day about sirloin and filet steak and how the steaks becomes more marbled and what the influence is of feeding corn to the cows.
 
Roseanne S. September 8, 2014
My son and I have come to love rib eye steaks. He said last time I served it, "Why would anyone buy any other kind of steak?" It's incredibly tender, but not in the same way as filet mignon, which we don't like, with better taste.
 
iWantMore September 2, 2014
why do they say if you don't have 45 minutes to let it rest, don't do it at all.<br /><br />"Because rib eyes are so huge, they need a good 45 minutes to an hour to come to room temperature, and absorb the salt you seasoned them with, so make sure you allot this time in your meal planning. If you don’t have 45 minutes to an hour, salt your rib eye and cook it right away -- just don’t let it sit out for an in-between amount of time.
 
SabrinaLVH January 31, 2015
I was also wondering about this.
 
hungryheart March 20, 2015
It sounds like the technique is pretty much a dry brine: the salt draws out the moisture from the meat, and then the meat reabsorbs the liquid. Think about how a regular wet brine needs time for flavorful juices to penetrate meat-- a dry brine creates that moisture using the meat's own juices coaxed out with some salt, without added water/stock/liquid. A dry brine needs time to get the moisture out and back in (45-60 minutes, in this case), and if it was stopped before that, the meat would be likely just wet and salty on the outside.
 
Author Comment
Cara N. March 20, 2015
I'm so sorry I didn't see this discussion before, but Hungryheart you are exactly right! You described it better than I could have, that's exactly it, thank you!
 
Ariette C. August 8, 2014
Thanks for this. Rib Eye has laways been my favorite. It's a steak made to make tummies happy. lol
 
Ariette C. July 30, 2014
Yeah Rib Eye is the top cut of beef for me too, reminds me of a steak I had in Hong Kong at Blue butcher - www.bluebutcher.com
 
Karen J. July 21, 2014
I'm drooling, here, Cara! <br />Rib-eye has been my favorite cut of beef for as long as I can remember - thanks for these tips and "why to"s!
 
Transcendancing July 20, 2014
I would really love to hear more about the different cuts of steak and beef in general - especially with regard to the naming differences between the US and other places (I am in Australia so I am especially interested in cross referencing our names for stuff). Most of the scotch fillet I can buy easily doesn't have the bone in - is there a difference there again, or is it a cut I can really only get from my butcher? I've seen some delicious looking roasts labelled as rib eyes and I'd love to hear more about stuff to do with them that is wintery and delicious for cooking inside or in a slow cooker.
 
Brendan August 17, 2014
Rib eye should be available from almost every butcher in Aus for around $26-28 kg. Most of what we buy here is grass fed, more flavoursome than grain yet not quite as tender. Scotch is essentially the same without the bone however is often a thinner cut with slightly less marbelling so likely from higher up (ribs 1-5). If you haven't got a cast iron griddle pan it plate, don't cook it until you do. Heat the plate in high, spray the rib eye with canola oil and place on. Leave on for approx 4-5 minutes (450g piece), turn 3 times cooking for same time, rest as mentioned and serve. Turn it not turn? You must turn as that forces the juices back into the meat so it remains gender through cooking. Unnecessary juices will depart during resting. Enjoy.
 
VOS July 6, 2014
What is the best way to to grill short ribs?
 
Mr_Vittles July 7, 2014
It really depends on the cut of short ribs. If you can buy Flanken-cut short ribs (like the ones you see at Korean Barbecue restaurants) those are good for grilling. Marinade them and grill as you would a steak. If you try and cook the traditionally cut short ribs, they will be a bit tough and chewy. When I cook the aforementioned Flanken-cut short ribs it always over direct, high heat flames. Flip every 30 seconds or so to avoid flare ups.
 
antonio W. July 5, 2014
Good advice here. I'll have to try the grapeseed oil. That's a new one for me! Also, I would recommend to use a product called Grill Grate. I make NO money from them. I use these in steak cooking competition. It is one thing I never compete without! Thanks for the steak info!
 
Sharon H. July 4, 2014
Thank you for the additional tips. Rib-eyes and cast iron are my favorite dance partners.
 
Author Comment
Cara N. July 4, 2014
mine too, Sharon!
 
ATG117 July 4, 2014
Great column!
 
Cindy E. July 4, 2014
Unless we go out, my husband and I always cook a ribeye for our anniversary dinner. This year, we didn't so it's our 4th of July dinner!
 
Author Comment
Cara N. July 4, 2014
that's a pretty solid 4th of July dinner!
 
Terry M. July 4, 2014
Cook your rib eye on the wood burning grill using cast iron.....best of both worlds
 
Author Comment
Cara N. July 4, 2014
That sounds amazing, Terry, I wish I had a wood-burning grill!
 
Brant April 28, 2017
Just got done cooking a ribeye on the grill. Used salt pepper with a little lemon pepper everything looked perfect when i took it off the grill. Even ehen i cut it it looked perfect! Had good flavor but it was the tuffest piece of meat i hsve hsd in years. To the point i gave it to my dogs. What could of went wrong?