Ribeye Steak vs Rib Steak: Whats the Difference?

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You’re not alone, I also didn’t know the difference between a Ribeye Steak and a Rib Steak. So, I suppose its only fair I share this with you all!

Finding the right cut of beef to take home can be a little stressful.

Above all, if you don’t have a ton of time at the meat counter – or a skilled and friendly butcher behind the counter that can point you in the right direction.

It’s not just that there are so many different cuts of beef to choose from, either.

It’s that many of these cuts look almost identical, have very similar names, but can cook up completely different.

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It taste completely different – then what you are expecting.

For example, what’s the difference between ribeye steak and rib steak?

You’ve probably seen both of these cuts behind the glass at a meat counter and recognize that they are pretty much 1:1 clones of each other.

But if they were the exact same thing wouldn’t they have the exact same name?

You’re not wrong. There is a difference between these two cuts and that’s something we dig into in this detailed guide.

Difference Between Ribeye Steak and Rib Steak

No, you haven’t gone crazy.

There really is a difference between ribeye steak and rib steak, and it’s not just how these cuts of beef are described by your local butcher or supermarket.

They are completely distinct cuts from one another, even if the thing that separates them might not look like that big of a deal on the surface.

Bone-In vs Boneless

You see, the difference between ribeye steak and rib steak is that one of them – the rib steak – still has the bone from the cow’s rib still attached.

The ribeye has no bone attached, but is instead boneless.

That’s it!

That’s really all there is to separate the ribeye steak from the rib steak.

The rib steak is a little closer to the primal cut, basically the “raw material” that butchers work with when they trim, size, and shape the cuts that they sell to their customers.

As far as taste, texture, and cooking techniques are concerned, though, the ribeye and the rib steak are identical.

If these cuts of steak taste the same, have the same texture, and are generally cooked the exact same way, why would people want to choose one or the other?

Well, some people like the presentation of a “bone in” rib steak when it’s sitting there on the plate.

A lot of people that grill like the fact that there is something hard and stable they can grab onto with tongs to flip the steak, rather than having to abuse the meat itself.

On top of that, when you buy a ribeye steak (the boneless one) you aren’t paying for anything other than 100% beef.

The exact same size rib steak – sold by weight just like a ribeye – is going to give you less beef for your buck because you’re paying for that little bit of bone, too.

Tips for Cooking Ribeye and Rib Steaks

Now that you have a better idea of the difference between ribeye and rib steaks, let’s run through a couple of tips.

Using this tips, I’ll guarantee your home-cooked steak dinners are just as good if not better – than anything you could have gotten at a world-class steakhouse.

Always Look for Maximum Marbling

The best tasting steaks (and this is universal, not just across ribeye and rib stinks but pretty much every cut of beef under the sun) are always going to have a higher amount of marbling.

Marbling – the butcher term for intramuscular fat – isn’t just going to provide a little bit of extra moisture to your beef as it cooks.

It’s also going to add that beefy flavor we all love so much.

Choose ribeye and rib steaks that have plenty of marbling.

Thicker is Better

A thicker cut is ideal when you are getting your hands on a ribeye or a rib steak.

Thin cuts cook way too quickly, unevenly, and are almost impossible to pull off of the grill (or the stovetop) in time enough to keep them from warming into the “well-done” zone.

The end result is tough, flavorless, downright unappealing steak (a mis-steak, if you will) that nobody wants to eat.

Thicker cuts of at least 1.5 inches – 2 inches is even better – are going to be easier to cook, easier to control, and generally just a whole lot more flavorful.

Dry Aged Can Make a World of Difference

You don’t absolutely need all of your ribeye or rib steak cuts to be dry aged.

But there’s no denying that this beef tastes a little different and a little more luxurious than “run-of-the-mill” cuts you can pick up at any supermarket.

Dry aged beef is always more expensive. You also need to be sure that you don’t get dry aged beef that has been allowed to go too long.

Those kinds of cuts can get really funky (almost like a blue cheese) and aren’t for everyone.

30 to 60 days of dry aging, though, can make a world of difference.

If you’re cooking up a special ribeye or rib steak dinner, springing for dry aged beef will take that meal to the next level.

Salt Well in Advance or Right Before You Start to Cook

Salting your protein before cooking is a huge piece of the success puzzle.

Salting is always important no matter how you’re going to cook that protein – or the kind of protein that you are working with.

Salting your ribeye or rib steak correctly, though, is just as important.

There are two approaches you can take:

One, you can salt your steaks (generously) a couple of days in advance and then pop them – uncovered – into your refrigerator.

This allows the salt to penetrate deep into the steak, unlocking all kinds of flavor (and locking in extra moisture) while drying out the surface of the steak at the same.

The end result is a much more flavorful ribeye or rib steak with a perfect “crust” when you cook it correctly.

If you can’t salt a couple of days in advance, though, you only want to apply this to the surface of your steaks right before they go on the grill.

Salt 30 to 40 minutes in advance of cooking and you’ll end up pulling moisture out of the steak, drying it out and wrecking the texture – and the flavor – at the same time.

Use a Quality Thermometer!

Unless you have spent a ton of time cooking in a high-end steakhouse and have an almost second sense for when steak should be pulled off of the grill at the perfect time, you’ll want to use an instant read thermometer.

These thermometers can be picked up for next to nothing but guarantee you’ll never overcook or under cook your steaks again.

It’s a tiny investment that’ll make a huge impact on everything you cook from here on out.

Closing Thoughts

So there you have it.

Pretty much everything there is to know about the difference between a ribeye and a rib steak (one is boneless, the other bone in).

You really can’t go wrong with either of these two pieces of meat.

If you take use the tips and tricks we highlighted above to make sure that steak comes out perfect, you’re all set.

Happy grilling!