How to Grill a Tomahawk Steak on Charcoal?

How to Grill a Tomahawk Steak on Charcoal?

Welcome to this guide on grilling a tomahawk steak on charcoal! If you’re a fan of charcoal grilling and steak grilling, then you’re in for a treat. The thick, flavorful tomahawk steak is a showstopper on any grill, and it’s perfect for impressing guests or treating yourself to a delicious meal. In this article, I will share my tips and techniques for perfectly grilling a tomahawk steak on charcoal, from preparation to presentation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Charcoal grilling adds a unique smoky flavor to the tomahawk steak.
  • Proper preparation of the steak, including trimming excess fat and seasoning, is crucial.
  • Controlling the temperature of the charcoal grill is key to achieving the perfect sear.
  • Monitoring the internal temperature of the steak and resting it before slicing is important for achieving the desired doneness.
  • Experimenting with flavorful accompaniments and pairings can enhance the taste of the grilled tomahawk steak.

Preparing the Tomahawk Steak

Before grilling the tomahawk steak on charcoal, it’s essential to prepare it correctly, starting with trimming any excess fat. Leaving too much fat on the steak can result in flaring, scorching, and uneven cooking. Use a sharp knife to trim the excess fat, and leave about ¼ inch of fat around the edges to add flavor and moisture to the steak.

Next, consider the ideal thickness for the tomahawk steak. A thick steak requires proper cooking techniques to ensure that the inner layers cook without charring the outside. A 2 or 2 ½-inch steak is perfect for charcoal grilling but can take some time to cook completely.

Seasoning is also crucial for the best-tasting tomahawk steak. A dry rub or marinade can add flavor and tenderness to the meat. Some popular options for seasoning include salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs like rosemary or thyme. Apply the seasoning generously before grilling, and let the steak sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat fully.

Trimming the Excess Fat

Step Description
1 Place the tomahawk steak on a cutting board with the bone facing up.
2 Use a sharp knife to trim the excess fat off the edges of the steak.
3 Leave about ¼ inch of fat around the edges for added flavor and moisture.

Seasoning the Steak

  1. Combine salt, pepper, and other seasonings of choice in a small bowl.
  2. Apply the seasoning to both sides of the steak, pressing it into the meat to ensure maximum flavor.
  3. Cover the steak with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

Following these steps will ensure that your tomahawk steak is properly prepared, seasoned, and ready for grilling on charcoal.

Preparing the Charcoal Grill

Before grilling the tomahawk steak, it’s important to properly prepare the charcoal grill. Here are some steps to follow:

Arrange the Charcoal

Begin by arranging charcoal briquettes in a pyramid shape at the bottom of the grill. Make sure to leave enough space between the briquettes for air to circulate and create an even heat throughout the grill. If you’re using a charcoal chimney starter, light the coals in the chimney before adding them to the grill.

Light the Coals

Using a long-handled lighter or matches, light the charcoal briquettes and let them burn until they’re covered in ash, which can take about 15-20 minutes. Once the coals are lit, use tongs to spread them evenly across the bottom of the grill.

Control the Temperature

Once the coals are evenly distributed, it’s essential to control the temperature for optimal grilling. One way to do this is by adjusting the air vents on the bottom and top of the grill. Open the vents to increase the heat and close them to lower it. You can also move the coals to one side of the grill for indirect heat cooking.

Grilling Tips

When grilling on a charcoal grill, it’s important to follow some basic grilling tips to ensure the best results. For example, make sure to oil the grates before placing the steak on them to prevent sticking. Also, use tongs instead of a fork when handling the steak to avoid piercing it and losing valuable juices.

Remember, preparing the charcoal grill is a crucial step in the process of grilling a perfect tomahawk steak. By following these tips and techniques, you can achieve a juicy and flavorful steak with a perfectly seared crust.

Searing the Tomahawk Steak

Now that your charcoal grill is prepped and your tomahawk steak is properly prepared, it’s time to move on to the most critical step: searing the steak to perfection.

First, make sure that your grill grates are clean and well-oiled to prevent sticking. Then, place the tomahawk steak directly on the hot grates, over the charcoal.

For the initial sear, use direct heat by placing the steak over the hottest part of the grill. This will create a crispy outside crust while locking in the juices and flavors of the steak.

After about 2-3 minutes, use tongs to rotate the steak 45 degrees to create beautiful grill marks. Cook for another 2-3 minutes before flipping the steak to sear the other side.

Once the second side is seared, move the steak to the cooler, indirect heat portion of the grill to finish cooking to your desired internal temperature:

Desired Internal Temperature Level of Doneness Cooking Time (Approx.)
125°F (51°C) Rare 6-8 minutes
135°F (57°C) Medium Rare 8-10 minutes
145°F (63°C) Medium 10-12 minutes
155°F (68°C) Medium Well 12-14 minutes
160°F (71°C) Well Done 14-16 minutes

Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, as cutting into the steak to check doneness will release valuable juices. Once the steak is cooked to your desired level of doneness, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.

When slicing the tomahawk steak, be sure to cut against the grain to ensure maximum tenderness and flavor.

By following these searing and cooking techniques, you’ll be able to achieve a perfectly cooked and delicious tomahawk steak every time.

Achieving the Perfect Cook

When it comes to grilling a thick tomahawk steak on charcoal, achieving the perfect cook is key. Here are some tips to ensure your steak comes out perfectly:

  1. Monitor the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak to ensure an accurate reading. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F.
  2. Rest the steak for at least 5-10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a moister and more flavorful steak.
  3. When slicing the steak, be sure to cut against the grain. This will result in a more tender bite.

By following these steps, you can ensure a perfectly cooked tomahawk steak that will impress your guests.

Remember, grilling a thick steak on charcoal requires patience and attention to detail. But with the right techniques and tools, you can achieve a flavorful and juicy steak that will be the star of your next BBQ.

Flavorful Accompaniments and Pairings

Grilled tomahawk steak is a showstopper dish that can be easily elevated with flavorful accompaniments and pairings. Here are a few tips to make your steak dinner truly exceptional:

  • Seasonings: While a perfectly grilled tomahawk steak can stand on its own, many people love to add different spices and herbs to enhance the flavor. Some popular choices include garlic, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. You can either rub the seasonings directly onto the steak or sprinkle them on top after grilling.
  • Side dishes: A hearty steak dinner calls for some equally satisfying sides, such as roasted potatoes, grilled veggies, or a classic Caesar salad. The key is to choose sides that complement the flavors of the steak without overpowering it.
  • Sauces: A delicious sauce can take your grilled tomahawk steak to the next level. Consider serving it with a flavorful chimichurri sauce, a creamy Hollandaise sauce, or a tangy barbecue sauce. You can also make a simple pan sauce by deglazing the steak pan with red wine or beef broth.
  • Wine or beer pairings: To truly indulge in your grilled tomahawk steak, pair it with a bold, full-bodied wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Malbec. If you prefer beer, try a hoppy IPA or a rich porter.

Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite way to enjoy a perfectly grilled tomahawk steak. With these grilling tips and flavorful accompaniments, you’ll be sure to impress your guests at your next outdoor barbecue!

Troubleshooting and Common Mistakes

Grilling a tomahawk steak on charcoal can be a challenging task, even for experienced grillmasters. Here are some common mistakes and issues to watch out for:

Inconsistent Heat

One of the most critical factors when grilling a tomahawk steak is achieving consistent heat. Inconsistent heat can result in undercooked or overcooked meat. To avoid this issue, make sure that the coals are evenly arranged and that the grill is properly preheated before placing the steak on the grates.

Burning the Steak

Grilling a thick steak like a tomahawk can be tricky. If not cooked correctly, the exterior can burn while the interior remains undercooked. To avoid burning the steak, use an indirect heat method to allow the steak to cook slowly and evenly. Additionally, avoid repeatedly flipping the steak and keep a close eye on the heat.

Overseasoning or Underseasoning

Seasoning is crucial for enhancing the flavor of your tomahawk steak. However, it’s essential to find the right balance of spices to avoid overseasoning or underseasoning. Start with a simple seasoning of salt and pepper, and then experiment with other herbs and spices. Make sure to taste the seasoning before applying it to the steak to adjust the flavors as needed.

Not Resting the Steak

After cooking your tomahawk steak, it’s important to let it rest before cutting into it. Resting the steak allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and juicy steak. Failing to rest the steak can lead to a dry and tough texture.


Grilling a tomahawk steak on charcoal requires patience, practice, and attention to detail. With the right grilling techniques and tips, you can enjoy a delicious and perfectly cooked steak every time. Keep in mind these common mistakes and troubleshooting tips, and you’ll be a pro in no time.


In conclusion, grilling a tomahawk steak on charcoal is a truly unique and delicious experience. Charcoal grilling provides a distinct flavor and allows for a perfect sear on the steak. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully prepare and grill a tomahawk steak to perfection.

Remember to properly prepare the steak by trimming excess fat and seasoning it to your liking, as well as preparing the charcoal grill with the correct temperature and arrangement of coals. Searing the steak on direct and indirect heat while monitoring its internal temperature will ensure a perfect cook.

Experimenting with different seasonings and techniques can personalize your grilling experience and add even more flavor to your tomahawk steak. And don’t forget to pair it with your favorite side dishes and wines or beers to complete the meal.

By avoiding common mistakes and troubleshooting any issues that may arise, you can become a master of charcoal grilling and enjoy delicious tomahawk steaks at any time. So fire up your charcoal grill and enjoy a mouthwatering tomahawk steak using the tips and techniques outlined in this article.


Q: How long should I grill a tomahawk steak on charcoal?

A: The grilling time for a tomahawk steak on charcoal can vary depending on the thickness of the steak and desired level of doneness. As a general guideline, you can grill a 2-inch thick tomahawk steak for about 10-14 minutes for medium-rare, flipping it once halfway through the cooking time. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 135°F for medium-rare.

Q: Should I use direct or indirect heat when grilling a tomahawk steak on charcoal?

A: To achieve a perfectly seared crust and juicy interior, it’s recommended to use a combination of direct and indirect heat when grilling a tomahawk steak on charcoal. Start by searing the steak directly over the hot coals for a few minutes on each side to develop a nice char. Then move the steak to the cooler side of the grill and continue cooking until it reaches the desired doneness.

Q: How do I know when the tomahawk steak is done?

A: The best way to determine the doneness of a tomahawk steak is by using an instant-read meat thermometer. For medium-rare, the internal temperature should reach 135°F, for medium it should be around 145°F, and for medium-well it should be about 155°F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak, away from the bone, for an accurate reading.

Q: How should I season the tomahawk steak before grilling?

A: Seasoning a tomahawk steak is a matter of personal preference. You can keep it simple by using just salt and pepper, or you can get creative with a dry rub or marinade of your choice. Make sure to season the steak generously on all sides, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat. Let the seasoned steak sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.

Q: How do I achieve a nice sear on the tomahawk steak?

A: To achieve a nice sear on a tomahawk steak, make sure your charcoal grill is preheated to a high temperature. Sear the steak directly over the hot coals, with the lid open, for a few minutes on each side. This will create a beautiful crust and seal in the juices. Remember to let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Q: Can I use a gas grill instead of a charcoal grill?

A: While using a charcoal grill is the traditional method for grilling a tomahawk steak, you can certainly use a gas grill as well. The grilling techniques and cooking times remain largely the same. However, keep in mind that the charcoal grill imparts a smokier flavor to the steak, which is part of its appeal.

Michael Davis
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