Today, we’re talking about how to cook a tomahawk steak on charcoal. A little ways back, I started to get back into my old ways of cooking meat directly right on the coals. I have written a whole article on this process! I have done quite a few “dirty” steak recipes with it directly on hot Cowboy Charcoal as well.

With Labor Day right around the corner, I was thinking about doing something really epic on the coals. The biggest issue with direct cooking is that you usually have to pick thinner cuts of meat as they need to cook quickly. But, what if I wanted to cook a whole Tomahawk Steak? With these step-by-step instructions, cooking tomahawk steak over hot coals is a breeze!

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The tomahawk ribeye steaks after being flipped.

Why You’ll Love Tomahawk Steak on Charcoal

This tomahawk steak recipe is about to become your new favorite way to cook a perfectly grilled steak. It’s like having a delicious steakhouse meal right in your own backyard but without the hefty price tag.

The recipe is surprisingly simple. You don’t need a ton of fancy ingredients – just a high-quality tomahawk steak (the extra-long bone adds some drama!), some basic seasonings, and the magic ingredient: homemade steakhouse butter. This butter is where the flavor shines! Packed with fresh herbs, garlic, a kick of red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon, it takes the taste of the steak to the next level.

Herb butter makes everything better, I’ve even used it as a board sauce. You can kick it up a notch with more chili flakes or even add black garlic to it. It’s super customizable, so not only is it delicious but it’s also fun to experiment with different butter seasoning combos.

The tomahawk steaks getting started on the coals.

These tomahawks are perfect for firing up the grill for a fun get-together, celebrating special occasions, or simply treating yourself to a flavorful and impressive meal. 

You can cook more than just tomahawks on the coals too. Check out my Steaks on the Coals recipe where I also sneak in some lobsters, also cooked over the coals.

Tomahawk Steak Ingredients 

  • Tomahawk Ribeye Steaks: These beauties are bone-in ribeyes with a dramatic extra-long rib bone. Choose high-quality steaks for the best flavor and tenderness.
  • Garlic Salt & Black Pepper: A simple yet powerful combo for seasoning. Garlic salt adds a savory punch, while black pepper brings a bit of heat.
  • Canola Oil: A high-heat oil is essential for grilling over hot coals. We don’t want the oil to burn, and canola oil handles the heat like a champ. Just a light coating is all you need.
  • Steakhouse Butter (Softened): This isn’t your average butter! Made with a blend of herbs, garlic, and a touch of spice, it adds a restaurant-worthy finish to your steak. Think melty goodness infused with flavor.
  • Parsley (Chopped): Fresh parsley adds a pop of color and a refreshing herbaceousness to the finished dish. It’s a classic steakhouse touch.
  • Garlic Cloves (Minced): Garlic is a flavor bomb, and this steakhouse butter is loaded with it. Get ready for a garlicky explosion in every bite.
  • Red Chili Flakes: A touch of heat adds another layer of complexity to the flavor profile. Adjust the amount to your preference – a little goes a long way.
  • Scallions (Chopped): Scallions add a mild oniony flavor and a bit of freshness to the steakhouse butter.
  • Lemon (Zested and Juiced): Lemon zest brings a touch of brightness and acidity that cuts through the richness of the steak and butter. The juice adds another layer of flavor and helps tenderize the meat slightly.

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How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak on Charcoal

First things first, season your steaks! About 3-4 hours before you plan to grill, rub them down with oil. In a separate bowl, mix your garlic salt and black pepper. Give those steaks a generous seasoning all over, then place them in the fridge to marinate while you get the grill ready.

Next, it’s time to make that delicious steakhouse butter! While the steaks are chilling, grab all your butter ingredients and mix them together in a bowl. Once it’s well combined, use some parchment paper or plastic wrap to roll the butter mixture into a log shape. Pop that in the fridge to firm up until you need it.

Now, let’s get that charcoal grill fired up! Fill two chimneys with Cowboy Charcoal and light them up. Let them preheat until your grill reaches medium-high heat, around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Keeping a consistent temperature is crucial to cooking on the coals, so make sure you use high-quality coals. My go-to for this Dirty Tomahawk Steaks recipe is always Cowboy Charcoal to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cook.

I’ve cooked lobster, oysters, skirt steak and even bread straight on Cowboy Charcoal!

Once the coals are white hot, get rid of any loose ash and then carefully place your seasoned steaks on the grill over direct high heat. Sear both sides of the steak for just 1-2 minutes each, until they start to brown nicely.

After searing, take the steaks off the heat for a moment. Spritz the coals with a little water to bring the grill temperature down to medium heat, around 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the steaks back on the grill over the lower heat.

Reverse Sear

We’re using a reverse sear method to get a nice crust on the outside of the steak. I love the process of reverse searing and have compiled a list of the best steaks to reverse sear, as well as an article that explains how to reveres sear a steak.

Every 5 minutes or so, flip them and move them around on the coals to cook evenly. This will take about 20 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a medium-rare finish. If you see any spots on the surface of the meat that look bare, feel free to sprinkle on a little additional seasoning.

A close up of the steaks with the melted butter on top.

Almost there! Once the internal temperature of your steak reaches your preferred degree of doneness, slice the steakhouse butter into portions. Take the steaks off the grill and top each one with 1-2 slices of that delicious butter. Let them rest for 10-12 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.

Finally, grab a cutting board, slice those beauties up, and enjoy your perfect tomahawk steak! Now you know how to cook a tomahawk steak on charcoal, the only question that remains is: do you know how to share?!


  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your steak. 
  • Use hardwood lump charcoals for this recipe because it burns hot and fast, and provides a kickin’ smoky flavor to the meat. 
  • After taking your steaks out of the fridge, let them come to room temperature to ensure even cooking. 

More Grilled Steak Recipes

How to Store Leftovers & Reheat

Now you know how to cook tomahawk steak on charcoal, but what about storing them?!

Store leftover tomahawk steak in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. 

Before reheating, make sure your leftover steak comes to room temperature. 

To reheat, place a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat on the stove top. Reheat the steak for 1-2 minutes each side until warm. 

What to Serve With Tomahawk Steaks

Serve up these huge steaks with a side of bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers or with some grilled vegetables, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, or anything else your heart desires! 

A sliced and served shot of the dish.

Recipe FAQs

What is a tomahawk steak?

This cut of beef is like a bone-in ribeye steak but with a dramatically long rib bone. That impressive bone is what gives the tomahawk its name, resembling a Native American tomahawk axe.

Butchered from the rib primal, this thick-cut steak boasts rich, flavorful marbling. This, combined with the extra surface area from the bone, allows for a delicious and juicy steak experience. While it might be a bit trickier to find at your local grocery store, the tomahawk is a true crowd-pleaser, perfect for grilling or cooking over an open fire for a special occasion.


Truth is, the coals actually do not put off the highest temperature when they are smothered with food directly on them. However, the edges can get a bit crispy if you’re not careful. 

I also spritz the coals with water to cool them down as needed. I did this twice in this recipe. The first was after the initial sear and the second was in the middle of the cook to prevent the steaks from cooking too fast. The water will lower the temperature of the coals without completely extinguishing them.


One way is to season your steak up to 24 hours before you start cooking. The seasoning will adhere to the meat better and allow you to get a nice crust when cooking.

The second way is to add more seasoning to the bare spots as needed when cooking. Just sear the new seasoning off, and you should be ready to go. In fact, this tip works for all types of cooking with meat that loses seasoning.

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Dirty Tomahawk Steaks with Steakhouse Butter

How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak on Charcoal

Learn how to cook a tomahawk steak on the charcoal! These bone in ribeyes are a showstopper!
Author:Derek Wolf
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people


Tomahawk Steak:

  • 2 Full Tomahawk Ribeye Steaks
  • ¼ cup of Garlic Salt
  • ¼ cup of Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp of Canola Oil

Steakhouse Butter:

  • 1 cup of Butter softened
  • 1.5 tbsp of Parsley chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 tsp of Red Chili Flakes
  • 1 tsp of Scallions chopped
  • 1 Lemon zested & juiced


  • About 3-4 hours before cooking, lather your tomahawk steaks with oil. In a bowl, mix the garlic salt & black pepper. Thoroughly season the steaks and place in the fridge to set until you are ready to grill.
  • While steaks are resting in the fridge, mix the steakhouse butter ingredients together. Roll into a log using parchment paper or plastic wrap. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Using Cowboy Charcoal, fill two chimneys full of coals, light and let preheat for your grill for medium-high heat (350F).
  • Once the coals are white hot, blow off any loose ash and lay the tomahawk steaks down. Sear both sides for only 1-2 minutes until they are starting to brown.
  • Once they are seared, pull the steaks off and spritz the coals with a little water to lower the temperature to a medium heat (about 325F). Lay the steaks back down.
  • Cook over this lower heat, flipping & moving around on the coals every 5 minutes, for about 20 minutes until the internal temperature reads 120F for medium rare. Add a little additional seasoning to any bare spots on the steak.
  • Once the steaks are done, slice the butter into sections. Pull the steaks off, top with 1-2 butter sections per steak and rest for 10-12 minutes.
  • For serving, slice into them and enjoy!


Calories: 724kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 66g | Saturated Fat: 37g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 191mg | Sodium: 7510mg | Potassium: 583mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1802IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 4mg

Derek Wolf

Derek is the driving force behind Over the Fire Cooking. He started cooking with live fire in 2016 and decided to start a social media page so his friends and family could follow the journey. Fast forward to today and Over the Fire Cooking has spread across multiple platforms with millions now following Derek's fire cooking journey. He's a southern fellow who enjoys everything from classic BBQ to Central and South American inspired dishes. Whatever he's cooking up, it's guaranteed to be so freakin' delicious!

5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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  1. What about the ash from the charcoal does that stay on the meat or do you just knock it off when the steaks are done?

    1. When it is white hot, the steaks will create a crust quickly and the coals will not really stick to them. You will have a small amount of ash that I usually just brush off.

  2. 5 stars
    I love this pot roast. But where do you find prepared horseradish? Looked all over store but couldn’t find any