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Bone-in vs Boneless Ribeye – What’s the Difference and Which Is Better?

Cooking a ribeye does not have to be as intimidating as it seems. Whether you are someone who enjoys your ribeye with the bone or someone who prefers it without, it is is a delectable meal for any occasion.

Ribeye steak is wildly popular due to its rich and exceptionally flavorful cut. It is extremely marbled, meaning a lot of the meaty flavor comes from the fat. Many meat-lovers agree that this is the tastiest easy-to-cook steak that is on the market.

However, for decades, the steak world has been in disagreement about bone-in vs boneless ribeye. On one side, we have many chefs, grillers, and steak-fanatics who press the idea that leaving in bone means a juicer and tastier steak. On the other side, we have steak-traditionalists who claim it doesn’t make any difference at all.

So which is it?  In this article, we explore every angle of the bone-in vs boneless ribeye debate.

What is Ribeye Exactly?

Ribeye steaks are among the most common and popular cuts of steak. They are tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor. They contain just the right amount of fat and produce delicious results.

These famous steaks can be prepared boneless or bone-in, meaning a small bone is included in the finished product. There has been a never-ending argument about whether leaving the bone in is better than removing it.

To put it simply, ribeye steaks are among the richest and most flavorful cuts that we can enjoy. The bone-in versus boneless ribeye debate is never-ending. Steak lovers will never reach an agreement on the topic, which is okay. The answer to the discussion is utterly subjective to each person’s taste and preference.

With or without the bone, the marbled cut of meat has a distinctive and highly-enjoyed flavor. The cut tends to be smooth, buttery, and juicy – even compared to other prized steak cuts like the NY Strip.

Bone-in vs Boneless Ribeye – Comparison

The Case for Leaving the Bone In

The great debate surrounding ribeye is whether the bone matters or not. Many sources and cooks claim that leaving the meat’s bone in makes it juicer and adds a ton of flavor to the meat. The knowledgable advocates for bone-in ribeye say that the bone marrow contains much of the flavor that is seeped into the steak as it is being cooked.

The meat that is touching the bone requires a higher temperature or longer cook times to cook thoroughly. The chefs who prepare their steaks medium to be hot will argue that the meat closer to the bone is more juicy and tender because it is less cooked.

The bone is made of temperature-maintaining properties that allow the meat to stay in a heat range where the meat is most tender and moist. The texture and consistency of beef are all dictated by the temperature of which it is cooked.

To further back up the bone-in side of the argument, researchers from Texas A&M University discovered that leaving the bone in your ribeye allows it to hold its shape much better.

Cooking bone-in ribeyes can seem intimidating on the surface; however, these cuts do not require any unusual cooking method. The only difference from cooking boneless ribeye is that bone-in ribeyes need a longer time to cook because the bone can interrupt and slow down the heat distribution. This cooking characteristic can actually come in handy since it causes the meat to reach its peak temperature at a gradual pace. Overcooking bone-in ribeyes is highly unlikely.

The Case for Why a Bone-in Ribeye Isn’t Necessary

Boneless ribeyes have become increasingly more popular in recent times. Many would agree that newer generations more enjoy boneless steaks, and bone-in steaks are for the classic and traditional meat-eaters.

Boneless steaks take significantly less time to cook thoroughly, due to the fact that it has less muscle and minimal connective tissue. Boneless steaks are considered easier to cook and ready to eat in less time because less heat has to penetrate into the multiple layers of the steak.

Also, it’s easier to create firm contact between your meat and grill grates or sear pan with a boneless cut.

A boneless steak is often a little less juicy than a bone-in steak due to the fact that a bone-in steak contains juices and fats that are responsible for a lot of the flavors and textures. This also means that boneless steaks are much easier to chew since it is softer.

A significant benefit of removing the bone from your ribeye is that doing so exposes more surface on the cut for seasonings to penetrate through. Seasonings play a huge roll in making the meat more flavorful and delectable.

Many cooks swear by fresh thyme and rosemary when cooking ribeye. When paired with sizzling butter, crushed garlic, and sea salt, the flavor is immaculate.

Some ribeye fanatics argue that the bone adds no flavor at all, especially when it is prepared by roasting or smoking it. When going with a dry cooking method, leaving the bone in does not add much flavor improvement.

Some people who do prefer the bone while cooking but not in the finished product will remove the bone, but tie the cut-off slab back onto the ribeye with twine while it cooks. Before serving, they remove the twine and the bone.

Last but not least, boneless ribeyes are generally cheaper than bone-in ribeyes.  On a price per pound basis, they are typically more or less the same – but you end up paying for the weight of the bone with a bone-in steak.

How to Remove the Bone

Whether you forgot to have the butcher remove the bone for you or you simply wanted to face the challenge yourself, removing the bone is a relatively straightforward process to do if you are no expert, even from home.

Ideally, you’d use a thin and sharp boning knife. In a pinch, a fillet blade will work. Here’s how you do it:

Make your cut going upwards, then downwards

Position the meat in your hands so that the thin side of the slab is up and the bone and flat surface are able to be seen. With the sharp edge of your knife facing up, insert the knife into the flesh and keep it as close as possible to the bone itself. Remain steady hands and apply firm pressure as you are making your cut. With a good quality knife, you should get an even and smooth slice. Apply minimal pressure to avoid ant jerky motions or uneven slices.

Once the top of the ribeye is bone-free, flip the knife the opposite way and make a slice going downwards to further separate the meat from the bone. Once completed correctly, you should feel the top rib. The top rib is a portion of the bone that usually extends further into the flesh of the meat.

Make your final cut around the top rib

With the same knife, cut in an “L” motion around the top rib. If done correctly and smoothly, your ribeye should be separated from the bone.

Tips for Cooking a Great Ribeye

A ribeye steak is a fantastic and highly favorable cut of meat. You’re able to indulge in rich flavors and marbling throughout the meat, which adds to the taste and tenderness. Because ribeyes are made to be buttery, taking your time when preparing them is a good idea. Whether you are cooking it on your stove or grilling it, there are many ways to prepare it correctly each time.

Before you can start in the kitchen, you need to be able to spot the perfect cut of the meat. For ideal steak, with or without the bone, here are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • A cut of at least 1 ½ inches. Thicker is always better.
  • White veins running throughout the cut. This is called marbling and will give you a more tender consistency.
  • Stay away from cuts with large outside pieces of fat.

If you’re feeling stuck and confused while looking at the supermarket, do not be afraid to ask the butcher for help. After all, it is their job to understand these types of things. They are there to help you out!

Once you bring the ribeye home, it is highly suggested that you remove it from the packaging and set it on your counter on a plate lined with some paper towels. Leaving the ribeye like this until you are ready to start preparing it will help remove any extra moisture and result in a more flavorful dish.

A great addition to any ribeye recipe is crushed garlic. When you are ready to prepare your steak for cooking, grab some minced garlic and fresh thyme if you are a fan of the flavor. Season both sides of the steak with Himalayan pink sea salt. Add the minced garlic and thyme and lay the cut out on a cooling rack while the oven heats up.

To cook a great ribeye, the goal is to have a crusty, seared, bark-like crust on the outside, with a warm juicy pinkness on the inside.

Different Ways to Cook a Ribeye

There is a multitude of ways to prepare a delicious bone-in or boneless ribeye. The meat tastes best when it reaches the perfect point of juiciness and tenderness. To do this, you usually have to use high-heat cooking methods. Luckily, you are not limited to just your pan.

Grilling

When grilling ribeye, use vegetable oil or olive oil to brush the gate. It is most accessible and most convenient to have a two-zone fire. Put one zone at medium heat and the other and low heat. Sear your ribeye for about three to four minutes, or until it is finely charred. Transfer the cut to the low heat zone and cook until it reaches your desired doneness.

Broiling

Using a broiler pan or skillet, broil your ribeye in the oven for about four to five minutes on each side.

Pan-Frying

Pan-frying is probably the most popular option since it is very quick and easy. It involved placing the ribeye on a pan on the stovetop. With this method, it’s easy to keep an eye on your ribeye as it cooks.

Skillet-to-oven

With this method, you simply sear the ribeye in a skillet, preferably cast-iron, then allow it to finish cooking in a 350º to 450º oven.

Reverse searing

The reverse sear method is very similar to skillet-to-oven. The steps are just flipped. You would first bake the ribeye in the oven at 300º for about 10 minutes, then place it in a cast-iron skillet with butter, seasonings, and garlic.

No matter which method you use, be sure to let your steak rest for about 5 minutes after it’s done cooking and before serving!  This will allow moisture to redistribute itself to make a perfectly consistent, tender steak.

Bone-in vs Boneless Ribeye – Final Verdict

Whether you are enjoying your steak with the bone or without, you will find that it is a highly delectable meal. The choice to remove the bone or not rests entirely on your personal decision.

Personally, I prefer boneless.  I like the extra bang for your buck and I think they’re just a little easier to cook without sacrificing anything in the flavor department.

If you are someone that has always left the bone in, try it out without the bone and see how you like it. Similarly, if you’ve always removed the bone, try leaving it in next time to see if it genuinely does add extra flavor.

The choice is yours. Either way, you’ll love it.

Want to see how the ribeye stacks up to other steak cuts?  Check out our comparison of ribeye and porterhouse steaks next.